Three Things to Consider Before Buying a Portable Bluetooth Speaker

Small, efficient, wireless speakers are better than ever, and a great gift idea for music lovers.

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to portable speakers. So many shapes and sizes, brands, specs, and feature sets. How are you supposed to choose? Basically, start with what’s most important to you, then work from there. Maybe you’re a music geek, so audio quality is the most important. Maybe you like going way off the grid, so a long-lasting battery is your most critical feature. Here are a few other notes you’ll want to keep in mind as you shop.

Pairs With Phones

This option has a built-in microphone with a range of up to 30 feet. Bose


Good sound quality is tough to quantify, but you know it when you hear it. Generally, you want to look for speakers with large drivers (i.e. the individual speakers within the device). Large drivers are more adept at reproducing those satisfying bass notes. Also look for speakers from brands that really know audio. You’ll find that they’re less likely to compromise on quality. Lastly, some speakers will pair with other speakers, giving you a much bigger sound than you could get from just one.

Beach- and Pool-Ready

This IPX7-certified choice can deliver a whopping 20 hours of music playback on a single charge, be used to up the battery of your phone, and it doesn’t skimp on sound quality. JBL


You know what doesn’t sound great? A speaker that can’t turn on anymore. If you spend a lot of time outside and away from a power source, then you’re going to want to make sure your speaker can go the distance. Look for a speaker with a battery that can support 10 hours of playback at a minimum. The tops in this category can go as long as 20 hours, and some can even charge your phone in a pinch.

Budget Friendly Model

This water-resistant device has up to 14 hours of playback time, an aux-in jack to directly connect another device, and plenty of volume for the party. Cambridge Soundworks


If you’re getting these speakers so you can listen to music in the great outdoors, make sure your speaker is as rough and tumble as you are. Look for an IPX4 certification at the very least, which should protect your speaker from rain and splashes. IPX5 can take even more, and IPX7 is where you go from water-resistant to waterproof (up to three feet deep, anyway).