Waterproof Wireless Speakers for the Outdoors
These go-anywhere speakers from Bose, JBL, Sony, and other brands are ideal companions for the patio, park, and beach
Soaking up the sun in the great outdoors may be easy for you, but have you ever considered it from a speaker's perspective?
Leaving home means leaving behind not only protection from the elements but also the sonic support and noise isolation (i.e., walls) that help it sound its best.
But many of today's wireless and Bluetooth speakers—including the models listed below—are ready to take on the challenge of the great outdoors. They provide good battery life and generate enough volume to fill your yard, the park, or even the beach with music.
All the speakers in this roundup add some degree of water resistance, so they can be played in a summer shower. A few can even handle a trip to the splash zone on a pool deck or the beach and an accidental dunking.
All were lab-tested by our experts for sound quality, ease of use, and versatility, using samples purchased through regular retail channels. Consumer Reports doesn’t test speakers for water resistance, so we can’t confirm manufacturer claims about it.
If you're looking for speakers for indoors, see our review of the best wireless multiroom speakers.
If sound quality is your top priority, the Hyperboom will serve you well. It features robust bass and a clean midrange, and it’s plenty loud even in the great outdoors. Our testers found its large controls easy to use, and it got good grades for versatility. It features an optical input, so it can double as a TV sound bar or upgrade the sound of a game console.
The Hyperboom’s vertical orientation, which stands in contrast to the horizontally oriented boom-box-style speakers below, takes up less room on a picnic table. The more subdued styling also allows it to blend in better when you take it indoors.
UE claims an IPX4 water-resistance rating, which means the model is splashproof and spillproof, but it isn’t designed to stand up to a full-fledged dunking.
With its rugged-looking styling and its magnetic bottle opener, the Braven BRV-XXL/2 feels like the country cousin to boom-box-style speakers such as the JBL Boombox below.
The Braven XXL/2, like the original XXL, has great sound for a Bluetooth speaker. It delivers impactful bass, a pleasing midrange, and plenty of volume for indoors and out. The claimed IPX5 water-resistance rating means it should be splashproof.
Despite its fine sound and strong overall performance, though, the XXL/2 seems to be on its way out of the market. At this point, it's available at only a few retailers, so if you find one at a reasonable price, don’t hesitate.
JBL's Boombox 2 delivers a lot of the same advantages as its predecessor, the Boombox. The lightly updated Boombox 2 is an elegant, modern rethinking of those giant cassette boom boxes from the 1980s.
In our lab, the Boombox 2 pumped out truly impressive bass—maybe even too much, our testers say—along with plenty of distortion-free volume for the great outdoors.
But unlike its battery-powered predecessors, this speaker doesn’t eat D cells. The Boombox 2 features a robust rechargeable battery that's smaller than the one in the earlier Boombox but provides enough juice, according to JBL, for as much as 24 hours of nonstop music. There's also power to spare for charging phones and other devices. The Boombox 2 also features IPX7-level protection from the elements, which means you should be able to fish the speaker out after a dunking in shallow water, then continue with your tunes.
The original Boombox is currently available at retail, so if you can find one that's significantly discounted, it should be a good buy, given that our testers found the old and new speakers to perform almost identically, both in terms of sound quality and ease of use.
The Megaboom 3 features whimsical and colorful styling that says it’s time for fun. It’s a little larger than its less expensive sibling, the Boom 3, and our testers report that it sounds significantly better, too. The Megaboom 3 also provides enough volume for use outside or in a large room.
Though it boasts almost comically large volume buttons, the Megaboom 3 achieves only average ease-of-use scores from our testers because routine functions require the use of unlabeled buttons.
According to the manufacturer, the Megaboom can pass a water-resistance test that immerses it in 1 meter of water for a half-hour. So it could be the right choice for blasting the Beach Boys’ “California Girls”—or Katy Perry’s “California Gurls”—on your beach blanket. The manufacturer claims that the Megaboom floats, but we still suggest that you move it before the tide comes in.
Sony's SRS-XB23 is proof that less is more. The manufacturer's earlier wireless Bluetooth speakers were laden with bells and whistles, including colorful LEDs that would pulse with the music and digital sound effects that would bleat when you beat on the speaker. These features were fun but ultimately beside the point.
Speakers are about playing music, and the more straightforward XB23 performs its primary function admirably. It's a medium-sized speaker that checks a lot of boxes. Sony claims that it's water resistant, and it's relatively inexpensive and sounds good.
The low bass of the SRS-XB23 is a bit lacking, and the midrange lacks some of the clarity of the very best portables. But on balance, the speaker's sound is satisfying.
The Anker SoundCore Rave Neo does everything you want from an inexpensive portable wireless speaker. Except sound great.
Our testers gave it high marks for ease of use, noting that it was a piece of cake to pair it with a smartphone; the Rave Neo essentially lives in pairing mode. It also earned praise for offering USB and Aux inputs for wired connections in addition to Bluetooth.
That said, the speaker's sonics left something to be desired. The bass was a bit tubby, highs were somewhat smeared, and the important midrange, where most voices and instruments live, had both a slight plasticky resonance and a "swooshy" quality. Every $100 speaker is going to make sonic compromises, but there are better-sounding ones for the money. When considering the Anker, understand that you're trading off sound quality for convenience.
Portable wireless speakers can take a beating, rattling around in the bottom of a backpack or getting knocked off a picnic table—and maybe even getting lost entirely. All of which argues in favor of a modestly priced model, like the high-value Flip 4.
Despite a price below $100, the Flip 4 boasts impressive sound quality. Our test team found it easy to pair the speaker with a phone via Bluetooth, and the battery life was long enough for even your epic 81-song Abba-to-ZZ Top playlist. JBL says the Flip 4 is not only splashproof and spillproof but also totally dunkable.
For whatever it may lack in sound quality, the JBL Clip 4 has two important things going for it. It's inexpensive. And it's small.
The model fits easily into your palm and features a carabiner that easily clips onto a backpack, a beach bag, or even your shorts, if you're so inclined. JBL claims an IPX 67 rating, which means the speaker is both water resistant and dustproof. Our testers find the Clip 4 to be easy to pair and give solid marks to the prominent controls.
Sonically, the Clip 4 is somewhat challenged. The highs are a little sizzly, the midrange is a bit nasal, and there's not much bass to speak of. The performance can't match the similarly small but significantly more expensive Bose SoundLink Micro. But if you're taking a walk or bicycle ride, and want to bring along your tunes (or, better still, your favorite podcast), the Clip 4 provides a significant step up from the built-in speaker on your phone for not much cash.