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Portable Bluetooth speakers have quickly become one of the few tech accessories that everyone should have.
They’re useful if you travel, helpful if you want to listen to music in a home office, and easy to take with you everywhere you go. Portable Bluetooth speakers come in all shapes and sizes, but we’ve been especially impressed with small — or ultra portable — models.
Despite their size, these speakers get loud and sound great. The only real concession you make compared to larger Bluetooth speakers is the ability to play music in true stereo. Instead, your tracks will be “folded down” into mono. This isn’t a big deal, and may actually improve some of the music you listen to.
If you want an excellent-sounding Bluetooth speaker you can quickly toss into a bag each time you leave the house, you’ll find our top recommendations below.
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What Are The Best Small Portable Bluetooth Speakers?
There are many factors to consider when choosing the best small, portable Bluetooth speakers for you; below are the most important ones, which we considered while we were researching this list.
Size: All of the small portable Bluetooth speakers we’re recommending are less than 10 inches long, and weigh one pound or less. You should have no problem fitting them into a backpack pocket or purse.
Battery Life: The last thing you want is a Bluetooth speaker that conks out halfway through your beach day. When fully charged, the small Bluetooth speakers can last at least 10 hour per charge. One of our picks lasts up to 20.
Durability: Because they’re ultra-portable, you’ll want a small Bluetooth speaker that won’t get damaged when you take it out of the house. All of the speakers below are waterproof and dust proof, so you shouldn’t worry that much. You shouldn’t throw them around, but they can handle accidental drops or exposure to liquids.
Multi-Speaker Pairing: We mentioned earlier that small, portable Bluetooth speakers can’t play music in true stereo, but that’s only partially true. Some of these speakers allow you to play music in stereo if you get two of them. This extra expense is worth it if you’d like like speakers that can double as a portable home audio system.
1. JBL Clip 4
JBL’s Clip 4 is the ideal small, portable Bluetooth speaker to take with you on a hike or camping trip.
It comes with a carabiner (clip), which held up to several hard tugs in our tests. This design allows you to attach the Clip 4 directly to a backpack, belt loop, or the frame of a bike. Part of our durability testing included using the Clip 4 in the shower, and we were able to hang it from the door handle. If you don’t want to use the carabiner, the Clip 4 is small enough to stash in the front pocket of a backpack.
We’ve tested several of JBL’s waterproof speakers before, and the Clip 4 lives up to the company’s high standards. We were able to splash it and submerge it completely under water without causing any damage. JBL says the Clip 4 lasts about 10 hours per charge, which was more or less what we experienced.
The speaker sounded great during all of our tests, which included listening to music from several genres at different volume levels. It could get a little bass heavy, but sounded good overall. We were especially impressed at how well it handled loud volumes — we never detected any distortion. The Clip 4 can’t be connected to other JBL speakers, but performs well enough on its own that this wasn’t too much of an issue.
If you live a highly active lifestyle, the Clip 4 can keep you entertained without slowing you down.
Buy:JBL Clip 4at$69.95
2. Sonos Roam
Brandt Ranj / Rolling Stone
Sonos waited a long time to release its first small, portable speaker, but the Roam was well worth the wait.
What sets the Roam apart in a highly crowded field is that it features all of the technology that make Sonos’ home speakers great. It has a custom-built audio system and support for TruePlay, a feature that uses the Roam’s microphones to analyze the room its in to optimize how it sounds. The result is incredible. This is the best-sounding speaker we’ve ever heard in this size class, which makes the Roam a no-brainer for audiophiles.
The Roam’s microphone also enables its other standout feature: Built-in support for Alexa and the Google Assistant. Once you’ve set it up, you’ll be able to use the Roam as a totally portable smart speaker. This feature only works when the speaker is connected to a Wi-Fi network). Regardless, these are features you’ll rarely, if ever find in a speaker this small.
The Sonos Roam passed any test we threw at it — playing music at high volumes, using it hands-free using both the Google Assistant and Alexa, switching between streaming over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, splashing it with water — with flying colors. We were also able to test the Roam out in an environment with multiple Sonos speakers. The Roam fit in seamlessly, and we were able to stream the same track to multiple Sonos speakers at the same time over AirPlay 2 without any issues.
If you want a premium portable, small Bluetooth speaker, the Sonos Roam is the clear choice.
3. Soundcore Flare 2
Soundcore has slowly built a reputation for creating solid sounding speakers with worthwhile extra features, and the Flare 2 is its best one yet.
The Flare 2’s most distinct feature is its light rings, which surround the top and bottom of the speaker. When you play music, the rings will change colors, or pulse to the beat of your music. It’s a neat effect that helps the speaker live up to its “Flare” name without coming off as gimmicky. You can turn this feature off at any time by pushing a button on the speaker, so it’s there when you want it, and gone when you don’t. We mostly kept the feature off while testing the speaker to optimize its battery like, but appreciated using it sparingly.
We found the Flare 2 sounded pretty good overall in our tests, but appreciated the ability to customize its EQ using the Soundcore app. The ability to tune the speaker to your taste makes the Soundcore Flare 2 easy to recommend to anyone. If all you want is more low end, the speaker’s “BassUp” button will get the job done without requiring your phone.
Features like BassUp and the Flare 2’s light rings will impact its battery life. When they were turned off, we were able to get close to the company’s 12 hour battery claims. You should expect to get closer to eight hours if you keep them on all the time.
Soundcore’s Flare 2 is a good sounding speaker with features that can add some much-needed ambiance to your music.
Buy:Soundcore Flare 2at$59.00
4. Marshall Emberton
Marshall is best-known for its amps, which have been used by some of the best-known rock bands and musicians of all time. The Emberton packages that raw energy and classic design sensibility in a highly portable design.
We assumed the Emberton was going to be a speaker designed primarily for rock music lovers, but were pleasantly mistaken. Everything we listened to — rock, jazz, classical, acoustic, pop — sounded very good. The highs and lows seemed a little boosted, but never enough to detract from the speaker’s overall audio quality.
We were equally impressed by the Emberton’s durability. This speaker was dropped several times during our tests, and never scuffed up. Its outer shell is made out of a textured rubber-like material that provides a pretty thick buffer between the audio hardware and speaker cabinet. We never dunked the Emberton under water, but it was splashed several times without skipping a beat.
If you don’t like plugging in your technology (or forget, we don’t judge), the Emberton should be your top choice. It more than lived up to Marshall’s claims of 20-hour battery life. You should have no trouble using the speaker for several days without plugging it in. If its battery is running low, you can get up to five hours of play time by charging it for 20 minutes, which is useful in a pinch.
If you want a small speaker that can pack a punch, with a classic design other speakers can’t touch, we highly recommend Marshall’s Emberton.
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