Great sound quality in a portable speaker; deep, rich sound. Voice-prompted Bluetooth connectivity compatible with virtually every smartphone and tablet; easy to set up and use. 4 color options.
Tends to drop Bluetooth connection when changing from direct power to battery power, requiring reset.
With 12W, loud enough to be heard outdoors. Surprising sound quality for small speaker. Fully charged battery operates up to 24 hrs. Dual speakers avoid distortion even at high volume. Compatible with all popular smartphone and tablet devices.
Switching between devices requires "forgetting" speaker on first device before pairing with second device.
Good for multiple environments; water resistant; connects to multiple devices at once; can be flipped vertically, all helpful features outdoors and indoors. The connect+ feature allows connecting multiple JBL speakers to single device to cover wider area.
Battery might require more frequent charging than other models.
12W for sound loud enough for small gatherings; little distortion at high volume. Battery recharges from empty in 3 hours; full battery runs 12 hrs. Connects easily; compatible with all common Bluetooth devices. Touch keypad is simple to use.
Slightly larger than other models, so a little less portable.
Can be placed vertically or horizontally, surprising 14W of power; portable and loud enough to travel well. Large Bluetooth range permits use from other rooms. Angled speakers transmit sound in two directions.
Users in loud areas might find this speaker too quiet.
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Mini Bluetooth speakers let you take your music on a hike, to the beach, or simply from room to room in your house. Today’s technology puts deep, full sound in some tiny devices.
There’s a competitive market for these speakers.
n the one hand, that means there are some high-performance mini speakers that rival the quality and features of much larger models. On the other, you’ve got more options than ever before.
Our shopping guide will help you narrow down the features you need – voice control, aux input – on a speaker that falls within your budget. Sit back and listen to your favorite remix as you take a look at our top picks on your way to finding your own mini Bluetooth speaker.
Size and weight
When the main purpose of a product is portability, size matters. The smallest models weigh less than two ounces, while larger models that are still considered “portable” may weigh as much as three or four pounds. Smaller speakers are obviously easier to carry around, but you’ll need to find a balance between size, durability, and sound quality. Only you can decide whether a small speaker with high volume has the sound quality that meets your standards.
The range at which Bluetooth speakers can connect to a device continues to grow along with the technology. And the wider the range, the more freedom of movement for you. In general, the range of mini Bluetooth speakers falls somewhere between 20 and 100 feet. You’ll pay more for a wider range, but if you want to use the speaker while you’re at the park or beach, you’ll need those extra few feet. However, if you’ll be using the speaker poolside, for example, your music source probably won’t be getting in the water with you and you won’t need a long range.
Battery life/playback time
Battery life varies from a few to 24 hours. Keep in mind that many manufacturers advertise a battery life that can only be achieved under highly controlled conditions, so expect slightly less than the description indicates.
Small speakers are notorious for sound distortion at high volumes. Sound quality is based on four basic factors: wattage, frequency range, sound system, and impedance.
Wattage: The number of watts is closely related to how many decibels the speaker can emit. Basically, higher-wattage speakers can reach higher volumes. Mini speakers are limited by their size, which typically puts them at 15 watts or less.
Frequency range: We humans can hear a wide range of frequencies, anything that falls between 20 and 20,000 Hz. The more of those frequencies the speaker can produce, the better the perceived sound quality.
Sound system: Bluetooth speakers typically have two full-range speakers, written as 2.0. Some have a 2.1 system that includes two full-range speakers and a subwoofer. The more channels, the higher the sound quality.
Impedance: This is getting pretty technical, but if audio quality is important to you, you should know that the lower the impedance, the better the sound quality.
Waterproof vs. water resistant
Speakers may be advertised as waterproof or water resistant. These terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but they’re different in terms of how much water the speaker can withstand. Waterproof and water-resistant speakers (along with other waterproof devices) receive an ingress protection (IP) rating that indicates how well they withstand water. The higher the second digit in the two-digit rating, the more waterproof the speaker. A low number, such as 1, indicates that the speaker can withstand a few sprinkles of water, while a high number, such as 7, means the speaker can be submerged without damage.
Waterproof speakers have a depth range that usually falls between 10 and 30 feet. After that, the water pressure will force water into the casing. Any speaker you have poolside or near a sink should have either high water resistance or be waterproof in case of an accidental dunk.
If you’ll be taking the speaker hiking, camping, to the beach, or any other outdoor location where dust and debris are the norm, you want something with adequate dust resistance. The first digit in the IP rating indicates how well the device resists dust and debris. As with water resistance, the higher the number, such as 6, the more dustproof the speaker. Ratings of IP67 and IP68 are the highest available on the domestic market.
Shock resistance helps the speaker withstand falls and tumbles, the kind that happen when you’re an outdoor adventurer like biker or backpacker. Though there’s no rating system for shock resistance, many models that are waterproof and have high dust resistance are also shock resistant.
Incredible sound and compatibility
The Bose Soundlink earns high marks for superior sound that reaches into your chest on the deep tones. It’s compatible with almost every Bluetooth device, and setup is easy using voice commands. We also love that it comes in four fun colors in case you want something a little different.
Pairing with multiple sources: Some speakers can be paired with multiple sources like a phone and a tablet or with other speakers to create a fuller sound. Not all speakers have this feature, so if you think you want to have multiple speakers playing from the same source or create your own mini sound system, you’re definitely going to want this feature.
Aux inputs: Aux inputs allow you to directly connect the speaker to any device with an aux output, such as a television, sound system, or your other electronic devices. Mini speakers are pretty small, so aux inputs are usually only found on larger models.
SD and micro SD card slot: SD and micro SD cards can store music. Pop one in your speaker and you’ve got music on the go. It’s just another way to keep your favorite mix with you at all times.
Built-in assistant: A few speakers come with a built-in assistant like Google Assistant, which lets you access apps and information hands-free. This is a premium feature, so if you don’t think you’ll use it, you probably don’t want to spend the extra money on it.
Voice command: In the age of hands-free devices, voice command has become more commonplace. This feature lets you make volume adjustments, change songs, or answer the phone while going about your business.
Built-in microphone: A built-in microphone allows you to take phone calls through the speaker. It’s another convenience that has become fairly common. Some microphones have noise cancellation technology so your caller can hear you better, and vice versa.
Color: Almost all mini Bluetooth speakers come in basic black or gray, but some come in a rainbow of colors. If your speaker will be hanging from your backpack where others will see it, you might want one that fits in with your personal design aesthetic.
A few larger (though still mini) models can charge another device like your phone. We don’t need to explain why that’s a great convenience, but charging another device will quickly eat up the battery.
If you charge your speaker while playing music, it will take longer for the battery to charge.
Some speakers include a voice alert system that provides directions when pairing or connecting to another device, a great feature if you don’t like to keep track of manuals or look up directions online.
For less than $20, you can get a waterproof and dustproof mini Bluetooth speaker with decent volume and a subwoofer. Some may have a built-in mic so you can take phone calls, too.
The mid-range for mini Bluetooth speakers falls between $25 and $75. These speakers have some seriously long playtime, such as 24 hours, and a wider Bluetooth range of over 50 feet. Of course, some of these speakers are also waterproof, dustproof, and include a built-in microphone like models that cost less.
Between $75 and $125 are speakers with impressive sound and higher IP ratings. This is where you’ll start to see submersible models. Some of these speakers can also access a built-in assistant.
Mini speakers that cost over $125 have all the features, including voice activation and command capabilities. They don’t always have the longest playback times, but many are waterproof and provide a full range of sound for the best clarity at high volumes.
Versatile and affordable
While color doesn’t affect performance, we love the rainbow of choices JBL offers, including camo and teal. This speaker also stands out for its versatile connectivity. It can connect to two devices, and the Connect+ feature allows it to link to over 100 different JBL speakers to exponentially increase your sound. The waterproof cylinder can be used horizontally or vertically, too.
Decide how portable your speaker needs to be. Mini Bluetooth speakers are designed for portability, but you still need to decide what kind of portability you want. Are you going to carry it from room to room, or do you want to take it backpacking with you? Size and durability requirements differ for various uses.
When pairing, make sure the speaker and your other device are close together. You might need to reset the device’s Bluetooth settings if it’s already paired with another speaker.
There are so many mini Bluetooth speakers on the market that it was tough to narrow down our top five picks. However, one category that didn’t make it on our list was shower speakers even though these are a popular sub-type of mini speaker. One of our favorites is the VicTsing Shower Speaker. It’s incredibly affordable, comes with a carabiner, and has a built-in suction cup and mic. The Anker SoundCore Mini isn’t meant for the shower, but if you want a speaker that can hide almost anywhere, this is it. This little speaker has a 66-foot Bluetooth range and good bass for a model of this size. We also love the noise-cancelling microphone when it’s time to take a phone call.
Q. Does the shape of the speaker matter?
A. Mini speakers can be found in many shapes, including round, square, cylindrical, and rectangular. In general, the shape doesn’t necessarily matter except that some speakers, due to their shape, do not create a 360° sound experience. Cylindrical models are more likely to provide 360° sound, though it depends on the design.
Q. Are there Bluetooth speakers that turn off after a period of inactivity?
A. To save on battery life, newer models automatically shut off after a specified time. You might love this feature because it saves battery life, but others find it annoying when they’re trying to adjust the music and the speaker has turned off.
Q. Can you charge a Bluetooth speaker while using it?
A. Some speakers allow you to charge it while in use. However, in some of the smaller models, charging can cause feedback that interferes with the sound.
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