A Bluetooth speaker is not one-size-fits all these days: there are so many different types on the market that choosing one to suit our needs and lifestyle can be a daunting task. While some are designed for personal use at an office desk or at home, others are made to liven up a party or event. Those designed specifically for travel come with extra features that make it road-ready, whilst allowing users to enjoy their tunes wherever they go.
- 1 Advantages of Travel Speakers
- 2 Key Features of High Quality Travel Speakers
- 3 TOP 10 BEST TRAVEL SPEAKERS IN 2017 – CHART
- 4 1. JBL Flip 4 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker
- 5 2. TREBLAB HD55 Bluetooth Speaker
- 6 3. Alpatronix AX410 Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker
- 7 4. Photive Hydra Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
- 8 5. Vtin 20 Watt Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker
- 9 6. Anker SoundCore 2 Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
- 10 7. BONGO Bluetooth Wood Portable Speaker
- 11 8. GoGroove Portable Bluetooth Wireless Speaker
- 12 9. Anker SoundCore Nano Bluetooth Speaker
- 13 10. Hussar MBOX Bluetooth Speakers
Advantages of Travel Speakers
Convenience – Most travel speakers are made to be portable and lightweight. Take your tunes, favorite audiobooks or podcasts with you on the road, or alleviate boredom while staying in hotel rooms. When not travelling, they can be used as regular indoor speakers.
Durable – As most travel speakers are made for outdoor use, they usually come with extra features such as shock absorbency and water resistance. Tougher construction means that the speakers will last for a long time.
Wireless – Since they are not tied down by space constraints and cumbersome wires, travel speakers can be immensely versatile. Road trips, bike rides, camping excursions, hiking, picnics, as well as poolside and beach parties are just some of the possible applications for this category of speakers.
Key Features of High Quality Travel Speakers
Excellent Audio Performance – In order to make speakers portable for travelling, many companies sacrifice sound quality for size. The true mark of a quality product is its ability to deliver good, crystal clear audio in spite of a tiny frame. Clarity, minimal distortion, accurate sound reproduction, balanced mids and highs as well as volume are good indications of a speaker’s audio performance.
Portable – Nobody wants to lug around heavy, bulky items when rushing to catch the next flight. Travel speakers should slip easily into luggage, backpacks or handbags without adding on too much weight. A rectangular or cylindrical design fits best into spaces and offers an easy grip. Additional carry-on features such as hooks and carabiners allow users to conveniently attach it to bags or bike handles.
Durable – Travel speakers have to be able to hold up against abuse, so a strong construction will ensure protection against bumps, knocks or scratches that may happen on the road. For activities such as camping or hiking where the speaker will be exposed to the elements, waterproof features will prove useful. Depending on use, you might want to get a speaker with a higher IPX rating for better protection.
Long Battery Life – You never know when you might come by the next power source while on the go, so travel speakers should be able to last a long time without recharging.
Connectivity – Most travel speakers are wireless, but those that support secondary plug and play via AUX-line in or USB cable give users more options to connect to various devices, including older non-Bluetooth enabled audio sources.
TOP 10 BEST TRAVEL SPEAKERS IN 2017 – CHART
|1. JBL Flip 4 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker|
Built-in 3000mAh rechargeable li-ion battery
|2. TREBLAB HD55 Bluetooth Speaker||10 HOUR BATTERY||$$||4.6|
|3. Alpatronix AX410 Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker|
3000mAh Portable 12W Stereo Shockproof
|4. Photive Hydra Wireless Bluetooth Speaker|
Waterproof Rugged Portable with built in Subwoofer
|5. Vtin 20 Watt Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker||25 Hours Long Battery Life, 4400mah battery||$$||4.4|
|6. Anker SoundCore 2 Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker|
24-Hour Playtime, 66ft Bluetooth Range, IPX5 Water Resistance & Built-in Mic
|7. BONGO Bluetooth Wood Portable Speaker||30 feet of wireless range and 15 hours of battery life||$$||4.3|
|8. GoGroove Portable Bluetooth Wireless Speaker|
NFC Tap to Pair , Built in Microphone , Removable Battery
|9. Anker SoundCore Nano Bluetooth Speaker|
Built-in Mic for iPhone 7, iPad, Samsung, Nexus, HTC, Laptops, 3W audio driver
|10. Hussar MBOX Bluetooth Speakers|
4.2 Speakers, 16W , Waterproof,Built-in Mic w/ Siri,12-Hour Playtime
Music on the go doesn’t get any better than the JBL Flip 4, which features new and improved features and better performance than its predecessors. Dual external passive radiators and large 40mm transducers work together to provide a powerful and impressive stereo sound, while the bass delivers with deep, thumping notes. For lighter music, the speaker offers a full and well-balanced sound, playing mid and high ranges with good clarity. With an output of 16W, the speaker goes up very loud – up to 80 decibels – which is equivalent to the sound level of many home audio systems. Surprisingly, there is little to no distortion even when cranked up to high volumes.
The Flip 4 is a wireless speaker that comes equipped with Bluetooth 4.2, making it compatible with devices such as smartphones and tablets. The pairing range exceeds expectations: although listed as 33 feet, we found it still worked in a straight line up to a distance of 75 feet. Pairing is fast and easy with no setup required.
An added advantage of the Flip 4 over most speaker models in its category is its ability to connect to two devices at once. Meanwhile, BL Connect+ technology allows users to pair several speakers together for an amplified listening experience. However, there is a downside to this as it seems to create significant latency between the speakers and the Bluetooth-enabled device it is connected with.
Aside from Bluetooth, the speaker comes with an auxiliary input – useful when you’re on the road and decided to plug it into the car jack to play with the vehicle’s radio.
Design and Portability
At 3.6 x 3.64 x 8.5 inches and weighing only 1.8 lbs, the speaker comes with an attached hand strap and is convenient to carry around: perfect as a travelling companion. Its cylindrical shape sports a flat base to allow the device to stand up horizontally. If you tend to misplace items, go for vivid colours such as red, teal or white, or opt for subtler shades of black, blue, grey or camouflage.
Battery life is where the Flip 4 shines, providing up to 12 hours of continuous playtime, thanks to a large built-in 3,000 mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery. A single charge to full takes 3.5 hours. The speaker will still work while charged, although the recharge rate will be slower.
This is a tough little speaker and very durable for outdoor use. As it is waterproof up to IPX7, one can take it camping or boating without having to worry about rain or spills – an upgrade from the Flip 3 which was only splashproof. While the speaker claims to still work after submerging in water, it is not recommended for a long period of time.
Business travelers who might not have access to business facilities on their travels can utilise the Flip 4’s built-in noise and echo-cancelling speakerphone for crystal clear communication. The speaker can also double as a hands-free device while on the road.
The speaker has a notification noise at startup and shut down. Unfortunately, this cannot be turned off.
- Impressive audio performance
- Wireless connectivity with option for AUX-line in
- Small and portable
- Loud volume with little distortion
- Great Bluetooth range
- Durable and waterproof
- Crystal clear audio
- Speakerphone function
- Loud notification at startup and shutdown
- Significant delays when paired with another speaker
Although a relatively unknown brand, the Treblab HD55 gives branded and more expensive speakers a run for their money. The design is omnidirectional and attempts to mimic a 360-degree surround sound effect, which it achieves to some degree. Meanwhile, dual 12W drivers and double bass radiators combine to produce 24W of power, creating loud, clear highs and deep bass that resonate all around you. Fidelity is equally impressive, with distortion minimised to less than one percent even when played at top volume.
One of our favourite features is the speaker’s ‘indoor’ and ‘outdoor’ modes, which adjust accordingly to the environment’s needs. In outdoor mode, for example, it increases the volume but lowers down the bass for increased clarity – so you will still be able to hear clear audio even when biking or boating.
The Treblab runs on Bluetooth 4.1 and pairs easily to most Bluetooth-enabled devices. The range runs up to 38 feet and connection is relatively stable. For those who intend to use it in with a car jack, or with older devices such as MP3 players, the speaker has an AUX-line in.
Design and Portability
Thanks to its cylindrical water bottle-like shape, the 3 x 3 x 7.5 inch speaker slips easily into the side of large backpacks, and can be stored in a vehicle’s glove compartment when not in use. At 1.2lbs, it does not add much weight to luggage and can be carried around conveniently. The speaker has little feet to help it stand up, but this position might muffle the subwoofer which is also at the bottom.
A rather annoying design flaw is the flap that protects the charging and auxiliary port, which is extremely snug and flush. Although this is good for protecting the components, opening them every time can be a challenge.
An interesting design element is the replaceable panel covers, available in red and black. Swap to a colour of your choice to suit different occasions.
Enjoy hours of music with the Treblab’s solid battery life, which plays up to 10 hours of audio continuously on a built-in PlayXTrend 4,000mAh battery. A full charge takes around four hours, and it is not recommended to charge it over the limit.
A bit of bad weather and splashes are no problem for the Treblab, as it waterproof up to IPX4 – perfect for pool parties, camping, kayaking or boat trips. Since the panels can be removed, they can be cleaned easily. The high-tech fabric finish is also water and dust resistant.
Use the Treblab as a handsfree or speakerphone with its built-in mic feature. It comes with a handy water resistant bag and a lifetime warranty for manufacturing defects.
- Powerful performance
- Omnidirectional, mimics surround sound
- Indoor and outdoor modes
- Minimal distortion
- Bluetooth with AUX-line in option
- Long battery life
- Flaps for charging and AUX port too flush, difficult to open
Listen to music, podcasts or audiobooks while travelling with the Alpatronix AX410, a high quality speaker with great sound clarity and exceptional audio. Equipped with a pair of 12W drivers and a passive subwoofer, the bass is particularly powerful and free from annoying jitters. As the loudness goes up to 80dB, it is well suited for the outdoors, and easily fills up a space with sound when used indoors. The only issue with the speaker is that when linked to an audio source, it always starts playing at full volume and has to be manually adjusted to more acceptable levels.
The AX410 runs on Bluetooth 4.1 technology and is universally compatible with smartphones, tablets and other Bluetooth-enabled devices. The range is pretty standard and works well up to 30 feet.
Design and Portability
Going for a masculine, military-like design, the AX410 sports a cylindrical shape that is easy to grip – although it’s not exactly the best-looking speaker on the market. At 7.1 x 2.7 x 2.7 inches and weighing 1lb, it fits into bike baskets and backpacks with ease. Included is a carabiner which can be attached to a backpack. The speaker does not have a flush design, so dirt can easily get into nooks, but this can be remedied by wiping with a damp cloth.
Controls are a tad confusing, since the speaker uses the same button to skip songs and increase volume. Instead of ‘tapping’ to increase the volume, one has to hold down the buttons.
A built-in 3,000mAh rechargeable battery gives the AX410 long battery life of up to 12 hours. If you’re using it intermittently, like for listening to music in the garage while you work, it can last several days before needing a recharge.
The AX410 is made for the outdoors, and the manufacturer prides itself in the speaker’s durability and toughness. Designed to be shockproof and impact resistant, the speaker sports a hardened, rubberized shell and specially coated metallic grill that protects it from knocks and bumps. The speaker has the added benefit of being waterproof up to IPX4, and can hold up to light rain, splashes or use in the shower. However, we do not recommend it in overly wet environments since the waterproofing is not airtight around the charging port. It still makes a good companion for camping and hiking excursions.
The speaker comes with a built-in mic, enabling users to utilise it as a speakerphone or hands-free. It comes with a two-year warranty and 30-day money-back guarantee for peace of mind.
Enjoy premium sound on your travels with the Photive Hydra, a relatively affordable travel speaker that delivers well-balanced highs, mids and lows. The built-in passive subwoofer and dual 40mm drivers give low tunes a definite boost. With 10W of output power, the volume is loud enough to fill a room with clear audio with minimal distortion. Sound is directional since the speakers are forward facing.
The speaker runs on 4.0 Bluetooth which is ultra-optimised for efficient energy consumption, whilst maintaining good audio clarity up to 33 feet. It pairs with most devices flawlessly, but we noted that an errant beeping occurs if there are several Bluetooth devices turned on at the same time, as the speaker will attempt to scan each. To avoid this, ensure that only one Bluetooth-enabled device is turned on within the speaker’s vicinity. For older devices such as MP3 players, it comes with an AUX-line in connection.
Design and Portability
Lightweight at only 0.9lbs and measuring 7 x 2 x 2 inches, the Photive is convenient to carry around since it is not much larger than a power bank. Owing to its flat, rectangular shape, it can be placed sideways or standing up. Ports are conveniently located at the side for easy charging.
Compared to some other models on this list, the Photive is not as long-lasting, but it still provides uninterrupted playback of up to eight hours on a single charge of its lithium-ion rechargeable batteries.
Designed to withstand rough use and the elements, the speaker holds an IP66 rating, which is only one level below the highest available on the market. It is resilient against dust and water, and should hold up to being dropped into water for short periods of time, although complete submergence is not recommended. A heavy-duty rubberised exterior that is shock absorbent protects the speaker from any bumps and knocks on the road, while a treated aluminium grill panel protects the interior from damage.
Although the exterior is generally durable, we’d point out that the construction of its ports needs improvement as they tend to break after repeated use.
The speaker is equipped with a built-in mic and can be used as a speakerphone or handsfree. It comes with a one-year parts and labour guarantee.
- Compact and durable
- Well balanced sound
- Good bass
- Decent battery life
- IP66 rating
- Ports not sturdy
For its affordable price point, the Vtin delivers great value and decent sound that is clear and crisp, although the absence of a passive subwoofer means that low end tones sometimes get lost in translation. The speaker comes equipped with dual drivers for a total of 20W of power. It offers plenty of volume, making it suitable for both indoor and outdoor activities such as camping or picnics. However, it tends to distort slightly at high volumes and is not subtle enough, even at its lowest setting, for an office environment.
Bluetooth 4.0 ensures compatibility with most devices such as smartphones, smart TVs and tablets. The range is a standard 33ft in a barrier-free condition. Other non-Bluetooth audio sources such as MP3 players can be connected to the AUX-line in cable.
Design and Portability
The VTin is a versatile speaker that can be taken anywhere. Measuring 3.23 x 8.58 x 2.62 inches, it is slightly larger than the average speaker in this category, but nothing you can’t pack into a travel bag or carry around in your hand. Control buttons like the volume adjustment and on/off switch are conveniently located on the top, and a carabiner enables it to be attached to backpacks or even lawn chairs. Ports to the side are flush and covered for protection against the elements.
The speaker boasts a massive built-in 4,400mAh battery and lasts incredibly long when played at 70% volume, with 25 hours of playback time. Full volume still gives a decent 6-8 hours on a single charge. Although it still works while charging, doing so is not recommended as it will exhaust the lithium-ion batteries quickly.
Take the VTin for a day out camping, to the beach or the poolside with its IPX4 waterproof feature. Its robust construction feels durable and well made, and should be able to absorb impacts well if dropped. The manufacturers were pretty clear that the VTin cannot be submerged in water, though.
Use it as a hands free even while riding on a bike with the noise-cancelling built-in mic which eliminates ambient noise, allowing users to make fuss-free calls. The speaker also comes with an auto turn-off feature whereby it switches off when no Bluetooth is detected after a period of time.
- Decent sound
- IPX4 waterproof
- Durable construction
- Very long battery life
- Slightly bulkier
- Bass not pronounced
- Distortion at high volume
- Lowest volume setting still very loud
The Anker brand enjoys a trusted reputation on the market, and the SoundCore 2 is no exception. New and improved, the speaker is an upgrade from its predecessor, the SoundCore, and supports better bass with dual 6W high-performance drivers. Low ends are particularly hefty and overall, there is good sound reproduction, from clear vocals to details on instruments. Couple this with high fidelity and there is little to fault with the SoundCore 2, except that the volume should be able to go louder.
The speaker runs on Bluetooth 4.2 and has an impressive range of up to 66ft – much farther than standard models, provided there are no obstructions. Pairing is easy and takes seconds with no complicated setups required. It also supports plug and play with the AUX-line in port.
Design and Portability
Sporty and stylish looking with a sleek black body, the SoundCore 2 makes a great companion for travelling with its portable ‘grab-and-go’ design and compact dimensions, which measure 2.13 x 6.5 x 1.77 inches. An improvement to the design is the covered ports, which were previously open in the older model. Controls are conveniently located on the tp of the speaker and includes power, volume adjustment and Bluetooth mode. Its box-like shape means it is stable and can be placed on any surface without toppling over.
Powered by a built-in high capacity lithium-ion battery, the SoundCore 2 claims to have 24-hours of battery life, or about 500 songs of playtime. This largely depends on the volume as well, but 12 hours of continuous play at 70% should not be a problem.
Despite its compact and lightweight frame, the SoundCore 2 feels sturdy, thanks to upgraded materials that provide a smooth touch and better grip. It is certified IPX5 waterproof – resistant to splashes but not total submersion. The smooth and flush surface also helps to keep it free from dust and dirt.
Speakerphone and hands-free capabilities are supported with a built-in mic. The speaker comes with an 18-month warranty.
- Good bass
- Portable, sleek design
- Great Bluetooth range plus plug and play option
- Water resistant
- Built in mic
- Volume does not go up very loud
Perhaps one of the most attractive looking portable travel speakers out there, the Bongo looks beautiful but falls a bit short in the performance department. Packed into its body is dual passive subwoofers that come with enhanced bass as well as dual 1.5 inch drivers made with rare earth magnets, aimed to create 360 degree ‘surround’ sound. The bamboo body is supposed to help sound resonate better, and although it delivers clear audio at regular volume, it has a Total Harmonic Distortion of 10% at max volume, which is very high. 63dB signal-to-noise ratio also means that the volume does not go up very loud.
The speaker runs on Bluetooth 4.0 with a standard 30 feet range. There are no issues pairing with various Bluetooth-enabled devices. There is an AUX-port for connecting to non-Bluetooth audio sources.
Design and Portability
Looks is where the Bongo shines. Featuring a handcrafted retro bamboo exterior, the wooden body is lightweight yet rugged and travels well in bags, carry-on luggage and glove compartments. Its stylish appearance, which resembles a vintage analog radio, is complemented by its compact size at 3 x 7 x 2.5 inches. Completing the outlook are cotton tweed speaker covers and brass screws. If there is a flaw, it is with stability. The Bongo tends to ‘shake’ when played at high volumes, and since it is lightweight, it will move across surfaces, so perhaps a rubberised bottom will help to prevent this.
All day listening without a recharge is possible with the Bongo, as it dishes out 15 hours of tunes.
Owing to its wood construction, the speaker is fairly sturdy although it doesn’t come with waterproof features. The linen speaker cloth is easy to clean while protecting the interior from dust and the elements.
The speaker powers off automatically when not in use.
- Attractive look, stylish
- Bluetooth and plug and play enabled
- Good battery life
- Sound not up to par for its price
- No built-in mic
- Unstable, moves across surfaces
The GoGroove is a great bang for your buck, and comes with dual side-firing 50mm drivers at 3W each, delivering 12W at its peak power. Volume is loud enough to fill a room with quality audio, and it plays mids and highs well with a stereo effect. Although compact in size, sound is not tinny.
The GoGroove runs on an older Bluetooth 2.1 version, but should still work with most Bluetooth-enabled devices. The range is 33 feet. It also has an interesting NFC ‘tap-to-pair’ feature where you can tap the device on the speaker and pair it easily to stream music or online radio services. The speaker has the added advantage of both 3.5mm AUX and USB port, enabling it to connect to almost any media device, even older ones.
Design and Portability
At under 1.5lbs, the speaker is convenient and portable, perfect for travelling. Its cube-shaped design is not as easy to grip as the rectangular speaker models though. Ports are also not covered. Onboard controls allow users to adjust volume, skip or pause songs on the device itself rather than having to press the smartphone or tablet.
Most portable speaker batteries are non-removable, but the GoGroove’s 3.7V 1050mAh lithium-ion battery can be taken out and replaced if it ever runs out of juice. It offers moderate playback time of four to six hours on a single charge. Recharging takes 2.5 hours.
The GoGroove feels tough and durable although it doesn’t come with outdoor-oriented features like shock absorbency or water resistance. The body has a simulated wood grain finish which lends a nice, smooth touch.
An integrated mic allows for the speaker to be used as a hands-free or speakerphone. It comes with a three-year manufacturer warranty.
- Compact size, easy storage
- NFC tap to pair function
- Wireless and USB/Aux line-in ports available
- Balanced sound, good mids and highs
- Cube shaped not as ergonomic as rectangular or cylindrical speakers
- Old version of Bluetooth
The perfect travelling companion for road trips, the SoundCore Nano packs plenty of punch in a tiny body. Given its very affordable price point, one can’t expect it to sound like a Bose, but audio plays clearly with minimal distortion and it has surprisingly loud volume despite only having a single 3W audio driver.
As it runs on Bluetooth 4.0, the speaker is able to connect quickly and easily to any Bluetooth-enabled device within a range of 33 feet. Due to limitations in size, it does not have any other connectivity options such as AUX line in or USB port.
Design and Portability
The SoundCore Nano lives up to its name, being one of the smallest travel speakers on this list. Measuring a miniscule 2.13 x 2.13 x 1.1, it slips easily into side compartments on a backpack, pockets and the palm of your hand. It is also feather light at 0.03lbs. Choose from sleek, modern colours such as gold, gray, pink or silver to match your devices.
One aspect sacrificed by the speaker in exchange for its size is the battery life, which is only good for about four hours before it needs recharging. Good for a killing time in a hotel room or while travelling in a car, where it can be used while plugged into a power source; not so much on a camping trip, unless you have a power bank ready.
The speaker is extremely lightweight and sports a quality finish. That being said, it feels rather cheap owing to its thin aluminium construction.
Manufacturers managed to squeeze in a built-in noise-cancelling mic, allowing users to make clear, hands-free phone calls even at a distance. An 18 month warranty completes the package.
- Small size, can fit into pockets
- Decent audio quality
- Construction feels cheap
- Only Bluetooth
- Poor battery life
Sound on the Hussar is okay but nothing outstanding – as expected from a relatively cheap speaker. A plus point is its selectable bass levels, which allows users to switch between two different sound effects. Volume generated from the 16W dual acoustic drivers goes up pretty loud, while subwoofers deliver decent stereo and bass. However, take note that the speaker suffers from static whenever volume is adjusted which can be a turn off for most people.
The Hussar is equipped with Bluetooth 4.2 technology and connects to a variety of Bluetooth-enabled devices. It also includes NFC technology for ‘tap and pair’ functionality. The speaker also conveniently remembers the last two devices it paired with so you won’t have to reconnect every time. For non-Bluetooth audio sources, plug it in using a 3.5mm audio cable.
Design and Portability
Made for travelling, the speaker is portable and very light at 0.78lbs. It sports an ‘anti-vibration’ design so there are no worries of it falling off the edge of the table while strong bass is playing. Control buttons are raised for convenience, so you can easily adjust volume or modes without looking at the speaker. At 6.4 x 1.8 x 2.4 inches, it is quite small and fits nicely into storage.
While the claim is that battery lasts for 12 hours on a full charge, many users have complained that the actual time falls short. When played at maximum volume, it lasts at most four hours, so perhaps it is best used in an environment where a power source is handy.
Not the sturdiest speaker out there. Port connections tend to get loose over time, resulting in scratchy audio when used with the plug-in cable. Granted, it does come with an IPX5 waterproof rating that is resistant to rain and splashes.
Hands-free calling is made easy with the speaker’s built-in mic.
- Selectable bass levels
- Water resistant
- Built in mic
- Mediocre sound quality
- Cheap, not well constructed
- Battery life not as advertised