Student essentials: The best budget-friendly Bluetooth speakers for students

Bluetooth speakers that cut on price, not quality.

Man holding one of the best budget-friendly Bluetooth speakers for students

by Harvey Isitt |
Updated on

As a student, you're well aware of the vital role music plays in our daily lives. From helping you focus to improving your mood and mental health, music is the perfect companion when you're hitting the books, gym, or unwinding after a long day of lectures. That's why finding the best speakers that fit your budget is crucial for leading a better, more productive student life. Whether you're looking for budget-friendly Bluetooth speakers or the best wireless speakers to upgrade your listening experience, having quality audio enhances your every moment.

If you're already at university or planning to go soon, you will likely hear music on or around campus. It could be a group of students practising yoga on the green or an outside study session. It could be a party in a hall, flat, or house, whose noise you're either loving, having been invited to, or hating since tonight you're pulling your first all-nighter. Maybe it's a group of friends playing on the beach or gathered around an instant barbeque. Whatever the scenario, having a Bluetooth speaker on hand can make your student life a whole lot better. And while you may have been urged by an older friend or relative that alcohol and – oddly specific though no less vital – a doorstop are your two must-haves, having a Bluetooth speaker is just as essential.

The best Bluetooth speakers for students at a glance:

• Best overall student speaker: Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3 - View on Amazon
• Best low-to-no-budget student speaker: Anker Soundcore Mini - View on Amazon
• Best compact student speaker: JBL GO 3 - View on Amazon
• Best all-round student speaker: Sony SRS-XB100 - View on Amazon

As you may have noticed, the internet is flooded (and I mean flooded) with Bluetooth speakers, thanks to their immense, seemingly unending popularity. However, it can be overwhelming to choose amidst so many options. From flashy and expensive to the suspiciously cheap, without the proper knowledge, you may end up ripped off and riddled with buyer's remorse. But fear not, for this is where we come in.

Having combed through the market, we shortlisted a few of the best budget Bluetooth speakers, perfect for students from all walks of life. Whether you like a quiet night in or are hoping to host a party, we have got you covered!

Top budget-friendly Bluetooth speakers for students

All prices are correct at the time of writing. Prices, stock and deals are subject to change without notice.

Best overall student speaker

The Wonderboom 3 is a superb little speaker with 360 degrees of crisp, loud, far-reaching sound, perfect for any situation.

Its durable design and impressive water and dustproofing make it a great outdoor companion. With a battery life of up to 14 hours, you don't have to worry about being a music-less maestro while hiking with friends or spending a day at the beach.

The speaker also features a nifty "Outdoor" button, which adjusts its sound quality to compensate for the lack of walls it would usually rely on to better distribute sound.

However, it's important to note that the speaker doesn't have a standard USB-C port. Instead, it only features a Mini USB Port, so you need to remember to bring its separate cable while on the go.

Pros

  • Sturdy and compact design
  • IP67 water and dust proof
  • Outdoor mode adjusts sound quality for on-the-go listening

Cons

  • Mini USB port means slower charging times

Best low-to-no-budget Bluetooth student speaker

Anker Soundcore mini, Super-Portable Bluetooth SpeakerAmazon
Price: $24.99

This little guy packs a serious punch. Compact and powerful, this supremely portable, astonishingly affordable speaker delivers a strong, reliable sound and bass that is just too good to pass on for only £20.

Despite its tiny size and pinch-yourself price, the Soundcore Mini can provide up to 15 hours of unbroken listening and has a connection range of up to 66 feet.

So, this speaker is a must-have if you're after a productive afternoon or want to unwind over a pint with friends.

Pros

  • Excellent 5W driver for crisp sound and robust bass
  • Lightweight and compact build for easy portability
  • Incredible battery life for prolonged listening

Cons

  • Lacks fast charging

Best compact student speaker

JBL GO 3 Wireless Bluetooth portable speakerAmazon
Price: $39.99
Alternative retailers
B&H Photo Video$29.95View offer
Lowe's$37.47View offer
Walmart$40.99View offer
Blain Farm & Fleet$42.49View offer

The JBL GO 3 will surprise you. For such a small design, its sound delivery is huge.

Offering a variety of vibrant colours, this sleek little speaker is the perfect summer companion. It is also water and dust proof, making it ideal for those wanting to bring their tunes to the park, beach, or pool.

However, due to its compact design, it has a limited battery life of up to 5 hours. While this may be perfect for a run or workout, it may not be enough for lengthier activities like hikes or study days.

Pros

  • Sleek design and incredible portability
  • IP67 dust and waterproofing
  • Great sound for something so small

Cons

  • Limited battery life of only 5 hours

Best all-around student speaker

The Sony SRS-XB100, currently 24% off, is an excellent all-rounder with good sound, deep bass, and up to 16 hours of battery life.

Its durable IP67 certification means you can take it on all your outdoor adventures. The multi-way strap also allows you to attach it easily to your backpack, ensuring its safety and your peace of mind.

It also offers a neat "hands-free calling" perk, so for those wanting to upgrade their video call quality – whether a lecture, meeting or job interview – this speaker, with its built-in mic and Echo cancelling technology, can offer a great separate speaker and mic to make your call quality that much better.
It's also a great upgrade for video calls.

Pros

  • Durable IP67-certified design for travelling
  • Lightweight and portable, with an adaptable multi-way strap
  • Hands-free calling and Echo cancelling technology

Cons

  • Volume not suitable for larger gatherings

Best smart Bluetooth student speaker

The perfect addition to your dorm room or student house, the Echo Dot offers clear, vibrant and reliable sound. With voice assistant Alexa, you don't have to worry about the hassle of opening up Spotify to select or change your playlist.

With smart assistance, start your request with a simple "Alexa" and instantly access your music, audiobooks and other audio content. Whether you're in the mood for a study playlist or need a burning question answered, Alexa has you covered. Alexa's ability to set timers makes the Echo Dot a great kitchen addition to any student household.

Despite its deceptively sleek design, there is, in fact, a touch response pad on the top of the device. You can tap this to pause a song, end a call, or snooze alarms. But ensure the latter temptation doesn't make you late for class!

Pros

  • Alexa compatible for hands-free ease of use
  • Sleek, aesthetic design to upgrade your space
  • Offers device pairing for multi-room setup

Cons

  • Requires AC power, so lacks portability

Best student speaker for outdoors

Look no further than the W-KING Bluetooth speaker for those wanting to elevate their outdoor gatherings. With its exceptional sound quality, robust waterproofing, and a whopping 40-hour battery life, this speaker reigns supreme when it comes to practicality.

It's a must-have for camping trips and those wanting to take their parties to the beach and through the night. Likewise, it's equipped with a built-in power bank, a handy feature for topping up your device's charge on the go.

Pros

  • Full sound and huge bass for larger gatherings outdoors
  • Incredible 40-hour battery life for those partying through the weekend
  • Power Bank to charge other devices

Cons

  • Sound quality suffers somewhat at lower volumes

Best student speaker for parties

Anker Soundcore Motion Boom Portable Bluetooth SpeakerAmazon

Rrp: $109.99

Price: $99.99

If you’re more likely to host a house party than spend a quiet night (got to pack as much in before exams come around), this is the best budget speaker for you.

This top-rated speaker from Soundcore is a powerhouse, delivering high-quality sound for up to 24 hours of nonstop listening. Its clear highs and booming bass are seriously impressive, even if the mid-tones can sometimes be overshadowed (expected at this price range).

However, for those looking to fine-tune their tunes, the speaker comes with an official Soundcore App that allows users to switch between EQ modes, including Soundcore Signature (for casual listening) and Voice mode (to highlight vocals).

Its IPX7 floatability and waterproofing also make it a reliable outdoor addition that will survive the bumps and splashes of outdoor adventuring.

Pros

  • Impressive 24-hour battery life for extended listening
  • Uses latest Bluetooth 5.0 technology for ultra-reliable connection
  • Waterproof and floatable if dropped into water

Cons

  • Sound quality is less than ideal at lower volumes

Best premium student speaker

Sonos One 2nd Gen Wireless Smart SpeakerArgos

Those aware of Sonos may wonder why it's so low on the list. First, it's a top ten, so all ten are expert-approved, but considering this article is for those on a student budget, spending £200 on a speaker may blow it. However, for those able or willing to pay more and want a speaker for their dorm or home listening, the Sonos One is a must.

The Sonos One (Gen 2) smart speaker is a sleek addition to their incredible array of speakers, with Alexa built-in. Its weighty build and premium quality make it a perfect addition to any space. With a quick setup and an excellent companion app, it offers unmatched ease of use.

The sound quality is phenomenal, with a balanced yet vast soundstage. Its TruePlay features allow it to adjust the sound distribution to suit your space's specific acoustics – it really does make a difference.

Other than the bass breaking when taken to the max volumes – something, given its almost deafening volume capabilities, will be a rarity for users – it's difficult to fault this magnificent piece of kit.

Pros

  • Stylish design with premium build
  • Impressive, balanced soundstage
  • TruePlay feature for precise room tuning
  • Alexa and companion app for ease of use

Cons

  • Bass distortion at maximum volume

Best portable student speaker

The Tribit StromBox Micro is a nifty little speaker that offers a portable, affordable option for anyone after a compact speaker that is as good at-home as it is for on-the-go.

Its design and build quality are surprisingly good for such a small device. The built-in Xbass technology is robust and weighty, though not too overwhelming that it floods its equally impressive treble and mid-tones.

Likewise, its tear-resistant strap is great to attach to handlebars and backpacks while riding a bike or taking a hike, keeping your tunes close whilst not having to worry about losing them. Also, if you’re on a group bike ride or hike, consider getting one each as, with its TWS mode, you can simultaneously stream your music, widening its reach whilst also removing the hassle of huddling a single maestro.

Its only downside is its less-than-ideal eight-hour battery life, which isn’t as good as some of its competitors.

Pros

  • Lightweight and super-portable with handlebar mount
  • Quick and easy connectivity with Bluetooth 5.0
  • Impressive bass for such a small speaker

Cons

  • Battery life is less than impressive

Best waterproof student speaker

The Creative Audio MUVO Play is the go-to speaker for those expecting to be around water. Whether in the shower, bath, by a pool or at the beach, you can rest assured that its impressive IPX7 waterproofing means it can withstand complete submersion. It can last in up to 1 metre of water for up to 30 minutes.

While its bass could be better, this speaker packs a punch when it comes to volume. It also offers stereo pairing for those wanting to ramp up their experience with multiple devices; however, actually pairing the devices can be less than easy.

Pros

  • Incredible IPX7 waterproofing for using in the shower or by the pool
  • Reliable connections for ease of use
  • Lightweight design for easy backpack portability

Cons

  • Underwhelming bass

The best budget-friendly Bluetooth speakers for students of 2024: buyer's guide

Portability

When it comes to portability, you should consider whether taking your tunes outside is for you. Whether for a hike, beach trip, barbeque with friends, portability should be your highest priority. Factors that usually determine this include size, weight, build quality, durability, water and dust resistance, and battery life.

Battery Life

Battery life is crucial when choosing a speaker, especially for outdoor use. If you're going to the beach for an instant barbeque with mates, you'll need at least six to eight hours of battery life. For hikers, you don't want to be three hours in when your music cuts out!

And yet, even if it lasts the duration of your hike, party, or beach trip, it might not be enough. You don’t want to risk pausing your plans while your speaker charges. So, in addition to battery life, it’s advisable to consider the speaker’s estimated recharge times and whether buying a fast-track charger is an option.

Water and dust resistance

For those who want to take their music to a place where electronics are less likely to behave – the beach or pool, let’s say – water and dust resistance is a necessity. Such resistance prevents water and dust particulates from entering and damaging the components inside your speaker.

You may have come across speakers with “IP” in their names. IP, or Ingress Protection, tells users whether a product is protected against water and particulates.

Budget-friendly Bluetooth speaker for students being splashed with water
IP, or Ingress Protection, indicates if a product is water and dust resistant ©Unsplash/Phuc H.

Can’t afford the speaker you want?

After relying on your parents to handle everything when it comes to money, transitioning to university life can be difficult. Unless you've previously had a part-time job, managing your expenses on a less-than-slim budget can be a struggle at the best of times.

If you've decided to get a Bluetooth speaker but can't afford the one you want, consider splitting the cost with your flatmates, especially if you plan on living with them for the duration of your studies. You'll get at least thee years of enjoyment out of it before deciding who gets to keep it when you're nearing the end of your final year (a situation all students face).

For those that can't decide, advertising your second-hand items on your university's Facebook page (an excellent place for selling and passing on used textbooks, etc.), Facebook Marketplace, and other alternative sites is always a good solution.

FAQs: your questions answered

Are cheap Bluetooth speakers worth it?

Many people have a common and understandable belief that the higher the price, the higher the quality. And yes, quality often correlates with price. However, that doesn’t mean you need to hand over your wallet to get a Bluetooth speaker. Yes, some phenomenal extortionately priced Bluetooth speakers are on the market, but some seriously incredible, affordable options will meet and exceed your expectations.

What’s the best Bluetooth speaker brand?

For those after more budget-friendly Bluetooth speakers, brands such as JBL, Ultimate Ears, and Anchor offer some great speakers that, despite their size, can pack a punch and offer an excellent battery life. For those willing to spend more, some great brands for the mid-to-higher range include Sonos and Bang & Olufsen.

A budget-friendly JBL Bluetooth speaker for students
©Pexels/Jovan Curayag

What Bluetooth speaker should I buy?

When it comes to buying a Bluetooth speaker, as clichéd as it sounds, it genuinely does depend on your situation and budget. Generally, the main factor you should consider is where you will primarily use your speaker. If you’re a homebody looking for a companion while you cook or unwind, there are some great wireless speakers for home. Whereas, if you bring your tunes outdoors and into environments typically unsuitable for electronics, portable outdoor speakers are the way to go.

Where is it best to put a Bluetooth speaker?

Not to underestimate, the placement of a Bluetooth speaker can make all the difference in sound quality. It’s good practice to place your speaker near a wall to allow the device to bounce the sound more effectively around your space.

Where can I find the best deals on Bluetooth speakers?

If you're after student deals, apps such as UNIDAYS and Student Beans are must-haves for any purchase.

Another smart move is to look out for "buy now, pay later" service providers which allow you to make a purchase and defer the payment to a later date at no extra cost. Klarna offers you the option to either "pay in full" (either now or in 30 days) or "pay over time". If you choose the latter, Klarna will split the price into three smaller monthly instalments. This can be a real lifesaver and safety net, especially if you're waiting for your pay slip or that tenner you lent to your mate.

However, depending on your need for your product, you should consider delaying your purchase until the Prime spring sales, pre-school July to September window, or Black Friday deals.

Harvey Isitt is a Tech Writer and Reviewer for What's the Best. Harvey writes reviews, buyers and how-to guides, and listicles on a broad range of topics.

Besides writing, Harvey is an avid camera, turntable, and speaker enthusiast with a somewhat unhealthy obsession with movies. He is also a keen runner, cyclist, hiker, and swimmer.

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