Best portable speaker 2018: Bluetooth speakers for outdoors and moving around your house

Waterproof and water resistant Bluetooth speakers for moving around your house, and also taking the par-tay outside

TODO alt text

Bluetooth speakers are the new norm, whether you're looking for proper, high-quality audio with the ease and convenience of a Bluetooth connection, or the best Bluetooth portable speaker. 

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.

Please note these Bluetooth 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. 

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

Bluetooth speakers can 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 Apt-X (Android) and/or AAC (iOS) 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.

The best portable speakers, in order

1. UE Wonderboom

Best waterproof speaker

Specifications
Weight: 430g
Battery life: 10 hours
Waterproof: Yes
NFC: No
Aux-in: No
Reasons to buy
+Awesome 360 degree audio+Waterproof+Extremely rugged
Reasons to avoid
-App is needed to control more than one at once

While the UE Boom 2 is undeniably a very strong product, it requires an app to use more than one of them at once, and is a little less portable than this cheap and loud, sonic hand grenade.

The 360 degree audio is better than it has any right to be at the price, especially with EDM, bro rock and other Spring Break, outdoor party-friendly sounds.

The Wonderboom 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 as it's IPX7 rated. 

As well as trying to drown the Wonderboom, you can also chuck it at the wall if you like. It'll survive that too.

With up to 10 hours of battery life, a 100m Bluetooth range, and the ability to pair a second Wonderboom with just the press of a button (and a bit of an awkward pause while it does its thing, but it gets there eventually), the Wonderboom is the current state of the art in outdoor party speakers. Oh, and you can even charge your phone from it, in emergencies.

2. 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.

3. UE Boom 2

Bigger brother of the Wonderboom

Specifications
Weight: 540g
Battery life: 15 hours
Waterproof: Yes
NFC: Yes
Aux-in: No
Reasons to buy
+Excellent audio for a waterproof speaker+Lengthy battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Pricier than the Wonderboom-Best when the party is indoors

The Boom 2 is a little more refined than the Wonderboom, a little pricier, and a bit less portable. And again improving on the Wonderboom, you can use the UE app to link dozens of Boom 2s together, if you wish. 

Personally, I prefer the Boom 2 for indoor use as it's just that bit bigger, but it seems similarly indestructible by water. You can also link multiple mobile devices to the Boom 2, and then have DJ wars. With 15 hours of battery life, the party can go on way past your neighbours' tolerance limits.

The audio is remarkably good for a waterproof speaker, although it does still lag behind the best non-waterproof equivalents. It's well suited to pop and hip-hop, but delivers more nuance than the Wonderboom – another reason why it's welcome indoors, as well as out. 

4. Libratone One Click

Kind of like a more affordable Beoplay

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.

5. 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.

6. 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

An interesting contrast to the Soundlink, the KEF Muo offers easy portability thanks to its 12-hour battery and surprisingly compact size. However it has no additional water resistance and has a sound that's much more suited to listening to 'properly', in a quiet setting, rather than blasting out Katy Perry in your back garden.

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 a variety of metallic hues available.

7. 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.

8. Vifa Reykjavik

Bass-heavy Scandinavian speaker in chic grey or tombstone black

Specifications
Weight: 600g
Battery life: 12 hours
Waterproof: No
NFC: No
Aux-in: Yes
Reasons to buy
+A surprising amount of bass+Good audio all round+Looks great in grey
Reasons to avoid
-Looks not so great in black

This speaker from Scandinavia's fifth-best-known audio brand feels rugged and has a soap-on-a-rope-style hanging loop. It's not water-resistant, but if you keep it away from rain, it's very portable.

The Reykjavik comes in 'lavastone black' (or 'black', as I like to call it).

It looks considerably more chic in 'sandstone grey', however.

The standout feature here is the bass, which is considerable for a speaker of this size, especially when you sit it on its base. If less low-end theory is required, Vifa's speaker does actually sound better when hanging by its little handle, but it's a strong performer for its price and size in both positions. 

When sat on its butt, the Reykjavik also puts a 360 degree arc of sound out pretty proficiently, too. The 12-hour battery life is solid, and there's a line in.

9. Dali Katch

Best portable speaker for classical music

Specifications
Weight: 1100g
Battery life: 24 hours
Waterproof: No
NFC: No
Aux-in: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Very clean and pleasant audio+Huge battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Not exactly competitively priced-Lacks bass

Rather like the KEF Muo but more so, this is a portable speaker aimed at the audiophile market. That's opposed to being aimed at spring breakers wanting to 'rock Kendrick', by the pool, or whatever it is young people get up to these days.

The Katch slightly stretches the definition of portable at over a kilo and just shy of 27cm width, but with a pull-out handle, you can certainly carry it around. A battery life of up to 24 hours (at 'normal' volume, whatever that means) is also hard to argue with.

My sticking point with it is that the sound is clearly geared towards classical and more contemplative contemporary music, with a distinct lack of ability to rock out. The price is also unusually high for a portable, although if you're a fan of orchestral, vocal and acoustic music who wants nothing but the finest, and is prone to moving about a lot, it's certainly worth the outlay.

10. 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

This is almost exactly the opposite of the Dali Katch. Bass-loaded, clearly targeted at the urban music market, it's quite heavy to lift, and powerful enough to shake the foundations of your shed. Despite that it is, bizarrely, available at John Lewis, 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.