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Portable speakers buying guide: The best portable speakers for your summer

Whether you’re hosting an outdoor party, enjoying a picnic in the park or just lounging by the pool, portable speakers are a must-have addition for many of us, especially during the warmer months when we spend more time outdoors.

There are plenty of brands to choose from, along with a range of functions to suit every situation. Read more for our guide of some of the best portable speakers on the market so you can get the tunes pumping no matter where you are.

What are the best portable speaker brands?

At Canstar Blue, we surveyed more than 660 Australians to find out how they rated their portable speaker brand. These were the best brands of portable speakers from our 2022 Most Satisfied Customer ratings:

  1. Ultimate Ears (UE Boom)
  2. JBL
  3. Bose
  4. Sony
  5. Sonos
  6. Anko (Kmart)

Read more about our portable speakers ratings.

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Best waterproof speakers

If you’re looking to avoid any mishaps by the pool, you should consider waterproof portable speakers or speakers with a level of water resistance. Look for an IP dust and water resistance rating when comparing speakers.

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3 portable Bluetooth speaker

UE Wonderboom speaker

Pros:

  • Waterproof and dust resistance
  • Floats in the water
  • Outdoor boost feature for clearer audio outdoors

Cons:

  • A bit pricey for the size of the speaker
  • Shorter battery life compared to some competitors

Ultimate Ears has gone all out in creating a speaker that is not just super portable thanks to its size, it’s also splash-proof with an IP67 water and dust resistance rating. You can even take the speaker into the shower with you — and it floats in water. It’s fairly compact (104mm H x 95.3mm W), includes volume controls, 14 hours of battery life, includes an ‘outdoor boost’ button to improve sound outdoors, 360 degree sound with booming bass, plus it looks good too. There’s also the option to pair two of the same speakers to create a true stereo experience. The Wonderboom 3 is priced at $99 AUD.

Sony SRS-XB13L Extra Bass portable speaker

Sony SRS portable speaker

Pros:

  • Water and dust resistance
  • 16 hours battery life
  • Built-in mic for hands-free calls

Cons:

  • No special outdoor sound boost
  • Design and colour choices rather plain

This compact little powerhouse Bluetooth speaker from Sony boasts an IP67 rating (water and dust resistance), along with a handy strap that makes it easy to take on the go and clip on to a backpack or your wrist. You’ll also get 16 hours of battery life, a built-in mic for hands-free calling, extra bass, Sound Diffusion Processor to expand the sound in any space, plus the ability to pair with a second speaker (the same make and model) for bigger sound. The speaker is priced at around $69 AUD (although this may be a limited discounted price in some stores).

Best party speakers

If you’re looking to entertain a large party, you need a serious speaker to blast over all that noise. The good news is that it’s easy to find party-friendly portable speakers, but keep in mind that these speakers are typically rather large and can be quite heavy.

JBL PartyBox 110 portable speaker

JBL PartyBox speaker

Pros:

  • Built-in coloured lighting for added fun
  • Mic and guitar inputs
  • Option to play music wirelessly, via USB or with aux cable

Cons:

  • Over $400 price point could be too steep if you don’t use it much
  • Only splashproof (you’ll need to be careful around the pool or in wet weather)
  • Only 12 hours battery life

It’s more than just a speaker, it’s entertainment itself. The built-in LED lighting syncs to the beat of the music for a fun light show, along with customisable patterns and strobes you can control with the PartyBox app (so it’s a feast for the ears and eyes). It also includes the JBL Original Pro Sound with levels of bass, is IPX4 splash resistant (not waterproof), and also includes a mic and guitar input. The PartyBox offers 12 hours of battery life and the option to play music wirelessly through Bluetooth, via USB or with an auxiliary cable. You can also pair two speakers wirelessly or with a cable for a bigger sound. You can pick up the JBL PartyBox 110 for around $445 AUD.

Ultimate Ears Hyperboom portable speaker

UE Hyperboom portable speaker

Pros:

  • Connect up to four devices simultaneously
  • Adaptive EQ reads the environment and adjusts the sound to suit
  • 24 hours battery life

Cons:

  • Rather expensive price point
  • Only splashproof
  • No built-in lights

A serious-looking speaker with some serious sound, the Ultimate Ears Hyperboom speaker includes extreme bass and adaptive equaliser that reads the environment and customises the sound to suit. There’s also the ability to play music from four different devices and switch between them, with two connected via Bluetooth, one auxiliary and one optical input. You’ll get 24-hour battery life, and the Hyperboom is splashproof with IPX4 rating and the ability to play, pause and skip tracks on the speaker without needing your phone. You can also pair it with other Ultimate Ears Boom, Megaboom or Hyperboom speakers for even more music. The Hyperboom is priced around $600 AUD.

Best indoor/outdoor speakers

You won’t have to compromise on sound quality or portability with plenty of speakers on the market suitable for both indoors and outdoors. Typically these speakers might be a bit larger than the really portable ones, but will produce a good enough sound to fill a room and be heard when outside.

Sonos Roam SL portable speaker

Sonos Roam SL speaker

Pros:

  • Can stand upright or lie down
  • Water, dust and drop resistant
  • Lightweight for easy transporting

Cons:

  • Relies heavily on Apple compatibility with Airplay 2
  • Only 10 hour battery
  • Rather expensive compared to similar products on the market

Sonos promotes its Roam SL speaker as being ideal for both at home and outdoors, and it’s lightweight, making it great for taking on the go. There’s precision-engineered acoustics for quality sound, 10 hours of battery, and IP67 waterproof and dust resistance along with drop resistance. Whether you stand the speaker upright or lie it down, the speaker will adapt to this to produce the best sound for its orientation. Standard non-discounted price for the Sonos Roam SL is around $269 AUD.

Ultimate Ears Boom 3 portable speaker

UE Boom 3 portable speaker

Pros:

  • IP67 water and dust resistance rating and durable
  • 360 degree audio
  • Up to 15 hours battery

Cons:

  • No smart home integration
  • Charging dock sold separately (still chargeable via USB cable which is included)

Proving that a quality speaker doesn’t have to be boring, the Ultimate Ears Boom 3 speaker is packed with great features in a fun package, with a range of colours to choose from including the multicoloured ‘unicorn’ version. You’ll get deep bass, quality audio and 360 degree sound thanks to its cylindrical design, while it can also be paired with other Ultimate Ears speakers for a more immersive experience. It’s also durable, has IP67 water and dust resistance, floats on water and includes up to 15 hours of battery. The Ultimate Ears Boom 3 is priced around $147 AUD.

Best mini speakers

While there are plenty of speakers that are portable and suitable for taking on the go, some speakers take it one step further with a mini size, small enough to fit into your hand. These mini speakers are great for travelling, such as on hiking or camping trips.

Bose SoundLink Micro portable speaker

Bose SoundLinke Micro speaker

Pros:

  • Durable with tear-resistant strap
  • IP67 water and dust resistance rating
  • Built-in mic for hands-free calling

Cons:

  • Hefty price tag for the size
  • Only 6 hours of battery life

Bose has packed a lot into such a mini package, with great quality sound and powerful bass, along with IP67 water and dust resistance, drop resistance and a tear-resistant strap so you can attach it to a backpack or even a bike. It’s also durable, includes a built-in microphone for hands-free calling, Siri and Google Assistant compatibility and the option to pair with another Bose speaker to expand the sound, and you’ll get up to six hours of battery life. The Bose SoundLink Micro is priced at around $179 AUD.

JBL Clip 4 portable speaker

JBL Clip 4 portable speaker

Pros:

  • Built-in clip that easily attaches to a bag, belt, etc
  • IP67 water and dust resistance
  • Up to 10 hours battery

Cons:

  • No included extra features
  • Battery life is dependant on audio content and volume

As the name suggests, the JBL Clip 4 speaker has a built-in clip for ultimate portability — just clip it on your bag, belt or buckle and go. It delivers quality sound for the size, IP67 water and dust resistance and up to 10 hours of battery life. It’s priced at around $69 AUD.

How to choose the best portable speaker

Choosing the best portable speaker for your needs depends on what those needs are. There are plenty of different speakers on the market, all designed for different purposes, so it’s key to know what you mostly need it for and when you’ll be using it.

If you’re looking for a speaker with enough sound to entertain a large party, you’ll want to look at larger speakers specifically designed for this. Keep in mind that these speakers can be rather heavy and large, so you’ll need to find space for them, and they’re also likely to be on the pricier end of the spectrum.

Anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors, especially on hiking and camping adventures, will likely want to look at smaller speakers with a level of water and dust resistance.

However, if you’re after a good all-round speaker — one that works just as well outdoors as it does indoors, small enough to take with you to a picnic or on your travels, but large enough to not compromise on sound, there are also many different speakers and brands that will easily fit the bill.

It will also help to set a budget, so you know which brands and speakers to compare, and if you have a very tight budget to stick to, you might need to make some compromises on features to keep it within your price range.

Ultimately, it helps to compare a range of speaker brands and products to determine what features you want in a portable speaker, and which speaker is best going to suit your needs and budget.

Emma Bradstock
Telco Specialist
Emma Bradstock has been an authority on consumer phone, internet, technology and streaming markets in Australia for over 5 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Media from Macquarie University and has over a decade of professional writing experience in print and digital media.

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