If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, Rolling Stone may receive an affiliate commission.
There was a time when getting inexpensive audio equipment meant settling for subpar sound, but those days are over. Startups have raised the bar significantly in the entry-level speaker world, and have proved you don’t have to spend a lot to get a lot.
Bluetooth speakers are incredibly popular thanks to their portability, so we’ve compiled this guide of your best options under $50. We also have guides to the best Bluetooth speakers overall, as well as the best ultra portable Bluetooth speakers and waterproof Bluetooth speakers.
Priscilla Presley Disputes ‘Invalid’ Amendment to Lisa Marie’s Trust
‘I Hope They Stomp His Ass’: Memphis Police Release Video of Fatal Beating of Tyre Nichols
Trump's Killing Spree: The Inside Story of His Race to Execute Every Prisoner He Could
Trump Hits the 2024 Campaign Trail With an Assault on ... Windmills?
What Are the Best Bluetooth Speakers Under $50?
There are many factors to consider when choosing the best budget-friendly Bluetooth speaker for you; below are the most important ones, which we considered while we were researching this list.
Bluetooth: All of the speakers in this guide support Bluetooth, an open wireless standard that allows you to connect any phone, tablet, or computer to them regardless of who makes it. Every speaker also has a 3.5mm audio input, so you can connect to your device with an aux cable if you prefer.
Size: Our speaker picks are all totally wireless, which means you can take them anywhere. We’ve chosen speakers that are all under one foot long, and weigh about a pound, so you can take them anywhere.
Battery Life: Our minimum requirement for battery life was five hours, so you’ll be able to use these speakers for most of the day before having to plug them in.
Multi-Speaker Support: Some speakers we’re recommending can be paired with another to create a big wireless speaker system. Some can also be used as a stereo pair.
1. AmazonBasics Water Resistant Bluetooth Speaker
Amazon’s house brand AmazonBasics is a great source for budget audio gear, and its Water-Resistant Bluetooth Speaker is no different,
It gets up to seven hours of battery life per charge, and the nine-watt dual driver audio system should provide quite the punch. Amazon doesn’t say what version of Bluetooth this speaker supports, but it should be either 4.0 or 4.2 At just under one pound and 7 inches long, it’s in the middle of the pack in terms of size.
This speaker’s standout feature (besides playing music) is water resistance. Amazon doesn’t get into specifics, but says the speaker’s coating protects against moisture damage. We wouldn’t recommend submerging the speaker completely under water, but it should survive being splashed once or twice.
Another great feature is this speaker’s built- in microphone, which allows you to use it as a speakerphone when taking phone calls. Microphones are standard on headphones, but they’re not very common on Bluetooth speakers. On the other hand, it doesn’t support multi-speaker pairing, so if you’re interested in making a larger wireless speaker system for a backyard party, this isn’t the right choice.
AmazonBasics’ Bluetooth speaker is a great choice for discerning music listeners who don’t need a lot of flashy extras.
2. JBL GO 2
JBL’s GO2 is a newer Bluetooth speaker that features some of the technology found in its higher-end models.
This speaker gets up to five hours of audio playtime per charge, which is lower than the other recommendations in our guide, but its upsides compensate for this. It supports Bluetooth 4.1, a recent version of the wireless standard that’s more power efficient and reliable than older ones. It also features a microphone for taking voice calls, and has earned an IP67 durability rating, which means it’s dustproof, and waterproof enough to be held under 3.3ft of water for up to 30 minutes. Don’t worry about this speaker getting splashed, or even falling into the pool.
The GO2 only has a single driver, and doesn’t support multi-speaker pairing, but a lot of that comes down to its size. It weighs .41 pounds and is only 4.21 inches long, which makes it the lightest and smallest speaker in our guide. There’s always going to be a tradeoff between a speaker’s size and audio components, and JBL struck a pretty good balance.
If you need an extremely portable Bluetooth speaker that’s also very durable, the JBL GO2 is the right pick.
3. Braven BRV-360
Braven’s BRV series of speakers have punched above their class when it comes to sound quality and additional feature, its 360 model continues that trend. The company says this speaker can get up to 12 hours of playtime per charge, and has a range of 100 feet. Braven doesn’t list the version of Bluetooth the BRV-360 uses.
This speaker gets its name from the audio gear inside: It has a pair of dual passive radiators that send sound in all directions, so you don’t need to be in front of it when listening. That’s especially useful in social settings like the beach, where your friends and family may be spread out. This additional audio gear does come at the cost of weight, though. At 1.6 pounds this is the heaviest Bluetooth speaker in our guide.
Beyond playing music, the BRV-360 has a couple of cool tricks up its sleeve. First, it’s earned an IP67 durability rating, which means it’s dustproof and waterproof enough to be held under 3.3ft of water for up to 30 minutes. You don’t have to worry about getting it splashed at the pool or beach, or even falling into the water completely.
Second, the BRV-360 can be used as a power bank to charge your phone or tablet. It has a USB port next to its 3.5mm input where you can plug your device in. This is a great feature to have in a pinch, just remember to keep a charging cable in your bag. This speaker’s only real downside is that it doesn’t support multi-speaker pairing, so you can’t create a large, totally wireless audio system. Its 360-degree sound system makes up for this a little bit, though.
If you need a durable Bluetooth speaker that can charge your devices in case of emergency, and don’t mind it being a little heavier, the BRV-360 is the right choice.
4. Harman Kardon Neo
Harman Kardon is known for its premium, expensive audio gear, but its Neo proves it can be competitive in the sub-$50 Bluetooth speaker category.
The speaker supports Bluetooth 4.2 and comes in a compact package that’s 7.5 inches long and weighs half a pound. Harman Kardon says it can get up to 10 hours of music playback per charge, and its battery takes three hours to fill.
The Neo is powered by a single 40mm driver, which is large for a speaker in this category. You shouldn’t expect it to fill a large living room with sound, but it’s perfect for a bedroom, bathroom, or kitchen. It even has a snap-on strap, so you can attach it to a bike or backpack when you want to leave the house.
If you want to take it out of the house, you don’t need to worry about it getting damaged if it’s exposed to the elements. The Neo has an IPX7 durability rating, which means it’s totally dustproof, and can be submerged under water for half an hour. That makes it a great choice for the beach, or when listening to music poolside.
It’s surprising that such a premium speaker is available in this price range, but Harman Kardon’s Neo checks all the right boxes without requiring you to break the bank.