Sat. May 18th, 2024


A Bluetooth speaker is a fantastic audio upgrade for your smartphone or laptop, but you don’t need to spend a lot to pick up an awesome one. These budget Bluetooth speakers pump out great sound and don’t break the bank.


UPDATE: 08/31/2023

We’ve reviewed our recommendations and have updated the best budget-friendly waterproof Bluetooth speaker to the latest version.

What to Look For in a Budget Bluetooth Speaker in 2023

One of the first factors you’ll want to consider when looking for a Bluetooth speaker, regardless of price, is the size and form factor. If you’re using a speaker in place of a home stereo, you’ll likely want a bigger model than if you’re looking for a portable speaker to carry to the park.

While almost any Bluetooth speaker will be more rugged than a piece of home audio equipment, they’re not all created equal. If you intend to use your speaker outdoors, you’ll want a model that is at least somewhat waterproof. An IP67 or IPX4 rating is perfect for casual use.

That said, if you’re going to be using your speaker outdoors more often than not, you might want to look for an even higher IP rating like IPX7. It’s important to note that these ratings aren’t always reliable, but with reputable brands, you can assume that the rating you see is at least comparable to the performance you expect.

Battery life is another major consideration for any Bluetooth speaker, big or small, expensive or affordable. If you’re using your speaker mostly plugged in at home, a few hours is all you need. However, if you’re bringing your speaker with you on longer trips, you’ll want as much battery life as you can possibly get.

While the above considerations are what you’ll want to address first, there are a few other factors to keep in mind. The Bluetooth version isn’t that important unless it’s terribly out of date, but most modern Bluetooth speakers ship with at least Bluetooth 5.0. While Bluetooth 5.2 brings some improvements, many speakers aren’t making use of them yet.

You might also want to keep the codecs a speaker uses in mind if you want the best audio quality. Your phone may use a different codec than what the speaker supports, at which point you’re relying on the most basic codecs, which won’t sound as good as they would if you matched them up.

Finally, look at the other features of speakers you’re interested in, as these could help you make a final decision. Do you prefer a Bluetooth speaker with an integrated color LED light or one with a clip to easily attach it to your backpack? These small features can end up making a significant difference in how you use a given speaker.

Now, let’s get into the best budget Bluetooth speakers for your needs.

How Did We Research

Models Evaluated

Hours Researched

Reviews Analyzed

16

5

22

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 ยป

Best Budget Bluetooth Speaker Overall: DOSS SoundBox Touch

pink soundbox on mint green table with macarons

Pros

Cons

Capacitive touch is easy to use

Bluetooth 4.0 means just a 33-foot range

Actual stereo sound in a budget Bluetooth speaker

IPX4 water-resistant

Available in plenty of colors

Whether you’re not sure exactly what you’re looking for in a Bluetooth speaker or you just want a great quick recommendation, the DOSS SoundBox Touch is a speaker to look into. It’s affordable, packed with features, and sounds great.

Unlike some Bluetooth speakers, the SoundBox Touch is fully stereo, pumping out 12 watts per channel. This means you don’t have to worry about certain songs sounding strange on the speaker compared to listening to them with headphones.

If you’re curious about the word “touch” in the name, it comes down to the speaker’s controls. Instead of tactile buttons, these are capacitive touch buttons, meaning you don’t need to press them with any force. With the onboard controls, you can skip songs, switch modes, and pause and resume playback.

Despite the low price, the DOSS SoundBox Touch isn’t cheaply built. The enclosure is made from durable plastic, and the entire speaker is IPX4 water-resistant. You can’t submerge this speaker, but you don’t need to worry if it’s splashed on occasionally.

As with all Bluetooth speakers, just how much battery life you get depends on how loud you’re listening. The company says that you can get up to 20 hours of playback time if you keep the volume at 50 percent or lower.

Unlike some other Bluetooth speakers, the DOSS SoundBox Touch also features a built-in microphone. This means that when you’re listening to music and the phone rings, you can take the call with the press of a button. Not everyone needs this feature, but if you’re a fan of speakerphones, it’s definitely useful.

dossbox

DOSS SoundBox Touch

Best Budget Bluetooth Speaker

$30 $40 Save $10

If you’re just looking for an easy recommendation, the DOSS SoundBox Touch is hard to beat. It sounds great, has good battery life, and it’s tough enough to handle your day-to-day.

Best Budget Portable Bluetooth Speaker: JBL Clip 4

JBL Clip 4 attached to a backpack
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek

Pros

Cons

Sounds better and louder than ever

No fast charging

Improved carabiner is tougher than previous models

No ability to pair with another Clip 4 for stereo

IP67 rating means the Clip 4 is more weather resistant than the Clip 3

Good battery life for the size

Despite the inherent portability of Bluetooth speakers, some of them are more portable than others. If you’re always on the move and looking for a speaker that can keep up with you, the JBL Clip 4 is a perfect companion.

The JBL Clip 4 improves on the Clip 3 in most ways. While the Clip 3 provided IPX7 water resistance, the Clip 4 offers IP67 weather resistance. While the water resistance stays the same, the Clip 4 also adds protection against dust. This is especially handy if you’re using the speaker in sandy areas like the beach.

The carabiner that gives the Clip series its name is still here, and it’s better than ever. With older Clip models, the carabiner was relatively easy to break. The new and improved carabiner on the Clip 4 is far less prone to breaking, as mentioned in our JBL Clip 4 review. The look of the actual clip is also much improved from the previous model. While the one on the JBL Clip 3 seemed to jut out of the top, the clip on the newer model is integrated within the body resulting in a much sleeker appearance.

The controls are simple but easy to use. They’re both much larger and easier to see than the buttons on the Clip 3. While the controls are simple, having the most common controls on the speaker is convenient.

JBL claims up to 10 hours of playback time at moderate volume. While this doesn’t match the all-day battery life of larger speakers, it’s plenty for a speaker this small. Charging is via USB-C.

A wide variety of color finishes has long been a hallmark of the JBL Clip series, which remains the case here. The Clip 4 is available in Black, Blue, Camouflage, Gray, Pink, Red, and White.

JBL Clip 4

JBL Clip 4

Best Budget Portable Bluetooth Speaker

Bluetooth speakers don’t really get much more portable than the JBL Clip series. The Clip 4 is louder and more weather-resistant than the Clip 3, and the redesigned carabiner is the toughest yet.

Best Budget Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker: Anker Soundcore 2

Anker Soundcore 2

Pros

Cons

IPX7 water resistance

Can distort at higher volumes

Solid stereo sound for the price

24-hour battery life

Weather resistance is becoming a near-given in Bluetooth speakers, to the point that you can safely assume most speakers feature some sort of protection. Many budget-friendly speakers offer water resistance at the expense of good sound, but the Anker Soundcore 2 manages to offer both without a jump in price.

Not all weather-resistant speakers are created equal. For example, the Soundcore 2 is rated IPX7, which means that it has good water resistance, but no dust resistance at all. Depending on the climate you live in, or at least where you’ll be using the speaker, this may or may not be an issue worth considering.

Like the original Soundcore, the Anker Soundcore 2 features surprisingly decent stereo sound for the price, despite the small overall size. That said, as is the case with many smaller speakers, the sound will start to break up at higher volumes. As long as you’re not using the speaker as the sole source of music for a party, however, this shouldn’t be a problem.

As with the original Soundcore, Anker promises up to 24 hours of playback time, and the Soundcore 2 delivers. If you’re willing to keep the volume at more moderate levels, you may even get more time out of the speaker.

In addition to black, the Anker Soundcore 2 is available in Blue, Red, and Teal color variations. If you want the latest and greatest and don’t mind spending a few more dollars, the Anker Soundcore 3 features everything in the Soundcore 2, but with slightly more wattage and newer drivers.

anker soundcore 2

Anker Soundcore 2

Best Budget Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker

$30 $40 Save $10

If you’re looking for a speaker that can handle any weather and isn’t going to run out of battery life when you least expect it, the Anker Soundcore 2 is a fantastic option.

Anker Soundcore Mini on pink background
Anker

Pros

Cons

LED Audio Fireworks feature is fun

Small size limits battery life

360-degree sound is great for parties

IPX7 water resistance makes it great for the pool

Many rugged Bluetooth speakers look like they belong on a heavy-duty work site, not an enjoyable weekend in the woods. The Anker Soundcore Flare Mini, on the other hand, combines a rugged build with a nice aesthetic and features you’ll want to use.

The Soundcore Flare Mini features 360-degree sound, driven by a pair of 5-watt neodymium drivers for a total of 10 watts of power. These dual drivers, paired with passive radiators for enhanced low end, make for a surprisingly big-sounding small speaker.

This 360-degree sound makes the speaker great for parties, and the build quality keeps you from having to worry about what could go wrong. The SoundCore Flare Mini is IPX7 rated, which means if this speaker goes flying into the pool, you have up to 30 minutes to recover it without worrying about water damage.

One of the more unique features of the Soundcore Flare Mini is the “Audio Fireworks” feature, an LED ring light at the bottom of the speaker. This will glow and pulse in time with the music, providing a visual element to match your audio.

Don’t worry about this light show wearing out the battery. LEDs don’t use much power, and Anker says the Soundcore Flare Mini can provide up to 12 hours of playback time, depending on the volume.

Similar to the base Soundcore speaker, you get three color options: Black, Blue, and Red.

anker flare mini

Anker Soundcore Flare Mini

Best Budget Rugged Bluetooth Speaker

Rugged doesn’t just mean that you can hammer nails with it. The Anker Soundcore Flare Mini is a fun speaker you can take anywhere without worrying if it’s going to survive the night.

Best Budget Car Bluetooth Speaker: Sony SRS-XB13

Pink Sony XB13 image
Sony

Pros

Cons

Easy to carry practically anywhere

No stereo sound with just one unit

Great battery life for the size

Bluetooth Multipoint lets you pair two speakers for stereo

On our list of the best Bluetooth speakers, the Sony SRS-XB33 made our pick for the best Bluetooth Car Speaker. For our budget pick, why look elsewhere than its younger sibling, the Sony SRS-XB13?

While this model is smaller, it still has many of the features that make its larger sibling great. This model is small enough to carry nearly anywhere, and this also gives you plenty of options when it comes to placing it in your car. The multiway strap also lets you hang the speaker for extra volume.

Sony uses a proprietary Sound Diffusion Processor to expand the sound, even though this isn’t a stereo speaker. However, like the larger model, you can pair two SRS-XB13 speakers together for stereo sound.

While it isn’t as tough as some of the other speakers we’re looking at, the Sony SRS-XB13 will still survive a trip to the beach as long as you take care of it. This speaker is IP67-rated water and dust-resistant, so while a splash won’t be a problem, try to keep it away from the water.

As long as you charge the speaker overnight, you shouldn’t worry about running out of battery during the day. Sony claims the SRS-XB13 supports up to 16 hours of battery life, though this will vary depending on how loud you’ve got the volume.

One final reason this makes a great speaker for the car is the built-in mic for the speakerphone, as well as Siri and Google Assistant. This helps you keep your eyes on the road where they should be.

The SRS-XB13 doesn’t come in many colors, but you’ve got a few options beyond black. These include Coral Pink, Light Blue, Powder Blue, and Taupe.

sony srs-xb13

Sony SRS-XB13

Best Budget Car Bluetooth Speaker

$36 $60 Save $24

The Sony SRS-XB13 packs big sound into a small package you can perch anywhere in your car, and the built-in speaker lets you take calls and use your phone’s voice assistant hands-free.

FAQ

How do I connect multiple Bluetooth speakers?

You can connect multiple Bluetooth speakers to your phone or another playback device. That said, you shouldn’t expect to play music on them at the same time. While options like multipoint Bluetooth are available, basic Bluetooth only allows playback on one device at a time.

Why do my Bluetooth speakers keep cutting out?

If your speaker is cutting out, it could be too far away from your phone or other devices. Most Bluetooth speakers have a range of around 30 feet, but it can be less or more, depending on the speaker. This could also be from a wall or other obstacle between you and the speaker.

Can I bring a Bluetooth speaker on a plane?

Yes, Bluetooth and other portable speakers are allowed both in checked baggage and in carry-on luggage. While you can bring the speaker onboard a plane, the airline won’t be happy if you try to use your speaker on the plane.

Can you charge a Bluetooth speaker while using it?

Yes. Almost every Bluetooth speaker can charge during playback. This will increase your overall charge time, however.



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By John P.

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