Portable Bluetooth speakers are among our favourite accessories these days. With the increasing number of connected devices and our active lifestyles, the most notable audio makers are also focussing on building well-heeled, accomplished portable Bluetooth speakers priced across multiple price points. While the basic speakers focus on delivering the best quality possible, more expensive portable speakers aim to present more features than the basic needs of a speaker.
With all of these in mind, we list five things that you keep in mind before buying a portable Bluetooth speaker. To get started, the best way to test a speaker is to go to a physical store and listen to how your speaker of choice sounds. Audio often depends on how you personally like it - while some prefer bass-heavy audio, many like a more uniform balance of audio, and all of this only becomes evident only when you listen to it for yourself.
1. Wireless Range and multi-speaker setup
Most good wireless speakers exhibit multi-unit pairing (daisy chaining), and can remain connected to a source device flawlessly across at least 30 feet, even through walls and furniture. Speakers like the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay A1, UE Boom (and Boom 2) and many others exhibit daisy chaining, which can also allow stereo playback. Add good wireless range to it, and you have an ideal portable Bluetooth speaker for indoor and outdoor playback.
2. Battery life, and power bank capabilities
Now, you wouldn’t want a portable speaker that runs out of charge too soon, would you? Opt for the likes of Creative Sound Blaster Roar 2, which offer over 12 hours of playback, and can even charge devices. Expansive battery stamina is crucial if you go outdoors often, and the likes of Altec Lansing Lifejacket 2 can last for days of playback!
3. Durability and Waterproofing
Speakers have usually been pristine instruments, but with the new array of activity-oriented speakers, you can now opt for speakers that will not get damaged in a few accidental falls. Take for instance the likes of Altec Lansing’s Mini Lifejacket 2 or UE Roll, and you won’t go wrong in terms of sturdiness.
4. Opt for speakers with separate bass drivers/radiators
Typically, good speakers employ a separate bass radiator, which allows for better delivery of bass. It also leaves more room for the primary driver to deliver crisp, detailed mids and well-balanced highs, and the passive radiator drives powerful, clear lows. Enquire from the company about how the speaker of your choice delivers audio. We know of UE Boom 2 using separate bass radiators, and we love its clarity of audio.
5. Portability, loudness and distortion
When you buy a portable speaker, ensure that it is actually portable. Speakers like Bang & Olufsen’s Beolit 15 and JBL Xtreme do sound great, but they are a bit too large and heavy to be considered portable.
Loudness is, of course, important, and you can check online or with the company about how loud it is. Make sure you check the frequency range too, and most good speakers should deliver frequencies between 100Hz and 20,000Hz.
Amidst all of this, we strongly recommend you go to a store and check how the speaker performs at peak loudness. Usually, even good speakers deliver slight amounts of distortion at the highest volume, and the best way to buy is to hear multiple speakers and find out which among them delivers the cleanest audio. Speakers like B&O Beoplay A1, Bose SoundLink III and UE Boom 2 deliver the cleanest audio around, and are also very well-covered in terms of the range of speakers on offer.