Music lovers everywhere are always looking for ways to incorporate music into their lives. From those going more retro, to modern portable speakers, the options for high-quality audio is ever increasing.
Bluetooth speakers have become some of the most popular audio products. Unsurprisingly, there are now a few Bluetooth speakers rugged enough to bring outdoors.
Whether poolside or on your next camping adventure these speakers are designed to withstand the elements and still deliver crisp audio. This article will be a guide for those looking to purchase their first outdoor speaker.
It’s written to be both tech friendly and informative.
- Best Quality: JBL Flip 3 Splashproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker (Orange)
- Budget Friendly: Omaker M4 Portable Bluetooth 4.0 Speaker with 12 Hour Playtime for Outdoors or Shower(Army Green)
- Most durable: UE BOOM 2 Phantom Wireless Mobile Bluetooth Speaker (Waterproof and Shockproof)
**There is more information below, but feel free to check out Amazon for additional product information.
Sound quality can be extremely important for some, but less so for others. If you consider yourself a person who can tell the difference between a $20 speaker and a $100 speaker then you will most likely want to consider the higher end.
However, if you just want a speaker to have in the background at the beach or during camping trips then you don’t really need to spend a ton of money on audiophile speaker quality.
For outdoor speakers, it’s important to find one that will both withstand the elements and will be loud enough for the harsh acoustic environment.
There is no reverberation in the outdoor environments meaning your speaker will have to work that much harder to provide a powerful sound.
If you want sound quality, having a speaker that can play at peak volumes without distorting is a must. These speakers will generally cost around $100.
Sub $100 speakers generally end up distorting when pushed to their limits, which is something you may want to avoid for the outdoor environment.
It can be difficult to judge a speakers quality without actually hearing it in person. The quality will also heavily depend on personal taste and music genres. Each speaker on out list passes our quality test and won’t disappoint 90% our of readers. However, if you consider yourself an audiophile you are going to want to look for a speaker around the $200 mark.
Like most Bluetooth speakers, there is a certain range where the device connects to the speaker without any interference. Some speakers have a higher range capability than others. Typical Bluetooth speakers will have a range of 50-100 ft.
Leaving this range results in unwanted interference. There are a few tradeoffs when it comes to range. There is of course a tradeoff between price and Bluetooth range. However, speakers with a longer range also will have a reduction in battery life as it usually requires more power to transmit the signal over a larger radius.
Keep in mind that most Bluetooth chips on laptops have a difficult time pairing to Bluetooth speakers. They are generally designed to pair with keyboard and other devices.
How Waterproof is it?
An important consideration for outdoor speakers is the ability to be weather-proof or water resistant. Humidity and dust can be very damaging. There is a wide range of waterproof ratings scaling from water resistant to completely waterproof. If you don’t plan on submerging your speaker, don’t pay extra for the unnecessary waterproofing. Water resistance is perfectly fine for poolside use. Most speakers will use the IPX rating system to classify the waterproofing.
Waterproofing usually comes at an additional cost and sometimes sacrifices sound quality. It will be up to you to determine what is most important for your needs. For portable devices, there are several that are made to handle falls and drops as well. They are often surrounded by a tough casing that protects the inner-workings of the speaker from rough handling.
If you are planning on taking your speaker on your boat there are a few different options available. The main benefit of using a portable Bluetooth speaker is the price point. Dedicated boat speakers are far more expensive, but the have the added benefit of being wired into your boats electronics and usually are loud enough to play while the boat is moving.
You can also check out my article on speakers for the beach if you want a few more ideas.
How Long Will The Battery Last?
Often, these speakers will not be connected to a power source because they run on lithium batteries like cell phones, laptops, or tablets.
Checking the playing time on the speaker before buying it can help determine how long the speaker will allow playback. Even budget speakers will have a battery lift that is 10 hours of more so there is no reason to settle for anything less.
The battery also has a big impact on the size of the speaker. If you want a long battery life, you are going to sacrifice some portability.
Larger batteries will be able to last 15 hours at 2/3 volume levels. The size of the battery also affects charging times. However, these are generally pretty reasonable for most speakers.
Keep in mind that these playing times are determined at medium playing volumes. They will be significantly reduced if you are maxing out the volume for long periods of time.
Batteries can be notoriously bad in cold weather. If you plan on using your speaker during and ski trips, or high-altitude hiking you are going to want to keep this in mind. A fully charged battery will drain in matter of hours when the temperature drops.
Outdoor speakers come in a wide variety of prices as well as types. Luckily, there are speakers that fit almost any budget. There are a number of features of the speaker that will be determined by budget.
Looking for a speaker with lots of volume in a small package? It’s going to cost extra. Long battery life? Add some more.
It’s best to first determine the main use cases before shopping. This way you won’t be tempted to dig into your sofa cushions for features you won’t need.
Speakers will generally range from $19 to over $100. If you are not really picky about your sound quality, the Cambridge SoundWorks OontZ or the Omaker M4 are the most popular and well received outdoor Bluetooth speakers on the market.
If you want the best sound quality and are willing to sacrifice full waterproofing, we recommend the JBL Flip 3 Splashproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker. JBL is a huge name in the audio world and is known for producing high-quality speakers and audio equipment.
We’ve listened to this speaker in many settings and are always impressed with the bass response and overall clarity for such a small package.
Cambridge SoundWorks OontZ
You may run into specifications such as SPL (sound pressure level), frequency range, or sensitivity. While these are important, they are best left to the audiophile who will notice the difference in sound quality.
A great metric for choosing your speaker is the price point, IPX rating, and casing. For instance, the JBL has amazing sound quality but the speaker is easily beat in terms of durability by many of its competitors.
You may also hear about aptX codec. This advanced codec hasn’t made it into many of the Bluetooth speakers on the market.
While it does offer a higher definition of sound transmission, the main benefit is the minimal latency. This becomes important when streaming audio from your television and isn’t yet worth the cost to put in Bluetooth speakers.
Music lovers everywhere will agree that Bluetooth speakers can be a great investment. With the ability to play music from a distance it’s easy to enjoy the best tunes while doing outdoor work or play.
There are a wide variety of styles, types, and prices available to music lovers, and there are many speakers to fit the buyer’s lifestyle and budget. No matter the outdoor activities, there are outdoor Bluetooth speakers available to everyone.