Your friend might be the life of the party, but as we all know – a party is not a party without music. And if you are hosting an outdoor party or hanging out with friends by a bonfire, then the party or hangout is not happening without Bluetooth speakers, right?
Well, having been to one too many parties where the music died out because of wiring issues or because of a speaker’s poor sound quality, the importance of the best Bluetooth speaker is not lost on us; hence this review.
Bluetooth speakers are becoming an autonomous part of our lives, and we see high-end models unveiled all the time. However, can you, with 100 percent conviction claim to know the best Bluetooth speaker that will match a low (under $100) budget?
And do you have concerns over what to look for in a Bluetooth speaker for the best sound and value for your money? No? Don’t worry; we’ve got you.
If you are concerned with the high price tag on some of the speakers purported to be the best, we have good news for you. You can find an excellent speaker for under $100 because there is something for everyone on the market.
In fact, your biggest problem will be choosing one speaker over tens or hundreds of others. This piece focuses on that. We know that Bluetooth speakers come with somewhat similar features and some look better than others.
So, by running comprehensive reviews and employing our knowledge and experience of Bluetooth speaker, we’ll help you get the best Bluetooth speaker under 100.,
All the wireless speakers reviewed below represent our favorite super-portable audio devices that will allow you to pump out all your favorite tunes at the beach, in the garden, camping and even on the slopes.
Important Features to Keep in Mind When Shopping for a Bluetooth Speaker
How to get an excellent value for the money? This has got to be the biggest question in the search for the right Bluetooth speaker, especially now that we are limiting our budget to under 100. But don’t work up yourself. All it means is that we need to be smarter about what we look at when shopping.
Top features to consider and questions to ask include whether you can use the speaker outdoors? Is the speaker waterproof? How stylish or rugged is it? Is color important to you or anything black goes?
We ask you to filter your search by looking at each of the features below:
Wireless Range/ Multi-Speaker Setup
Top Bluetooth speakers allow for daisy chaining or multi-device pairing were possible, and the connection remains stable for about 30 feet, even with obstructions like furniture and walls present. For devices exhibiting the best of daisy chaining, you enjoy good music indoors and outdoors.
Bluetooth speakers are taking over the outdoor entertainment scene, but most of them still have a short battery life. As we all know, it is all fun until the battery dies out, and with no backup, the party ends when the music stops. No one wants this. So, look for speakers whose battery charge won’t run out fast.
Units offering 12 hours or more battery power should be preferred. You could use such devices to charge your phones too. At the same time, it is important to check the speaker’s charging system. Speakers with the standard USB charging ports are preferable and convenient.
The heart of a speaker is its drivers. A 40mm driver is decent and a good size when starting, but you should consider increasing the size.
Besides the size, the number and the placement of the drivers are important. For smaller speakers, you’ll have small but full-range drivers facing upwards or downwards. But for more sound, you will find several speakers with twin drivers.
Unfortunately, portable speakers are small with little space for more drivers. Manufacturers counter this by installing passive radiators for bass.
The Bluetooth version will determine the audio distance and transmission between the speaker and your phone. Ideally, you can expect great transmission with Bluetooth 4, but Bluetooth 5 is slowly becoming the standard. Such versions also have good battery life, long transmission and a low-energy profile.
Though Bluetooth connectivity is the central connection focus, there are times when you need to connect to the speaker using the auxiliary access. The speaker you are considering should offer this type of connectivity.
The durability of the speaker depends on where you intend to use it, and this is where other factors like waterproofing or dust-proofing come in. The material used to make the speaker is also important – you don’t want a speaker that will fall once and crack open.
Rugged speakers are regarded as the most durable speakers since you can carry the speaker to the beach or the slopes effortlessly. Most high-end Bluetooth speakers offer a high degree of waterproofing/water resistance by allowing submersion to up to one meter for 30 minutes.
2.1 channel sound is common with the best Bluetooth speakers.
The other features you’d have to consider include the size of the speaker (ultra-portable or semi-portable?) loudness, distortion, color, and use of voice assistants.
But, these are not the only features. Others include:
AptX HD Support for high-resolution audio files and aptX support to prevent the loss of musical detail.
App support for easy queuing up of songs.
DSP (onboard digital signal processor) for changing how you drive your speaker, compensating for the speaker’s placement or even the acoustic properties of the room.
Weatherization is seen in the speaker’s International Protection (IP) marking. An IP64 code, for example, indicates that the speaker is totally protected from dust and water (6 and 4 respectively). An IPX4, on the other hand, indicates that the speaker hasn’t been rated for particles though it could be protected from dust.
Wi-Fi Connection, in addition to Bluetooth connectivity, is present in some speakers, but such speakers have a higher price tag.
The Top Brands with Fabulous Speakers at This Price Point
We cannot overlook the importance of brand names when it comes to Bluetooth speakers given the fact that some of the best speakers in this review are models made by well-known brands.
And whether you need the best daisy chaining speaker or a boombox, these are the top brands to consider:
Sony represents that one company that’s been able to get its hands on just about every space of the consumer entertainment tech, with great success.
From their PlayStation to their impressive selection of the best 4K TVs, Sony has it all. Sony speakers boast the same high-quality performance seen in their other devices. The speakers boast long battery life.
If you are into sound engineering or are an audiophile, you must have heard of JBL. It is one of the oldest and the most trusted name when it comes to speakers. The JBL brand is owned by Harman International Industries, which is subsidiary of Samsung Electronics. In simple terms, JBL is fully owned by Samsung, the South Korean manufacturing giant.
The company boasts a wide variety of headphones and home audio systems, and they’ve been able to maintain its design and production of good quality products. JBL has good selection of high-quality Bluetooth speakers and boomboxes.
In as much as we have Sony as a leading brand of high-quality and affordable Bluetooth speakers, no brand is yet to reach the high audio standards set by Bose.
Bose is the top company in the audio world, delivering products that produce the highest quality of crisp sound, regardless of the speaker’s size. Even though most of their speakers are expensive, you can find a small speaker for less than $100.
UE/ Ultimate Ears
Though young in the audio industry, UE is rising to the top of the audio space fast. The company is yet to match up to the standards of Sony, Bose, and JBL but it’s producing good quality products.
What Can You Do with a Portable Bluetooth Speaker?
The possibilities presented by the portable Bluetooth speakers are limitless, but on top of the list comes versatility.
If you are a fun, music loving person, you can take the portable speaker with you to the wildest adventures as long as you have music on your phone. You can take the speaker to the beach, park, road trips, or anywhere else you need to listen to music.
If you are a DJ, you can host parties outdoors without worrying about connecting the device to your computer using wires running throughout the deck. You also don’t have to worry about loose wires or people stepping on them.
The speaker can connect to your tablet, smartphone or any other device easily without any wires. Instead of wired speakers in the house, just invest in the best sounding Bluetooth speaker under $100.
If you are a teacher, a student or any other professional, you can use a Bluetooth speaker to deliver a presentation. So, you can include small video clips without worrying about audio quality or loudness. We all know that the audio from a laptop is terrible when it comes to presentation, right?
If you need a bookshelf speaker to replace the old stereo system, a Bluetooth speaker’s got you.
Wireless VS Wired Speakers
Bluetooth speakers are the rage now, but for anyone looking for the best speaker for their home or commercial space, the choice is between wired and wireless speakers.
The reason for this is that despite the strides made in the technological world, wired speakers offer superior sound than the wireless ones. While wireless speakers are employing robust components to enhance sound quality, physical wires can transmit larger amounts of data than the wireless systems.
Notable technologies improving the performance of wireless speakers include the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, as well as the design of high-performance drivers for speakers.
Besides the highly-debated difference in sound quality, several other features differentiate the wired from the wireless speakers. They include:
Sound Control – wired speakers are superior to the wireless speakers thanks to their controls. You can control every sound feature for a wired speaker, but most of these controls are missing from the wireless speaker systems.
Stability in Connection – even with the latest version of Bluetooth, you still have to deal with intermittent connection outages. When it comes to the wired speakers, your only issue will be a power issue at the socket. Without a power outage, your wired speaker runs continuously.
Battery/Charging – your boombox will eventually give out after some hours; this could happen after 12, 16, or 24 hours. But, it is a guarantee that if it isn’t recharged, it will be off. On the other hand, you have the wired speakers which though not portable, will not die on you, as long as they are plugged in.
Portability – most wireless speakers are ultra-portable, and they don’t have to be plugged into work. However, the wired speakers might not be very portable, especially when the speaker comes with numerous components or if the speaker is big and heavy. This also means that you cannot take a wired speaker to the slopes or the beach.
Regarding price, you can find great wired and even the best portable speakers under 100. Eventually, picking a wired over a wireless speaker depends on your needs. If you are a fun-loving, outdoor person, then the wireless speaker is a preferable option. For your home, you could use a wired speaker, but only if you don’t mind the wire clutter.
Best Sounding Bluetooth Speakers Under $100
Now that we know what to look for in the units with value for the money let’s dive into the review of five of the top Bluetooth speakers under 100.
1 – JBL Flip 4 – Seamless Wireless Connection with Built-in Noise Canceling Speakerphone
JBL, as mentioned above is one of the leading speaker brands out there thanks to the superb engineering of their speakers. One of their niftiest creation is the JBL Flip 4 which is not only portable but very budget friendly.
This model represents the next generation of the JBL Flip Series that boasts competitive stereo sound quality, exceptional performance, and a ruggedly durable design.
The JBL Flip 4 is easily one of the best Bluetooth speakers under $100 thanks to its seamless wireless connection, the built-in noise-cancellation feature and its perfect audio balance. JBL has uniquely engineered this speaker to offer the excellent sound for 12 hours straight.
Here’s a Detailed Look at its Top Features:
While this Flip 4 speaker looks like 2016 Flip 3 at first glance, a closer look reveals that this speaker is an almost complete overhaul of its predecessor. Flip 4 is bigger, weighs a bit more, and it comes encased in a material with a stronger and tighter weave than the Flip 3.
At approximately seven inches wide and 3 inches in diameter, you’ll have a good hold of the speaker. You also don’t have to worry about the speaker falling on sand or rocks thanks to its detachable lanyard which lets you hang the speaker from the shower head, a tree branch or your backpack.
What if it falls accidentally? Flip 4 will easily survive that fall thanks to the durable cover material (thick) design, the rubber-end caps, and the rubber strip running across the back of the speaker. These features protect the speaker. They also let you listen to music with the speaker in a vertical or a horizontal position.
The performance is also impeccable! You’d expect trade-offs like weak bass delivery or lifeless vocals with small speakers, but Flip 4 will leave you impressed with its crisp treble, the low-end thumping, and the full mid-tones, even at high volumes and for hours.
The great tunes come from the 40 mm drivers which give off high-quality, clean, crisp, and powerful audio. The best bit is that you won’t have to worry about drowned treble or muffled sound.
It has a long battery life! Thanks to the speaker’s 3000mAh rechargeable Li-ion battery, this compact unit promises a 12-hours of continuous high-quality music. While its battery doesn’t last as long as other speakers, 12 hours is good enough for your night of fun. Charging the speaker is through the use of its micro USB port located beneath the flap.
The JBL Flip 4 has waterproof features. As long as you plan on taking your Bluetooth speaker out of the house, get one that it waterproofed. Thing is, the previous version of this speaker is only splash-proof, but Flip 4 is totally waterproof. You don’t have to worry about light showers, and you can submerge it for about 30 minutes to a depth of up to 3 meters. It has an IPX7 waterproofing code.
The controls for this unit is just as fabulous! There is the built-in noise and the echo cancellation system that leaves you with clear musical tones, plus there are extra volume controls. The volume controls, the play button and the Bluetooth-pairing buttons give you full control over the device. The buttons enhance the speaker’s ease of use.
The speaker also delivers a crisp and clear bass; the result of the integration of the speaker with the dual-external passive JBL bass radiator.
Multi-speaker pairing/ daisy chaining is a feature seen only in most high-end speakers but present in this JBL Flip 4. It has a power button that lets you connect this speaker to other JBL speakers. You can also connect it to two smartphones wirelessly.
Voice assistant integration is also part of this speaker’s awesome features. The connection between JBL speakers is made possible by the Connect+ technology. For this, just press the button to activate and access Siri or Google Now. The connection amplifies and enhances your listening experience.
Six vibrant colors to choose from
Has a waterproof shell
The included a 3.5 mm jack will come in handy
For a small speaker, it has excellent treble, bass, and perfect mid-tones
Good battery life
Impressively long signal range of 50 feet
High-quality speakerphone for making calls
Concerns over sound distortion
It’s not compatible with other brands
2 – Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM – Top Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker
Ultimate Ears might be a young brand in the Bluetooth speakers’ world, but the UE WONDERBOOM is impressive. And when it comes to the search for the best waterproof Bluetooth speaker, the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM clinches the top spot, no doubt. It is waterproof, rugged and super portable, exactly what your summer needs.
The waterproofing feature of the WONDERBOOM will leave you in awe around water, even when submerged thanks to its IPX7 rating for waterproofing. The USB micro port is protected by a tab at the bottom and will not allow water in, even when open. And even though you should not keep the speaker in water for too long, WONDERBOOM by UE floats on water.
Despite all the waterproofing, this and every other Bluetooth speaker has one issue we cannot overcome – the Bluetooth signals/ frequencies cannot perform flawlessly through water.
The UE WONDERBOOM comes with a squat cylindrical shape with a rubberized plastic cap at the top and bottom. Its tough mesh-grille is made of waterproof material that covers the entire circumference of the speaker. These design features make this an ideal all-weather outdoor speaker.
The bungee loop sitting at the top of the speaker will help cushion all accidental drops. The loop lets you hang the speaker from a tree, a carabiner, wire and anything else.
For in touch control, there is a power button, as well as an all-in-one UE button that sits pretty at the top. There is also a large volume control plus another that can be deployed to illuminate the speaker’s front.
The performance for this small portable speaker is just as impressive. Its crispy clean audio comes from its two 40 mm drivers. These drivers are supported by two passive radiators which allow for the better output of bass and treble. The passive radiators also give the speaker its 360-degree sound output.
This speaker boasts a maximum sound of 86 decibels delivered at a frequency range of between 80Hz and 20,000Hz. This loudness is similar to what you get from a vacuum cleaner or one of those loud blenders, making this the loudest Bluetooth speaker under 100. The Bluetooth connectivity is also impressive, and music can be heard from a distance up to 100 feet away.
The battery life is not as impressive as other high-end Bluetooth speakers costing a hundred bucks, as it can only last 10 hours on a full charge. I don’t know about you, but ten hours is plenty time for me to get my groove on before needing sleep and rest.
It comes with a micro USB for charging. It is a durable wireless speaker thanks to the use of super resilient materials. Besides waterproofing, you expect this speaker to last many years thanks to its shock-proof design.
It can survive a 5-foot drop. So, you can take this speaker on your next camping trip or bonfire adventure without worrying about the speaker’s fragility. There’s one catch though -the cylindrical design and the 2-pound weight make this speaker less than ideal for backpacking.
This speaker has a simple design and an easy-to-use/ control interface. Its playback functions are controlled by the speaker’s single button placed at the top. A single tap will pause or play the current track while double tapping skips to the next track. If you hold down the button, you can pair two Wonderbooms, expanding the sound.
Unfortunately, this speaker is not compatible with the Ultimate Ears app which means that you will miss out on integration with Siri or the EQ Settings. There’s also the fact that figuring out the functions is a learning curve.
It allows pairing
Durable/ unbreakable design
It floats on water
Sound distortion at a high volume and lower registry
No app integration for voice support or an equalizer control
3 – Anker SoundCore – Cheapest Stereo Sound Wireless Speaker
Thanks to speakers like this Anker SoundCore, you don’t have to worry about never affording a portable Bluetooth speaker. This is the cheapest and the best portable speaker under 100. Its features and performance are quite impressive.
The compact design makes it an ideal backpacking speaker for simple-minded folks. The black matte finish on this rectangular speaker gives it a stylish and classy flair. You get to choose from three colors; blue, black or red.
The speaker features front-firing speakers, and it is easy to control and set up thanks to the five buttons placed at the speaker’s top side. The buttons on the enclosure control include the power, volume down, pause/play, volume up, and the Bluetooth pairing button.
There is a plug located on the end cap’s right side. This plug shelters the port for the micro USB charging cable and also the port for the 3.5 mm aux stereo input.
The Anker SoundCore speaker can deliver outstanding performance despite its diminutive size. The highly efficient Lithium-ion battery can last up to 24-hours on a full charge, which means party all day long!
The quality of sound is also great thanks to its full range of drivers, the patented bass port, and its fine-tuned DSP (Digital Signal Processor). These functionalities ensure that you enjoy deeply rousing highs and awesomely deep lows. And even at the high volumes, you can still enjoy the beat because the speaker doesn’t have too much harmonic distortion – the result of a remarkable level of clarity.
We also like its connection capabilities. This speaker makes use of the advanced Bluetooth 4.0 which ensures a strong and a stable connection up to 66-feet.
You can also connect your Anker SoundCore speaker to any Alexa-enabled devices. IT has a built-in mic. If you don’t want to connect to the speaker using Bluetooth, then you will like that this speaker comes with an Aux input option. This is effortless especially when you have a Bluetooth connection issue.
The speaker has a simple design
An impressive 24-hour battery life.
It uses Bluetooth 4.0 which has a long range
Good sound quality for size
There is no back button
It doesn’t fit large spaces
4 – Echo (2nd Generation) – It’s Simply the Best Bluetooth Speaker from Amazon
If you want to make your dwelling space a smart home, then this 2nd Generation Echo from Amazon is exactly what you need. It’s not only inexpensive and great-sounding, it can also be used as an intuitive personal assistant.
The Amazon Echo speaker is at the top of its class when it comes to Bluetooth speakers costing less than $100. The recent updates have significantly improved the sound quality coming out of the Echo.
Its design might not be considered the most stylish, but the device is compact and works great. Its predecessor was an industrial-looking musical cylinder with a lower half perforated with holes, and it looked terrible.
However, the 2nd generation Echo speaker looks great in comparison with its fabric-colored soft exterior which will blend well into your home’s decor. The fabric is available in metallic silver, charcoal, sandstone, heather, walnut, and oak. The fabric cover is also removable.
Standing tall at 5.9 inches with a diameter of 3.5 inches, this speaker is wider but shorter than the 1st Generation Amazon Echo. Looking at the size, you could easily confuse it with Google Home.
If you have used Amazon Echo, you know that the top edge turns blue when Alexa is listening and red when the mic goes off. But unlike the original model, this comes with a button to either activate or mute Alexa.
Thanks to firmware improvement, the 2nd Generation Amazon Echo offers good quality sound, and it works great for homes. Compared to the older version, the vocals and the mid-tones have been compressed, but there is an improvement in the speaker’s bass.
It has a 2.5-inch woofer, and its tweeter is smaller than the one in the original version at 0.6 inches. And depending on what you are playing, the sound is quite decent.
The speakers employ Dolby Technology, and can output 360-degrees audio with dynamic bass responses and clear vocals. You might also like this speaker because you can use your voice to adjust the equalizer settings or even pair the speaker with another 2nd Gen Echo speaker.
Microphone: of course we have to explore the speaker’s microphone. Well, Amazon’s Echo makes use of beamforming technology (BT) as well as noise cancellation technology to capture what you are saying and to play music. It has seven microphones tucked under the speaker’s light ring.
The interaction you have with the device is made possible by Alexa, the awesome voice assistant controlling everything from your Amazon Fire TV and cat sounds to streaming music.
The speaker also boasts an enhanced wake-word performance which allows Alexa to hear you from any direction.
Besides music, you can use Alexa to control other home devices like locks, lights, and even your garage door openers. Alexa can also check the weather for you.
Cheaper than 1st Gen Echo
Removable/ changeable cover
Alexa has over 50,000 skills and quite the lifesaver
Easy to use
Decent sound quality
The sound quality is lower than expected
5 – Sony XB10 Portable Wireless Speaker with Bluetooth – Eclectic Design with Extra Bass
This is Sony’s tiniest portable Bluetooth speaker, but as soon as you connect it to your phone, you forget everything else. The Sony XB10 is a canister-style, ultra-portable speaker that is highly water-resistant, with 16-hour battery life.
Thanks to its straps, you can use it to prop your speaker horizontally. One of the other features that stand out is the multitude of colors you can choose from.
Its exterior is covered by a soft and super-smooth fabric with a silicone-rubber-polymer feel. This cover conceals the micro USB charging port, the reset ports, and the aux jack port from water damage.
The speaker is water resistant making it the perfect outdoor companion. Note, however, that the speaker is only water resistant but not waterproof.
The other features that make it ideal for outdoor use include the detachable strap that lets you hang it from a tree branch or your shower head. The strap also prevents you from dropping the speaker all the time.
Besides outdoor use, you could use this eclectic speaker with your laptop since it is capable of outputting high-quality stereo sounds. It is also possible to pair two Sony XB10 speakers for more power by using the ADD function.
In terms of its general sound performance, the speaker’s bass is on par with the sound from other top-rated portable Bluetooth speakers. Unfortunately, the treble lacks’ clarity.
It is probably the easiest wireless speaker to deploy since it has fewer control buttons incorporated into its design. These buttons include the button for power, answer/end call button, the pairing and the pause/play buttons. You cannot skip backwards, but you can adjust volume with the +/- symbols, or double tap the play/pause button to skip forward.
It is designed to utilize Bluetooth 4.2 frequency. The included Near Field Communication (NFC) allows it to synchronize with other devices seamlessly. The transmission range is up to 33-feet.
The sound is decent, and thanks to its passive radiator, it delivers extra bass by enhancing the low-end tones. Its transmission frequency ranges from 20Hz to 20,000Hz.
Small, lightweight, and compact design
Long battery life of 16 hours
Impressive sound for its size
Allows stereo pairing
Its finish attracts dust
The sound can be a little thin at times
The five units reviewed above represent some of the best Bluetooth speakers for anyone on a budget of less than 100 dollars. Choosing one over the other will depend on your preferences. To buy the best Bluetooth speaker under 100, you need to understand the specs of the device you are considering.
Don’t just buy a speaker for the name, some lesser-known brands are just as durable and capable of delivering excellent sounds. Choosing any of the speakers reviewed above will do just fine, but I am partial to the features offered by the Sony XB10, thus making it the loudest Bluetooth speaker under 100.
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