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There’s a lot that goes into making the perfect travel speaker.
It needs to be so small and light that you barely notice it in your luggage. 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. Speakers are optional on most trips, so they need to be good value for money to make the cut.
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 travel speaker picks of 2020.
Want to know more? Here you go!
- Best Overall: UE Wonderboom 2
- Runner Up, Best Overall: UE Roll 2
- Best Under $50: Anker Soundcore 2
- Best for Extra Volume: AOMAIS Sport II
- Best Super-Small Option: Creative Muvo 2c
- Best for Use on the Move: JBL Clip 3
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.Buy on Amazon
The UE Roll 2 was our top travel speaker pick for a couple of years. It’s only dropped to the runner-up spot because it’s getting harder to find, as Ultimate Ears prepares to replace it with a new model sometime this year.
For now, at least, it’s still available on Amazon. If you decide to pick it up, you’ll be amply rewarded with a top-quality portable speaker.
The Roll 2 is available in a few different styles, from fairly sedate blue or grey to loud, vibrant designs. Regardless of which one you get, the unusual, UFO-like shape makes it easy to slip down the side of your bag when packing.
In a neat gimmick, the speaker ships with a little “life preserver” to let it float around in the hot tub with you. As with other UE speakers, you can wirelessly join two Roll 2’s together for stereo sound.
Speaking of sound, overall it’s much better than you usually get from a speaker this size. Mid-range and treble notes, in particular, are clear and well-defined. Bass isn’t as impressive, though — while there’s plenty of it, it can be a bit muddy and indistinct.
You’ll get around nine hours of battery life if you keep the volume down, maybe even more if you’re using the aux socket rather than Bluetooth. If you do want to crank things up, though, you’ll get an impressive 85db out of it.
The 11.6oz weight is impressively light. When coupled with that disc-like shape and handy bungee strap on the back for easy attachment, the UE Roll 2 is the kind of speaker you’ll find yourself taking along on every trip.
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 of the imagination. 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 travel speaker.
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. Unsurprisingly given the price, that’s about it for extras, although you can also buy a “sling cover” for it if you’re so inclined.
Available in three color trims (two of which, oddly, are orange), the only real issue is the speaker’s bulk. At 1.4 pounds and nearly ten inches long, it’s not huge, but 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.
The first thig you’ll notice about Creative’s Muvo 2c is just how small it is. This little speaker literally fits in your back pocket, and at well under six ounces, you’ll barely notice it’s there.
Creative has managed to cram an awful lot into such a small space. As well as support for connecting via Bluetooth or aux cable, you can plug in directly via USB. You’ve also got the useful option of loading up a micro-SD card with your favorite tunes, then playing them back without using any other device.
Sound quality is very good for such a tiny 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 can also pair a couple of these speakers together for extra volume.
The IP66 rating means it’ll handle splashes (although not complete submersion), and there’s a useful amount of protection against dust and dirt as well.
Low frequencies– usually the downfall of any small speaker — sound surprisingly good, due to the passive bass radiator on the back. There’s little distortion either, even at maximum volume.
So is there anything not to like? Honestly, not much. Controlling the various features can be a bit fiddly, whether you use the device or associated app. Also, at just 5-6 hours between charges, you’ll want to pack a small portable battery if you plan to use the Muvo 2c all day.
Given all the things it gets right, however — tiny size, good sound, flexible playback, weather-proofing, and more — those minor niggles can be easily overlooked.
Cute and stylish, and available in a range of attractive colors, the Muvo 2c 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.Buy on Amazon
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. At maximum volume, you’ll likely get under half the advertised 10-hour battery life, 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.Buy on Amazon
Images via Ultimate Ears (title image and product shots), Anker, AOMAIS, Creative, and JBL