If you have a music lover on your holiday shopping list, it’s really hard to go wrong with a good Bluetooth speaker. But there are quite a few options on the market today, and trust me when I say that they’re not all created equally. But fear not—we have everything you need to pick up the perfect speaker for this Christmas season.
What to Look for in a Bluetooth Speaker
There are a few things to consider when selecting the right Bluetooth speaker to buy.
- Audio Quality: Obviously, the most important part of any speaker is the sound quality. And while people may have preferences for how they like their audio to be tuned, the general quality level should match the price you’re paying.
- Size and Weight: A lot of Bluetooth speakers are built to be portable, especially because the nature of the technology makes it easy to move them around. Some may have to sacrifice audio quality to achieve a smaller footprint, but that’s not to say small speakers sound bad—just not as a good as a speaker twice its size.
- Durability: Waterproofing, shockproofing, and overall build quality goes a long way towards making sure the speaker lasts a while. After all, you don’t want these pricey gifts breaking after a short period of use.
- Waterproof vs. Water-Resistant: These are fairly common features on modern Bluetooth speakers, but what do they actually mean? Well, most of the time anyway, you can rely on the Ingress Protection rating to tell you. Waterproof speakers are exactly that—they can survive being submerged in some amount of water for some time. Meanwhile, water-resistant speakers are protected against stuff like spills and rain.
- Battery-Life: A dead battery can kill the music, but fortunately most Bluetooth speakers have decent battery lives often ranging in the 10 to 20 hours space. A few even reach 24 hours of battery life!
Best Overall: Ultimate Ears MEGABOOM 3
This speaker from Ultimate Ears provides excellent audio quality, durability, and a couple of nice bonus features. The speaker’s rugged design means it’s extremely durable, and it’s also rated with an Ingress Protection rating of IP67 which means it can survive being submerged in a meter of water for up to 30 minutes—it even floats.
There are large volume control buttons on the front of the speaker for easy adjustments along with the “Magic Button” on top. This button skips tracks, pauses, and plays your music along with some exclusive features for Apple Music and Deezer users—you can start custom playlists with the push of this button through the Ultimate Ears app (Android/iOS).
The speaker features 360 degrees sound and 20 hours of battery life. You can connect the MEGABOOM 3 with other Ultimate Ears speakers for stereo sound. Wrap all of this up into a sleek package and the MEGABOOM 3 is a king amongst Bluetooth speakers. This speaker is even available in multiple colors: Dusk, Blue, Black, and Red.
Best Speaker Under $100: Tribit StormBox
Another speaker with 360 degrees sound, but this time it doesn’t cost as much as the MEGABOOM 3. At the end of the day, the Tribit StormBox is a pretty simple speaker that sounds great, which earned it a 9/10 in our review. On the front of the speaker, you have a few buttons for managing your music and volume, but on the top, you have Tribit’s special “XBass” button—it pumps up the bass of the speaker dramatically.
The StormBox is also rated with an Ingress Protection rating of IPX7, so it can survive being in three feet deep water for up to 30 minutes. The battery lasts for 20 hours, and you can even daisy-chain two speakers together for stereo sound. The StormBox comes in two colors: black and blue.
Best Speaker Under $50: Tribit XSound Go
If you’re looking for a speaker on the lower-end of things price-wise, the XSound Go certainly impresses. It’s rated with an Ingress Protection rating of IPX7, so it’ll survive being in three feet of water for 30 minutes, the battery lasts for 24 hours, and the sleek design helps enhance portability. Along the top of the speaker are your standard inputs for managing your music, and the XSound Go comes in two colors: black and blue.
Best Bang for Your Buck Speaker: JBL Flip 5
The JBL Flip 5 covers all the bases for a good price. It delivers on quality sound, a sleek and portable design, and is waterproof with an Ingress Protection rating of IPX7. The battery lasts for 12 hours, and you can connect up to two Flip 5 speakers (or other PartyBoost compatible JBL speakers) together for stereo sound. The Flip 5 is just a great all-around, everyday speaker that you can take anywhere.
It’s also available in 11 different colors: black, black camo, camo, sand, teal, white, blue, gray, green, red, and yellow.
Best Rugged Speaker: JBL Boombox
JBL is known for its durable Bluetooth speakers, and the Boombox is no different. This speaker is highly durable, and is rated with an Ingress Protection rating of IPX7 so it can survive three feet of water for 30 minutes. It has a 20,000 mAh battery that can power it for a full 24 hours, but you can also use it to charge your other devices in a pinch. There’s a handle on top for easy carrying and the standard set of inputs for managing your music.
Of course, that’s all without mentioning the audio quality. As you’d expect of a speaker this expensive, the quality is great and with two four-inch woofers the bass is powerful. If you’re looking to balance supreme sound quality with a sturdy shell, the Boombox has you covered.
The Boombox is available in black, camouflage, and green.
Best Huge Speaker: Ultimate Ears Hyperboom
Is the person you’re shopping for looking to throw a dance party? Then the Hyperboom’s the speaker to buy. At 14 inches high and weighing 13 pounds, it’s not great in the portability department, but the premium sound quality makes up for that. You’ll also rarely have to worry about charging it with its 24 hours of battery life. The Hyperboom can connect with up to four other Ultimate Ears speakers like the previously mentioned MEGABOOM 3 (or even another Hyperboom). This means you can achieve stereo or surround sound and really get the party started.
The Hyperboom has an Ingress Protection rating of IPX4, so while it can’t survive being submerged in water, it can definitely handle some spills and rain without issue. All of the inputs and controls can be found on the top of the speaker, and you can connect up to four devices at once so everyone can have their say on what’s playing.
Best Ultraportable Speaker: Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2
If the person you’re shopping for needs a highly portable speaker that still delivers good sound quality, then the WONDERBOOM 2 is the speaker for them. With 360 degrees sound, a drop-resistant shell, and a handy hang loop, the WONDERBOOM 2 is perfect for taking out of the house and setting up wherever you want. The large volume buttons on the front of the speaker make it simple to manage your music, and there’s a pause/play/skip track button on the top of the speaker as well.
The WONDERBOOM 2 has an Ingress Protection rating of IP67 so it can survive being submerged in three feet of water, but on top of that, the speaker will float in water so it’s perfect for swimmers. You can also connect up to two WONDERBOOM 2 speakers together for some stereo sound. Expect each one to last around 13 hours on a full charge.
The WONDERBOOM 2 is available in Deep Space, Bermuda Blue, Crushed Ice Grey, Just Peach, and Radical Red.