5 best Bluetooth speakers of 2024, tested by editors

There’s something fun and nostalgic about a good Bluetooth speaker. Earbuds and headphones are great for private listening, but syncing your playlist to something built just for playing music out loud feels inherently social. Not to mention Bluetooth speakers are a lot louder and bassier than blasting the volume on your smartphone.  

We’ve used Bluetooth speakers for years and have tried some great models and some forgettable ones. Below are some of our favorites, along with expert-advice on what to look for when buying a brand new one.

SKIP AHEAD The best Bluetooth speakers | How to shop for a Bluetooth speaker

How we picked the best Bluetooth speakers

To pick the best Bluetooth speakers, we spoke with audio experts about what to look for when considering a new model. Combining their advice with our experience, we kept the following in mind:

  • Connectivity: Bluetooth speakers should be portable and easy to use. Every model we chose connects wirelessly and recharges via an included USB cable, so you can charge anywhere you go.
  • Water resistance: We favored models with ample dust and water protection, aka a high IP rating. Ample protection from the elements means you can take your speaker everywhere without worry: the pool, the beach, wherever.
  • Battery life: Every device we included has at least 10 hours of battery life for all-day listening.
  • Sound: We chose speakers of varying sizes: a bigger speaker can be better for a party, while a small one makes more sense for hiking or cycling.

The best Bluetooth speakers

Our top picks are largely staff-favorite from brands like JBL, Marshall and Ultimate Ears. We list important specs like weight and battery life below each recommendation.

Best overall: JBL Clip 5 

Almost everyone on our team has used, gifted or owns a JBL Clip. The latest Clip 5 is slightly larger than the previous Clip 4, but gets much louder and delivers stronger bass, says NBC Select editorial projects manager Rebecca Rodriguez.

You can use the built-in carabiner to attach the Clip 5 to anything you want — backpack straps, belt loops, bike handlebars, shower curtain rods, cabinet handles, the list goes on. The Clip 5’s carabiner is a little taller than previous versions, making it easier to clip to more things.

It has a 12 hour battery life, an improvement over the Clip 4’s 10 hour battery life. It’s IP67 waterproof and dustproof, and weighs a little over half a pound. The Clip 5, alongside the JBL Xtreme 4 and JBL Go 4, can be synced together to play audio at the same time (called Auracast). You can also sync audio using older JBL speakers by using the PartyBoost feature.

Battery life: Up to 12 hours | IP rating: IP67 | Weight: 0.62 lbs. | Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.3, up to 2 devices

Best budget: Anker Soundcore 2

NBC Select updates editor Mili Godio likes this speaker because it’s portable and sounds great. Her music is always loud and clear, even at outdoor picnics and parties with lots of other noise.

Like most of our other picks, it is water resistant and has physical buttons on top so you can control your music without needing to use your phone. Unlike our other favorites, it does not have a dust-resistance rating — if you are a big beach-goer, consider another option.

Battery life: Up to 24 hours | IP rating: IPX7 | Weight: 0.79 lbs. | Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0

Best party speaker: JBL Xtreme 3

NBC Select commerce editor Jordan Bowman has used this speaker for about three years — he’s taken it to numerous parties and BBQs. It has an incredibly loud and bombastic sound profile that is fun and energetic, perfect for a party, says Bowman. If you have other JBL speakers with the PartyBoost feature, you can sync them together for room-filling sound — Bowman has paired the Xtreme 3 together with the Charge 5 for spacious stereo audio.

It is larger and heavier than our other top picks. Thankfully it comes with a carrying strap that attaches to metal loops on the speaker, making it a little easier to carry around.

The brand has since launched the JBL Xtreme 4, so you can find this Xtreme 3 at a discount while supplies last.

Battery life: Up to 15 hours | IP rating: IP67 | Weight: 4.34 lbs. | Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.1, up to 2 devices

Best sound quality: Marshall Emberton II

This is one of the best Bluetooth speakers for audio quality, says former NBC Select associate commerce editor Nishka Dhawan. It delivers clear, balanced audio regardless of how loud or quiet it is, says Dhawan.

Like most of our top picks, it is compact, portable and dust and water-resistant. But it stands out with up to 30 hours or more of battery life, in our experience, the longest of any of our recommendations.

Battery life: Up to 30+ hours | IP rating: IP67 | Weight: 1.5 lbs. | Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.1, up to 2 devices 

Most waterproof: Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3

If you need a speaker for the pool, the beach, the boat or the lake, the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3 might be your best option because it floats in water — all of our other recommendations will sink. NBC Select reporter Harry Rabinowitz has used this speaker for about two years, and loves how loud and compact it is. It is water and dust proof, drop-proof from up to 5 feet, according to the brand, and has a built-in fabric loop that easily hooks onto a carabiner.

Battery life: Up to 14 hours | IP rating: IP67 | Weight: 1.17 lbs. | Connectivity: Bluetooth (version unspecified), up to 2 devices

How to shop for Bluetooth speakers

Bluetooth speakers come in various sizes, from compact and portable to larger with more powerful audio, says Sean Roe, a senior product development manager at House of Marley. When shopping for a new model, our experts recommend thinking about the following questions:

Where will you take your speaker?

A perfect backyard Bluetooth speaker might look a little different than one for your hiking adventures. Regardless of where you’ll take your speaker, a strong IP rating can protect your speaker from the elements and make it less likely to break down. The longer you can use your speaker before having to replace it, the better — both for the environment and your wallet, says André Fredriksson, a global training manager at Marshall.

What kind of sound do you like?

Music is personal. Some people like big bass while others like a more technically crisp sound profile, says Roe. If you are attached to a particular kind of sound, try out a Bluetooth speaker in person before you buy it, or buy one with a generous return policy in case it does not suit your taste.

Where your speaker is, the acoustics of your environment, and whether it can be synced with other speakers all affect the speaker’s sound quality — our experts say to keep these factors in mind while shopping.

Meet our experts

At NBC Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.

  • Sean Roe is a senior product development manager at House of Marley, an audio brand with a focus on sustainable design.
  • André Fredriksson is the global training manager for Marshall, an audio brand with a long history of musician and music industry partnership.
  • Saied Swalee is an audio engineer at Fluance, a Canada-based home audio brand.

Why trust NBC Select?

Nishka Dhawan is a former associate commerce editor at NBC Select.

Harry Rabinowitz is a reporter at NBC Select who covers technology and fitness including guides to fitness trackers, TV brands and workout headphones. For this piece, he combined his own experience with that of NBC Select staffers to select the best Bluetooth speakers. He also spoke with audio experts to better understand the technical details of portable speakers.

Catch up on NBC Select’s in-depth coverage of personal finance, tech and tools, wellness and more, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok to stay up to date.

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