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The term “portable speaker” gets tossed around these days almost as much as the pint-sized amplifiers it refers to. But with our demands for sound getting larger and larger, these once-compact speakers are now expanding in size accordingly. Those lightweight Bluetooth speakers you used to clip to your backpack or tote have now been seemingly replaced by bulky, shoebox-sized packages that deliver on sound but not on portability.
Fortunately, a number of companies are still staying true to the “portable” part of “portable speakers,” making lightweight, hand-held units that offer solid sound in compact sizes. The best small portable Bluetooth speakers let you take your music with you, and are an easy way to add energy and ambiance to a party, tailgate or outdoor excursion. Gone are the days of small speakers basically acting as large headphones, without enough sound to really feel the party. The best “small” wireless speakers today pack more punch than boomboxes in the nineties, with surprisingly defined sound and powerful bass.
Convenience and quality are paramount for this generation of small Bluetooth speakers. With built-in capabilities such as Alexa, deeper bass, element resistance (water and sand-proof), and stereo connectivity, the latest small wireless speakers are about as audio capable as most home theater systems – yet easier to travel with. Most of our picks are smaller than a bottle of water too, letting them slip easily into your coat pocket or backpack. We’ve included some larger — but still compact — speakers as well.
High-end manufacturers are getting in the game too when it comes to reliable small portable speakers. Bose has always dabbled in the portable arena, but now has multiple offerings for a variety of playing scenarios. Relative newcomer Sonos has made their first foray into portables with a heavy-hitting portable version of their superior quality home theater speakers.
Contrary to what you may think, the best small Bluetooth speakers don’t lack much in the sound department; most of the speakers listed here can fill a large room or outdoor space given their upper volume limits. And solid battery life means you can keep the music going for hours at a time. That being said, if you’re an audiophile who wants rounder, more detailed sound, you’ll still want to spring for an actual home speaker set-up rather than these tiny units.
If you’re looking for something to take on your next outing, camping trip or from room to room around the house, however, you can’t beat this list of small portable Bluetooth speakers. Quality construction, premium components, and fun features make these speakers the creme de la creme of the on-the-go audio world.
1. Bose SoundLink Micro
The simple yet ruggedly packaged Bose SoundLink Micro is a must-have accessory for any audiophile’s go-bag. With six hours of play time, this unit keeps the hits rocking gloriously and harmoniously throughout the day. Keep it single or pair with another SoundLink Micro for stereo sound; the clarity, depth of sound quality, and basic tonal ability of the SoundLink Micro is astounding.
PROS: Pint-sized perfection, easily clips to a bag, backpack, or cooler. Being waterproof is a wonderful added benefit.
CONS: Don’t let the size fool you, this speaker hits hard; however, the battery life could be a bit better.
2. JBL Flip 4 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker
The JBL Flip 4’s tubular design delivers sound multi-directionally. The power of this speaker can be witnessed through the exposed side ports, as the cones bump and rattle to the beat of the music paired with your devices. The Flip has two connectivity features that make the unit stand out amongst its peers: first, two devices can be connected at once. This means double DJs and no more passing around the one phone to pick a song. Second, with JBL Connect+ more than 100 Connect+ devices can be linked together to create the Megazord of speakers.
PROS: Big bold sound with great battery life (up to 12 hours of playtime).
CONS: Bass can be a bit too much at peak volume for certain genres.
3. DOSS SoundBox Touch
The DOSS SoundBox Touch is a great entry-level small bluetooth speaker. With dual drivers, the SoundBox Touch delivers 12 watts of power from a small housing. With easy to use controls mounted on the top of the unit, the SoundBox Touch is great for tabletop listening at a cookout, on the deck, or as a balcony speaker. Built-in stereo phonics means this speaker delivers sound as though it were coming from multiple speakers for a richer aural experience.
PROS: Well-crafted construction, easy to use, good sound for the money.
CONS: Some users have remarked there is a low battery tone that can last for quite some time and become annoying.
4. Bose Portable Home Speaker (with Alexa)
The Bose Portable Home Speaker is a small bluetooth and WiFi speaker that delivers rich enveloping sound inside and – more importantly – outside the house. The design of the Portable Home Speaker naturally radiates acoustics throughout a 360 degree listening environment. With concentrated bass, precise highs and mids, the Bose Speaker is small enough to take with you almost anywhere. With integrated music and personal assistance services like Amazon Music and Alexa, the Portable Home Speaker can be voice-controlled while connected to WiFi. Additionally, the speaker can be linked with other Bose SimpleSync products to bring an all-encompassing HiFi experience on the go.
PROS: 360 degree sound is a thing of beauty from a small speaker. Up to 12 hours of playback from a single charge.
CONS: No fault of Bose, we just wish that Alexa was available off WiFi.
5. Sonos MOVE
Sonos has already upped the home theater ante with their WiFi speaker system — now they’re aiming to shake up the world of small Bluetooth speakers too. The latest from the high-tech maker is the Move unit. Built for those on the move (get it?), this unit packs a helluva lot of power into a small package.
The Move uses one downward-firing tweeter employing a custom-designed waveguide that disperses sound evenly, along with one mid-woofer integrated into the cabinet for deep, rich bass. The deep bass and wonderfully rich sound permeates the most open of spaces with the cleanest of tones. Fully equipped with Alexa, the Move is conveniently hands-free. Adding to the over deliverance of quality is 10 hours of play time, stunningly rugged weather resistance, and a shockproof construction to combat accidental drops.
PROS: Small but supremely mighty. Sound quality booms. Overall construction is masterful.
CONS: It is the upper limit of “small” and is a bit heavy for the category, but completely worth it in every possible way.