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Best Portable Mini Bluetooth Speaker for 2022: JBL, Bose, Sony and More – CNET


Apart from a good pair of headphones, one of the simplest ways to listen to your music at any time when and wherever is with a conveyable Bluetooth speaker. They help you wirelessly stream your tunes out of your cellphonepill or laptop, and the most effective Bluetooth audio system are additionally geared up with a built-in microphone, to allow them to double as a speakerphone for calls and conferences.

Bluetooth audio system have come a great distance over time, and now provide improved sound, longer batter life, prolonged Bluetooth vary and extra dependable connectivity and elevated sturdiness. Many are additionally totally waterproof and a few are even designed to drift.


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Bose’s SoundLink Flex packs some serious punch



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As for smaller portable Bluetooth speakers — I call them mini or micro speakers, depending on just how compact they are — you will encounter some limitations to their sound, particularly when it comes to bass output and overall volume. But for their small size, many models manage to exceed expectations when it comes to sound quality. 

While this list is focused exclusively on very compact speakers, we also have a list of Best Bluetooth Speakers overall, as well as a list of Best Wireless Bluetooth Boom Box Speakers, which features larger portable speakers. We’ll update this list as new ultraportable Bluetooth speakers hit the market.

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When it launched, Bose made some bold claims about its new SoundLink Flex Bluetooth speaker, particularly its bass performance. But it mostly lives up to the hype and is arguably the best-sounding wireless speaker for its relatively compact size. Available in three colors — black, white smoke and stone blue (pictured) — the speaker is IP67 dust- and waterproof, and rated for 12 hours of battery life at moderate volume levels.

It’s also equipped with Bose’s PositionIQ technology to automatically detect the speaker’s orientation and deliver optimized sound based on whether it’s upright, hanging or flat on its back. The Flex also floats and Bose says it can survive drops and bumps, with a soft silicone back and powder-coated steel grille that “won’t peel or flake and is resistant to corrosion and UV light.”

While Bose’s SoundLink Micro also delivers impressive sound for its tiny size, this speaker is bigger, weighing just over a pound (0.45 kg) and measuring 7.9 inches wide, 2.1 inches deep and 3.6 inches high (20 by 5.3 by 9.1cm), so the Flex sounds significantly better than the Micro. For some reason, it uses the older Bluetooth 4.2 instead of 5.0, but I didn’t have any problems with connectivity.

Bose says it can fill a living room with sound. From my tests, I’d say it would have to be a relatively small living room — it can only output so much sound as a single speaker. However, if you pair two of them together in stereo mode, the sound gets to a whole other level and indeed fills a larger room with sound.

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Back in 2020, Tribit released the StormBox Micro, a budget version of Bose’s excellent SoundLink Micro speaker that delivered surprisingly good sound for its size and modest price. Now we get the StormBox Micro 2, which offers improved sound and battery life, along with a charge-out feature that turns the speaker into a power bank for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. An integrated strap allows you to clip it to your backpack or your bike’s handlebars.

Like the original, it’s an excellent value and easy to recommend if you’re looking for a super compact portable wireless speaker. 

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With each new version of the Flip, JBL makes small improvements, and while the latest model, the Flip 6, doesn’t look much different from the Flip 5 on the outside, it does feature improved sound. It has two-way drivers with a woofer and tweeter and dual passive radiators that help the Flip 6 deliver much deeper bass than you think it could. 

It’s fully waterproof and dust-proof with an IPX67 rating. Like the Flip 5, it’s rated for up 12 hours of audio playback at moderate volume levels and charges via USB-C. Available in multiple color options, it’s one of the best-sounding speakers for its compact size.

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The JBL Bluetooth speaker that received the biggest improvements over the previous model is among the company’s smallest. The JBL Go 3 has a completely new look — it’s now covered in durable fabric instead of having the naked plastic design of its Go predecessors — and that new design, coupled with surprisingly decent sound for its small size, makes the Go 3 ($50) one of the top micro Bluetooth speakers out there.

Available in multiple color options, it has an IP67 water-resistance rating, meaning it can be dunked in water and is dust-proof. Battery life is rated at up to five hours.

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Available in white or black for $179, the Roam is currently Sonos’ smallest and most affordable speaker (if you don’t count those $99 Sonos-compatible Symfonisk Ikea Wi-Fi bookshelf speakers), though it’s fairly expensive for a mini wireless speaker. This model, like Sonos’ earlier Move portable speaker ($400), is equipped with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi and can tap into an existing Sonos multiroom audio system and link with other Series 2-compatible Sonos speakers. The Sonos Roam makes for a good starter Sonos speaker for those new to the Sonos world. Read our Sonos Roam review.

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While Anker’s Soundcore Motion Plus came out in 2019 it remains one of best-sounding speakers for around $100. It’s larger than many mini Bluetooth speakers, but it’s still compact. It manages to sound quite a bit fuller than much of the competition in its price range, with bigger bass, more volume and better clarity. It’s also fully waterproof (IPX7-rated) and has support for the aptX streaming codec for devices like Samsung’s Galaxy phones that support it.

Read our Anker Soundcore Motion Plus review.

 

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Over the last few years, Tribit has made several Bluetooth speakers that deliver a lot of boom for the buck. Add its new XSound Mega to the list.

Tribit is billing the XSound Mega as more of an outdoor speaker — a lanyard is included for toting it around as a sort of mini boombox — but it works just fine indoors. It has an LED light show that you can turn on or off and there are three EQ settings for sound: XBass, Music and Audiobook. Additionally, it can be used as a power bank to charge your mobile devices.

In my tests, the speaker compared pretty favorably to more expensive speakers like the JBL Charge 5. There’s plenty of bass and the speaker plays loud for its size, with decent clarity. That said, it’s a mono speaker with a single driver and two bass radiators — that’s how you get all that bass. So while you can expect big sound, the soundstage doesn’t feel all that wide, particularly at lower volumes. It actually sounds better at higher volumes.

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For its first three generations, JBL’s Clip micro Bluetooth speaker had a circular design. But for the fourth-gen Clip 4, JBL has moved to a more oval shape, bulked up the speaker slightly and added USB-C charging. This portable Bluetooth speaker does seem more durable, with a sturdier integrated carabiner clip. Also, it sounds a little better, with more volume, clearer sound and more bass. With an IP67 water resistance rating, it can survive being dunked in shallow water and is dust-proof. The Clip 4 is right up there with the best overall micro Bluetooth speakers.

Read our review of JBL Clip 4.

 

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With its new canister-like design, perfectly sized to fit in a chair cup holder, Sony has created a portable Bluetooth speaker that has a design you’re probably familiar with from popular speakers like the UE Boom and JBL Flip, which have been upgraded over the years with improved bass and battery life. 

An Extra Bass model, the SRS-XB23 definitely has a warmer sound. It delivers better sound with more bass and volume than many of the cheaper generic Bluetooth speakers you can find on Amazon in the $40-$100 range on Amazon. It’s also a sleeker looking Bluetooth speaker that’s available in five different color options: black, taupe, coral red, light blue and olive green. Some colors are available for less.

Equipped with two new full-range drivers and passive bass radiator, it delivers 12 hours of battery life at moderate volume levels and is water-, dust-, rust- and shock-proof with an IP67 rating. It has USB-C charging and can connect with up to 100 other Sony speakers using Sony’s Party Connect feature.

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Scosche BoomBottle speakers are similar in size to the JBL Flip models and designed to fit in the bottle holder cage on your bike. But the BoomBottle MM also features Scosche’s magnetic Magic Mount on top of the speaker as well as a magnetic base that allows you to adhere the speaker to metallic flat surfaces. (It also comes with a small metal plate that you can stick to a nonmagnetic surface.) And finally, there’s a built-in bottle opener, which some people will appreciate.

It’s a pretty decent sounding speaker, too — and rugged, with an IP67 rating that means it’s dustproof and waterproof. It’s not quite there soundwise with the JBL Flip 6, but it plays pretty loud and has ample bass. Battery life is rated at 12 hours at moderate volume levels. You can also wirelessly link two of these together to create a stereo pair or just augment the sound. 

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The Tribit MaxSound Plus is about 30% bigger than its sibling XSound Go and costs about $25 more, but it performs substantially better and is one of the best sounding speakers in its size and price class. It has a long-lasting rechargeable battery and superior audio quality for a Bluetooth speaker.

Read our Tribit MaxSound Plus review.

 

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JBL has released the slightly improved Flip 6, but the Flip 5 remains on the market and is still an excellent compact speaker. And now that the Flip 6 has arrived, we’re seeing some discounts on this model.

It has an IPX7 waterproof certification, which means this small speaker can be submerged in a meter of water for up to 30 minutes and survive. Tribit’s StormBox costs less and plays louder, but I like the tonal balance of the Flip 5 better. 

The step-up JBL Charge 5 plays louder and delivers more bass for $180. 

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We liked Ultimate Ears’ original Wonderboom Bluetooth speaker, which sounded good for its compact size and was also waterproof. Now the company has released the Wonderboom 2, which is a touch bigger than the original and sounds slightly better, with more bass and a special Outdoor Boost mode that boosts treble.

Like its predecessor, the fully waterproof Wonderboom 2 is a compact speaker that carries a list price of $100 but sometimes sells for a little less. What’s different is the IP67 rating that means it’s dust-proof, more shock-resistant and also able to float. It also has 30% better battery life — up to 13 hours at moderate volume levels, according to Ultimate Ears — and you can link two together to create a stereo sound pairing by simply pressing a button on each speaker.

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Bang & Olufsen has upgraded its dome-shaped aluminum-clad A1 speaker with improved battery life, better speakerphone performance (it now has a three-microphone array) and slightly improved sound. It’s not only the smallest wireless speaker from the Danish company, but also the most affordable at $202.

While the speaker drivers remain the same, the Qualcomm chipset that powers the speaker has been upgraded (the speaker uses Bluetooth 5.1), bumping the sound quality up a tad, particularly at higher volumes, with better digital signal processing. It remains one of the best-sounding mini Bluetooth speaker models, with richer more tonally balanced sound than other Bluetooth speakers its size — and it should sound good, considering its elevated price point.

It’s also worth noting that the A1 has multipoint Bluetooth pairing so you can connect this to your PC and smartphone at the same time and easily switch back and forth between the two if a call comes in on your phone. Additionally, the speaker is Alexa-enabled, meaning you can activate Amazon’s voice assistant by just saying “Alexa.” 

Battery life is rated at up to 18 hours at 50% volume (the earlier A1 didn’t live up to its battery life claims, but this number is more accurate) and if you can afford it, you can link two A1 speakers to create a stereo pair. The speaker is waterproof with an IP67 rating that allows it to be submerged briefly in shallow water.

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I’ve long been a fan of Sony’s smallest Bluetooth speaker, which has been modestly upgraded for 2021 with some design refinements and slightly improved sound. This model is both dust- and waterproof with an IP67 certification and is rated for 16 hours of battery life at moderate volume levels (it has USB-C charging, while the older XB12 didn’t). The speaker plays bigger than you’d think for its small size, with some punch to its bass, but it can only output so much sound — yes, it has its limitations. If you add a second XB13, you can get stereo sound. 

The XB13 is available in multiple color options and includes a strap so you can attach it to various objects. It also has speakerphone capabilities with an integrated microphone. It usually lists for $60, but should be sporadically discounted.

Read our Sony SRS-XB01 review.

 

Sarah Tew/CNET

At around $30, the Tribit XSound Go is one of the top speakers with Bluetooth connectivity for the money. Besides sounding decent, it’s also fully waterproof. It also has excellent battery life — up to 24 hours at 50% volume levels.

Read our Tribit XSound Go review.

 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Although a little pricey and due to be upgraded, the Bose SoundLink Micro sounds remarkably decent for its tiny size, delivering more bass than other pocketable speakers. It’s a fully waterproof Bluetooth speaker and available in three color options, although the blue version appears to be hard to find. 

While this model is truly pocket-size — and that’s certainly an appealing feature — the bigger but still compact SoundLink Flex sounds significantly better and is also the better value though it costs more.

Read our Bose SoundLink Micro review.

 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Tribit’s StormBox speaker looks like a cross between a UE and a JBL speaker. We suspect that’s not an accident. Fully waterproof, it costs about $50 less than the JBL Flip 5 and produces bigger sound and has up to 20 hours of battery life. Tribit’s XSound speakers are probably a better value, but the Stormbox is more stylish. It also has a rechargeable li-ion battery able to power up to 20 hours of continuous playtime.

Full disclosure: This is the only product on this list we didn’t test in person. But we found much to admire in its predecessor, the Oontz Angle Plus, back in 2017. This one has marginally better battery life, slightly bigger sound and is more water-resistant than the Plus, and it offers stereo pairing, too. We’ll have a hands-on evaluation soon, but we’re including it here based on our positive experience with the Plus and the enthusiastic 4,800-plus user reviews on Amazon, where it sells for $35 to $40. 

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