Seven Portable Bluetooth Speaker Systems, Tested And Reviewed

Four Bluetooth Speakers Receive Recognition

These price segments yield so much differentiation that we decided to recognize models in each class. Starting from the top, we have $200 to $300.

Eton Rukus XL


If you combine solid sound quality, good aesthetics, and incredible utility, you get Eton's Rukus XL. We love the ability to charge this speaker using its built-in solar panel, along with an attached smartphone through USB. I can't imagine anything I'd rather take on a camping trip. Of course, the Rukus XL is just as comfortable in your backyard, the kitchen, or in a living room.

When it comes to volume, Bluetooth range, and battery life, you get top-tier performance across our testing suite. This product truly deserves a Tom's Hardware Smart Buy award.

Next, $100 to $200.

Cambridge Audio Minx Go

Arguably the most balanced and best-sounding option in our round-up, despite being small enough to tote in a gym bag, Cambridge Audio's Minx Go also boasts the longest battery life in our comparison. The $150 speaker deserves our Smart Buy award based on those traits alone. If it also included a good mic for answering phone calls, controls for skipping and repeating audio tracks, and USB-based charging without the AC adapter, it would have received Elite recognition instead. Hopefully Cambridge Audio considers those capabilities for its next-gen effort.

Lastly, lets look at what you can find under $100.

Luxa2 Groovy

It's attractive, built using high-quality materials, and it sounds larger and louder than a diminutive stature might suggest. At a relatively low price of $83 on Amazon.com, we have a hard time finding fault with Luxa2's Groovy. We would have liked controls for navigating to the next or previous track on a playlist, but that's a small critique overall. In the end, there's no deterring us from granting a Tom's Hardware Smart Buy award to this value leader.

Edifier Extreme Connect

While the Groovy earns our Smart Buy award, Edifier's Extreme Connect comes close with solid frequency response across the audio spectrum and a host of unique features, such as microSD connectivity and built-in circuitry for using the speaker attached to a PC via USB. With a price just a bit higher than its competition, some folks might find the extra money worth spending for that extra flexibility. 

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  • vmem
    whatever happened to really popular products like jambox and solemate? they're well within your price range
  • DarkSable
    I run a firespinning troupe. When you're practicing routines, you HAVE to have loud, clear music, because the fire tools are spinning quickly, causing a massive amount of air turbulence with the flames, creating a very, very loud roar.

    In order to practice a routine with perhaps five other people on stage, you have to be able to hear the music to know where you are in the routine - otherwise someone might move too early or not move, and, well... bad things would happen.

    When I founded the club, I was looking at all sorts of options; what I really wanted was a shop boombox, but they were expensive and didn't have the battery life I needed for practice... and couldn't be plugged in because you practice outside.

    After reading a lot of reviews, I got the UE boombox. It has several features that were incredibly useful to me - most notable the fact that it could store three bluetooth profiles AND connect through a normal 3.5mm jack - that way we didn't have to just use my music collection, but could use other members' as well without them having to mail me the files.

    Solutions we tried to use before was an iHome system, which didn't come close to having enough volume, and an old CD boombox... which worked fine, except the CDs got worn out pretty quickly as they were outdoors, and it was limiting on what music we could use - we had to have it beforehand.

    So I got this UE boombox, and it was perfect. It doesn't have THE sharpest sound in the world, but it doesn't have distortion with everything turned to max volume, and it has solid base (so you can hear the beat clearly) and good battery life.

    For anything requiring outdoor music that has to carry well or be particularly well, I highly, highly recommend the UE Boombox. (It would work perfectly for, say, a beach party, or something like that.)
  • lp231
    i was hoping you guys would also include the Creative Airwave.
    http://us.store.creative.com/B00COIHWVG/M/B00COIHWVG.htm
  • thesuperguy
    The problem with this review is that they are basing their recommendations on the purely technical aspects that in the end, really don't contribute to sound quality. Ranking them based on features, range, and maximum volume is fine and all, but frequency range is not an indicator of quality. It is a very subjective thing.
  • cleeve
    1305200 said:
    The problem with this review is that they are basing their recommendations on the purely technical aspects that in the end, really don't contribute to sound quality. Ranking them based on features, range, and maximum volume is fine and all, but frequency range is not an indicator of quality. It is a very subjective thing.


    That's not true, sound quality is foremost when it comes to factors that contribute to our final recommendations.

    Both subjective and objective measures of sound quality were taken into account.
    We can't chart subjective sound quality but that doesn't mean you should assume it's unimportant. It's a huge part of the analysis.
  • cleeve
    52743 said:
    i was hoping you guys would also include the Creative Airwave. http://us.store.creative.com/B00COIHWVG/M/B00COIHWVG.htm


    We asked Creative for a sample and they declined to answer.
  • boogalooelectric
    I just bought one of these for $20 from Monoprice

    http://www.monoprice.com/Product?ab3=b&utm_expid=58369800-11.KFcpHWqASSutMqNPOqaJVg.1&c_id=108&cp_id=10827&cs_id=1082704&p_id=7364&seq=1&format=2&utm_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.monoprice.com%2FCategory%3Fc_id%3D120%26cp_id%3D10827

    I hooked them up to a pair of old cambridge soundworks 2.1 speakers and voila I have bluetooth speakers.

    Monoprice has another for $45 that can also do NFC.

    Also where is the JBL3
  • lp231
    21257 said:
    52743 said:
    i was hoping you guys would also include the Creative Airwave. http://us.store.creative.com/B00COIHWVG/M/B00COIHWVG.htm
    We asked Creative for a sample and they declined to answer.


    I went to this shopping center one time and one of electronic stores has it on demo. It doesn't sound too bad, quite good actually, was about to get it, but its price was a bit steep during that time.
  • DarkSable
    260789 said:
    I hooked them up to a pair of old cambridge soundworks 2.1 speakers and voila I have bluetooth speakers. Monoprice has another for $45 that can also do NFC.


    I've got an NFC/bluetooth receiver for my stereo system as well. The trouble with that is that it requires two wall outlets to run - the idea behind these is you can take and use them anywhere. (I would consider them bluetooth boomboxes, rather than speaker systems.)
  • TunaSoda
    My Bose Soundlink Mini blows all of those away for sound quality
  • gofasterstripes
    Dunno man, BOSE can be a pretty mixed bag usually.

    Anyway - they should have tested a few vibration speakers. I've heard the 10W "Adin" branded Chinese unit a few times, and it's a bit of a game-changer to be honest. On a good solid desk the bass is remarkable and everything else is listenable enough. Goes loud too.
  • LORD_ORION
    Buy a Mighty Dwarf and be happy.
  • rwinches
    The Logitech UE Boombox has been on sale online Bestbuy for $99 and it was just before that $129 in-store. It is currently $149 BB online.

    It is tuned for outside so it has loudness compensation on by default. Inside if you use an EQ and pull down 250Hz on down just a bit it it really opens the mids and highs.
    At it current discount it is hard to beat. It truely provides room filling sound.

    I also have the Philips DS7880 which is a great sounding speaker and would be a great choice because of it's wide range and uncolored sound. If you grab the speaker while it's playing the bass vibrations is surprising. I don't use it's docking feature just direcr or BT.

    The Soundfreaq SFQ-04 Sound Kick is another speaker to consider ($99 Amazon) it too has quality sound that is easy to listen to for hours on end.
  • rwinches
    Now after reading this joke of a review and seeing that the highly acclaimed Logitech UE Boombox was panned because Tom's doesn't know how to use an EQ I am amazed.

    The Minx is a good speaker.

    The Monster Micro Clarity currently $75.99 at Amazon will blow the doors off of the rest of the field, not only does it have speaker phone you can give it voice commands. It is compact and easy to carry THe BT has apt-x and AAC.
    http://www.amazon.com/Monster-Micro-Clarity-Bluetooth-Speakers/dp/B0084Y9V54

    The Sony SRSBTX300 ($128 Amazon) 20 watts, is another excellent choice as is it's bigger brother the SRSBTX500 ($249 BestBuy) 40 watts, they have NFC and speakerphone.
  • cypeq
    They are all pretty crappy... I've seen Bose release some passable mobile/bluetooth players but they are out of this budget range and they are still just passable/ok-ish.

    It's cool gadget and there is market for all this buit it ain't very good sounding speaker for the price. I would only consider this as mobile solution.
  • rwinches
    ^^ Wrong, there are quality speakers as I listed above, they of course are not sound system replacements, but they are HiFi.
    The Klipsch Music Center KMC3 $399 (Street $359) or the Beats by Dre Beatbox $399 (street $320 -$359) will replace the spl and fidelity of a home system and are luggable,
    they take 6D batteries

    If you want really to go for excellence the Polk Audio AM6119-A Woodbourne $699 should satisfy your needs remote, BT, apt-x, USB (charging), ethernet, optical, 3.5mm 180 watt 4 channel amp 24" x 7" h x 6.88" d 17 lbs DSP and Dolby, Airplay, no batteries. If you can afford this and need portability then get a 12 volt gel-cell and an inverter.
  • DarkSable
    ...why in the world would you spend $700 on something that someone could walk past, pick up, and walk away with?
  • utomo
    I wish they can add built in mp3 player and radio
  • lp231
    What about those outdoor speakers that look like a rock. Are they better than all of this?
  • JAJ13063
    I was hoping you could include Phoniture as well - the sound quality is great and it acts as a phone stand & charger too. I have compared to a few listed here that cost a bunch more. The product details are on phoniture.com.
  • fkr
    at these prices it is all about the features. I want battery life, range, controls for music, a solar panel is a nice touch also. You are not getting a great amplifier with these units and the quality of your DAC is not going to be great so who really cares about the quality of the speaker as long as it is as good as the weakest other link in your portable system.
  • anmc1989
    i have a boombot rex. small powerful weather proof. loving it....