Sure, the quality of sound from today’s smartphones is getting better, and if you’re itching for some tunes on the fly you can always do this. But if you care about how your music sounds, then an essential element in your gear arsenal is a decent Bluetooth speaker. They’re everywhere these days, and they come in all shapes and sizes – from waterproof to made of wood, to floating to whatever. The wireless freedom to pump out your jam anytime, anyplace is great, but there’s a ton of competitive options to choose from. Here we hope to make the choice a bit easier for any budget.
Cheap and Earful
The House of Marley Chant Bluetooth Wireless Mini speaker ($69.99) sounds great and lets you take calls with a built-in mic. It even has a 3.5-mm jack to plug a smartphone or tablet in directly for wired playback. Made of responsible materials such as “bio-plastic” and recyclable aluminum, its bamboo detailing and fabric body cover add a unique look to boot.
Also worth a look is the JBL Clip+ ($69.99) for its splash-proof body and high portability, courtesy of its built-in carabiner to clip onto a backpack or clothing. It’s right at home by the pool, and you can play music wired or wirelessly and even take calls while you’re at it.
The Sony SRS-XB3 ($169.99) is a good way to get a party started, thanks to booming bass and dynamic mids and highs. It’s also water-resistant to withstand splashes and rain, and can be paired with another SRS-XB3 for left- and right-channel stereo sound.
Additionally, the Fugoo Sport ($179.99) can go for up to 40 hours on one charge at regular volume levels. The Sport is waterproof and rated at IP67, so it can handle submersion in up to a metre of water for 30 minutes. And it packs an audio punch way above its weight class.
If you’ve got some money to burn and you care deeply about sound quality, then you may want to consider the Bose SoundLink III ($319.99). Its elegant design is punctuated by the impressive audio fidelity that Bose is known for, putting this speaker into a different class. It only maxes out at 14 hours per charge at regular volume but sounds great in any situation.
Going even further, Toronto-based Mass Fidelity has a flagship Bluetooth speaker called the Core (US$599.99). It uses Wave Field Synthesis (technology developed from audio in stadiums and airports) and is impressively loud for its size. It also offers multi-room functions, allowing you to pair up to eight Cores together.