Best portable speaker 2019: waterproof and wireless for outdoor fun

Waterproof, water resistant and portable speakers for your house, garden, pool and beyond

Best portable Bluetooth speaker 2018: waterproof and water resistant speakers for outdoors, easy to carry hifi speakers for indoors

The best portable speakers turn up everywhere from fields to beaches to kitchens, or even strapped to cyclists as they pedal past blasting out Taylor Swift or Mötörhead. They're like the portable radios of the 21st century, and the best portable speakers are waterproof or at least water resistant.  

With a battery and vary degrees of ruggedising and waterproofing, these are handy for moving from room to room, and also taking outside. Some are fully waterproof and can be chucked in your swimming pool or, perhaps more realistically for UK readers, stand up to sudden summer downpours.

How to buy the best battery-powered, portable, waterproof speaker

Portable speakers use Bluetooth to receive music from just about any phone, tablet or laptop in existence, and although the audio may not be lossless, the best ones do deliver decent sonics, as well as portability, versatility and toughness.

Ideally, you want aptX (usually found on Android device) and/or AAC (usually on iOS and Macs although it is starting to appear on certain Android phones too) support for better audio – these suck more bytes of information out of your music playing device, giving theoretically better sound, especially with higher bitrate music streams and MP3. 

That said, portable speakers for outdoors in particular are generally more about volume than refinement, and any kind of Bluetooth delivers perfectly adequate audio for that. They just need to be loud enough to be heard over the sizzling of your barbecue, or the drone of your electric lawnmower.

Please note these speakers are not all fully waterproof. There aren't sufficient waterproof speakers of good enough quality to make a list worthwhile. We've noted which ones you can submerge in water, and which ones will just stand up to a bit of summer showering. Although all these sound very good, most aren't of a suitable quality for 'serious' listening.

The best portable speakers, in order

1. Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2

Best waterproof portable speaker

Specifications
Weight: 430g
Battery life: 13 hours
Waterproof: Yes
NFC: No
Aux-in: No
Reasons to buy
+Awesome 360 degree audio+Waterproof and rugged+Easy and portable

The original Wonderboom from Logitech subsidiary Ultimate Ears was great. Wonderboom 2 is, as you'd imagine, one better. Better sound, longer battery life (13 hours instead of 10), cool new buttons to play with, dust- and sand-proofing (as well as the previous imperviousness to water), and still all for just £89.99. And Ultimate Ears products never retail at their RRP for long, so give it a month or so and it'll be even more of a bargain.

Unlike UE's more sophisticated Megaboom 3, there's no app to use more than one of them at once; it's just a straight-up Bluetooth speaker. It's super-portable though, and you can pair two of them either in stereo or dual mono. Strong Bluetooth means they can be placed 100m apart too – 'at either end of a tennis court', was one example given at launch. Even with just one Wonderboom 2 in play, the 360 degree audio is better than it has any right to be at the price, especially with pop, hip-hop, EDM, bro rock and other outdoor party-friendly sounds.

The Wonderboom 2 doesn't really try to straddle home and outdoors: it's clearly meant to be taken to wherever the party is. It's fully waterproof – in fact not only does it also float, but if you push it under the water for whatever reason, it'll even survive that. Being IP57 rated, it's also well protected against grit, salt water, dust and beach-side sand, so long as you keep the USB charger cover in place. It's sufficiently rugged that you can chuck it at the wall if you like, and it'll survive that too.

Another interesting new feature is Outdoor Boost. This makes the sound a bit less bassy and more shrill. This doesn't sound better than the normal mode, clearly, but  it 'cuts through' better and could be a handy addition. In an emergency, you can also still charge your phone from the Wonderboom 2.

• Wonderboom 2 is available to order now for £89.99, direct from Ultimate Ears. Shipping early July

The Wonderboom 2 is the state of the art in waterproof, outdoor portable speakers. Keep an eye out for the original Wonderboom speaker going cheap, though – it's still an excellent product.

Best portable waterproof speaker: Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3

2. Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3

Best waterproof Bluetooth speaker for audio quality

Specifications
Weight: 430g
Battery life: 20 hours
Waterproof: Yes
NFC: No
Aux-in: No
Reasons to buy
+Fully waterproof – and it floats!+Rugged too+Lively and loud sound
Reasons to avoid
-Playlist selection is a bit unwieldy

The Megaboom 3 takes the goodness of the Wonderboom 2 and pumps everything up. 

While it may be targeted at those who want dance, pop and rock tunes in the outdoors, its relatively small footprint and attractive design mean it can function perfectly happily indoors – in the kitchen, for instance. The cooly muted colours it comes in are, in fact, about the only quiet things about it.

In contrast to the simplicity of the Wonderboom 2, Ultimate Ears has trowelled on the bonus features here, with the ability to pair two in stereo as well as the option to chain anything up to 'hundreds' of them (!) for even greater volume, via an app. 

A 'magic button' on top lets you easily play, pause and skip tracks and, uh, not-so-easily control playlists. It's cool that UE has added this functionality but it has two problems: it only works with Apple Music and Deezer playlists, and you can only skip forwards through your playlists, one at a time. So if you have hundreds of playlists, this could be of rather limited use (or at least, you'll get RSI skipping to the one you want).

With 20 hours of battery life, impressive bass and volume, 360º sound, and build quality that renders it essentially unkillable, the UE Megaboom is by far the best outdoor speaker you can get. And as noted, you don't need to wait for summer to come back to enjoy it, as it does work well (for pop music in particular) in the kitchen, bedroom or elsewhere. 

To put it simply, Wonderboom 2 is the best portable speaker, but Megaboom 3 is a better speaker overall. But seeing as this is a list of the best portable speakers, we have ranked the simpler, smaller Wonderboom 2 top. Hopefully that makes sense.

• If you want a very similar speaker with Alexa built in, as on an Amazon Echo device, UE also does the Megablast. This doesn't float but it is waterproof and does let you control Amazon and Spotify playlists and choons with the power of your voice (and Alexa).

3. B&O BeoPlay P2

Best portable speaker for audio

Specifications
Weight: 275g
Battery life: 10 hours
Waterproof: Splash resistant
NFC: No
Aux-in: No
Reasons to buy
+Excellent sound for the size+Feels very premium
Reasons to avoid
-Dodgy touch controls, so keep your phone to hand

A very touchable metallic lozenge in a variety of autumnal tones, the P2 is the most attractive of the current wave of small speakers that produce remarkably good sound. It's also pretty affordable for a Bang & Olufsen product.

Needless to say, it will not be of use as part of a grime sound system, but there's enough bass to underpin the sweet mids and treble, giving a very decent overall sound. For the size, which is smaller than many phones, it's pretty remarkable.

There's no full-on waterproofing, so be careful, but the P2 is at least 'splash and dust resistant'. 

You'll probably want to use your phone to skip tracks and change volume because the P2's touch controls are, to put it mildly, hit and miss. I'd also advise giving the Beoplay app a miss, other than for initial setup, and just using it as a straightforward Bluetooth speaker.

Finally, the P2 also makes a very solid speakerphone, for when the music must cease, and it's time for business.

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay A1

If you want essentially the same speaker, but with more bass and volume, the larger, circular Beoplay A1 is also well worth considering.

4. Ultimate Ears Boom 2

Cheaper, smaller, older sibling of Wonderboom 3

Specifications
Weight: 540g
Battery life: 15 hours
Waterproof: Yes
NFC: Yes
Aux-in: No
Reasons to buy
+Cheap and reliable+Solid battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Pricier than the Wonderboom 2

The Boom 2 sits somewhere between the Wonderboom 2 and Megaboom 3, and can often be had very cheaply, because it is old. 

I prefer the Boom 2 to the Wonderboom 2 for indoor use as it's just that bit bigger, and not dust/sand-proof, although it is similarly indestructible by water. You can use the UE app to link dozens of Boom 2s together, if you wish, and also link multiple mobile devices, and then have DJ wars. With 15 hours of battery life, the party can go on way past your neighbours' tolerance limits.

The audio was incredibly good for a waterproof speaker when it first appeared. Ultimate Ears have since raised the game still further with the Mega and Wonder brothers, but it still sounds good. As ever with EU, Boom 2 is best suited to pop, dance and hip-hop, but it delivers a bit more nuance than the Wonderboom 2.

Best portable speaker: Bose SoundLink Micro

5. Bose SoundLink Micro

An even smaller waterproof speaker with good sound

Specifications
Weight: 290g
Battery life: 6 hours
Waterproof: Yes
NFC: No
Aux-in: No
Reasons to buy
+Extremely compact+Semi-useful strap for attaching to bikes, etc
Reasons to avoid
-The worst sound here, although still good

Well, you would not buy this Bose waterproof number if you want really great sound quality. For its size and weight, though, which are small even when compared to the Beoplay P2 lozenge and UE Wonderboom hand grenade, you can't complain.

In a selection of bright colours, the Micro is an IPX7 waterproof (although it doesn't float), low-profile (10x10.3.5cm) square. It puts in a solidly musical performance when you take those factors into account, and the six-hour battery life is also not bad considering its size.

An integrated rubber strap makes it fairly easy to attach to tent poles, bicycle frames, backpacks and so on, although you do have to have a bit of muscle power to stretch it over thicker mounting points. In short, the Micro is the best of the really ultra-portable, all-weather speakers. I'd always go for something a size or two bigger, but that's just me.

6. Libratone One Click

Beoplay-esque style at a lower price

Specifications
Weight: 140g
Battery life: 12 hours
Waterproof: Splash resistant
NFC: Yes
Aux-in: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Hang and play convenience+Cheaper than the Beoplay A1
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn't sound as good as the Beoplay A1

There is only one name that everyone knows when it comes to Danish hi-fi products with an effortlessly chic, Scandiwegian-style vibe. And that name is not Libratone.

However, while the One Click is slightly inferior to Bang & Olufsen's Beoplay A1 sonically and aesthetically, it's not by a huge margin, and you can generally get the Libratone for less. Also, as you can see above, it has interchangeable handles. So that's a plus.

Add NFC pairing, the abliity to have two phones connected to it at once, a 3.5mm jack for whatever people use that for, the option to recharge your phone from the USB socket, splash proofing, a choice of three colours and some extremely sexy promotional photos, and you have a portable speaker that's well worth considering.

7. Bose Soundlink Revolve

Best portable Bluetooth speaker for the home

Specifications
Weight: 660g
Battery life: 12 hours
Waterproof: 'Water resistant'
NFC: Yes
Aux-in: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Great 360 degree sound+Easily portable
Reasons to avoid
-Heavier than the outdoorsy models here

The Soundlink Revolve is made primarily for home use, but with a 12-hour battery and a degree of splashproofing, you can certainly bring it out into the garden. It is a bit heavier and bulkier than the options above, but 660g is still hardly arm-breaking.

The other way the Revolve's indoor-friendliness manifests is with unusually good sound for such a small device. It supports Apt-X and radiates audio in a 360-degree arc. You can also pair two in stereo (or dual mono if you want to use them further apart), with highly impressive results.

Bose Soundlink Revolve+

The Soundlink Revolve+ is another excellent option. It's a lot bigger, but does try to get around that reduction in carry-ability by adding a handle on top.

Best portable speaker: KEF Muo

8. KEF Muo

Best 'audiophile' portable speaker

Specifications
Weight: 820g
Battery life: 12 hours
Waterproof: No
NFC: Yes
Aux-in: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Genuinely high quality, dare we say 'hi-fi' sound+Easily portable, at least indoors
Reasons to avoid
-Not waterproof at all, so care required outdoors

The KEF Muo isn't waterproof but it offers easy portability thanks to its 12-hour battery and very compact, Duty-Free-Toblerone-type size. However, unlike many of these speakers, the Muo has a sound that's really suited to listening to 'properly', in a quiet setting (rather than blasting out Katy Perry in your back garden). It's a very musical portable speaker, aimed at more demanding listeners. It has no water resistance, and is fairly crap for blasting out Katy Perry at your next pool party.

For the kind of 'audiophile; audience that demands a more refined sound even from a small portable, the KEF Muo is an excellent deal. It's also arguably the most attractive portable you can buy, with its metallic finish coming in a variety of hues.

9. Monster SuperStar Blaster

Best high-volume party speaker

Specifications
Weight: 7.65kg
Battery life: 8 hours
Waterproof: Splash resistant
NFC: Yes
Aux-in: Yes
Reasons to buy
+It's very powerful+Eight hours of house shaking bass battery+NFC pairing
Reasons to avoid
-Zero refinement-Outdoor mode is pointless-It's only 'portable' in the sense of having batteries

Clearly targeted at a more 'urban' music market, this is quite heavy to lift, and powerful enough to shake the foundations of your shed. Despite that it is, bizarrely, available at John Lewis and Partners, which is not traditionally the home of all bloodclaat gansta yout' mans dem. As you can see, Monster's monster is the 80s 'ghetto blaster' reimagined for the 2018. All that's missing is a big button marked 'Bass BOOST', although there is one that toggles between 'indoor' and 'outdoor' modes.

To be frank, no Bass BOOST button is required, such is the brutal bottom-end assault that fires from this thing when you push the volume up. With NFC for easy pairing (not that pairing via Bluetooth is exactly arduous), the SuperStar Blaster also has a 3.5mm input, perhaps for your DJ turntable, or to add a microphone and 'throw down some verbal foulness, yo'. If you want party rocking rather than background music, this Monster will leave you feeling bugged out by its electric boogaloo. I couldn't exactly recommend it to hi-fi enthusiasts… But I do rather like it.