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Best Boomboxes

Updated November 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 24 Models Considered
  • 9 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 138 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best boomboxes

    Last Updated November 2018

    The boombox is back! The relic from the 1980s has made a comeback with modern music fans, breathing new life into digital music collections – and it’s picked up a few other modern upgrades along the way. If you’re looking to pump some tunes in your backyard, at events, or even at the beach, it’s time to revisit the classic stereo.

    At BestReviews, we’re on a mission to provide the trusted reviews and product insights you need to make wise purchases.

    Read our shopping guide for boomboxes to get a sense of the options and features available. Then, when you’re ready to start shopping, check out our most recommended models in the table above.

    Boomboxes aren’t just portable speakers; their name comes from how loud they get. Boomboxes are designed to be played outside and heard from far away. If you buy a wireless speaker that isn’t specifically labeled as a boombox, it won’t be nearly as loud – and audio quality will likely not be as good.

    Why CDs still matter

    The boomboxes of the 80s never had compact disc players – they came with cassette decks and FM radios. But when CDs took off as a format, CD boomboxes did too, bringing digital music to the classic form factor. Thankfully, most modern boomboxes still include CD players. Here’s why that’s a big deal.

    • CDs play uncompressed digital audio. There’s no way around it: the audio quality from a CD is superior to the common compressed audio formats of today, such as MP3s. If you’re a music purist, or if you just want to hear your music with the highest quality possible, get a boombox with a CD player.

    • CDs don’t rely on internet access or a secondary device. When you pop in a CD, the only thing between you and your music is the play button. Conversely, streaming services typically require a phone and a paid subscription, not to mention access to the internet for music playback. If you prefer a simpler music setup – or you just don’t want another device that will run down your phone’s battery – a boombox is perfect for you.

    Old school, new convenience

    Sony’s “little boombox that could” is a solid performer with the basics, and it’s easy to connect to a smartphone. While the speakers won’t win any awards for sound quality, its classic mid-90s looks and built-in digital tuner make it the perfect choice for anyone who prizes convenience and affordability.

    Key boombox features

    Boomboxes have come a long way in the last 40 years, and many models include useful modern conveniences. Here are the ones we love the most.

    • Bluetooth: Most boomboxes support the most straightforward method of connecting to your phone: Bluetooth. With a Bluetooth connection, you can stream from any audio source on your phone or tablet – whether that’s Spotify, Pandora, TIDAL, or even your personal music collection – directly to your boombox.

    • Water resistance: If you plan to take your boombox to the beach, or even if you just want to keep it poolside, get one that’s water resistant. Water-resistant boomboxes are just plain durable: they can typically withstand a decent amount of abuse in addition to the occasional spill or splash, so getting a waterproof model is never a bad investment.

    • Built-In subwoofers: This is where boomboxes mop the floor with the competition in the portable speaker category. Many boomboxes include bona fide subwoofers that crank out a window-rattling amount of bass. If you need to have excellent bass, get a proper boombox.

    • Auxiliary input: Sometimes it’s more convenient to plug in a phone or tablet directly to a boombox. If you prefer the simplicity of using a 3.5mm cable, make sure the boombox you buy has an auxiliary input.

    If you have an Android phone that supports Near-Field Communication (NFC), look for boomboxes with NFC support. With a properly equipped Android phone, you can use NFC to connect even faster than Bluetooth, so you can stream music or control the volume.

    Smart home companion

    While there’s no such thing as a “smart boombox” – yet, anyway – boomboxes can be a terrific addition to any smart home setup when paired with a digital assistant like Amazon’s Echo or Google Home. When paired with a digital assistant, you can use your boombox for things like the following.

    • Streaming music: The speakers on your boombox will likely sound much better than your digital assistant’s built-in speaker. If you’re ready to use voice commands to call up your favorite tunes and then hear them through your boombox speakers, pick up a model with an auxiliary port so you can easily connect it to your digital assistant.

    • Making smart home services portable: Some digital assistants work with third-party portable batteries, so you can take them with you wherever you go. If you can’t imagine going anywhere without your digital assistant, grab a battery for it and keep it connected to your boombox wherever you are.
    EXPERT TIP

    If you’re worried about your CDs getting scratched when you take your boombox out and about, buy blank CDs and use your computer to make “road” copies. That way, you can leave your originals at home.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    While FM radios were the marquee features of boomboxes, they’re hard to find on modern models. If listening to local radio is a priority for you, look for a boombox that includes a built-in FM or HD radio tuner.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Boombox prices

    You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a solid boombox. But if you do, there are some perks that may make it worth the money for you. Here’s what to expect when looking at boombox price tags.

    • Between $50 and $74, you’ll find adequate models from both name brands and no-name companies. Boomboxes in this price range are competent with the basics, but they aren’t likely to include perks like Bluetooth or a subwoofer. If you need a boombox that will get the job done (but not much else), don’t spend more than $75.

    • Between $75 and $149, expect to see the best values and the strongest performers. Models in this price range strike a good compromise between features, sound quality, and price. Unless you’re an audiophile, or you absolutely need the latest and greatest tech, you won’t need to spend more than this.

    • Between $150 and $500, you’ll encounter boomboxes that are built like tanks and bring enough bass to practically shake an entire building. If you need the loudest model available, or if you just need one with a battery that will last more than a day, be prepared to spend a decent amount of money.

    A boombox that brings the noise (and the kitchen sink)

    JBL’s biggest and best portable speaker isn’t just a boombox – it’s a force to be reckoned with. Its thundering bass and ultra-clear treble create a sonic landscape other boomboxes can’t touch, and its full suite of features (it’s got Bluetooth; it’s waterproof; its battery lasts practically forever) make it an incredible performer. Be forewarned: it’s not cheap, but it is the best – and it’s worth every penny.

    Tips

    Before buying a boombox, consider these tips.

    • If you expect to carry your boombox with you places, buy one with a shoulder strap. Even the lightest boombox can be tough to carry around after a while. Some boombox models include a shoulder strap, so you can carry them across your back, keeping your hands free. Consider how portable you want your boombox to be, and buy a model with a shoulder strap if you’ll use it. Your muscles will thank you later.

    • If your boombox takes C or D batteries, always keep a spare set around. Most boomboxes don’t have battery life indicators, so you never know exactly when the music will die. Many boomboxes support bigger batteries you can find anywhere, so keep a spare set around and always be prepared to keep the party going.

    • If you want to play your personal MP3 music collection on a boombox, buy one with a USB port or a memory card input. Some boomboxes work well with external music files, so you can listen to your own tunes without having to bust out your phone. If that’s a priority for you, explore models that can work with external memory.
    Most boomboxes can get surprisingly loud – loud enough to be a nuisance. Whenever you’re using your boombox at high volume, make sure you’re obeying local noise ordinances to avoid any fines.

    FAQ

    Q. How long will my boombox last before it needs new batteries or a re-charge?

    A. It depends. Most boomboxes that use C or D batteries will last anywhere from six to 12 hours on a single set. Boomboxes with internal lithium-ion batteries typically last much longer on a single charge – up to 24 hours on some models.

    Q. Can I use a streaming music service with a boombox?

    A. You can if you’re supplying the music with a smartphone or tablet. Boomboxes don’t typically have WiFi, so they rely on you to have a device they can connect to. If you have a device and a streaming service subscription, it’s easy to connect to a boombox and enjoy your music in high fidelity.

    Q. How heavy are boomboxes?

    A. The typical boombox weighs between five and seven pounds. Models with bigger speakers and more powerful subwoofers can weigh up to 15 pounds.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Jaime
      Jaime
      Writer
    • Lauren
      Lauren
      Writer
    • Linsay
      Linsay
      Editor
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor

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