Wireless Bluetooth speakers have become ubiquitous, indispensable gadgets. Everyone’s got one somewhere, and the use cases vary from person to person. Maybe you use your speaker around the house or as a shower soundtrack. Maybe you bring it along to the park or beach. And then there are those people who take a portable speaker practically everywhere they go — sharing their music from a bike or backpack with everyone nearby.
I know a lot of people who have old Bluetooth speakers kicking around, and if the one you’ve got is still working for you, there’s no immediate need to upgrade to something newer. But Bluetooth speakers have gotten very good in recent years. Sound quality continues to improve, battery life is stretching to new records, and they’re more robust and durable than ever before.
If you’re shopping around for a new speaker, start off by considering what size you want. For this guide, I’m mostly sticking to portable Bluetooth speakers and excluding anything that’s impractical to take on the go. From there, you need to weigh other criteria like audio quality, ease of use, durability, and bonus features like speakerphone functionality. Some speakers let you stereo pair two of them together, and several companies include “party mode” capabilities that let you link many speakers together. If you don’t really care about any of that, you can get a tiny Bluetooth speaker for as little as $25. But all of the picks here go a little further in terms of features and style.
Best Bluetooth speaker under $200
I don’t know what kind of engineering sorcery goes into Bose’s Bluetooth speakers; I just know that going back to the SoundLink Mini II, they’ve simply sounded clearer and better — to my ears, at least — than any competitors in the same size range. The $149 SoundLink Flex is Bose’s latest portable speaker, and it continues to make good on that reputation.
Despite only having a mono driver (which isn’t uncommon for Bluetooth speakers), the SoundLink Flex delivers expansive sound with a genuinely surprising amount of bass. And crucially, that low end isn’t muddy or boomy. Everything about this speaker is rich and clear. That’s even more surprising when you consider that it only supports the baseline SBC Bluetooth codec instead of AAC or the more advanced LDAC. And yet, this speaker sounds excellent.
- 14% off
Bose’s newest Bluetooth speaker, the SoundLink Flex, offers pristine, detailed sound quality with a surprising amount of bass for its size — all in a rugged design that you can take anywhere.