The Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers Under $100By Lee Neikirk
If you want the best portable speaker around—something rugged and functional that sounds great—we recommend the JBL Flip 3 (available at Amazon). It's splash-proof, and has a ton of great user reviews to boot.
However, if you want to keep shopping around, feel free to head to Amazon and search for "portable Bluetooth speakers"—you'll have lots of choices: over 53,000 results, in fact! I'd say "it's a jungle out there," but at this point it makes more sense to just change the word "jungle" to "bluetooth speakers." In all seriousness, finding a convenient, portable Bluetooth speaker under $100—one that sounds good, works as intended, and connects reliably—is more difficult than it sounds, especially with such an insane number of options to choose from.
Fortunately, we've done a lot of the footwork for you. We got nine of the best-selling and most popular portable Bluetooth speakers under $100 on Amazon and put them through a litany of tests. These are the best right now.
Updated August 01, 2017
JBL Flip 3
JBL Flip 3Best Overall
The $80 JBL Flip 3 is a pill-shaped, portable product available in a huge variety of colors. It features rubber cappings and some splash proofing, giving it good legs to stand on when it comes to toting it along on unplanned adventures.
For the price, the JBL Flip 3 provides a notable laundry list of features. The first thing I noticed was how clear and direct the sound was, filling the space with clear, balanced sound that's mostly omnidirectional and distortion-free. What's more, the addition of splash-proofing and a rugged design mean the high quality audio is paired with serious portability.
There's really no reason not to go with the JBL Flip 3. If you're looking for a portable Bluetooth speaker that wears many hats, it's got good audio quality and reliable functionality, allowing it to stand in as a stay-at-home speaker—but also boasts the portability, splash-proof features, and tough rubbery build to allow it to flourish on trips to the beach or at the campsite. Friendly, musical power/pairing cues and the wide variety of colors are just icing on the cake.
Archeer A320Best Performance
The Archeer A320 (originally $199, but available for $79 online) is a unique Bluetooth speaker. It delivers a rustic wooden design, and it's big enough to accommodate two 5W speakers and a 15 W subwoofer. It also comes with a carrying bag!
The big, attractive Archeer made a huge impression on me as soon as I started playing a song. The similarity to my pricy over-ear headphones was very noticeable, which the full frequency range sounding cleanly. It also delivered more natural volume throughout the room than some of the smaller and admittedly more portable speakers in the roundup. This three-speaker entry puts out some serious volume.
While it's pretty hard to argue the portability of this product—and it definitely isn't what we'd call feature rich—it easily delivers the most robust audio experience of the bunch, at least where music is concerned. This is a great choice if you're just looking for something that's mostly static but still has the option of portability. The wooden veneer is a nice touch, too.
This exquisitely designed speaker from Harman/Kardon, called simply "One," is a $65 portable Bluetooth speaker that sports a finely chiseled, elegant design, and is one of the only products we tested that also supports NFC functionality.
I was very impressed by the One. The interface was super intuitive, it turned on/paired at great speed, and put out a lot of sound for not being nearly as unwieldy as something like the Archeer 320. While it's a bit less portable than the other speakers and doesn't boast splash-proofing, the sheer simplicity and sound quality make it a go-to pick if you aren't looking for special features. The NFC functionality is more of an added bonus.
The Harman/Kardon One was a runner-up where performance and overall value is concerned. It's a sleek, feature-full device with good quality sound and the most robust carrying case of the bunch. But therein lies the problem: the One is notably lacking in the rugged/portable departments, while lacking the sheer size to help it stand out over other pill-shaped competitors. Still, if snazzy design something you're after, the One is a great choice.
UE Roll 2
UE Roll 2
The UE Roll 2 (which retails for $99 but is $69 on Amazon) is a portable, waterproof Bluetooth speaker. This makes it a great choice if you want to blast some tunes at the pool or on the beach without worrying about water damage. We nabbed the "volcano" version, but it's available in a wide range of colors.
After a bit of fidgeting, getting Spotify playing on the UE Roll 2 was easy. There's a power button on the back of the device that puts it into Bluetooth mode as soon as it's on. The cross pattern on the front of the speaker has two pressable areas that make volume adjustment simple. The device also announces its "on" and "paired" status with audio feedback tones, which is nice.
Where sound quality is concerned, the Roll rocks pretty solidly. I noticed decent bass presence, but a little excess treble, where things like snare hits were notably higher in the mix than they were on my headphones. There's some risk of losing out on mid-range audibility here, but overall the audio quality is decent for the price, especially considering everything else this product offers.
Originally $99 but marked down to $78 online, the Sony SRS-XB2 is a robust, pill-shaped Bluetooth speaker available in black, blue, or red. It touts "extra bass" for more low-end punch.
This little Sony pill puts out some solid sound, especially once you engage the "extra bass," which is bound to be popular with the kids. But even without it, this Sony speaker delivers reliably clean, balanced audio capable of filling a space without introducing distortion or tinnyness.
However, unlike some other options on the list, the SRS-XB2 doesn't offer much by way of ruggedness or splash-proofing. It's otherwise a perfectly good choice—handsomely designed and capable of good audio quality.
Harman/Kardon Esquire Mini
Harman/Kardon Esquire Mini
One of the fancier options in the list, the $99 Harman/Kardon Esquire Mini (available in classy black or white) boasts portability and a fetching design, but with its small stature and lack of splash-proofing, it's definitely not gunning for outdoor use.
The Esquire Mini's best foot foward is definitely its elegant, slimmed down design. It's plenty loud enough for an office desktop, but the audio leans more towards a conference call EQ than something that you can jam to while you're out and about. That's not to say the Esquire Mini sounds bad; it just seems to be doing double duty as a music device and a conference speaker.
I love the finish and design flourishes that the Esquire Mini boasts—the kickstand on the back is an especially cool idea, allowing you to set it up for slightly more private, directional playback. However, the EQ here and lack of any durability or splash proofing makes it much more appropriate for sitting on a desk or living room table.
JBL Clip 2
JBL Clip 2
The JBL Clip 2 is an on-the-go portable Bluetooth speaker available in a wide range of colors—black, blue, red, camo, to name a few—for $60. It's round and waterproof (or splashproof, more realistically) and gets its name from its big metal carabiner clip.
The Clip 2 is one of the quieter, weaker speakers on the list. It's also one of the most portable, and the carabiner clip makes it clear it's meant to accompany a hike through the woods or a nighttime bike ride. It's a usable speaker of course, but lacks the power necessary to really fill a poolside space, and would probably be inaudible on the beach.
With louder, more balanced-sounding portable options available, the Clip 2 is hard to outright recommend, though it excels at simple being a rugged, tough little speaker.
DKnight Big MagicBox
DKnight Big MagicBox
The humorously named Big MagicBox from DKnight was originally $160, but is down to $50 right now on Amazon. It's a mid-size Bluetooth speaker with the standard "pill" design and big, easy-to-press buttons.
While pairing and playing music on the MagicBox was as easy as most of the options on the list, I'm not crazy about the sound. It's good enough for the $50 price point, but the Big MagicBox was notably more tinny and less balanced than some of the other speakers in the roundup. It sounds alright at lower volumes, but turning it up enough to fill a room accentuates the tinny and fuzzy sounds unpleasantly.
Unless you're really looking to save twenty or thirty bucks, this one probably isn't the best choice. It's simple and easy to use, but the audio quality is lacking.
Jawbone Mini Jambox
Jawbone Mini JamboxAvoid
The portable Jawbone Mini Jambox is a $50 option available in a wide array of colors: aqua, red, silver, and more. We tested the graphite-colored version, but performance is identical across the rainbow of options.
I was worried about the Jambox as soon as I turned it on. The spitting sound it made to indicate power sounded suspiciously like the time I wired a cheap speaker to a basic breadboard and melted it with too much voltage. Try as I might, I could only get the Jambox to power on/power off with repetitive guttural noises; I could never get it to pair.
The Mini Jambox is the one speaker of the bunch I don't recommend, if only because it was the only one that simply wouldn't pair at all. The boot-up and line-in samples revealed that the audio quality isn't great, either.
How We Tested
Like with most Best Right Now features, I went about testing and experiencing these speakers in as organic a manner as possible. This means using them as the average consumer might: expecting easy pairing, sensible buttons, and—of course—a better audio experience than smartphone or tablet speakers can provide. The rankings are the direct result of spending time using and playing with the nine speakers we got in for this roundup.