Boombox Speakers That Deliver Bass and Volume

These loud and large portable speakers from JBL, Monster, and Ultimate Ears are ideal for holiday parties or just pumping out your favorite tunes

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Boombox speaker Photo: JBL

Sometimes you just need some volume. Lots and lots of bass, too. So if you’re looking for a speaker that plays loud with a substantial bottom end, these models deliver.

They can easily fill your home—or your yard—with music you can feel as well as hear, which makes them great for parties and other get-togethers all year-round.

The models listed below all share some common traits. They’re large, battery-powered, reasonably rugged, and splash-resistant, if not downright water resistant. More important, they provide versatile sonics.

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Load your Bon Iver playlist and they’re subtle enough to deliver background music at low to moderate volumes—albeit better in some cases than others. But if you want to listen to Sly and the Family Stone, these speakers can pump out volume aplenty with bass galore—indoors or out. And any one of them would make an awesome gift if you’re feeling generous.

The following speakers receive high marks from our testers, who evaluated them for ease of use, versatility, and most of all, sound quality. Like all the products we put through the paces at Consumer Reports, the tested models were purchased through normal retail channels, just like the ones you use.

An Indoor-Outdoor Alternative

If you’re looking for a great-sounding speaker with low-key styling that blends into its surroundings, Ultimate Ears’ Hyperboom should be on your shopping list.

Our testers report that the speaker is both loud and clear, with robust bass and clean midrange, and enough volume for most situations, indoors or out. They find the large controls easy to use, so the model gets good grades for versatility.

The Hyperboom also features an optical input, which allows it to serve as a TV sound bar or a way to upgrade the sound of a game console.

Though the Hyperboom isn’t exactly small—remember that speaker size and sound quality tend to go hand in hand—its orientation is vertical, so it doesn’t take up much space on a patio or a picnic table. And compared with many good-sounding portables, the styling is subdued, which allows it to blend with most décor when you take it inside. On the other hand, it lacks the boombox-style handle found on the other models in the roundup.

UE claims an IPX4 water-resistance rating for the Hyperboom, which means it’s splashproof and spillproof but not designed to stand up to a full-fledged dunking.

A Laid-Back Boom Box

Call it the gentleperson’s boom box. The Monster SuperStar Blaster may be big and beefy compared with those wireless speakers you toss into a beach bag, but the relatively low-key styling makes it a versatile music maker.

And a pleasant-sounding one, too. Sonically, our testers find the Monster’s bass a bit boomy, but they give the overall sound a Good rating. And the Monster provides enough volume to fill a large room or the space around your firepit.

The speaker’s controls are quite easy to use, but they’re a little less flexible than those of some competitors. For example, instead of individual bass and treble controls, the Monster has indoor and outdoor modes that tailor the bass response to your surroundings without much opportunity for fine-tuning.

All About the Bass

There’s something very satisfying about a great sequel and the JBL Boombox 2 is just that: a faithful and satisfying update of JBL’s original Boombox. And like its predecessor, the Boombox 2 hearkens back to the giant beatboxes the cool kids—and even LL Cool J—carried around in the 1980s and 90s.

But while those behemoths ate D-cell batteries like competitive eaters down Nathan’s hot dogs, JBL’s newest Bluetooth boombox streams digital music (instead of warbly cassettes) and is powered by a 10,000mAh (milliamp hours) rechargeable battery. It’s somewhat smaller than the previous-generation Boombox. And JBL claims it’s good for the same 24 hours of music. The Boombox 2 is said to meet IPX7 waterproofness standards, so the speaker should stay safe from a significant splash or even a modest dunking.

Our testers find a very strong sonic resemblance between the new model and its predecessor. Both feature bass that can rattle the walls—or maybe your neighbor’s fence—and that’s not entirely a good thing.

While our testers give the Boombox 2 a solid rating for sound quality, they add that the bass can be overwhelming on certain kinds of music. And though it might be just the thing for that outdoor dance party, it could be a little too much low end for a small bedroom or home office.


Allen St. John

I believe that technology has the power to change our lives—for better or for worse. That's why I’ve spent my life reporting and writing about it for outlets of all sorts, from newspapers (such as the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times) to magazines (Popular Mechanics and Rolling Stone) and even my own books ("Newton’s Football" and "Clapton’s Guitar"). For me, there's no better way to spend a day than talking to a bunch of experts about an important subject and then writing a story that'll help others be smarter and better informed.