JBL Go speaker lifestyle image

The Best Portable Speakers of 2021

By Dave Dean Sound1 Comment

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There’s a lot that goes into making the best portable speaker.

It needs to be so small and light that you barely notice it in your bag. Sound quality needs to be good enough to make it worth listening to in the first place, with enough volume to be heard anywhere you might choose to use it.

It needs to be durable, too. There’s a good chance you’ll be using it at the beach, or beside the pool, or somewhere else where it can get dropped, dirty, and wet. It needs to be able to easily survive that kind of treatment.

Battery life also matters. There’s not much point taking your speaker to a beach party or picnic in the park if the music stops after a couple of hours. On top of all of that, it has to be reasonably priced, since speakers like these are optional extras for most people.

Sound like an impossible combination? Thankfully, at least in a few cases, it’s not. Although they’re all a little different in one way or another, these half-dozen speakers fit the bill nicely.

From tiny models that fit in your pocket to great-sounding ones that can bob alongside you in the pool, these are our top portable speaker picks of 2021.

Best Overall: UE Wonderboom 2
  • Weight: 15 ounces
  • Battery Life: Up to 13 hours
  • Input: Bluetooth
  • Durability: IP67 dust and water resistance

Best Value: Sony SRS-XB12
  • Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Battery Life: Up to 16 hours
  • Input: Bluetooth, 3.5mm
  • Durability: IP67 dust and water resistance

Best for Battery Life: Anker Soundcore 2
  • Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Battery Life: Up to 24 hours
  • Input: Bluetooth, 3.5mm
  • Durability: IPX5 water resistance

Best for Extra Volume: AOMAIS Sport II
  • Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Battery Life: Up to 20 hours
  • Input: Bluetooth, 3.5mm
  • Durability: IPX7 water resistance

Best Super-Small Option: JBL GO 2
  • Weight: 6.6 ounces
  • Battery Life: 4-5 hours
  • Input: Bluetooth, 3.5mm
  • Durability: IPX7 water resistance

Best for Use on the Move: JBL Clip 3
  • Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Battery Life: Up to 10 hours
  • Input: Bluetooth, 3.5mm
  • Durability: IPX7 water resistance

Best Overall: UE Wonderboom 2

ULTIMATE EARS WONDERBOOM 2, Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker, Big Bass 360 Sound, Waterproof / Dustproof IP67, Floatable, 100 Ft Range - Ice Grey

Of all the companies out there making travel speakers, Ultimate Ears has long been our favorite. The company has been turning out attractive portable speakers that sound as good as they look for a while now, and the Wonderboom 2 is no exception.

Available in several different colors, it’s durable enough to bounce around in the bottom of a daypack, and light enough that you won’t care it’s in there.

Able to handle most drops up to at least five feet, there’s proper IP67 dust and water resistance as well. While we wouldn’t suggest cranking out your favorite tunes at the bottom of the hotel pool, it’ll happily float alongside you while you’re in there.

There’s also a little fabric loop on the top to hook over whatever you can find nearby. While it’s not quite as practical as the bungee strap on the Roll 2 (below), you’ll likely still find a bunch of ways to make use of it.

One thing it does have over the Roll 2, though, is the quality of its bass output. Louder and more distinct than its sibling, coupled with clear midrange and high notes, the Wonderboom 2 offers a surprisingly-impressive listening experience for its size.

At up to 86db, the speaker puts out more than enough volume to rock a beach or pool party. If you want louder, stereo sound, though, you can also pair it to a second Wonderboom 2. You’ll get up to 13 hours of music between charges.

We’d have liked to see an aux socket to go along with the Bluetooth streaming option, and for it to perhaps be a little lighter. Other than the silly name, though, those are our only minor niggles about what is an excellent speaker for almost any traveler.

  • Good sound quality
  • Attractive and durable
  • Plenty of volume
  • No aux port
  • Could be a little lighter
Buy on Amazon

Best Value: Sony SRS-XB12

Sony SRS-XB12 Mini Bluetooth Speaker Loud Extra Bass Portable Wireless Speaker with Bluetooth -Loud Audio for Phone Calls- Small Waterproof and Dustproof Travel Music Speakers Gray SRS-XB12/H

Sony’s long had a reputation for quality at the higher end of the audio market, and with the XB12, it takes that expertise and applies it to the lower-cost end of the range as well.

This small portable speaker sounds impressive for its size, with strong, distinct mid-range and crisp treble. We found that tracks with heavy bass can get a little muddy and indistinct, inevitable with a speaker this size, but almost anything else is a pleasure to listen to.

The maximum volume is surprisingly loud, although you’ll experience some distortion when you really crank it up. Fortunately you’ll rarely need to do so, especially indoors.

Despite its diminutive dimensions, Sony hasn’t skimped on the features. There’s both Bluetooth and 3.5mm audio input options, and IP67 dust and water protection that means it’ll handle pretty much any weather conditions and come back for more.

The 16-hour battery life is better than the competition, and there’s even a strap included for hanging the speaker off your shower, backpack, or bike handlebars. You can also pair two XB12’s for stereo sound and extra volume, and the speaker is available in five different colors.

In short, you get a lot for your money with the latest model of Sony’s durable little speaker. While we prefer the audio quality of the Wonderboom 2 (above) overall, features like the aux socket, lower price, and longer battery life will make the XB12 a better option for some buyers.

  • Good mid and treble
  • Proper dust and water resistance
  • Plenty of volume for its size
  • Both Bluetooth and aux port
  • Small and light
  • Bass can be a little muddy
  • Can distort at high volume
Buy on Amazon

Best for Battery Life: Anker Soundcore 2

Anker Soundcore 2 Portable Bluetooth Speaker with 12W Stereo Sound, Bluetooth 5, Bassup, IPX7 Waterproof, 24-Hour Playtime, Wireless Stereo Pairing, Speaker for Home, Outdoors, Travel

Known mainly for making well-priced, high-quality chargers and batteries, Anker’s recently started taking the same approach with portable speakers and projectors. For travelers, the best example of this is the Soundcore 2.

An updated version of what was already a pretty good travel speaker, you get an awful lot for a device that typically costs under fifty bucks.

Let’s start with the headline feature: a full day of music. There’s a 5200mAh battery inside the Soundcore 2, and Anker rates it for up to 24 hours of playback. You’ll likely get even more than that when using the aux cable rather than Bluetooth, but it’ll keep the party going all through the night either way.

Speaking of volume, the 12W (2 x 6W) drivers put out a fair amount of it. This speaker isn’t as loud as our top overall picks (above), especially when competing with other sounds outdoors, but is fine for small groups or indoor listening.

The Soundcore 2 sounds pretty good for a budget speaker, too, although it’s not an audiophile device by any stretch. Compared to listening to music on your phone or laptop speakers, however, it’s a dramatic step up.

While the design can be best described as functional rather than attractive, the small, blocky dimensions do help the device fit easily into your bag.

The rubber casing helps protect against the odd knock or drop, and it’ll easily survive a good splash, although not outright submersion. There’s also an inexpensive travel case (sold separately) for extra protection in transit.

Available in a few different colors, the Soundcore 2 delivers decent sound, good portability, and exceptional battery life at a very sharp price. For many travelers, that’s exactly what they’re looking for in a speaker.

  • Exceptional battery life
  • Small and portable
  • Good value
  • Average volume and sound quality
  • Not as water-resistant as some competitors
Buy on Amazon

Best for Extra Volume: AOMAIS Sport II

AOMAIS Sport II Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speakers 20W Bass Sound, 15H Playtime, Waterproof IPX7, Stereo Pairing, Durable Design Backyard, Outdoors, Travel, Pool, Home Party Orange

If you’re for a low-cost way to pump out plenty of sound and don’t mind a bit of extra size and weight, take a look at the AOMAIS Sport II.

The 20W drivers are seriously loud, and you’ll have no problem hearing your music even on the beach or at the park. Battery life is impressive, too, at anything up to 20 hours between charges.

While the rugged casing isn’t particularly stylish, it does a good job of dealing with bumps, drops, and dirt. The budget end of the Bluetooth speaker range usually skimps on proper water resistance, but not the Sport II: the IPX7 rating means it’ll easily survive a rainstorm.

Basic controls for volume and playback sit on the top, and if you really want to ramp up the noise levels, you can pair two Sport II’s together. If you’d prefer not to use Bluetooth, there’s an aux socket on the side and an appropriate cable in the box.

Available in five color trims, the only real issue is the speaker’s bulk. At 1.4 pounds and nearly ten inches long, it’s not huge, but it isn’t something you can just slip in your pocket either.

If that’s not a problem, though, the AOMAIS Sport II makes for a solid and inexpensive way to take the party with you wherever you go.

  • Good battery life
  • Nice and loud
  • Low price
  • Relatively big and heavy
Buy on Amazon

Best Super-Small Option: JBL GO 2

JBL GO2 - Waterproof Ultra-Portable Bluetooth Speaker - Black

The first thing you’ll notice about JBL’s GO 2 is just how small it is. This little speaker literally fits in your back pocket, and at well under seven ounces, you’ll barely notice it’s there.

JBL has managed to cram a lot into such a small space. As well as being able to connect via either Bluetooth or aux cable, it can function as a speakerphone as well. The IPX7 rating means it’ll take a drenching and still come back for more.

Sound quality is good for such a tiny 3W speaker. There’s enough volume to hear it outdoors as long as there isn’t too much background noise, and it’ll easily fill your hotel room with sound. You might get a little distortion at maximum volume, but anything less than that sounds crisp and clear.

Basic controls sit along the top of the speaker, letting you easily control play/pause, power, Bluetooth pairing, and volume.

So is there anything not to like? Honestly, not much. At 5-6 hours between charges, you’ll want to pack a small portable battery if you plan to use the GO 2 all day. It’s also a shame that JBL didn’t include the ability to skip tracks directly from the speaker.

Given all the things it gets right, however — tiny size, good sound, flexible playback, water-resistance, and more — those minor niggles can be easily overlooked.

Cute and stylish, and available in a range of attractive colors, the GO 2 is designed to appeal to a younger crowd. No matter your demographic, though, if you’re after a quality speaker that fits in your pocket, you’ve found it here.

  • Very compact
  • Useful features
  • Surprisingly good sound for its size
  • Reasonably-priced
  • Short battery life
  • Better for personal use than a group setting
  • No button for skipping tracks
Buy on Amazon

Best for Use on the Move: JBL Clip 3

JBL Clip 3 Portable Waterproof Wireless Bluetooth Speaker - Gray

Of all the travel speakers mentioned here, the JBL Clip 3 is the one most focused on the “travel” part. Appropriately small and lightweight, it has a metal carabiner at the top that lets you attach it to your backpack strap, bike handle, or any other hook or loop you can find.

Large raised buttons below the carabiner make it easy to control volume and playback, even without needing to look at them. The metal grille is a nice touch, making the Clip 3 a stylish little device. It’s available in 11 different colors.

Despite its good looks, the speaker is intended for outdoor use. The IPX7 rating means it can handle being submerged in three feet of water for half an hour, and it’ll float back to the surface if you drop it in the pool.

You can play music via either Bluetooth or aux cable, and at around 100 feet, wireless range is particularly good. You can’t connect multiple Clip 3’s together, though, which is a bit of a shame.

Sound quality is good for a 3W speaker, helped a lot by the passive bass radiator. Volume levels are also better than you might expect, and you’ll be able to hear your music outdoors unless you’re somewhere particularly noisy.

As with most small speakers, battery life is significantly affected by how loud you play your music. You’ll likely get under half the advertised 10-hour battery life at maximum volume, but dial it back a bit and you’ll get pretty close.

A true go-anywhere speaker with decent battery life and good sound quality, the JBL Clip 3 deserves a place near the top of your travel gadget shopping list.

  • Lightweight
  • Carabiner makes it easy to take anywhere
  • Long Bluetooth range
  • Can’t connect multiple speakers together
Buy on Amazon

Images via Eliott Van Buggenhout (main image), Amazon (product images)

About the Author
Dave Dean

Dave Dean

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Founder and editor of Too Many Adapters, Dave has been a traveler for 20 years, and a geek for even longer. When he's not playing with the latest tech toy or working out how to keep his phone charged for just a few more minutes, he can probably be found sitting in a broken-down bus in some obscure corner of the planet.


  1. Avatar

    Well done. This is the best list for me.

    It appears that the JBL GO 2 also does not allow connecting multiple speakers together. Too bad–I wanted to buy one, and if I wanted more power, get a second and enjoy stereo sound with separate right and left speakers.

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