Best Portable Mini Bluetooth Speakers for 2023: Top Compact Waterproof Wireless Speakers – CNET

https://www.cnet.com/a/img/resize/376b66747cb42a3d0785e8503482c56c26a4237f/hub/2021/11/10/f288fbdf-4e31-4cff-b11b-82439beda274/bose-soundlink-flex-blue-city-backdrop-3.jpg?auto=webp&fit=crop&height=614&width=1092

If you’re someone who likes to listen to music without earbuds plugged into your head, then a Bluetooth speaker is a worthwhile investment. Not only do they provide better audio quality than your phone’s speakers, but they come in all shapes and sizes suitable for whatever your needs may be. Whether you’re looking for something that’ll work well in your home or when you’re out and about, all of the best portable mini Bluetooth speakers boast impressive sound.

Note that while compact wireless speakers continue to improve with time, offering better sound, longer battery life, more reliable connectivity and increased durability (many are now fully waterproof), most of the speakers on this list are technically mono speakers and do have some limitations to their sound, particularly when it comes to bass output and overall volume. Often, you can wirelessly link two of the same speakers to create a stereo pair (which does improve sound quality) but not everybody wants or can afford to buy two speakers.

We’ll update this list as new ultraportable Bluetooth speakers hit the market.

David Carnoy/CNET

When it launched, Bose made some bold claims about its new SoundLink Flex Bluetooth speaker, particularly its bass performance. But it mostly lives up to the hype and is arguably the best-sounding wireless speaker for its relatively compact size. Available in three colors — black, white smoke and stone blue (pictured) — the speaker is IP67 dust- and waterproof, and rated for 12 hours of battery life at moderate volume levels.

It’s also equipped with Bose’s PositionIQ technology to automatically detect the speaker’s orientation and deliver optimized sound based on whether it’s upright, hanging or flat on its back. The Flex also floats and Bose says it can survive drops and bumps, with a soft silicone back and powder-coated steel grille that “won’t peel or flake and is resistant to corrosion and UV light.”

While Bose’s SoundLink Micro also delivers impressive sound for its tiny size, this speaker is bigger, weighing just over a pound (0.45 kg) and measuring 7.9 inches wide, 2.1 inches deep and 3.6 inches high (20 by 5.3 by 9.1cm), so the Flex sounds significantly better than the Micro. For some reason, it uses the older Bluetooth 4.2 instead of 5.0, but I didn’t have any problems with connectivity.

Bose says it can fill a living room with sound. From my tests, I’d say it would have to be a relatively small living room — it can only output so much sound as a single speaker. However, if you pair two of them together in stereo mode, the sound gets to a whole other level and indeed fills a larger room with sound.

David Carnoy/CNET

Back in 2020, Tribit released the StormBox Micro, a budget version of Bose’s excellent SoundLink Micro speaker that delivered surprisingly good sound for its size and modest price. Now we get the StormBox Micro 2, which offers improved sound and battery life, along with a charge-out feature that turns the speaker into a power bank for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. An integrated strap allows you to clip it to your backpack or your bike’s handlebars.

Like the original, it’s an excellent value and easy to recommend if you’re looking for a super compact portable wireless speaker. 

You’re receiving price alerts for Tribit StormBox Micro 2

David Carnoy/CNET

With each new version of the Flip, JBL makes small improvements, and while the latest model, the Flip 6, doesn’t look much different from the Flip 5 on the outside, it does feature improved sound. It has two-way drivers with a woofer and tweeter and dual passive radiators that help the Flip 6 deliver much deeper bass than you think it could. 

It’s fully waterproof and dust-proof with an IPX67 rating. Like the Flip 5, it’s rated for up to 12 hours of audio playback at moderate volume levels and charges via USB-C. Available in multiple color options, it’s one of the best-sounding speakers for its compact size.

You’re receiving price alerts for JBL Flip 6

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Tribit MaxSound Plus is about 30% bigger than its sibling XSound Go and costs about $25 more, but it performs substantially better and is one of the best sounding speakers in its size and price class. It has a long-lasting rechargeable battery and superior audio quality for a Bluetooth speaker. And be sure to activate the instant coupon on the product page for $10 off. 

Read our Tribit MaxSound Plus review.

You’re receiving price alerts for Tribit MaxSound Plus

David Carnoy/CNET

The JBL Bluetooth speaker that received the biggest improvements over the previous model is among the company’s smallest. The JBL Go 3 has a completely new look — it’s now covered in durable fabric instead of having the naked plastic design of its Go predecessors — and that new design, coupled with surprisingly decent sound for its small size, makes the Go 3 one of the top micro Bluetooth speakers out there.

Available in multiple color options, it has an IP67 water-resistance rating, meaning it can be dunked in water and is dust-proof. Battery life is rated at up to five hours.

David Carnoy/CNET

While Anker’s Soundcore Motion Plus came out in 2019 it remains one of best-sounding speakers for around $100. It’s larger than many mini Bluetooth speakers, but it’s still compact. It manages to sound quite a bit fuller than much of the competition in its price range, with bigger bass, more volume and better clarity. It’s also fully waterproof (IPX7-rated) and has support for the aptX streaming codec for devices like Samsung’s Galaxy phones that support it.

It’s currently prices at $107 at Amazon, but you can save $20 by activating the instant coupon on the product page. 

Read our Anker Soundcore Motion Plus review.

You’re receiving price alerts for Anker Soundcore Motion Plus (Black)

David Carnoy/CNET

We liked Ultimate Ears’ Wonderboom 2 and the third-generation model, the Wonderboom 3, offers some small improvements, including slightly better battery life (up to 14 hours instead of 13, at moderate volume levels) and a new Bluetooth chip that allows for extended wireless range of over 130 feet (40 meters). The design has not changed, though the speaker now comes in different color options.

Like its predecessor, the Wonderboom 3 carries a list price of $100, but sometimes sells for a little less. Its IP67 rating means that it’s not only waterproof but also dust-proof (and able to float).

This model retains the special Outdoor Boost mode that boosts treble and you can link two together (or pair a Wonderboom 3 to a Wonderboom 2) to create a stereo sound pairing by simply pressing a button on each speaker. As far as I can tell, the Wonderboom 3 sounds very similar to the Wonderboom 2 and features very good sound for its small size. That said, while there’s some punch to the bass (being short yet squat helps it produce more low end), it can only deliver so much kick. 

Alas, Ultimate Ears, which is owned by Logitech, has not upgraded the charging port to USB-C. The speaker still charges with a Micro-USB cable, which is a bit of a bummer.

You’re receiving price alerts for Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3

David Carnoy/CNET

Marshall’s little mono Willen speaker is similar to Bose’s SoundLink Micro and other micro speakers like the Tribit StormBox Micro 2. Also like those speakers, it has an integrated strap on its base so you can clip it onto a backpack or even to your bike’s handlebars. Its 2-inch full range driver and two passive radiators put out more sound than you’d think it would for its tiny size, and it offers decent clarity as well just enough bass to avoid sounding tinny (you can choose from three preset sound modes). 

Battery life is good at around 15 hours of playback time at moderate volume levels, and the speaker is IPX67 dust-proof and waterproof. The main strike against it is its $120 price — ideally it would cost around $80, though right now you can pick it up on sale for $100. But it’s nicely designed, feels rugged and fits in a jacket pocket, weighing in it at 0.68-pound (308 grams).

The Willen can stand up vertically or lay down horizontally and has a built-in microphone for speakerphone calls. It comes in a couple of color options and can be linked wirelessly with other Willen speakers to augment the sound.

You’re receiving price alerts for Marshall Willen

David Carnoy/CNET

Over the last few years, Tribit has made several Bluetooth speakers that deliver a lot of boom for the buck. Add its new XSound Mega to the list.

Tribit is billing the XSound Mega as more of an outdoor speaker — a lanyard is included for toting it around as a sort of mini boombox — but it works just fine indoors. It has an LED light show that you can turn on or off and there are three EQ settings for sound: XBass, Music and Audiobook. Additionally, it can be used as a power bank to charge your mobile devices.

In my tests, the speaker compared pretty favorably to more expensive speakers like the JBL Charge 5. There’s plenty of bass and the speaker plays loud for its size, with decent clarity. That said, it’s a mono speaker with a single driver and two bass radiators — that’s how you get all that bass. So while you can expect big sound, the soundstage doesn’t feel all that wide, particularly at lower volumes. It actually sounds better at higher volumes.

You’re receiving price alerts for Tribit XSound Mega

David Carnoy/CNET

With its new canister-like design, perfectly sized to fit in a chair cup holder, Sony has created a portable Bluetooth speaker that has a design you’re probably familiar with from popular speakers like the UE Boom and JBL Flip, which have been upgraded over the years with improved bass and battery life. 

An Extra Bass model, the SRS-XB23 definitely has a warmer sound. It delivers better sound with more bass and volume than many of the cheaper generic Bluetooth speakers you can find on Amazon in the $40-$100 range on Amazon. It’s also a sleeker looking Bluetooth speaker that’s available in five different color options: black, taupe, coral red, light blue and olive green. Some colors are available for less.

Equipped with two new full-range drivers and passive bass radiator, it delivers 12 hours of battery life at moderate volume levels and is water-, dust-, rust- and shock-proof with an IP67 rating. It has USB-C charging and can connect with up to 100 other Sony speakers using Sony’s Party Connect feature.

David Carnoy/CNET

Scosche BoomBottle speakers are similar in size to the JBL Flip models and designed to fit in the bottle holder cage on your bike. But the BoomBottle MM also features Scosche’s magnetic Magic Mount on top of the speaker as well as a magnetic base that allows you to adhere the speaker to metallic flat surfaces. (It also comes with a small metal plate that you can stick to a nonmagnetic surface.) And finally, there’s a built-in bottle opener, which some people will appreciate.

It’s a pretty decent sounding speaker, too — and rugged, with an IP67 rating that means it’s dustproof and waterproof. It’s not quite there soundwise with the JBL Flip 6, but it plays pretty loud and has ample bass. Battery life is rated at 12 hours at moderate volume levels. You can also wirelessly link two of these together to create a stereo pair or just augment the sound. 

David Carnoy/CNET

Bang & Olufsen has upgraded its dome-shaped aluminum-clad A1 speaker with improved battery life, better speakerphone performance (it now has a three-microphone array) and slightly improved sound. It’s not only the smallest wireless speaker from the Danish company, but also the most affordable as it often drops to around $200.

While the speaker drivers remain the same, the Qualcomm chipset that powers the speaker has been upgraded (the speaker uses Bluetooth 5.1), bumping the sound quality up a tad, particularly at higher volumes, with better digital signal processing. It remains one of the best-sounding mini Bluetooth speaker models, with richer more tonally balanced sound than other Bluetooth speakers its size — and it should sound good, considering its elevated price point.

It’s also worth noting that the A1 has multipoint Bluetooth pairing so you can connect this to your PC and smartphone at the same time and easily switch back and forth between the two if a call comes in on your phone. Additionally, the speaker is Alexa-enabled, meaning you can activate Amazon’s voice assistant by just saying “Alexa.” 

Battery life is rated at up to 18 hours at 50% volume (the earlier A1 didn’t live up to its battery life claims, but this number is more accurate) and if you can afford it, you can link two A1 speakers to create a stereo pair. The speaker is waterproof with an IP67 rating that allows it to be submerged briefly in shallow water.

You’re receiving price alerts for Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay A1 (2nd Edition)

David Carnoy/CNET

I’ve long been a fan of Sony’s smallest Bluetooth speaker, which has been modestly upgraded for 2021 with some design refinements and slightly improved sound. This model is both dust- and waterproof with an IP67 certification and is rated for 16 hours of battery life at moderate volume levels (it has USB-C charging, while the older XB12 didn’t). The speaker plays bigger than you’d think for its small size, with some punch to its bass, but it can only output so much sound — yes, it has its limitations. If you add a second XB13, you can get stereo sound. 

The XB13 is available in multiple color options and includes a strap so you can attach it to various objects. It also has speakerphone capabilities with an integrated microphone. It usually lists for $60, but should be sporadically discounted.

Read our Sony SRS-XB01 review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

At around $30, the Tribit XSound Go is one of the top speakers with Bluetooth connectivity for the money. Besides sounding decent, it’s also fully waterproof. It also has excellent battery life — up to 24 hours at 50% volume levels.

You’re receiving price alerts for Tribit XSound Go

More audio recommendations

This post was originally published on Cnet

Share your love