Sat. May 18th, 2024


The original boomboxes offered one of the first ways to bring music anywhere. We’ve got plenty of options for portable music now, but a boombox brings more than that, with plenty of features, playback options, and volume.


UPDATE: 09/07/2023

We’ve reviewed our recommendations and have updated our pick for the best vintage boombox you can buy.

What to Look For in a Boombox in 2023

We live in a different world than the one that produced the boomboxes of old. As much as we might feel nostalgic for the style and utility of older boomboxes, that doesn’t mean we’re not looking for modern features.

Bluetooth, or wireless communication in general, is the cornerstone of those modern features we’re talking about. For most of us, our phone, tablet, or computer is the main source of our music. Every single model we’re looking at in this article features Bluetooth, so the boomboxes can link up to these devices and play the sounds you want.

Of course, if you’re looking for improved audio fidelity, you might prefer another option on your boombox, like an auxiliary input jack. Not every boombox we’re looking at here has an aux jack, but we’ll mention when they do.

If you’re looking to buy a boombox, chances are good that you’re looking for one with a built-in radio, as well. Most of the boomboxes we’re focusing on in this article feature a built-in radio, but not all of them do, and some are limited to FM radio only.

The original boomboxes relied on physical media in addition to their built-in radios. More and more people are going digital-only with their music, so this may not apply to you. But if you have physical media, you’re likely looking for a CD player. Some of the boomboxes we’re highlighting here also feature cassette playback if you’re feeling truly old-school.

Finally, size is a major consideration. Some people want something small and portable, while others are seeking something huge that really pumps out the sound. Before you decide on a boombox, it’s important to consider just when and how you’ll be using it to make sure you’re buying the proper size.

If you’re ready to pick up a modern boombox, check out one of our recommendations below!

How Did We Research

Models Evaluated

Hours Researched

Reviews Analyzed

13

4

9

How-To Geek’s product recommendations come from the same team of experts that have helped people fix their gadgets over one billion times. We only recommend the best products based on our research and expertise. We never accept payment to endorse or review a product. Read More »

People on rooftop with JBL boombox
JBL

Pros

Cons

Can get very loud

No CD player or radio

Massive bass response

Waterproof

Can charge other devices

To some people, the very idea of a boombox is defined by the image of a giant rectangular contraption with a cassette deck and a radio. For others, it’s all about the volume. The JBL Boombox 2 is meant for the latter camp, and the ultra-modern boombox design brings the party wherever you go.

If there’s one thing JBL wants you to know about its Boombox 2, it’s that it’s loud. If there’s another thing the company wants you to know, it’s that it can pump out some serious bass. And that’s not enough, you can link it up with other JBL PartyBoost-compatible speakers to play music over multiple speakers at once.

Compared to some of the other boomboxes we’re looking at, the JBL Boombox 2 is basically a large Bluetooth speaker with a handle. It doesn’t have a built-in CD player or radio, though there is an auxiliary input jack. Similarly, the extras are more in line with what you’d expect from a Bluetooth speaker.

For example, the speaker can double as a power bank thanks to its massive battery, which can provide up to 24 hours of playback time, depending on volume. This speaker is also IPX7-rated waterproof, meaning you don’t have to worry about bringing it to a picnic or outdoor party.

The built-in handle makes carrying the Boombox 2 easy, but at around 13 pounds, it isn’t exactly light. That said, if you don’t care about CDs or the radio but do care about powerful sound, JBL’s offering is tough to beat.

jbl boombox 2
JBL

JBL Boombox 2

Best Boombox Overall

The JBL Boombox 2 has the heart of a Bluetooth speaker and the style of a boombox, bringing the two together to create the ultimate modern boombox.

Jensen FM boombox on table
Jensen

Pros

Cons

Bluetooth connectivity

Radio is FM-only

Built-in CD player

Small speakers lead to somewhat thin sound

Auxiliary jack for other playback devices

Not only does the Jensen FM Stereo CD555 not look like your standard boombox, but it also doesn’t look like it has speakers. Take a closer look at the sides, and you’ll find the speakers hidden away, and that is only the first of the tricks this budget boombox has up its sleeve.

To start, the top-loading CD player is far from hidden, making it easy to play discs, including CD-Rs and CD-RWs. That’s not your only playback option, as you also have an FM radio and an auxiliary input to plug in your digital players. If you’d prefer not to plug in, this boombox is also equipped with Bluetooth connectivity.

Because of the small size, you’re not going to get much volume out of the Jensen CD555. Bass is typically a challenge for smaller speakers as well, but Jensen has included a bass boost button that somewhat makes up for the lacking low end.

Jensen’s boombox is portable thanks to the built-in handle and optional battery power from six C batteries. That said, you may want to be careful where you bring it, as it isn’t waterproof, and it doesn’t look like it would survive a drop.

Assuming you’re using this boombox at home, you can forget the batteries in favor of the included AC adapter and save some money.

jensen-fm-stereo-cd555
Jensen

Jensen FM Stereo CD555

Best Budget Boombox

$46 $70 Save $24

The Jensen CD555 combines a radio, CD playback, and Bluetooth into an easily portable boombox at a price that nearly everyone can afford.

Anker Soundcore on top of rock
Anker

Pros

Cons

Spacious stereo sound

Smaller size means somewhat lower volume

Excellent bass response

Waterproof and floats

Lightweight and easy to carry

If you like the idea of a modern-style boombox, like our best overall pick, but don’t want to pay the premium price, the Anker Soundcore Motion Boom is a fantastic alternative. It offers much of the same potential for volume and room-shaking bass but at a price that’s much easier to swallow.

Like the JBL Boombox 2, the Anker Soundcore Motion Boom is a boombox evolved from a Bluetooth speaker. In addition to stereo sound, Anker boasts that this speaker’s titanium driver diaphragm provides bass you can feel and clarity up to frequencies that you can’t even hear.

The Anker Soundcore Motion Boom is meant to go anywhere with you, thanks to its IPX7-rated waterproof design. This speaker will also float, meaning you can feel safe when you bring it to a pool party, even if the boombox happens to take a dive.

You can make sure that the party keeps going, too. Anker claims that the 10,000 mAh battery in the Soundcore Motion Boom can keep the music playing for up to 24 hours. Obviously, this will vary with volume, but it’s still impressive.

While this is a smaller speaker than JBL’s similar boombox, that also means it’s significantly lighter. At a little over four pounds, it’s easy to carry wherever you may be headed. If you’re looking for a quality boombox that doesn’t have a CD player, Anker’s option is one of your best bets that won’t break the bank.

Anker Motion Boom-1
Anker

Anker Soundcore Motion Boom

Best Bluetooth Boombox

The Anker Soundcore Motion Boom offers the same build and functions as more expensive Bluetooth boomboxes in a lower-priced package that’s still packed with features.

Sony boombox on pink and yellow background
Sony

Pros

Cons

USB, CD, FM radio, and Bluetooth playback

Limited volume

Up to 26 hours of battery life

Auxiliary jack for plugging in other devices

Sony has a long relationship with portable audio, thanks to its history as the creator of the precursor to the iPod—the Sony Walkman. That legacy is apparent with the Sony ZSRS60BT CD Boombox, but it’s also clear that the company is far from stuck in the past.

More so than any other boombox we’re looking at, the ZSRS60BT takes the familiar concept of the boombox and brings it just forward enough that it doesn’t feel out of date. This means you get a boombox with an AM/FM radio, a CD player, and Bluetooth connectivity.

That CD player can handle CDR and CD-RW discs as well as MP3 CDs, letting you cram hours of music onto a single disc. It also features USB playback for playing songs from a flash drive, as well as an auxiliary input jack for plugging in any other playback device.

This is a compact design with a relatively low wattage of 2 Watts per side. Volume isn’t the issue that you might imagine it is, and Sony has included a Mega Bass feature to combat the loss of low frequencies that you typically get with smaller speakers.

Add batteries, and the Sony ZSRS60BT becomes portable, offering up to 9 hours of CD playback or up to 26 hours of FM radio playback.

Sony ZSRS60BT CD Boombox
Sony

Sony ZSRS60BT

Best Boombox w/ CD player

Sony modernizes the traditional boombox by adding features like Bluetooth and NFC pairing to the standard CD player and AM/FM radio.

Ion Audio Street Rocker Gold

Pros

Cons

Bluetooth, USB, and microSD support

No CD player

Built-in cassette deck plays and records

Great vintage style

Very portable

The idea of a boombox has expanded greatly since they were first introduced to the world, and they’re vastly more capable than they were. That said, when you think of a boombox, the image that pops into your head probably looks less like a Bluetooth speaker with a handle and more like the Ion Audio Street Rocker Gold.

From the prominent cassette deck on the front to the boxy design and squared-off corners, the Street Rocker is largely defined by its looks. Even the chunky plastic knobs that sit on top of the boombox have a decidedly retro look to them, as do the analog volume meters and the dial for controlling the AM/FM radio.

Despite the look, the Street Rocker is thoroughly modern in terms of its design, and it works as well as a Bluetooth speaker as it does an old-school boombox. That’s not the only modern connectivity, either, as you can plug in a USB drive or microSD card into the slots on the side to play MP3 files using the built-in controls.

That cassette deck isn’t a prop, and more artists are releasing cassettes than they have in years, so it’s handy to have. You can record to cassette too, so if you’ve just been waiting to make a mixtape or just want to record off of the AM/FM radio, you can.

If you aren’t looking to wake up the neighbors, there’s a headphone jack for late-night listening. You also get an auxiliary input for playing audio from your phone or MP3 player through the built-in speakers. If you’re not a fan of gold, the Street Rocker is also available in black.

Ion Audio Street Rocker Gold

Ion Audio Street Rocker Gold

Best Vintage Boombox

The Ion Audio Street Rocker Gold has all the vintage charm of an old-school boombox and even a cassette deck, but it’s also equipped with plenty of modern connectivity like Bluetooth, USB, and even a microSD card slot.



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By John P.

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