Bluetooth Speakers That Everyone Needs & Can Afford



Bluetooth speakers have always been a great addition to any music lover’s box of tricks, but never have they been more desirable than right now. In these uncertain times, dropping a significant sum on something offering multi-room or Roon-ready smarts, a plethora of inbuilt streaming platforms or daisy-chaining via app support is potentially off-limits. Maybe you just want something cheap and cheerful to provide good-quality musical accompaniment while you’re working on the balcony. Maybe the kids could use something durable for school work, or maybe you just want to listen to podcasts in the kitchen while you’re tweaking your sourdough recipe. 

So, aside from something that sounds good for the money, what should you look for when shopping for a budget Bluetooth speaker to get you through lockdown?

Models here at the more affordable end of the market tend to be rugged and super portable, so look out for a durable design and waterproofing, or at least water resistance.

JBL Flip 4
JBL has remained consistent with its Flip series, standing as our pick among the best Bluetooth speakers under $100. The Flip 4 is very similar to the previous model (the JBL Flip 3), but it makes improvements in a few key areas. Hence, why it leads the other picks for the best Bluetooth speakers under $100. For one, it’s IPX7-rated meaning that you can now submerge it completely in up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes.
Amazon Echo Dot
If you like the idea of a smart assistant combined with a simple music speaker, it’s hard to argue against the Amazon Echo Dot. For not a lot of money, you get a whole load of smart voice functionality and decent sound with the latest (third generation) model. It works well on its own or can be nicely integrated into myriad other smart home and AV products, bringing voice control and smart features just a command away. Sound quality has improved notably too, making it even easier to recommend.
JBL Charge 3
The Charge 3 has been around for a little while now, but it was designed with portability in mind and still fits neatly into the company’s existing speaker range. It’s larger than the petite JBL Flip and JBL Link 20 but not as hefty as the JBL Xtreme (see above). This makes the Charge 3 a good size for flinging in a bag and taking into the garden. This is definitely a speaker that could quite happily cope with an active camping weekend or beach holiday, at some point.
For the money, this dinky JBL speaker is an absolute steal. It's waterproof, highly portable and looks adorable – it's like a bar of soap that plays music. And the sound is surprisingly good given its diminutive dimensions, providing an open, three-dimensional listen – though obviously it doesn't pack much bass. Our only gripe? Battery life. Topping out at a mere five hours, it won't last you a full afternoon of listening, which is something many look for in a Bluetooth speaker. Still, if you can make that sacrifice, it's well worth your consideration.
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2
Ultimate Ears has really made a splash in the Bluetooth speaker market with a number of colourful, fun-sounding and portable models on its books. The latest is the small but mightily impressive Wonderboom 2. Battery life is 13 hours and a full charge takes just under three. It's waterproof, sandproof, dustproof and is also designed to float, so it should withstand the most lively of pool parties – whenever those resume. Playback is controlled over a Bluetooth connection, but it's surprising to see there's no mic for hands-free calling.
Ultimate Ears Blast
Ultimate Ears has a knack for finding the right combination of sound, design and features in its portable Bluetooth speakers, and it does so again with the waterproof Blast. The Blast’s energetic performance and fun design makes this wireless speaker a joy to use. It’s a carefree, exciting speaker and one that's sure to please crowds
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