/>
X
Home & Office
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 portable speakers: Sonos, Edifier, JBL, and more compared

Prepping for a summer day by the lake, pool, beach, or backyard? These portable speakers deliver great on-the-go audio for any occasion.
Written by Lena Borrelli, Contributing Writer
Reviewed by Christina Darby
Sonos Roam | Best portable speaker overall
Sonos Roam
Sonos Roam
Best portable speaker overall
View now View at Crutchfield
Bumpboxx Flare 8 | Best portable speaker for parties
Bumpboxx Flare 6
Bumpboxx Flare 8
Best portable speaker for parties
View now View at Amazon
Edifier MP230 | Best retro portable speaker
Edifier MP230
Edifier MP230
Best retro portable speaker
View now View at Best Buy
JBL Clip 4 | Best clip-on portable speaker
JBL Clip 4
JBL Clip 4
Best clip-on portable speaker
View now View at Amazon
Rocksteady Stadium Subwoofer and Speakers | Best portable speaker splurge
Rocksteady Stadium Subwoofer and Speakers
Rocksteady Stadium Subwoofer and Speakers
Best portable speaker splurge
View now View at Amazon
Marshall Emberton II Portable Bluetooth Speaker | Best portable speaker style
Marshall Emberton II Portable Bluetooth Speaker
Marshall Emberton II Portable Bluetooth Speaker
Best portable speaker style
View now View at Amazon
Show more (1 item)

Music is an entertainment necessity, but not everyone has the budget or space for a stereo system. And with summer weather finally here, a portable speaker makes the perfect beach, lake, pool, backyard, or even room accessory. 

Also: The best electric grills of 2023: No-fuss grilling

To help you decide on the best portable speaker that doesn't compromise size for high quality sound you'll want to blast, we compiled a list that promise lightweight build, full-body bass, and even durability factors at a reasonable price. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Fantastic sound
  • Excellent compatibility
  • Auto Trueplay
Cons
  • Limited Bluetooth pairing
  • No speakerphone
More Details

Sonos Roam tech specs: Volume: 80 decibels | Weight: 7.1 ounces | Battery life: Up to 10 hours | Waterproof rating: IP67

The Sonos Roam offers excellent performance, along with a durable, lightweight design that makes it perfect to handle. It boasts IP67 waterproofing, too, so you can take it with you to the beach or the pool. The speaker connects via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or USB and is very easy to control, thanks to integrations with Apple AirPlay 2, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant. 

You can also use the Sonos app to control your speaker with Trueplay tuning for premium sound. There is even the ability to connect to other Sonos speakers in your home to hear your favorite songs throughout the house. Sonos Roam uses dual Class-H digital amplifiers with a tweeter and midwoofer for well-rounded sound. It has a 10-hour battery, which is shorter than others on our list, but it takes multiple types of chargers when it is time to recharge. 

Also: Sonos Roam SL drops the mic with a $159 price tag and all the portability

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Crisp sound
  • Booming bass
  • Fun designs
Cons
  • Heavy
  • Pricey
More Details

Bumpboxx Flare 6 tech specs: Volume: 118 decibels | Weight: 19 pounds | Battery life: 12 hours | Waterproof rating: N/A

Gronk Fitness shares with us the Bumpboxx Flare 8, a powerful, bass-heavy speaker that comes decked out in a fun design. It calls upon the retro design from days of old, offering a boombox-style portable speaker that is perfect for your next party or gathering. You can even personalize your speaker with a choice of six different colors. 

With 200 watts of power, it includes two eight-inch woofers and a three-inch tweeter for full-bodied, unapologetic sound. There are also five EQ settings to choose from, plus Bluetooth connectivity for easy listening. Battery run time is 12 hours for extra listening time. And best of all? It comes Gronk-approved.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Attractive design
  • Excellent stereo sound
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Not waterproof
  • Limited features
More Details

Edifier MP230 tech specs: Volume: 85 dB  | Weight: 0.85 kg | Battery life: 10 hours | Waterproof rating: N/A

The Edifier MP230 boasts a 1960s flare, offering an attractive, glossy design using a boutique mesh that is completely at home on your bookshelf or table. Made of wood, the speaker includes a Class-D stereo amplifier with dual full-range drivers and rear passive radiators that create powerful bass and crisp notes through this petite portable speaker. 

Additionally, the model uses 5.0 Bluetooth connectivity with multiple audio inputs to accommodate several devices. Thanks to its 2600 mAh high-capacity lithium-polymer battery, this speaker has one of the longest-running batteries with 16 hours of play time. 

Also: The best Bluetooth speakers

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Super affordable
  • Compact design
  • Waterproof
Cons
  • Battery-powered
  • High volume playback is average
More Details

JBL Clip 4 tech specs: Volume: 80 decibels | Weight: 8.4 oz | Battery life: 10 hours | Waterproof rating: IP67

The JBL Clip 4 is small enough to clip onto a backpack with an ultra-portable, miniature design that is perfect to take with you on the go. Still, you will likely be surprised by the quality of sound this little speaker produces despite its size, and verified customers verify that the advertised improved bass and low-midrange clarity is impressive -- especially at low volume playback. The Clip 4 particularly differs from its predecessor by employing a redesigned carabiner to provide better, clearer sound that multiple listeners can enjoy with simple wireless streaming using any Bluetooth device. 

The speaker is also IP67 waterproof and dustproof for added longevity, and comes in a variety of colors, too, so you can personalize your speaker to your personal taste. 

Also: The best wireless speakers

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Powerful bass
  • Built-in subwoofer
  • Flexible form factor
Cons
  • Additional cost for strap
  • No official waterproof rating
  • Pricey
More Details

Rocksteady Stadium Subwoofer and Speakers tech specs: Volume: 96 decibels | Weight: 2.2 lbs | Battery life: 18 hours | Waterproof rating: N/A

ZDNET tested the new Rocksteady Stadium Subwoofer and Speakers, a dual type of speaker that includes a tweeter with a mid-bass driver and bass drums to produce what we think is, incredible sound. AWSM sound tuning is available, as well. This is an entirely flexible unit that allows you to connect multiple speakers at the same time, greatly expanding your listening area. 

Choose from the left or right channel, or simply tune in to both. Offering both Bluetooth and auxiliary support, it's recommended for both indoor and outdoor use, although it is not necessarily a waterproof model. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Pronounced bass
  • Fantastic battery
  • Retro design
Cons
  • No smart technology
  • No custom EQ controls
More Details

Marshall Emberton II Portable Bluetooth Speaker tech specs: Weight: 4.2 ounces | Battery life: 30 hours | Waterproof rating: IP67

There's no denying that the Marshall Emberton II Portable Bluetooth Speaker has style. It is a mainstay on my dresser, setting the soundtrack to many a beauty routine. True Stereophonic technology means 360° audio you can enjoy anywhere. The sound comes through crisp and clear, and the retro design makes it a suitable fixture in my bedroom.

Bluetooth pairing is easy, and it has a water-resistance rating of IP67 for a day on the boat. Even better? There is more than enough battery to last the day, too, with more than 30 hours of playtime. 

What is the best portable speaker?

The Sonos Roam is the best overall portable speaker thanks to its outstanding performance and sound, including auto Trueplay. It is lightweight and waterproof and comes in a variety of colors. 

To see how the Sonos Roam stacks up, here is an overview of the best portable speaker. 

Best portable speaker

Cost

Weight

Waterproof rating

Sonos Roam

$179

7 ounces

IP67

Bumpboxx Flare 8

$399

19 pounds

N/A

Edifier MP230

$150

1.87 pounds

N/A

JBL Clip 4

$80

8.4 ounces

IP67

Rocksteady Stadium Subwoofer and Speakers

$570

2.2 pounds

N/A

Marshall Emberton II Portable Bluetooth Speaker

$169

4.2 ounces

IP67

Which portable speaker is right for you?

To find the best portable speaker you need, consider our expert recommendations to help.

Choose this best portable speaker...

If you want...

Sonos Roam

A smart speaker with excellent performance. It's even waterproof for those lazy summer afternoons at the beach.

Bumpboxx Flare 8

To take the party on the go. Deep bass will transform your favorite tracks and get everybody moving. 

Edifier MP230

A classic look for modern sound. This retro design is matched by high performance with full-bodied sound.

JBL Clip 4

A speaker made for the nature enthusiast. This portable speaker is easy to clip onto a backpack or a bike for tunes on the go. 

Rocksteady Stadium Subwoofer and Speakers

A powerful, bass-heavy set. This portable subwoofer is capable of filling a large room with just a little package. 

Marshall Emberton II Portable Bluetooth Speaker

Retro style with multi-dimensional sound. The impressive battery life means you get to enjoy your favorite songs for longer.

How did we choose these portable speakers?

In searching for the best portable speaker, we use several factors to shape our decision, including these.

  • Volume: We look for portable speakers that offer full-bodied, powerful sound for your listening pleasure.   
  • Price: The cost of a portable speaker can run the gamut, so we look for portable speakers that suit a variety of budgets. 
  • Weight: The weight of a portable speaker is important when you plan to take your speaker with you on the go. 
  • Waterproofing: A portable speaker gets bonus points if it features a waterproof design.

What is the best portable speaker company?

There are many companies that manufacture portable speakers, but not all of them provide the best quality and value. From my testing, I have found that the best portable speakers come from favorites like Sonos, Edifier, Marshall, and JBL, as well as newcomers like Bumpboxx and Rocksteady.

Are all Bluetooth speakers portable?

Not all Bluetooth speakers are portable. Some Bluetooth speakers are built to remain in place, whether they are floor-standing speakers or bookshelf speakers. When shopping for the best portable speaker for your needs, be sure to pay attention to the weight of each speaker so you can find a lightweight model for your everyday carry.

How much do portable speakers weigh?

The best portable speakers can range in weight considerably. Our picks weigh between seven ounces for the Sonos Roam all the way to 19 pounds when you choose the Gronk Fitness Bumpboxx Flare 6.

How much do portable speakers cost?

The best portable speakers range in cost from $80 to almost $600 when you buy the Rocksteady Subwoofer set.

What is the average battery life for a portable speaker?

The average battery life ranges from 10 to 12 hours, depending on the model you choose. However, the battery life of a portable speaker can vary, so be sure to compare your options before selecting the best speaker for your needs. 

Are there alternative portable speakers worth considering?

There are several portable speakers that also caught our eye when searching for the best alternative portable speakers.

View at AmazonView at AmazonView at AmazonView at Amazon

For more options, check out our expert picks for the best stereo speakers, the best smart speakers, and the best WiFi speakers

Editorial standards