/>
X
Why you can trust ZDNet
ZDNet independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNet Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNet's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNet nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNet's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.

Close

The best cheap Bluetooth speakers: Listen for less

What is the best cheap Bluetooth speaker? The Anker Soundcore Flare Mini is our top pick! We examined price, sound quality, battery life, water resistance, sound range, size, connectivity, and more to find the best cheap Bluetooth speaker for you.
sean-jackson-author.jpg
Written by Sean Jackson, Contributing Writer on

Looking to set the mood while you cook, chill, or host a party? Bluetooth speakers can fill your space with vibrant sound. And best of all, they don't have to break the budget.

There are many fantastic options available for under $50. Our guide helps you find some of the best on the market today.

Anker Soundcore Flare Mini Bluetooth Speaker

Best cheap Bluetooth speaker

screenshot-2022-01-03-173231-2.png
Amazon

This Anker speaker will be the life of your party. Its neodymium drivers encapsulate your room with 360-degree sound. Meanwhile, the Dual IIR passive radiators, multi-band DRC, and BassUp Technology provide exceptional sound quality. And with 10W of overall power, it achieves remarkable performance.

Along with the sound, it looks fantastic. It has an LED halo that adds another dynamic to your gatherings. The lights move based on the rhythm of the music, and with eight LED lights and five lighting modes, you can customize its appearance to match your ambience through the Soundcore mobile app. It provides an added element to enhance dinner parties, gatherings with friends, and more. 

The speaker also touts longevity. Its Li-ion battery nets you up to 12 hours of operating time on a full charge, making it perfect for extended gatherings. And for parties involving the weather or pool, its waterproof body will suit your needs. It can withstand sprinkles, the occasional splashing, and underwater immersion for up to 30 minutes. 

Overall, this speaker achieves rich sound and pulsates with lights. 

Pros:

  • Receive up to 12 hours of use on a single charge
  • Features 360-degree sound thanks to the neodymium drivers
  • LED lighting that moves with the rhythm of the beat
  • Speaker's waterproof body allows for absorption for up to 30 minutes
  • Up to 100-foot range with no obstructions

Cons:

  • Does not have an AUX output like other Bluetooth options
  • Reviewers note using LED lighting drastically reduces battery life

Also: 5 best smart speakers: Which should you buy

Amazon Echo Dot 4th Generation

Best for smart home integration

echo-dot-4th-gen.jpg
Amazon

If you want an inexpensive Bluetooth speaker that fits within your smart home ecosystem, then the Amazon Echo Dot 4th Gen could be a wise choice for you. Its compact design means you can tuck it away with ease. And it is portable in that you can take it outside or when you travel.

Moreover, you can stream your favorite music from Apple, Amazon, Sirius, and Spotify. You can also listen to bestsellers or podcasts with an Audible subscription.

In addition to playing your favorite audiobooks, music, and podcasts, you can use voice commands to lower or raise music volume, change the channel, or access Alexa. Alexa can tell you a joke, the outdoor temperature, or play sleep sounds if you need to unwind after a hectic day.

The device even has a security component. Use the Alexa app to set up Guard Plus (a paid subscription required). After doing so, it can alert you if your smoke detector goes off or if it hears someone breaking the glass to enter your home.

This version is also scalable, meaning you can connect it to other Echo Dots in other areas of your home. Then, you can make a voice command that reverberates to other rooms in your home having them. It's a fun way to announce events at a larger party.

Best of all, installation is convenient. Plug the device into an outlet, install the Alexa app on your smartphone or tablet, and connect to the internet. All told, this speaker offers many features for an affordable price. 

Pros:

  • Use the voice command feature to play music, access the news, or check the weather
  • Pairs with other smart home features like thermostats, cameras, lights, and locks to make controlling many functions of your home more convenient
  • Compact design makes storing and portability convenient
  • Offers device connectivity by way of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi

Cons:

  • Amazon reviewers note the sound quality is poorer than previous editions
  • You have to purchase a separate battery base for wireless capabilities

Sony SRS-XB12 Extra Bass Portable Bluetooth Speaker

Best for portability and richer sound quality

cheap-speaker-2.jpg
Sony

Sony is a brand synonymous with exceptional-sounding speakers. And the XB12 continues this legacy. The speaker comes with a passive radiator to deliver extra bass, enhancing your favorite tunes and giving your gatherings a pulse. The speaker is also scalable in that you can add another unit to create a fuller, richer sound. 

Arguably the speaker's best feature is its portability. Its compact design and wireless connectivity make it the perfect companion for trips to the beach, picnics, or if you need musical motivation on your bike rides. It also comes with a strap for ultimate convenience.

Sony also designed this speaker to withstand some of the elements. The speaker consists of a dust-proof design, allowing you to take it on biking and hiking excursions. It also is waterproof to a point. Sony notes that all ports must be closed, and the speaker can only survive sprays of water, not immersion. 

And the battery life is stellar. You can listen to music for up to 16 hours on a single charge. Altogether, this Sony speaker delivers many enticing features.

Pros:

  • Features enhanced bass thanks to the passive radiator
  • Play music for up to 16 hours
  • Compact design makes this speaker the perfect traveling companion
  • It can withstand dust and sprays of water. 

Cons:

  • Speaker's orientation is critical for good sound quality -- depending on your space, you might have set the speaker on its side for richer quality

Also: Best Bluetooth speakers: Here comes the boom

What is the best cheap Bluetooth speaker?

The Anker Soundcore Flare Mini is the best cheap Bluetooth speaker based on our analysis of specs like price, sound quality, battery life, water resistance, sound range, and more.

How did we choose these speakers?

When searching for the best cheap Bluetooth speakers, we took many factors like price into account. We also examined performance. For this, we looked at all the features offered. For example, the Amazon Echo Dot might not have had the best sound of all the models available, but it offered many features other speakers did not possess. 

Moreover, we also considered features like a waterproof body, its battery life, and its range. That way, if you wanted an audio companion when at the pool or on other outdoor adventures, you had options. 

Customers' experiences also proved of paramount importance. Was the speaker easy to set up? How were the sound quality and other features? We scoured reviews to help you find reputable options. 

From there, we ranked some of the top choices in categories like best overall, best for smart home functionality, and best value. That way, you can narrow your search based on your preferences.

Which cheap Bluetooth speaker is right for you?

While any of the speakers on this list are a great pick, your overall needs and budget will determine what speaker is best for you. If you're looking for the ultimate in sound quality, you can't go wrong with the Anker Soundcore speaker. For smart home enthusiasts, the Amazon Echo Dot is a great option that will double as an at-home assistant. And, if your ultimate goal is to be able to take a speaker anywhere, your best bet is the Sony Extra Bass Portable Speaker.

How does a Bluetooth speaker work?

After enabling Bluetooth on your phone or tablet, your speaker can take in the digital data from your transmitting device through a fixed frequency (2.4GHz). From here, your speaker has a chip called the digital to analog converter. As its name implies, it can take the digital signals received from your phone and convert them to analog. Next, the speaker's amplifier strengthens these audio signals by drawing power from the speaker's power source, whether from a battery or auxiliary plug-in. It kicks these signals through the speaker's drivers to emit sound. 

How do I set up a Bluetooth speaker?

Set up is easy to do. How it works is you use your smartphone or tablet to access the speaker. To do so, fully charge the speaker first. Next, go to your smartphone or tablet's settings, find Bluetooth, then turn it on. Doing this will allow it to find other devices you can pair with it. Keep in mind that it might take a few minutes to do. After an initial scan, it will discover all available devices near you. Select the name of your speaker to connect to it. Once connected, you can open a music app and start playing music. 

Alternatively, with other speakers, it is much easier to set up. The Amazon Echo Dot is the perfect example of this. With it, you plug it in, download the Amazon Alexa app, and make sure your device's Bluetooth is on. Follow the rest of the setup instructions, and you're good to go. 

How do I fix poor sound quality or delays in streaming?

If you notice delays in playing media, poor sound quality, or a dropped signal, there are ways to rectify this. First, position your smartphone or tablet closer to the speaker. The closer your speaker is to your streaming device, the better signal it receives. You also consider keeping your speaker clear of any obstructions. Doing so maximizes its range when pairing it to a source. Pay close attention to your speaker's technical specifications, as they will tell you how far away you can place your speaker from your device. 

You can also strengthen your signal by disabling Wi-Fi on your phone and keep it further away from other Bluetooth-enabled devices. By keeping these considerations in mind, you receive better sound quality and fewer disruptions. 

How do Bluetooth and Wi-Fi work differently?

Wi-Fi uses an internet connection to serve as a wireless hub for all connected devices. Meanwhile, Bluetooth can connect enabled components wirelessly through radio waves. While you'll need the internet on your phone or tablet to stream audio to your speaker, your speaker does not require an internet connection. 

Are there alternative cheap Bluetooth speakers worth considering?

There are many decent Bluetooth speakers for under $50. Below is a look at some alternatives and reasons they were not among the best:

This speaker is stylish, compact, and ready to tag along on your adventure. It features a convenient carrying strap and wireless Bluetooth streaming. With its IP67 classification, it is dustproof and waterproof, giving you the option of taking it on your outdoor expeditions. The one drawback about this unit is its limited battery life of five hours. Compared to other options making the best lists, it is a dramatic step back in operating time. That aside, it is a stylish speaker packing decent sound and exceptional portability. 

This speaker's strength is in its versatility. It has a signal range of up to 33 feet, and its 5W of power ensures a surprising amount of kick in its sound. The speaker also has a waterproof exterior, allowing the occasional splash at pool parties or taking it to the beach. And with an overall weight of 10.6oz, it's an easy speaker to tote on your adventures. The common drawback customers experience is its limited sound volume.

Related

The 11 best Amazon Echo speakers of 2022
echo-2-product-photos-16.jpg

The 11 best Amazon Echo speakers of 2022

Speakers
The 5 best cheap soundbars of 2022
cheap-soundbar-action-shot.jpg

The 5 best cheap soundbars of 2022

Speakers
The 6 best cheap 5G phones of 2022
2020-09-30-at-1-38-26-pm.jpg

The 6 best cheap 5G phones of 2022

Smartphones