is the best Bluetooth speaker in the business right now. From sound quality and ruggedness to battery life and extra features, there’s very little the Megaboom 3 doesn’t get right.
Our team has reviewed no fewer than 170 Bluetooth speakers over the years, racking up hundreds — if not thousands — of hours of listening time. We’ve used these speakers at home, at work, and in the great outdoors, so when we say the Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 is a must-have for most people, we’re speaking from extensive experience. If it’s not right for you, we’ve also assembled a list of superb alternatives, including the JBL Flip 5, Riva Festival and Ultimate Ears Wonderboom. Each one stands out for a specific strength, which means one is likely perfect for your particular needs.
The best Bluetooth speakers at a glance
- Best Bluetooth speaker overall: Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3
- Best cheap Bluetooth speaker: Oontz Angle
- Best high-end Bluetooth speaker: Riva Festival
- Best rugged Bluetooth speaker: JBL Flip 4
- Best portable Bluetooth speaker: Ultimate Ears Wonderboom
- Best multiroom-capable Bluetooth speaker: Sonos Move
Why should you buy this? It offers gorgeous looks, a slew of features, and great performance.
Who’s it for? Everyone who wants great sound on the go.
Why we picked the Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3:
Ultimate Ears has spent the better part of the last decade developing some of the best-sounding, sharpest-looking, and most rugged Bluetooth speakers on the market. There is no product that better embodies this ethos than the Megaboom 3.
While it offers plenty of enticing features, perhaps the most impressive feature of the Megaboom 3 is just how life-proof it is. It’s got a specially designed fabric that can take a licking while still looking sharp. It’s also dustproof and waterproof, even being able to be submerged in water up to three feet for 30 minutes. All that, plus it’s got up to 20 hours of battery life for extended listening on the go.
The Megaboom 3 projects sound all around it, easily filling your space with your favorite tunes. With vibrant highs and authoritative bass, it even competes with many non-portable options when it comes to fidelity. And it’s got something called the “Magic Button”, which allows you to change playlists and tracks when your phone is out of reach. If you are looking for a new Swiss Army knife of sound to take with you anywhere, this is the best you’ll find.
Why should you buy this? It’s cheap, water-resistant, and sounds great for the money.
Who’s it for? Those in need of a speaker that’s affordable, compact, and worry-free.
Why we picked the Oontz Angle:
If you’re not trying to get audiophile-grade sound, throw your speaker straight into the pool, or tap into your savings account to bring your favorite tunes with you on the go, the Oontz Angle is a great choice.
One of the most popular choices on Amazon, the Angle came to our attention when we were looking for a cheap speaker to take into the bathroom while showering. With good bass response, a water-resistant design, and up to 14 hours of battery life, this cheap little speaker offers insane value at its low price.
Its Bluetooth 4.2 antenna offers up to 100 feet of range, and the Angle even has a 3.5 mm AUX port, should you want to plug into it. As far as we’re concerned, it’s a no-brainer: This speaker is the best affordable option you’ll find.
Why should you buy this? It offers excellent stereophonic sound, multiroom functionality, and support for high-resolution audio playback.
Who’s it for? Those willing to shell out a little extra dough for exquisite performance.
Why we picked the Riva Festival:
In June 2017, Riva debuted its WAND (Wireless Audio Network Design) line of speakers, comprising the $250 Arena — more on that later — and the $500 Festival. WAND is a wireless protocol that connects multiple speakers across large spaces or in separate rooms, similar to Sonos’ proprietary system or JBL’s Connect Plus.
The Festival boasts just about every connectivity feature under the sun. Along with Bluetooth, the speaker can connect over Wi-Fi, including AirPlay, DLNA, and DDMS. The Festival supports several direct streaming options as well, including Spotify Connect, plus it’s Google Cast-ready for instant streaming from multiple apps.
All that aside, the real reason you’ll want to consider the Riva Festival is its audio performance. Packed with seven ADX drivers powered by 200 watts, six-channel amplification with advanced digital signal processing (DSP), and a total of four passive radiators, it produces sound as clear, crisp, and powerful as you’ll hear from a wireless speaker in this price range. Riva’s ADX Trillium stereophonic DSP system manages to project music across a wide soundstage with effortless clarity, and the Festival is built to handle pretty much any audio codec you can think of — even hi-res codecs like FLAC and AAC.
When it comes to design, the Festival is a bit on the boring side (especially considering its name), but that’s a minor complaint and a trait that many will appreciate. We’ll give a shout-out to Bowers & Wilkins’ T7, the Mass Fidelity Core, and the Marshall Stanmore II Voice, but they just can’t beat the Festival.
Why should you buy this? It offers great sound in a rugged, portable, and affordable package.
Who’s it for? Those who want versatility and serious durability on a budget.
Why we picked the JBL Flip 5:
When it comes to wireless audio, durability is a big factor for those always on the move. After all, taking your sound everywhere is kind of the big seller for Bluetooth. JBL’s Flip 5 fits that bill, and it’s more than just another run-of-the-mill waterproof option.
JBL significantly upped the Flip 5’s power when compared to the earlier fourth-generation of this speaker. With more than double the power of the Flip 4, the Flip 5 get impressively loud, while generating a copious amount of bass.
Like the Flip 4, it is waterproof with an IPX7 rating, meaning you can submerge the speaker in a meter of water for up to 30 minutes. Battery life, while not massive at 12 hours, is still plenty for an entire day’s worth of tunes.
Using JBL’s PartyBoost feature, you can link two PartyBoost-compatible speakers for stereo sound, or link even more for a synchronized sound that can be spread around a whole house (or pool party).
The Flip 5 is definitely the right choice for a durable go-anywhere Bluetooth speaker for those who place a premium on big, bold sound, However, the. With its speakerphone function, voice assistant-button, and line-in capability, it trades absolute power for enhanced practicality. It’s cheaper too.
Why should you buy this? Inch for inch, it’s the most capable micro-speaker you can find that still produces decent sound.
Who’s it for? Those who value portability, but aren’t willing to sacrifice sound quality or durability.
Why we picked the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom:
Mini Bluetooth speakers often suffer from terrible audio quality and volume levels that simply can’t keep up with their larger cousins. The Ultimate Ears Wonderboom defies this tendency and does it in a fully floating, waterproof package.
While its bass performance can’t quite match that of the JBL Flip 4, the Wonderboom is shockingly good considering its diminutive size. Ultimate Ears speakers are known for being minimalist in design, and the Wonderboom is no exception. With only two buttons — for volume up/down — there isn’t even a visible battery life indicator (instead you get an audio prompt with three different tones). Still, it’s hard to find fault with that considering the sound, the ruggedness, the size, and mostly the price of the Wonderboom. You should be able to find it for less than $75.
Why should you buy this? It’s a Sonos speaker that can also do double-duty as a rechargeable portable Bluetooth speaker. Need we say more?
Who’s it for? Sonos owners who want a portable Bluetooth speaker that will work with their whole-home sound system.
Why we picked the Sonos Move:
Multiroom audio is something a number of companies claim their wireless speakers can do, but we’ve never come across a multiroom system that is as easy to use or as powerful as Sonos. So when Sonos finally introduced a battery-powered portable speaker that can effortlessly switch between Wi-Fi-based whole-home audio and go-anywhere Bluetooth connectivity, we were all ears.
The Sonos Move is pricey at $399, but it justifies that price through a build quality that goes well beyond most of the products on this list. Despite looking like the rest of the Sonos line of indoor-only speakers, the Move is just at home outside, with an IP56 rating for dust and water-resistance. That means pool parties, unexpected rainstorms, or even trips to the beach are no problem for the Move. Just don’t immerse it in water — it isn’t waterproof.
It has a big, bold sound that easily fills a room with warmth and depth. Cleverly, the Move integrates a new form of Sonos’ excellent TruePlay EQ technology — one which requires no user intervention. It simply measures the room acoustics via the built-in mics and adjusts accordingly, and will do so every time you move it.
Of course, those mics would be under-utilized if they were only for Auto-TruePlay. They also serve as your smart speaker interface. Like the Sonos One and Sonos Beam, you get a choice of Alexa or Google Assistant. This won’t work when using Bluetooth, but it’s pretty handy when at home.
The Move’s battery is good for 10 hours of use between charges, which is frankly a little underwhelming for a portable speaker. But we have to give Sonos props for its decision to make the battery user-replaceable — a rarity in this category and a huge help in keeping the Move from an early trip to the landfill.
Filling out the Move’s benefits is AirPlay 2, which lets you stream directly to the speaker from any iOS device or MacOS computer. It’s a higher stream quality than Bluetooth and makes the Move an ideal source for better-than-iPad sound quality for YouTube, Netflix, Disney+ or any other video source you can think of.
How we test
We test Bluetooth speakers the way normal people live.
We run every speaker through a rigorous process over the course of several days. That includes playing them in all sorts of scenarios, be it in the park or at the beach (for portables), in the listening room, or at the office, and playing back from our device library and streaming services like Spotify. We also test range, connection stability, and interference in areas with a lot of radio frequency interference (i.e. the Digital Trends offices).
Finally, we compare each speaker to some of our go-to models, both in their class and price point, as well as a level or two above to find out if they can punch above their weight.
How to decipher Bluetooth speaker terms
- NFC — Shorthand for Near Field Communication, this oft-touted feature is actually quite limited when it comes to Bluetooth speakers, allowing select phones to pair with a speaker with a quick touch. Since pairing is often as simple as pressing a button, and speakers will be remembered by your device once paired, it’s not seen as a must-have feature.
- AptX — Another feature limited to phones and devices outside of Apple’s periphery, AptX is a codec (or group of codecs) said to allow Bluetooth streaming at “near CD quality” resolution. Apple products do not use AptX, but Android users may find it improves performance when paired with high-quality tracks and high-performance speakers. AptX Adaptive is the latest and greatest version of this codec, but both source device and Bluetooth speaker must support it for you to get any benefit.
- Passive radiator — A passive radiator is a type of driver used to enhance bass in a speaker. In a sealed speaker enclosure (no portholes) a passive radiator responds to fluctuations in air pressure within the enclosure, creating sound. Since a passive radiator doesn’t have to be powered by an amp, it has no magnet or voice coil and is therefore lighter and smaller than a traditional driver. This saves space and cost while increasing the speaker’s performance.
- Pairing (or Bluetooth pairing) — In the case of Bluetooth speakers, pairing is the act of making a wireless connection from a speaker to your wireless device via Bluetooth.
- IPXX — IP stands for “Ingress Protection,” and this rating denotes how resistant a device is to dust (first number) and water (second). For instance, a device with an IP67 rating is dust-tight and allows water submersion up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes. The higher the numbers, the better the protection you get. If you plan to take your Bluetooth speaker near water, the minimum you should go is IPX7. Park it here for a full explanation of what it all means.
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