When I was a kid growing up you needed to have a huge boom box or expensive stereo system if you wanted to get the best sound quality from your music. And sound quality and portability? Forget about it. Today however it’s possible to get great sounds from very tiny speakers--and you don't even need to directly plug your device into the speaker to source the music. Today there is a glut of portable, stylish, Bluetooth speakers that effortlessly (and wirelessly) connect to your computer, smartphone, or tablet so you can hear all your beats in the best quality possible. Here are 10 we recommend.
Jawbone has been in the portable Bluetooth speaker market for years, so it’s no surprise their latest offering has some of the best design and sound qualities of any mini-speaker I’ve ever used. And when I say mini, I mean mini. The Jawbone Mini Jambox is really tiny. It’s just 154mm x 24.5mm x 58mm and weighs only 255 grams.
But what I love so much about this speaker more than its size is its design. It’s made from a single piece of anodized aluminum and is available in nine different colors—ensuring there’s a model for everyone. It’s also because of that single piece of anodized aluminum that it gets it's incredibly sturdy feeling. The Mini Jambox also gets extra props for offering a dedicated iOS and Android app that allows the user to create playlists from multiple sources (like iTunes, Spotify, Rdio, and Deezer) and allows you to change what the function buttons of the speaker do, among other things. The sound quality for such a tiny speaker is also impressive. The bass can be a little off for some stronger music, but it’s something I hardly ever noticed. Overall, the Mini Jambox is a terrific speaker for those that need something wireless and portable. £109.
The TREK Flex is a great speaker for outdoor types. Its cylindrical design ensures your music is blasted out in 360 degree of quality sounding audio. It’s also made of a shock resistant polymer so you can drop it and it won’t miss a beat. It also has a IP65 certified weatherized design that protects against water and dust. Finally, not only is it a Bluetooth speaker, but an NFC speaker as well. £59.
This gets our vote for the speaker with the most unique design. It’s a round speaker that's pressed flat like a cymbal. It’s also waterproof and drop proof and comes with a marine-grade bungee cord that makes it attachable to most of your gear. £99.
The Pulse is so named because of its biggest feature: LEDs built into the speaker pulse, glow, and move to the beats of your music, which is streamed to the Pulse via Bluetooth from your Android or iOS device. The effects are wild—and the biggest selling point for this speaker system. Beyond the LED lighting, the sound quality of the Pulse was top notch and the battery life is no slouch either—hovering right around 10 hours, according to JBL. That’s not bad considering that this speaker is streaming music and producing a light show at the same time. JBL also gets extra props for its companion Pulse app, which allows users to download different light patterns than the 5 included in the shipping device. £169.
The Soundfreaq Pocket Kick is probably the most traditional speaker on this list. I say “traditional” because it’s got a pretty refined, non-nonsense design. It also looks beautiful. It measures just 150mm W x 65mm H x 30mm D. Given those dimensions it will fit very easily into almost every backpack, purse, or messenger bag and shouldn’t have too much of a problem fitting into most coat pockets. It’s also got a built-in mic so you can use it as an external speakerphone. £60.
The Harman Infinity One is perhaps the best sounding speaker on this list. It’s also one of the most expensive. But for that price you get outstanding bass and rich tones. It’s large built-in battery gives you 10 hours of playback time and the Infinity also doubles as a conference call speaker. It also has a few more advanced features, including NFC, which allows you to connect your smartphone to it instead of using Bluetooth (which it also has). £249.
The Clip+ is a great Bluetooth speaker for those adrenaline junkie. It’s biggest selling point is its waterproofing–it can take a splash and keep on playing. But another nice feature is its built-in carabiner which you can use to clip to your clothes or backpack so you can listen to your favorite tunes as you abseil down the rockface. £49.
The UE Boom is shaped like a cylinder and is only 65mm in diameter and 180mm tall, which means it will actually fit into most cup holders in a car. It’s also very rugged feeling, thanks to its rubberized design, it feels like it could take a knocking and keep on going. The speaker grill is also made of a woven fabric, which is a nice change from all the mesh or hard plastic grills companies love to use.
Battery life and sound quality are also another big plus for the Ultimate Ears UE Boom. Battery life for this little Bluetooth speaker is a whopping 15 hours. Sound quality was also shockingly good—up until a certain point. After hitting about 80% of maximum volume, sounds became distorted. Below 80%, it sounded great—especially the bass.
But what I really love about the Ultimate Ears UE Boom is its optional app. The UE Boom app, made for iOS and Android, adds the ability for you to pair two Ultimate Ears UE Boom speakers together for stereo sound. This is great if you’ve got multiple Ultimate Ears UE Boom’s or your friends bring theirs over. The app also has alarm clock functions and allows you to customize settings for your Ultimate Ears UE Boom, including the name—great if you have more than one. £169.
The Creative MUVO mini is an excellent portable Bluetooth speaker with a smart, compact design. It measures just 190.0 x 37.0 x 59.0 mm and features both Bluetooth and NFC connections. Available in Black, White, Blue, and Red and featuring a waterproof shell, this cost-effective speaker is perfect for those on a budget. £49.
Bose is a company whose products are known for great sound quality, yet which are pretty expensive. The SoundLink Color is a compromise between the two. It’s got all the quality you’d expect from a Bose speaker with a much lower cost. Available in five colors, the SoundLink Color is an excellent option for those looking for quality at a great price. £120.