In the 1980s, boomboxes were the latest thing: everything from funky basslines to beloved pop ballads on cassette could be heard bumping out of these portable sound systems. Nowadays, music is played directly from the smartphone as an MP3 or FLAC file. However, we only do our favorite songs and artists justice when they are played using quality sound technology. Nowadays, Bluetooth speakers are a great solution for music fans who want a quality listening experience without the hassle of cords.


Bluetooth speakers are available for many different applications and locations: as an inexpensive, yet elegant music player for your home, a robust speaker for a long road trip or even a waterproof sound system for beach parties (or long showers). 


comprigo has tested some of the newest Bluetooth speakers to present you with six different models that should cover any and all of your portable musical needs. Throughout our product test we took important aspects such as sound quality, design, craftsmanship and extra features into account. We’ve done our best to offer an objective insight and set the best portable speakers apart from the rest. In the end, it’s unrealistic to expect a surround-sound experience from a Bluetooth speaker. However, simply the convenience of having a completely cable-free, portable speaker adds an aspect of freedom and spontaneity to any listener’s experience. 


What to look out for before you buy:


Sound quality: The larger the speaker, the higher the potential for good sound quality. Since mobile Bluetooth loudspeakers are typically compact, the quality is often thin and flat, especially with very small models. Some devices, however, (like the Sixtett presented here) set a high bar for quality portable sound. Your model of choice should (ideally) implement the aptX method of wireless technology to enable interference-free playback.


Durability: Your device should be hardy and durable if you plan on packing it around in a backpack or purse. If not, be sure to find a speaker with a proper case for transportation. Additionally, waterproof speakers are a great option for users who live in rainy areas or like listening to songs in the shower. 


Features: Of course, it’s all about the music: but extra features are great, too! If you’d like a little extra bang (or glow) for your buck, a lot of speakers come with LED lighting. Some have a built-in FM radio, others can be coupled with multiple other speakers to create a surround-sound effect. Some speakers can be played through a connection to a mobile device, while others can play tunes directly from an SD memory card. And last but not least, you can also charge your own mobile phone with a few battery-powered boxes - a combination of a power bank and a jukebox, so to speak. Decide which extra features are a must-have and which are less important to you before making your purchase. 


Anker SoundCore 2

Anker SoundCore 2

  • Great performance for a good price
  • Waterproof (IPX5)
  • Built-in speakerphone mode
  • Sound quality is less-than-average
  • Distinctive plastic smell after unpacking
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In order to meet the IPX5 waterproof qualifications, the Soundcore II’s side connections are covered with a rubber seal. This rubber sealing also allows for a hearty casing, which means that the Soundcore II can afford to be owned by any clumsy listeners. Compared to the SoundCore I, this newcomer is a bit heavier, but has retained its original bar shape. There is a blue LED and five oversized buttons along the top for operational purposes. 


Like most Bluetooth speakers, the SoundCore II is acoustically limited by its compact design: two six-watt speaker diaphragms fit into the cabinet - enough to output music at a low sound level. As with many competitors, higher tones may be difficult to hear on this speaker. The bass, however, is much more powerful, due to the new BassUp Technology. The overall sound quality meets the expectations one should have of a device in this price range: a solid speaker, which is difficult to put in any specific category. 


EQUIPMENT: LineIn, hands-free function 

BATTERY LIFE: approx. 18 / 24 hours (test/manufacturer information) 

SIZE & WEIGHT: 16.5 x 5.6 x 4.5 cm, 360 g 

PRICE: $41.99

EVALUATION:

Sound: 3/6 

Design and Craftmanship: 3/6

Equipment and Delivery Scope: 2/6

Sony SRS-XB20

Sony SRS-XB20

  • Powerful bass
  • Waterproof (IPX5)
  • Eye-catching light effect
  • Powerful bass
  • Software still has a few bugs
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For party animals, the main attraction of the XB series (XB20, XB30 and XB40) is the chic lighting effects. While the XB20 model “only” has front light strips, the XB30 comes with an additional stroboscope and the XB40 also comes with speaker lighting. If you want to do without the light gimmicks for a while, you can completely switch off the effects via the app.

The landscape-format housing, rounded at the corners with different color variants (black, white, red, green, blue) contains many small, additional features: NFC function (simply hold a compatible smartphone to the box to play music), charging function, and a built-in microphone for hands-free talking. Up to ten speakers can be linked via the wireless party chain, but even with two speakers you can achieve a pleasant listening experience.

The XB20 can be operated by seven buttons on top of the device itself or by use of the (somewhat limited in operation) mobile app. Sony's speaker offers a hefty volume, when considering its’ compact form and size. The extra bass function, for which Sony already achieved praise with the original Walkman, gives the speaker an extra kick. However, the bass is a bit disproportionate and the XB20 often loses some sound quality at high frequencies. The sound seems a bit unbalanced but can be remedied by use of the equalizer. All around, Sony’s loudspeakers are a must-have for any party or get-together.

EQUIPMENT: Lighting effects, hands-free, NFC, charging, Micro-USB, LineIn

BATTERY TIME: approx. 10 / 12 hours (test/manufacturer information)

SIZE & WEIGHT: 19.8 x 6.8 x 6.9 cm, 590 g

PRICE: $37

EVALUATION:

Sound: 4/6 

Design and Craftmanship: 4/6

Equipment and Delivery Scope: 5/6

JBL Flip 4

JBL Flip 4

  • Balanced, high-quality sound
  • Waterproof (IPX7)
  • Great craftsmanship
  • Unprotected bass membranes on the side
  • JBL Connect+ offers limited compatibility
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A big plus of the Flip 4 is its IPX7 waterproof quality: whether this speaker gets splashed on or submerged, it can withstand the elements! JBL offers the barrel-shaped, robust Flip 4 in seven colors, including black and camouflage, for less than 100 pounds - a competitive price, when considering the great workmanship, equipment (for example with hands-free function with echo and noise suppression) and high sound quality. The sound quality gets even better with the JBL Connect+: Theoretically, up to 100 compatible speakers can be connected to each other to provide sound for the next party. But be careful: the Connect+ has no reverse compatibility, so a connection between Flip 4 and Flip 3 is not possible. As with most competitors, the Flip 4 is incredibly easy to use: the most important functions are controlled via six easy-action keys.

The Flip 4 lives up to JBL’s reputation right from the first listen: no extra noise, no signal interruption, and a rich sound. The bass is powerful and concise, even at higher volumes. JBL also handles the mid and high frequencies relatively effortlessly, without suppressing or overdriving. Overall, the speaker sounds are very balanced. The Flip 4 gets our seal of approval. 

EQUIPMENT: LineIn, hands-free function

BATTERY TIME: approx. 10 / 12 hours (test/manufacturer information)

SIZE & WEIGHT: 17.5 x 7.0 x 6.8 cm, 515 g

PRICE: $80

EVALUATION:
 

Sound: 5/6 

Design and Craftmanship: 5/6

Equipment and Delivery Scope: 3/6

Ultimate Ears BOOM 2

Ultimate Ears BOOM 2

  • Full sound
  • Waterproof (IPX7)
  • Easy to operate
  • Very bass-heavy
  • App only has basic functions
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Like the Flip 4, the BOOM 2 is also waterproof at the IPX7 level: it can be cleaned under running water and is also impact and shock-resistant. This is made possible by a rubber coating around the speaker’s housing and a waterproof sealing of the components within. The speaker only has four buttons (volume up, volume down, Bluetooth coupling, power) - operation couldn’t be easier! Using the PartyUp function in the app, up to 50 BOOMs can be coupled, which can be up to 30 meters apart (22 meters were reached without interference in the test) - this should be sufficient to supply your stretch on the beach with whichever tunes you like. If you’re feeling tired after a long night of dancing/singing/partying, you can wake up on time the next morning with the alarm clock function of the BOOM 2. Practical!

The round shape of the BOOM 2 offers 360° surround sound, transmitted either via Bluetooth, via NFC or via the jack plug of the player. The bass is powerful and the sound is clear in the mid-range, though the treble sometimes misses the final touch. Remarkably, even at high volumes, the speaker plays without sound distortion or vibrations.

EQUIPMENT: LineIn, hands-free function, Micro-USB, NFC

BATTERY TIME: approx. 12 / 15 hours (test/manufacturer information)

SIZE & WEIGHT: 18.0 x 6.5 x 6.5 cm, 548 g

PRICE: £99

EVALUATION:

Sound: 5/6 

Design and Craftmanship: 5/6

Equipment and Delivery Scope: 3/6

Bose SoundLink Revolve
  • Good surround sound
  • High-quality material
  • Waterproof (IPX4)
  • Minor defects in design details
  • Relatively expensive
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As usual for Bose, the Revolve is of high-quality craftsmanship and, with a special shape and aluminium casing, looks classy and detailed. The speaker, which comes in black or silver, weighs about 660 grams - a bit too heavy to take with you everywhere. Thanks to its water-repellent function (IPX4 level), it can be used at the lakehouse or in the washroom! Nevertheless, the integrated thread, with which the Revolve can be screwed onto any standard photo tripod, is worth a closer look. A funny and practical combination would be for example the "Gorilla Pod" or the bean bag "The Pod". The Revolve is intuitive to operate (or with your own app): Six inset buttons on the top of the speaker control all of the important functions. To charge the Revolve, Bose offers an optional charging station in addition to the included (!) power supply - an elegant solution!

The cylindrical shape of the Revolve allows 360 degrees of sound output - the Revolve does that well, but should ideally be placed in the middle of the room and not in a corner near the wall (if necessary, a second speaker of the same type can be coupled for a stereo effect). This results in a pleasant, rounder sound with balanced bass, midrange and treble, which remains very rich in detail even at high volume levels.

EQUIPMENT: LineIn, Handsfree, tripod mount, micro-USB, power supply unit

BATTERY TIME: approx. 10 / 12 hours (test/manufacturer information)

SIZE & WEIGHT: 15.2 x 8.2 x 8.2 cm, 662 g

PRICE: £179.99

EVALUATION:

Sound: 6/6 

Design and Craftmanship: 5/6

Equipment and Delivery Scope: 3/6

Teufel Rockster XS

Teufel Rockster XS

  • High volume
  • Intuitive operation
  • Very good battery life
  • Relatively expensive
  • No loudspeaker function
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With this new product, the Germany company Teufel has not only improved on sound quality, but also operation and equipment. The dimensions of the matte black lacquered aluminium housing have remained unchanged, as well as the silicone rubber coating for effective impact protection and water resistance in accordance with the IPX5 standard. One new feature is a battery status indicator via LED, which many other loudspeakers don’t have. Large buttons are now located on top of the speaker: power, play/pause, last track, next track, volume up, volume down and Bluetooth connection. This works well and reliably, which means you don’t have to keep reaching for your phone to control your listening experience. However, the outdoor mode, in which the midtones were raised to make speech output more clear, even in the open air with lots of ambient noise, was cancelled without replacement - a pity!

Technically speaking, Teufel has installed a high-quality 2-way system in the Rockster XS, which makes for a great listening experience. Teufel added a significant amount of volume without reducing sound quality or overdoing the bass. Overall, this small giant sounds relatively balanced in the midrange, unexpectedly clear in the highs and amazing in the lows. There's no question, this compact speaker from Germany is our top choice!

EQUIPMENT: LineIn, USB sound card, NFC, charging function

BATTERY TIME: approx. 24 / 30 hours (test/manufacturer information)

SIZE & WEIGHT: 17.8 x 8.6 x 6.9 cm, 720 g

PRICE: £179

EVALUATION:

Sound: 5/6 

Design and Craftmanship: 5/6

Equipment and Delivery Scope: 2/6