The best portable speakers of 2023

Taking your tunes and podcasts with you wherever you go sounds better than ever, so wave goodbye to that tinny mobile phone.

some of the best portable speakers

by Chris Duffill |
Updated on

When it comes to keeping things portable, you can’t do much better than the smallest audio player money can buy. But some of the best speakers on the market today are audible proof that not everything portable has to be small. Sometimes the best things come in all sizes. As long as it has a battery that’ll hold enough juice to keep you listening all day, you can take these rechargeable wonders with you wherever you go.

So what makes a portable speaker portable? What's easily shiftable for some may be the proverbial millstone to others, so weight is a factor. And then there’s the capacity of the battery and how long it lasts before your tunes run out of steam. Some of the players we featured here can connect to your mobile device using Bluetooth. Others have Wi-Fi and others are old-school, standalone media players. Whatever you choose you’ll need something that sounds great in wide open spaces. As we found with some of the best outdoor speakers - they should work just as well outside as in.

Best portable speakers at a glance:

• Best overall portable speaker: Sonos Move
• Best budget portable speaker: Eonosound 1**
• Best pocket-sized portable speaker:** JBL Clip 4**
• Best mini portable speaker:** Anker Soundcore Mini**
• Best waterproof portable speaker:** JBL Flip 5
Best high-end portable speaker: Bang & Olufsen Beolit 20

Another important thing you’ll need to consider is how rugged your portable speaker will need to be. For some, portable means being able to quickly and easily move your favourite smart speaker from one room to another; And do so without unplugging anything. But that won't need to be as hardy as the kind of speaker you throw in the back of your car before hitting the beach. Therefore, we're not looking at 'easily moveable' speakers, but speakers you can take with you when you leave the house.

With so many to choose from, the experts at What’s The Best are here with some of the best portable speakers, both big and small, to suit all budgets and needs. There’s also a handy buyer's guide to help you choose the right portable powerhouse for you. So prep those playlists - they’re in for quite a ride.

The best portable speakers of 2023

Best overall portable speaker

The Sonos Move is one of the larger portable speakers you'll find, whilst still being practical. Weighing in at 3kg, it's clearly a quality piece of audio tech that can survive the great British weather if you leave it outside. As well as being a truly practical garden speaker, if you choose to take this away on holiday with you it'll do your music justice. In that regard, it's more like taking all the comforts of home audio with you. Compromise on quality you will not.

An excellent Sonos Move feature is Auto True Play. Considering you'll be taking this into different environments, this essential feature will analyse the acoustics of the space you're in and adjust the sound automatically. There's even Alexa (and Google Assistant) integration. The speaker has a wide and satisfying soundstage - perfect for outdoor spaces. Take this to the beach and it'll survive sand and splashes. Charging is wireless and the battery will last around 11 hours. So, with the Sonos Move you really can grab that top-quality sound you're used to at home. Could this be the best portable speaker on Amazon right now? Very possibly.

Pros

  • Deep bass
  • Wide soundstage
  • IP56 weatherproof and drop resistant
  • 10-hour battery life

Cons

  • Cannot be paired with Echo devices
  • Slightly heavy
  • Design:
    5.0
  • Build:
    5.0
  • Features:
    4.5
  • Value for money:
    4.0
Dimensions:240 x 160 x 126 mm
Weight: 3 kg
Connections:802.11 b/g/n, 2.4 GHz, and 5GHz.
Protection: IP56: resistant to water such as splashes, rain, and snow, but is not waterproof
Extra features:Airplay 2, 2x Class D amplifiers, far-field mic array
Power:85 dB (wattage not specified)
Battery life: 11 hours
  • Customer review: "The Sonos just filled the dining room with music that was easily adjustable in volume from background to full-on concert level. The sound quality was better than my previous Play 3 and closer to the sound I would expect from a Play 5. The word Move is an apt description for this speaker. I have found a convenient location in my dining room where the Move will sit on its neatly designed charging base so it is always ready for use. It is really easy to pick up the speaker using the “lip” at the rear of the speaker and then move it into the lounge, breakfast room or kitchen as required."

    "I am really impressed. Sonos have put their years of developing portable mains-powered speakers into good use when developing the Sonos Move. It is incredibly versatile in terms of audio inputs (WiFi, Bluetooth and AirPlay) and power supplies. Above all, it produces a sound that is a delight to listen to. Highly recommended."

Best budget portable speaker

You may not be familiar with Eono as a brand, but it's owned by Amazon who has a great track record of releasing high-value but reliable budget kit. This Eonosound1 blows the budget label out of the water in our opinion. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly for a speaker this size, it's IP67 waterproof, dustproof, and shockproof. At 10cm in diameter, this palm-sized portable speaker is the sort of device you'll be happy to throw into the car on a day trip.

An added bonus is that this can be twinned with another one to create a stereo pair. Battery life is more than satisfactory, rated at 20 hours at half-volume. Connect your mobile phone to this with Bluetooth and use the lanyard to attach it to your bag, belt or tent. Wherever you go, this little beauty will follow.

Pros

  • Very portable
  • Well rounded sound
  • Pairable with another for stereo sound
  • Waterproof and shockproof
  • Available in five colours

Cons

  • A little lacking in bass - understandable for the size and price
  • Design:
    4.0
  • Build:
    4.0
  • Features:
    4.5
  • Value for money:
    5.0
Dimensions: 4.3 x 10 x 10 cm
Weight: 205 grams
Connections: Bluetooth 5.0,
Protection:IPX7 Waterproof and shockproof
Extra features:Pairable with another Eonosound1, lanyard for carrying, fast charging, mic built-in
Power:Dual 7W High-Performance Power Drivers
Battery life:20 hours (with 50% volume)
  • Customer review: "A good little speaker for the price range. It isn't a hi-fi quality device, but given the size and convenience, it is a lot better than your average phone or tablet speaker. It, therefore, suits occasional use rather than a main speaker for daily use, there are better options. Sound quality is a little lower than my Echo Dot, but still very decent for travelling in hotels etc."

Best pocket-sized portable speaker

JBL Clip 4 -  one of the best portable speakers
Price: $79.95
Alternative retailers
Walmart$46.79View offer
Dell$49.95View offer
B&H Photo Video$59.95View offer
Lowe's$59.97View offer

In our review of the JBL Clip 4 we found that this boldly designed little speaker was rugged as well as delivering punchy sound. The design is the real winner here, as the addition of a carabiner and hardy fabric mesh - plus IP67 waterproofing - make this the ideal travel companion for active types. Easy-to-see controls let you find most of the essential functions; although we wished they had included some track-skip buttons. But this isn't a deal-breaker, as most will use their phone or tablet to do that.

Battery life is reasonable for a device this size, but you'll want to take a power bank for re-charging if you're looking at anything longer than a day trip. Other than that, this is the kind of speaker you'll definitely want with you on activity breaks or for recreational sports. Whatever adventures you put yourself through, the Clip 4 will survive it in style.

Pros

  • Clever construction
  • Good audio quality
  • IP67 weatherproof and drop resistant
  • 10-hour battery life

Cons

  • Missing an AUX port, speakerphone ability and track selection controls
  • Design:
    4.5
  • Build:
    5.0
  • Features:
    4.0
  • Value for money:
    4.5
Dimensions: 86 x 135 x 46 mm
Weight: 239g
Connections: Bluetooth
Protection: IP67
Extra features:Carabiner clip
Power:5w
Battery life:Up to 10 hours (4 under higher volumes)
  • Customer review: "I have already owned one of these for a few years and bought this as I wanted one a second one to use elsewhere. I mainly use this in the bathroom for listening to the radio or music and it easily Bluetooths to my phone. Very happy and great value for money."

Best mini portable speaker

Anker Soundcore Mini -  one of the best portable speakers
Price: $24.99

Anker already has a fantastic reputation amongst gadget fans for their solidly built audio gear, but the Soundcore Mini really does knock it out of the park when it comes to features. This really is a mini powerhouse. The design has all the finesse normally reserved for much larger products with a premium feel to the weight and quality of materials. Pair this with your phone and you'll have 15 hours of playtime, plus a noise-cancelling mic for hands-free calls. Bass is better than expected, and if your phone runs out of juice you can plug something else into the included 3.5mm auxiliary input.

A feature we rarely see on portable speakers, particularly this small, is the inclusion of a Micro SD card slot. So, if you're worried about being reliant on your phone for your tunes, you could load up an SD card with more music than you'll ever need and keep it in the Soundcore Mini as a backup plan. We would have liked to have seen some IPX resistance to the elements, but at this size and spec it's a well-suited partner to your phone - treat it with the same amount of care and you'll have an audio companion for life.

Pros

  • Take it anywhere
  • Supports hands-free phone calls
  • Aux connection
  • 15-hour playtime
  • Micro SD card slot

Cons

  • No WiFi
  • No water or dust resistance
  • Design:
    4.5
  • Build:
    4.0
  • Features:
    4.5
  • Value for money:
    5.0
Dimensions: 6.86 x 6.86 x 6.86 cm
Weight: 200 Grams
Connections:Bluetooth, Micro SD card slot, 3.5mm Aux
Protection: None
Extra features:Microphone
Power:5w
Battery Life:15 hours
  • Customer review: "I always take a small Bluetooth speaker away with me, to listen to music & audiobooks & often don't want to take my expensive B&O A1 Bluetooth speaker. At £20, I wasn't expecting the sound quality delivered by this small speaker. … I was very pleasantly surprised, it reproduces a decent sound for music & spoken word. Pairing is easy & fast. It is very compact & fits into any normal sized pocket An added bonus the speaker has an audio out socket, which is becoming rarer. I also bought a carry case for it. Overall very pleased."

Best portable speaker for parties

A party can be the riskiest thing your audio tech can live through. Whatever you use to play your party playlists through, it'll need to have big sound and be sturdy enough to survive the odd knock or splash. JBL have answered all of these needs, and a few more, with the PartyBox 100.

That said, if it's lightweight portability and full waterproofing you're after, this isn't it. This isn't the sort of speaker you'd take into a shower. It is portable, but it's not the sort of thing you'd want to carry very far for very long. But for a party it's ideal. The PartyBox110 packs a serious punch. The very solid 12 hours battery life is made more impressive considering it has a built-in LED light show to really set the mood. Power is where the PartyBox truly shines, with very deep bass and excellent volume and range. Get this portable speaker and you're in for an absolute banger of a party.

Pros

  • Very powerful
  • Deep bass
  • Lighting effects
  • Dual mic inputs
  • Easy to adjust the mic gain

Cons

  • Portable, but only just
  • Design:
    4.5
  • Build:
    4.5
  • Features:
    4.5
  • Value for money:
    4.0
Dimensions: 29.5 x 30 x 56.8 cm
Weight: 10.8 kg
Connections: Bluetooth, Microphone inputs x2, 3.5mm aux in, 3.5mm aux out, USB
Protection: IPX4 splashproof
Extra features:Built-in LED light show
Power:160w
Battery life:Up to 12 hours
  • Customer review: "Really impressed with this thumper! Totally worth the money for a very convenient sound system for your home and car. Sound quality-fantastic. Bass-impressive. So easy to use-literally plug and play straight out of the box. Non-complicated, excellent quality sound system. Really pleased!"

Best portable speaker for the planet

House of Marley - named after the inspiration for the brand, Bob Marley - make audio products with the same ethos as Marley himself: to respect the planet as much as the music. To that end, its range of audio tech, including the Get Together 2 XL, is built from as many natural materials as possible. So you'll find natural bamboo, premium Rewind fabric, Regrind silicone & aluminium. It's also 100% plastic-free and comes in recyclable packaging.

Brand values aside, is it any good? Well, we think the design is outstanding and quite original in the world of portable speakers. It is only dust and water-resistant, so if you take this anywhere you'll need to treat it reasonably well, but who would want to spoil those refined looks with rain or sand anyway? Playtime is a very healthy 20 hours, and if you really want to surround yourself with the House of Marley sound, it can be paired with another one for a super-wide sound field.

Pros

  • Sustainably built
  • Bamboo wood and fabric design
  • Pairable with another for a wider sound
  • Long battery life
  • 4" woofers

Cons

  • No wifi connectivity
  • No weatherproofing
  • Design:
    5.0
  • Build:
    4.5
  • Features:
    4.0
  • Value for money:
    3.5
Dimensions: 18 x 45 x 17.9 cm
Weight: 8.46 kg
Connections:Bluetooth
Protection: None
Extra features:Sustainably built, pairable with another for wider sound, 4" woofers
Power:60w
Battery life:20 hours
  • Customer review: "Having come late to the world of Spotify and similar services I am blown away by this little speaker. The sound quality is lovely; the volume is just fine, loud enough to disturb the neighbours if you are so inclined but perfect for a living room and/or bedroom and its portability means it can follow you around the house. Setting it up is intuitive and takes less than a minute. It comes packaged up securely without plastic."

    "Its design is a thing of beauty. There may be audiophiles out there who can comment more on sound quality but for me the sound is gorgeous and I am very very pleased I love the environmental aspect of the company too."

Best portable speaker for bass

If you're totally addicted to bass, Ultimate Ears have named this portable speaker the HYPERBOOM for good reason. This rather unassuming-looking tower of sound houses some huge precision woofers with passive radiators, all balanced out by the soft dome tweeters for all-encompassing audio. Given that bass is going to shake the room, it's also good to know that this has enough of an IPX rating to resist spills and dust falling from the rafters.

But there's not much point in having a box with this much power if it's a blunt instrument. The built-in adaptive equaliser will analyse the room's acoustics and adjust the sound on the fly. Play time is incredible at 24 hours, and if your mobile phone runs dry the HYPERBOOM even has a charge-out port. One of the best portable speaker features here though is the support for up to four device connections at once, so your family and friends can beam their playlists to this bass-filled monster with ease.

Pros

  • Massive bass
  • Huge battery life
  • Adaptive equaliser
  • Supports connections from 4 devices
  • Pairable with other speakers
  • Accessible controls

Cons

  • Some find the bass too heavy
  • Design:
    4.5
  • Build:
    5.0
  • Features:
    5.0
  • Value for money:
    4.0
Dimensions:36.4 x 19 x 19 cm
Weight: 5.9 kg
Connections: Bluetooth, Aux in, Optical
Protection: IPX4 spill and splashproof
Extra features:Supports connections from 4 devices, Adaptive EQ, USB charge-out port, One-touch controls
Power:229 watts
Battery life:24 hours
  • Customer review: "Had one of these before. I'd rather spend a little extra on this than spend loads of piles of rubbish, I've had echo studios, Harmon Kardon, all sorts of quality speakers but this just blows them all clean out the water. The volume is insane, it's so loud when you want it to be, or you can change the settings and have it quiet so you can play this for a party or just chilling in the house without annoying the neighbours."

    "The bass is so good, not like cheap speakers where it just rattles. This vibrates the house. And the quality does NOT diminish at higher volumes. Crsips clear and amazing bass. 10/10 for quality and sound. Can also connect via optical cable for the TV. Get two of them and you have surround sound home theatre. Incredible!"

Best waterproof portable speaker

JBL Flip 5

Rrp: $99.95

Price: $89.95
Alternative retailers
B&H Photo Video$74.95View offer
Walmart$74.97View offer
PGA TOUR Superstore$119.99View offer

If you're all about listening by the pool or on the beach the Flip 5 is your best truly portable speaker option. The design of the case makes this one of the most grab-and-go speakers we've seen, although you may need to find a flat and stable spot for it. It's small but not wearable, unlike the JBL GO 3 that we featured in our best waterproof speakers article, but it is super-portable. The controls are responsive and easy to use. But on to the important part: how well protected is it? Well, the Flip 5 has top-of-the-line IPX7 waterproofing, so you can comfortably place this wherever you like.

A major strength of the Flip 5 is how easy it is to link up with compatible JBL speakers. So, if you find yourself at an impromptu pool party and there are other JBL speakers around, you could really crank up the volume.

Pros

  • Great audio and volume controls
  • Choice of colours
  • Very durable
  • Top waterproofing

Cons

  • Case design means it needs a flat surface
  • Design:
    3.5
  • Build:
    4.5
  • Features:
    4.0
  • Value for money:
    4.5
Dimensions:18.03 x 6.86 x 7.37
Weight:558 g
Connections:Bluetooth, USB-C
Protection:IPX7 Waterproof
Extra features:Pairable with other PartyBoost JBL speakers
Power:20w
Battery life:12 hours
  • Customer review: "Fantastic little gem of a Bluetooth speaker, honestly could not ask for a more perfect device to have around. Definitely a top quality purchase and can highly recommend this for anyone that is in the market for a portable, powerful, and great sounding speaker."

Best high-end portable speaker

Bang & Olufsen Beolit 20
Price: $598.89
Alternative retailers
Saks Fifth Avenue$599.00View offer

If you're looking for best-in-class sound and unconventional design, the Beolit 20 from Bang & Olufsen is the portable speaker option for you. It features wireless charging and touch controls on the top. Of course, you're not going to buy any speakers from the brand without expecting that signature sound. Bang & Olufsen engineers have gone to work on this one, with True360 sound that lives up to the name. It's driven by two Class D amplifiers, so there's plenty of punch and range there too.

Design-wise, it's typical B&O. Unconventional, interesting, eye-catching. Some may not go for the picnic basket aesthetic, but this really does make for a device that doesn't follow the herd and arguably is as much of a lifestyle product as a portable audio solution. It's splashproof too, so taking this out and placing it next to a real picnic hamper on a sunny day will be music to your ears.

Pros

  • Splashproof
  • That B&O quality sound unsurpassed at this size
  • Plenty of volume

Cons

  • Looks are not to everyone's taste
  • No built-in mics
  • Design:
    4.0
  • Build:
    5.0
  • Features:
    4.5
  • Value for money:
    3.5
Dimensions: 23.11 x 13.46 x 18.8 cm
Weight:2.7 kg
Connections: Bluetooth, USB-C (charging), 3.5mm mini jack
Protection: Splashproof
Extra features:Wireless charging, leather carry strap, App control
Power:2 x 35W Class D for Woofer And Tweeter, 93 dB
Battery life:8h at typical volume
  • Customer review: "This is a beautiful piece of equipment. It sounds fantastic, and the shimmering blue under the grill in the right light looks stunning. It connected to a Fire TV and regular television with no problem, even an echo if you want a better sound. The B&O app on my phone found it straight away and linked with no problem, downloaded the software for the latest update, and away you go. There are controls on top of the speaker for sound etc but you can do this through the app for ease of use."

    "The B&O app isn't to everyone's taste but I like the wheel to create presets once you take it out of the optimal setting you can create a film or music setting depending on tastes and to relieve some of the bass that is not always needed."

Best portable speakers: Buyers guide

Where does your music come from?

Depending on your listening habits, you may already subscribe to music streaming services like Amazon, music or Spotify. If that’s the case, you’ll obviously need some way to get that music to your portable speaker. The most obvious choice of technology here is Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. The former is going to be relevant for buyers who wish to use their speaker close to their house or an accessible Wi-Fi signal.

For others, the benefit of a portable speaker will be taking the speaker away from home and into the wild. In that case, you’ll need a portable speaker that supports Bluetooth connections. This means you can pair the speaker with your mobile device and use 4G or 5G internet to connect to your music streaming service.

If you prefer to keep things simple, you might download or rip your music to MP3 files. The benefit here is that you can listen to your music wherever you go and never need to worry about an internet connection. If that’s how you like to roll, you’ll need a portable speaker that has a port for a storage device such as a USB stick.

How long do you want your music to last?

There’s very little point in buying a portable speaker with a battery that simply will not last long enough to cover the length of your trip. Think about the kind of places you tend to travel to and how long you spend there. Unless you’re lucky enough to be able to charge your portable speaker on the go, you’ll need the battery to keep on keeping on. We’ve detailed the average battery life of all of the portable speakers we’ve featured to help.

Where are you going to take your portable speaker?

Getting out and about is all good and well, but the weather could easily rain on your parade, and that includes your lovely new portable speaker. If you need to lug your speaker up a mountain, you will obviously need to think about size and weight. But you also need to think about waterproofing or water and dust resistance. Some of the speakers above have IPX ratings that show how well your new device will survive in the open elements. Remember, just because the portable speaker is labelled as water resistant doesn’t mean it’s waterproof - and neither necessarily means you can shower with it or dunk it in the pool.

Hearing is believing

As with all speakers reviews and tech specs are one thing, but hearing is another. You can pick any of our selections above and be assured of buying some decent kit. But unless you put a lot of stock in user reviews online, the very best way to pick your portable speaker is to listen to it. And that means finding a friend who has one or visiting a store. Alternatively, buying from a retailer that supports easy returns if you’re not satisfied will be the way to go.

THE RIGHT SPEAKER FOR YOU SHOULD ALWAYS BE THERE WHEN YOU NEED IT, WHEREVER YOU ARE © GETTY IMAGES

Best portable speakers: Frequently asked questions

How long does a portable speaker last?

This of course will depend on the size of the battery. And by size we mean capacity. The stated play-time is normally based on playback at average volumes. Therefore, it’s not set in stone; your mileage will vary depending on what you play and how loudly.

How does a portable speaker work?

As we touched on above, a portable speaker is essentially an active speaker. An active speaker has internal amplifier circuitry built into it to play your music. The audio could be streamed from the internet via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. or played from a connected storage device.

Who makes the best portable speaker?

This is largely down to personal taste. but here at What’s The Best we really rate the speakers from JBL. As we covered in our rundown of the best JBL speakers, they know what they’re doing when it comes to the right balance of affordability, feature set and portability. That said, the recommendations above showcase brands that are well-established and regarded as excellent by many.

What’s the best portable speaker and microphone?

The benefit of having a microphone built into your portable speaker means that it may also be a smart speaker. Much like other smart speakers we’ve covered, a portable speaker with a microphone could be used to make phone calls or even Zoom meetings. Not everybody wants this functionality, but doubling up listening pleasure with practicality, choosing one of the best portable speakers with a built-in microphone is a great option.

What is the best portable speaker for bass?

With small speakers, truly excellent base doesn’t come easy. For that reason, we’re looking at a few of the larger options, such as the Ultimate Ears HYPERBOOM speaker as having one of the best bass responses on the market today. You’re not going to find any with a true subwoofer built in, but options such as the Sonos Move will pair with other compatible speakers in the Sonos range - and that includes a subwoofer, but be prepared to have to plug that into the wall first.

THERE'S NOTHING BETTER THAN TAKING YOUR MUSIC OUT INTO THE WILD © GETTY IMAGES

Speaker jargon-buster

Active speakers

Unlike passive speakers that have no active power or amplifier circuitry, active speakers do. All of our picks here are self-amplified. You can stream any sound directly to the speakers, usually via a mobile device connected with Bluetooth or WiFi connection. You don't need a separate amplifier.

Watt

Wattage in regard to sound output and speaker power is a measure of the strength of the signal that drives the speaker. The wattage between the speaker and traditional separate amp needs to be compatible to avoid potentially damaging both; but of course with active speakers this is all dealt with for you.

Decibels

Sound is measured in decibels (dBs). While it's an accepted measure of volume, it doesn’t correlate with wattage. More wattage doesn’t necessarily mean bigger or better volume, or quality for that matter. Usually, manufacturers specify the amount of dBs that a speaker can produce with a single Watt of power at a 1-metre distance.

Drivers

A driver is a device inside any speaker, be it wired headphones or bookshelf speakers, that converts electrical signals into sound. So it follows, larger drivers tend to be able to deliver a more powerful sound with greater accuracy. That said, this isn’t always the case as build material quality also plays an important role.

Tweeters

A speaker is two components: a woofer and a tweeter. A tweeter is responsible for producing high-frequency sounds. They're often a dome shape and may even be independently positionable.

Woofers

A woofer is part of the speaker that produces low-frequency sounds. You'll commonly see these described by the width of the cone - in inches or centimetres. This will also give you a slight indication of how much range and power they may have.

Frequency Range

This is a measurement, in Hertz (Hz) of the range of sound frequencies a speaker can reproduce. Our ears can perceive 20 - 20,000 Hz, with the lower number being a lower tone and vice versa.

Chris Duffill is a Tech Product Writer for What's The Best. He specialises in audiovisual, computing, and gadgets. He also writes for Yours.

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