14 Best Portable Speakers We Tested in 2020
The tall cylinder shape of the Megaboom 3 is a bit more traditional than the squat globule of the Wonderboom 2. The Megaboom 3 is still a bit too large to fit into a cup holder or into the bottle pocket of most backpacks, but we’ve found it’s pretty easy to stuff into any main compartment or tote. And just like the Wonderboom 2, the Megaboom 3 is completely enclosed and waterproof. The most fun feature of the Megaboom 3 though, is “PartyUp,” which allows you to sync your speaker with anyone else’s Megaboom or Boom speakers and play the same thing through all of them at once. The only downside of this feature is that is was not, in fact, developed in collaboration with DMX.
JBL Charge 4: A Big Speaker for Solo Listening
If you want something with the power of the Megaboom 3, but don’t really entertain much, the JBL Charge 4might be a speaker to your liking. It has a slightly bigger bass response, but we found its overall sound to be a little underwhelming. And, where the Megaboom projects sound in every direction, you only hear the Charge 4 at its most clear when you’re right in front of it. If you’re just planning to bump your tunes from the comfort of your couch, that’s fine. But at a party where everyone is mingling in all directions, it’s less than ideal.
We liked the JBL Charge 4’s bass response, which is a bit more full than that on the Megaboom. We also didn’t hear any sibilance in the high end that would make listening to the speaker over a long period of time unpleasant. But we found that anything in the mid-range, like male vocals and most instruments, sounded just a little dull—especially when compared to the same ones played from the Megaboom.
If you do choose the Charge 4, you’ll get a lot of the same functionality as the Megaboom. It’s also certified to be waterproof even if fully immersed. JBL also support JBL Connect+, which allows you to pair the speakers with other JBL speakers you or your friends bring to a party. And, as you might have guessed from the name, the speaker has a USB output that allows it to charge your phone, which can come in handy in a pinch.
Beoplay P6: The Best Speaker for Aesthetes
Most Bluetooth speakers have little to offer aesthetically. You’re basically stuck with a bunch of differently colored tubes or boxes. Speakers from Bang and Olufesen are still more or less boxes, but they feature a lot of lovely design touches that make them look as much like art as any wonderful track you’re playing sounds. The Beoplay P6 is a perfect example of it. A quick sketch of it would reveal nothing more than a slightly wonky rectangle, but the beauty is in the details. The aluminum finish sparkles slightly when hit by light. The handle is a loop of soft-leather. The edges are curved off avoiding any aggressive angles. Thankfully, it also sounds great.
You’re not buying the Beoplay P6 for it’s sound quality, but rest assured that it’s really good. Anything in the lower end sounds full, without being echo-y or muddy. And anything in the middle and treble range sounds clean and crisp, without being too bright. That’ll ensure the thumping, slightly distorted pulse of an EDM track like Calvin Harris’s “CP-1” will sound just as good in your bedroom as it would from the crowd at Coachella. Honestly, better.
The Beoplay does come with some caveats. It’s a bit less powerful than you might expect for a speaker at its price. It’s certainly loud enough to underscore a dinner party with a few friends, but I wouldn’t expect it to rise over the din of a house party. It’s also not water or dust proof at all, which makes it fairly impractical for a lot of day-to-day use. But you don’t get a Ferrari for its gas mileage, do you?
Urbanears Rålis: An Alternative for Aesthetes
If you want something that’s a bit more practical than the Beoplay P6, but still has its refined aesthetics, consider the Urbanears Rålis. Like the P6, the Rålis sounds excellent across the frequency spectrum. Regardless of whether your listening consists of bass-heavy hip hop and pop, or more delicate classical and folk, it’ll sound great coming out of the grill of the Rålis. Plus, it’s cubic design and bright colorways make it look stolen off a shelf in the Bauhaus.
Sonos Move: The Best Portable Bluetooth Speaker with Multiroom Wireless Capabilities
Our favorite portable Bluetooth speaker with multi-room speakers is the Sonos Move. As we write in our review: