Imagine you have a hilarious video that you just stumbled across online and you want to share it with your friends nearby. You tell the group how funny it is and tap play, but you can hardly hear it. You press the volume rocker on the side of your phone, glance down again at the screen and realize the punchline just happened and you all missed it. But it doesn't matter anyway, because even at full volume you can barely make out what the video says.
The situation usually ends with you telling your friends: "I swear it's hilarious!" and asking them to check the video out later and knowing they never will, so you move on with your life feeling awkward and annoyed. The whole situation can be avoided with a portable speaker. You can use a portable speaker to not only increase the volume and sound quality for funny YouTube clips, but also to really crank up anything from music to phone calls.
Portable speakers are generally small and connect with your phone, MP3 player or tablet wirelessly via Bluetooth or with a 3.5 mm audio jack. We've ranked the Fugoo Style, Logitech's Ultimate Ears Boom and the Sol Republic Deck as the best portable speakers. For additional information, take a look at our articles on portable speakers.
There are many portable speakers on the market to choose from, but when selecting your speaker, one trait trumps all: performance – more specifically, sound quality. Even very small speakers can sound great. The perfect portable speakers also have a long battery life, a small, rugged design and a range of connectivity options. Of course, help, support options and a solid warranty are essentials, too. We've evaluated the top 10 models based on the following criteria:
When shopping for portable speakers with good sound quality, you'll need to take into consideration the number of active drivers and passive bass radiators. The best sounding speakers come with two of each. In our ratings, we took into account each speaker's ability to reproduce an array of frequency ranges and paid attention to whether the bass and midrange were balanced and detailed. Another feature that will better your listening experience is an omnidirectional design, which mimics stereophonic surround sound. Without omnidirectional sound, you will experience dead spots of audio.
It’s also essential that you know how decent or poor battery life is, because a dead battery isn’t going to do you much good, especially when you are on the go. The average battery life for the portable speakers we reviewed was 14 hours. However, some speakers last almost an entire day.
Portable speakers come in different sizes and shapes, and even an array of colors. Some are round others are pill shaped, but most reflect a traditional rectangular design with rounded corners.
You'll want you portable speaker to be small and light enough to toss in a bag. Not only that, it’s important that it is durable and can combat the elements – including rain, sand or even mud. A few of the portable speakers we looked at can also double as speakerphones, allowing you to have conference-style calls in your own home, or really anywhere for that matter.
Generally, portable speakers connect to your devices wirelessly via Bluetooth. However, some speakers can connect through Wi-Fi, NFC, DLNA or AirPlay, and some offer a combination of the five. If you prefer a wired or analog connection, that is a possibility with several speakers that have a 3.5 mm jack.
Help & Support
Portable speakers are relatively simple devices to use. Just pair your device with Bluetooth or pop in a 3.5mm cord to the jacks on your devices then press play. However if you need some extra help – if a speaker is blown out or your battery life begins to dwindle – the manufacturer's support options will become relevant. Speaker companies offer multiple contact options and include limited warranties. Most manufacturers offer a standard one-year warranty, but the best warranties are closer to two years. It is also important to pay attention to whether your portable speaker has firmware updates that are easy to find. This will ensure your device has the latest software so it can function at its peak and give you the latest and greatest features.
The best portable speaker to choose depends on a number of features and factors, but most importantly, you need to make sure the sound quality is on par. Well-made portable speakers are durable, portable and provide decent battery life, that way you aren’t limited as to where you take your speaker – whether you're at the beach, on a hike or by the pool. With a portable speaker, you and your friends and family can jam out wherever you are to create the soundtrack of your lives.