Once the joke of the audio community, bluetooth speakers have improved dramatically in the last few years.
And while you might think that means they’ve also increased in price, it turns out that you can snag a very capable portable bluetooth speaker for under $100.
So which one’s best?
Reviews show that the UE Roll 2 is one of the most versatile options.
It packs a waterproof design, great sound and plenty of battery life into a compact, unique design.
But, depending on how and where you plan to use it, there’s other options that might be a better fit for you.
We’ve rounded up 5 best portable bluetooth speakers under $100 that reviewers feel offer exceptional value in an increasingly-competitive market.
Whether you’re looking to thump dance floor favorites or dig your toes into the sand relax, there’s an option on this list for you!
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for 2020.
1. UE Roll 2
Pros: Balanced sound, waterproof design, simple controls, decent battery life
Cons: No speakerphone, bold design
With it’s UFO-esque design, it’s not hard to pick the UE Roll 2 out of a lineup. But that unique shape is part of what makes it a great speaker. The omni-directional sound has no problem filling a room while rounded face provides extra-large controls on a compact surface. You won’t have to worry about pushing the wrong button while doing other things.
UE has established itself as a contender in the mid-tier bluetooth market. The Roll 2 confirms why. It offers 10.5 hours of battery life on a single charge to ensure you make it through a day. The 60-foot range is also one of the longest in the portable market.
But all of this means nothing without decent audio. Reviewers praise the UE Roll 2 for a good balance of bass, mid-tones, and treble -- especially for the size. It also has no problem belting out crystal-clear sound -- even at the top of its volume limits.
What Others Are Saying...
The UE Roll 2 gets high marks with a 4.4 star rating out of 5 on Amazon, from more than 300 reviews. It’s also an Amazon’s Choice pick. One customer writes: “Best small-form factor portable player to date. You won't believe the volume, clarity, and ease of use.”
The Roll 2 was also a favorite with The Wirecutter and Reviewed. Wirecutter made it their top selection, calling it the “The Best Portable Bluetooth Speaker.”
Eric Zeman of Phone Scoop says: “The Ultimate Ears Roll 2 looks good, sounds decent, and delivers some fun all at the same time. I genuinely like the sturdy build quality, and the rugged, waterproof prowess. It is a perfect backyard companion, ideal for camping, trips to the beach, paddling, and other outdoorsy adventures.”
Stellar performance in a compact package makes this speaker a perfect pick for virtually anyone in 2018.
2. JBL Flip 4
Best Waterproof Speaker
Pros: Balanced sound, powerful, good battery life, waterproof design
Cons: Minor distortion at full volume, Connect app has limited features
The JBL Flip series is no stranger to the rankings -- with its Flip 2 and Flip 3 models wowwing reviewers. With their latest update, the Flip 4 goes from water-resistant to waterproof and gains a slight boost in audio quality and volume.
The tube shaped design means it cranks out sound standing up or laying down. It also helps protect it from drops. With dust, sand, and waterproofing, the speaker is ready to go virtually anywhere.
For larger areas -- or simply more volume -- you can connect multiple speakers together. You can also activate the voice assistance features of your phone using the speaker making it a great compromise between the connected requirements of smart speakers and the portability of bluetooth speakers.
What Others Are Saying…
The JBL Flip 4 gets great marks on Amazon. It has a 4.6 rating with more than 1800 reviews. One reviewer says, “I have a thing for small speakers that sound big and this doesn't disappoint at all. Even better is that it manages to sound big without any lame DSP tainting the sound. There is no silly bass boost and no compression; just good full sound.”
This pick ranked highly with both Amazon and Tom’s Guide. It’s a current Amazon Choice pick. Tom’s Guide calls it “The New Sub-$100 Speaker King.”
Michael Gowan from Tom’s Guide notes: “With the improvements JBL made to the Flip 4, you no longer need to choose between sound quality and features in a $100 Bluetooth speaker. You can have it all.”
Rich sound, plenty out output and an IPX7 waterproof rating make the JBL Flip 4 a perfect choice for use near water.
3. Sony SRS-XB2
Best Sound Quality
Pros: Plenty of volume, balanced sound, extra bass mode, water resistance
Cons: No playback controls, battery weaker than competitors
Sound quality is one of the trickier parts to finding a good bluetooth speaker under $100. There’s plenty of loud options. And a good handful that sound great. But finding one that offers both qualities in a single speaker limits your options. The Sony SRS-XB2 hits the mark while remaining portable.
It includes all the main features one might need -- speakerphone, water resistance, an auxiliary input, and the ability to pair with extra SRS-XB2 units for stereo sound. However, it lacks one curious thing -- playback controls. Most devices you’d connect to a bluetooth speaker offer controls already, but it does mean you won’t be able to skip tracks from the speaker itself.
If you’re a fan of bass, the Extra Bass mode puts an added punch into your favorite tracks. Reviewers found the bass boost to be slightly heavy at higher volumes but otherwise liked the effect for hip-hop and dance tracks as well as movies.
What Others Are Saying...
The Sony SRS-XB2 carries a 4.5 rating out of 5 with more than 250 votes over at Amazon. One reviewer says, “I bought this second one so I could pair them both to my laptop and use a projector to watch movies outside with my friends. They all love it and I love it too. This was something that was worth buying twice for me so I highly recommend. It's worth every penny.”
This pick ranked highly at Reviewed.com. They called it: “Handsomely designed and capable of good audio quality.”
It was also awarded an “Excellent” rating by PC Magazine. They said the speaker "delivers solid audio with rich bass for its size and price.”
With the ability to tailor the sound to fit your preferences; loud, clear output; and the ability to connect multiple speakers, the Sony SRS-XB2 is a great choice for those looking to get the best listening experience in the sub-$100 market.
4. Vava Voom 21
Best for Bass
Pros: Active subwoofer for extra BOOM, great battery life, high-quality materials
Cons: Heavier than many speakers of the same size, “party mode” might make too much bass
The Vava Voom 21 is the bigger sibling of the Vava Voom 20 -- one of Wirecutter’s picks for 2018. If you’re looking for maximum bass from a minimal package, the 21 brings something to the table that few bluetooth speakers under $100 offer -- a dedicated 10w subwoofer. Combined with 2 passive radiators, reviewers note that it makes rich, deep bass with plenty of punch.
The speaker features a wrap-around metal grill to keep the speakers safe and a full set of playback controls on the top. There’s also a built-in EQ you can toggle with the push of a button.
Reviewers had no problem pulling 10+ hours of playback on a single charge. They also found that the bluetooth speaker connected quickly and was on par with the competition in terms of range. The only thing some questioned is that lack of pairing with other speakers -- a featuring growing in popularity as you can see from this list.
What Others Are Saying...
The Vava Voom 21 has a great reputation on Amazon. After more than 1,100 reviews, the speaker enjoys a 4.5 rating. It’s also an Amazon’s Choice pick. One review said, “This black beauty is really very loud and its beats can be felt anywhere in my whole living room.”
Android Headlines put the speaker through its paces and said: “There’s plenty of volume here. And even when you turn the sound all the way up, it doesn’t get distorted like some speakers tend to…”. MusicAuthority awarded it 1st place in their “Loudest Portable Bluetooth Speaker 2018” competition, saying : “Overall, if you’re looking for a Bluetooth speaker which is going to provide you with a quality piece of kit, look no further; the Vava Voom will have you set.”
If you can’t get enough bass, the Vava Voom 21 offers bass in spades at a price point well below it’s premium sound.
5. Fugoo Sport
Pros: IP67 rating, stylish design, great battery life, plenty of volume
Cons: Bass is shallow
Most bluetooth speakers these days follow one of three shapes: puck, tube, or block. The Fugoo’s angled design helps set it apart -- particularly with a price tag under $100.
But it doesn’t just look great -- reviewers were pleased with performance as well. The IP67 rating provides water resistance for splashes or surprise rain. It’s been around a while but still has the chops to compete with newer models.
The metal grills and rubberized end combine to create a rugged, durable speaker ready to go just about anywhere. But the lack of notification LED and basic controls frustrated a few reviewers.
What Others Are Saying...
This speaker enjoys a 4.2 rating with nearly 1,400 reviews on Amazon. One reviewer said, “Wow, the sound on this is great at any price point. But at this price point, it's downright amazing. Also pairing couldn't be easier, basically one touch.”
Sound Guys were big fans of the speaker -- even at its original $199 price -- saying, “Wow, the sound on this is great at any price point. But at this price point, it's downright amazing. Also pairing couldn't be easier, basically one touch.”
Gadget Review summed up opinions well, saying “Arguably, one could say that the Fugoo Sport is a bit on the heavy side. But in this case, I’m more concerned about a Bluetooth speaker’s physical dimensions, and with respect to that, the output. And in this case, the Fugoo Sport fires on all cylinders.”
This speaker won over reviewers at its debut price of $200, now after a couple years, its wowing reviewers again at a price of only $99 -- a steal!
The following speakers didn’t make our list...but they came close.
They still offer value in the sub-$100 market and make solid runner-up options if one of the others isn’t in stock or doesn’t interest you.
Vava Voom 20 - $69.00 - While not quite as bass-y as the Vava Voom 21 above, reviewers love the 20 for it’s long playtime and small footprint. It also doubles as an external battery pack, allowing you to charge your phone if you’re running low on juice while listening.
Braven Balance - $64.99 - Featuring one of the slimmest designs on our list, this Braven model offered balanced sound but didn’t get quite as loud as our other picks. But if space is at a premium, or you listen at low levels, it’s a great option.
Anker SoundCore Sport XL - $69.99 - This rugged pick features 2 x 8w drivers and an IP67 rating to keep the audio flowing wherever you go. It’s super thin though -- less than 2 inches -- so it doesn’t quite get the full sound of other options on this list. Read Review
How We Picked the Top 5
The picks in this buyer's guide are what we think are the top portable speakers for most people.
We selected these models based on analysis of expert reviews from around the web, user feedback on sites like Amazon, forum comments on our site, social media discussions, and more.
When answering the question, “What’s the best bluetooth speaker under $100?”, we considered the following primary criteria:
Good Sound Quality
While the sub-$100 market has improved dramatically in recent years, we wanted to be sure that every pick on our list offered a decent audio experience.
You should be able to crank up the volume and listen to a variety of genres without having to worry about distortion or tinny, empty sound.
Long Lasting Battery
The whole point of a bluetooth speaker is being able to enjoy your favorite music or media without wires and in better quality than your laptop, phone, or tablet speakers.
To do that, you need a battery that’ll last.
Most of our picks offer a solid 8 to 10 hours of use -- some even more!
Even at the sub-$100 price point, there’s no excuse for flimsy speakers or cheap materials.
Each of our picks offers either a rugged, durable design or a premium aesthetic that fits the investment you’re making in your audio experience.
Good Warranties and Support
We understand that even the best manufacturer’s sometimes crank out a faulty product.
What’s more important is how they handle customer concerns when this happens.
We’ve scoured reviews, dug through warranties, and checked customer service forums to be sure that all of the companies we list here stand behind their products and do right by their customers.
We compared the things most people consider when purchasing a wireless bluetooth speaker.
In short, we did the research—so you don’t have to.
Competition in the under-$100 range is heating up in recent years.
While you won’t get a chest-thumping, window-rattling experience you might get from high end audio equipment, a good sub-$100 listening experience will probably rival that of a decent portable stereo or even your car’s audio system.
They offer significantly more richness than your laptop, tablet, or phone’s built-in speakers but also fall far short of a home theater system or high-end stereo. It’ll probably even compete with some entry-level TV sound bar systems. Our picks in this guide also go toe-to-toe with most smart speakers in terms of audio quality.
This entirely depends on the bluetooth speaker. Many of the picks in this guide allow you to chain speakers together to create a more immersive audio experience. However, this isn’t a native feature of bluetooth. So if it’s an important option, be sure to check the specs of the speaker you’re considering before buying.
Bluetooth speakers and the ability to transmit audio over bluetooth connections have improved by leaps and bounds in the past 3 to 5 years. If you’re skeptical, walk into an major electronics retailer with your smartphone. There’s a good chance the store has display models for their speakers. Pair up your phone and load up your favorite song. You’re probably in for a surprise.
Still Not Sure?
While we feel our picks offer a great experience to a wide range of people, there’s not a single pick that will be perfect for everyone.
From the type of audio you like to where you plan on using your speaker, each aspect will impact which choices are a good fit for you.
This is why we make multiple recommendations and suggestions based on speaker features, sound profiles, and other criteria.
It will help you narrow down additional options and find the perfect speaker for you.
If you’ve never purchased a bluetooth speaker, our in-depth bluetooth speaker buyer’s guide dives deeper into the features discussed in this guide. It includes information on sizes, audio quality, connectivity, durability, and more.
Or, as always, if you have a question we'd love to try and help. Just head over to the community form and ask.
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