We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Wireless speakers are blowing up right now. There is virtually no product category in consumer audio spreading at the rampant, wildfire pace of the portable speaker market. And even for those of us who live and breath this stuff, the absolute magnitude of choices can be overwhelming.
For that reason, we’ve put together this curated list of awesomeness to narrow down your choices and help you find a sonic companion worth throwing some money at. For the sake of sheer volume, we’ve cut down the factors to those speakers that are Bluetooth enabled, fully portable, and run at or below the magic $200 water mark.
Each of the speakers on our list has something special to offer, and depending on your needs, all should serve you well in your musical endeavors. So if you’ve been looking for a selection of some of the best portable speakers the world has to offer, don’t worry about heading to Amazon, or wandering through Google searches. We’ve got you covered right here. Enjoy!
Braven 600 ($100-150)
Now near ancient in Bluetooth speaker years, the Braven 600 is still a shining beacon for the genre. Not only does it sound fantastic, but it’s also flush to the gills with features, including an Aux input, a speakerphone, a USB charging port for a smartphone, and a class-leading 17-hour max battery run-time. On top of all of that, its aircraft-grade aluminum body is a classic mixture of durability and refinement.
Bose Soundlink Mini ($200)
With its sleek design, and vividly detailed sound signature, the Soundlink Mini is making a name for itself as the audiophile’s choice for affordable portable sound. The speaker is a bit light on features and the bass can get a little boomy, but the treble and midrange offer the kind of expression and clarity you’ll rarely find in a speaker this size.
Eton Rukus XL solar powered ($200)
Those looking for a durable speaker that will keep a backyard party rolling all day and into the night need look no further than the Rukus XL. Thanks to a cleverly-designed adjustable panel of solar cells, the Rukus can blast clear and powerful audio for as long as the sun shines. And even when the sun goes down, the battery will keep the Rukus XL rocking for up to 8 hours. Just don’t be jealous if your fusion-powered sound machine is more of a hit than your baby back ribs.
Braven BRV-1 ($117-130)
The BRV-1 is the Sherman tank of the Braven family. The little speaker packs all of the features and sonic aptitude of the Braven 600 into a retro-futuristic armored enclosure. The BRV-1 is water, shock, and dust resistant, and all of its delicates are nicely protected by a removable cap, allowing it to bring the music just about anywhere you’d care to take it. In other words, this speaker takes a knocking and keeps on rocking.
UE Mini Boom ($100)
UE’s Mini Boom is as aptly named as any speaker on our list. The speaker’s rich lower register and powerful max volume extend far beyond its tiny frame, invoking a double take when we first cranked it up. On top of that, the speaker packs a healthy feature set, including a companion app that, among other features, simplifies the process of pairing it with another Mini Boom for true stereo separation. When it comes to sound quality, power, and sheer value, it’s hard to beat this little pod.
JBL Charge ($130-150)
JBL touts the Charge for its feature set, most notably its ability to charge a mobile device. But while many speakers can claim that talent, few can go toe to toe with the Charge for sheer power and presence. The speaker delivers shockwaves of clear sound from its tubular frame, and it’s also protected by a rugged suit of plastic armor to meet the challenges of the outdoors. Charge’s less expensive sibling, the Flip, also gets honorable mention for similarly impressive sonic skills, though its feature set is scaled down a bit.
G-Project G-Boom ($100)
G-Project isn’t Busta Rhymes’ latest consortium of rappers, it’s actually a relatively new start-up from some of the same folks behind Soundfreaq. But newbie or no, G-Project hit the ground running with its G-Boom, a briefcase-sized speaker that packs more sound for less money than almost any entry on our list. Bringing back the Boombox in a whole new way, the G-Boom is rugged, powerful, and sounds great. Better get that shoulder ready.
Cambridge Audio Minx Go ($150)
While powerful sound may be a major objective for most portables, the Minx-Go focuses more on elegance. Striking a chic and minimalist aesthetic, this classically-styled rectangle pours out gorgeous layers of quality sound for a nice price. The only issue with the Minx-Go is some noisy chatter in the Bluetooth connection, but the issue is nominal once the music strikes, making the speaker an enticing budget buy.
While the Deck may not be the top performer sonically on our list, its still no slouch. And what the speaker lacks in fidelity, it makes up for in sheer fun-factor and overall performance. The speaker has the longest wireless range out of any portable we’ve encountered, and its DJ Mode allows up to five devices to connect at a time, so there’s never a dull moment, and a bad song can always be vetoed. A bevy of features, a slim and travel-ready aesthetic, and a rainbow of eye-catching LED lighting around the exterior round out the Deck’s wheelhouse.
Boomphones Pocket Speaker ($100)
Another device that lives up to its name, the Pocket Speaker is a truly portable audio companion. Spawning a growing range of copycats, the Pocket Speaker is tiny enough to fit in your jeans or jacket pocket, and powerful enough to blow just about anything its size out of the water. Of course, all the sonic power in the world does you no good if the sound is lacking, and luckily, the Pocket Speaker excels in that category as well. It summons clarity and detail from its small tweeters, and a surprising boost of bass from its passive radiators. For those who want a speaker that travels almost as easily as a smartphone, the Pocket Speaker is the clear choice. Note: Formerly the Carbon Audio pocket speaker, this product is now marketed under the Boomphones name.
What do you think of our picks for portable Bluetooth speakers under $200? What would you add?
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