The best portable boxes 2020


Which Bluetooth box has the best sound, the richest bass and the longest battery life? GIGA audio expert Stefan provides an overview of the best portable Bluetooth speakers from Teufel, JBL, Bose & Co. and gives current purchase recommendations.

Buying advice

The Bluetooth speakers discussed here are thanks built-in battery Mobile use, so you can use it for several hours without a power connection. Even if some have a jack socket, the most important source of music and speech is that wireless connection via Bluetooth (Range: approx. 10 meters). Cell phones, tablets, laptops and MP3 players with Bluetooth can be used as source devices. Larger BT speakers are sometimes called “boombox” or ghetto blaster.

The best Bluetooth speakers: All GIGA recommendations at a glance

The Price range ranges from single-digit euro amounts to the top class, in which 300 euros can be due for a box. The price depends only partially on the size: Many small Bluetooth speakers can be more expensive than a significantly larger model. Higher costs result from the use of certain housing materials (e.g. aluminum instead of plastic), high-quality components (drivers, amplifiers, batteries), research and development as well as marketing. Basically almost every Bluetooth box beats sound the built-in speakers in smartphones or laptops, so that the purchase is worthwhile.

placementproductStreet priceoffer
Test winner Stiftung Warentest, compactB&O Beoplay P6approx. 250 eurosTo Amazon
Test winner Stiftung Warentest, bigTeufel Rockster Crossapprox. 293 eurosTo hell
GIGA sound tip, compact speakerTeufel Rockster Goapprox. 130 eurosTo hell
Price-performance tip, compact speakerDockin D Cubeabout 80 eurosTo Amazon
GIGA sound tip, mini bluetooth speakerTeufel Boomster Goapprox. 100 eurosTo Amazon
Value for money, mini speakersJBL Go 2approx. 26 eurosTo Cyberport
Design tipMarshall Stockwell 2approx. 160 eurosTo Cyberport
Bluetooth speaker with 360 degree soundBose Portable Home Speakerapprox. 280 eurosTo Saturn

Bluetooth speakers in the test: All models in detail

Test winner Stiftung Warentest, compact: Bang & Olufsen Beoplay P6

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay P6

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay P6

Advantages:

  • Very good sound
  • Exemplary workmanship

Disadvantage:

  • No jack socket
  • somewhat heavy (996 grams), somewhat expensive

In the Stiftung Warentest edition 01/2019, the Beoplay P6 from Bang & Olufsen prevail against all competitors and has been leading the leaderboard there (middleweight category, 500 to 1000 grams). There is praise for the excellent sound and the good battery life (approx. 17 hours, normal volume). The final grade is “good” (1.7). Just behind in second place in the test field was the Bose SoundLink Revolve Plus (around 220 euros)

The Danish noble speaker Beoplay P6 des is clearly to be assigned to the upper class, so the manufacturer himself demands a whopping 400 euros (RRP) – luckily, the offers in retail are significantly cheaper and are currently around 270 euros. The customer ratings on Amazon are good 4.3 out of stars. Here, too, users emphasize that the P6 has an above-average sound quality. It is best to get a suitable case for transport to protect the aluminum housing from scratches and dents.

Test winner Stiftung Warentest, big: Teufel Rockster Cross

Advantages:

  • Can play very loud and punchy
  • Robustly built and waterproof

Disadvantage:

  • Quite large (38 × 16 × 13 cm) and heavy (2.4 kg), not visually a beauty

Of the Teufel Rockster Cross for just under 300 euros is the new leader at Stiftung Warentest. With the final grade 1.4 (“very good”) and “balanced sound with powerful bass”, he was able to put himself ahead of the JBL Xtreme 2 (GIGA test rating: 84 percent), which is still recommended, and which so far has included the Bluetooth speaker ranking above 1 kg in weight.

GIGA also heard the Teufel Rockster Cross, our impression: the design works cardassian brute, the processing is extremely robust (fully suitable for outdoor use), the sound is full and rich. The heavyweight from Berlin is technically a stereo system, but you shouldn’t count on the wide sound stage of a real stereo system. What you get is an assertive boombox sound with high maximum volume, powerful bass and meaningful highs and mids. Clear purchase recommendation – if you can see beyond the high weight and the striking housing design.

GIGA sound tip, compact speaker: Teufel Rockster Go

Teufel Rockster Go

Teufel Rockster Go

Advantages:

  • Plays loudly without distorting – a real powerhouse
  • Fits into every backpack with its flat shape
  • Robustly built and waterproof

Disadvantage:

  • The striking housing design certainly does not meet every taste
  • Battery life of up to 12 hours is just average

Teufel is a relatively small brand from Berlin that has earned great respect among home theater fans many years ago with THX surround sets. With successful Bluetooth speakers like the Teufel Boomster (2017), the manufacturer has already shown that it is easy to take on the big names in the field of portable boxes. Of the Rockster Go costs a reasonable 149 euros (MSRP) and was able to win an impressive 85% in the GIGA test.

The 700 gram loudspeaker is robust and waterproof, its fun-filled sound sounds powerful and for the size (21 × 11 × 6 cm, see data sheet) it is extremely loud, if need be. The big brother of the Rockster Go is the Rockster Cross, which costs twice as much at € 299 *.

Price-performance tip, compact speaker: Dockin D Cube

Dockin D Cube Bluetooth speaker

Dockin D Cube Bluetooth speaker

Most portable boxes have a rounded housing shape. Those who prefer the classic format with clear edges for aesthetic or practical reasons should take a look at the Dockin D Cube for 99 euros (RRP) *. The housing is cuboid and literally a box. The very compact one with 17.5 x 10 x 10.3 cm Dockin D Cube offers an honest sound (clearly radiating to the front), where the details in the music are not neglected.

Two Dockin D Cubes can be coupled to form a real stereo pair – not many models can do this, usually only multiple boxes can be operated synchronously (e.g. with the Teufel Rockster Go). The Dockin D Cube was awarded second place among six participants at the Stiftung Warentest (08/2019 edition) (grade 2.4 – “good”).

Advantages:

  • Classic cuboid design and good sound
  • Housing is protected against dust and splash water (IP55)
  • 3.5mm jack available

Disadvantage:

  • If the heights are too present, you have to readjust with an equalizer in the playing app

GIGA sound tip, mini Bluetooth speaker: Teufel Boomster Go

Teufel Boomster Go

Teufel Boomster Go

Advantages:

  • Lively sound: The sound of the Teufel Boomster Go wakes you up and ensures listening pleasure
  • Surprisingly high maximum volume
  • Easy operation with rubberized hardware buttons
  • Waterproof and shockproof
  • Two Boomster Go can be connected to a wireless stereo pair

Disadvantage:

  • The slight emphasis on high can be exhausting for some songs and high volume
  • No multipoint bluetooth
  • Micro-USB instead of USB-C is out of date these days

Of the Teufel Boomster Go For 99 euros (RRP), the GIGA test earned 86 percent. The robust box fits into large trouser pockets (e.g. cargo pants) and runs for up to 10 hours on one battery charge.

The sound has a slight emphasis on treble and a strong upper bass for the size. All in all, a loudspeaker tuned for listening pleasure, which feels comfortable on the picnic blanket, in the workshop or on a bike. The GoPro-compatible thread (¼ inch) on the back is ideal for fastening. However, the design is not perfect, because the Boomster Go cannot be placed upright, despite its cuboid format.

Value for money mini speaker: JBL Go 2

JBL GO 2 small music box

JBL GO 2 small music box

Advantages:

  • Very compact dimensions and good sound for the size. Particularly suitable for conversation programs (“Talk radio“Z. B. podcasts, radio plays)
  • Low price

Disadvantage:

  • The small housing volume sets natural limits for the sound, especially with the bass – if you want to experience music in all its diversity, you have to get a significantly larger model

If it is not about the highest music enjoyment, but rather about audio books, podcasts or radio news, then a cheap pocket-sized Bluetooth speaker is enough. The likeable-looking player plays in the league JBL Go 2 (Dimensions: 7.1 x 8.6 x 3.2 cm, 184 grams), which lasts up to 5 hours at a time. In terms of sound, it can easily beat most speakers built into smartphones and is a useful small purchase in this way. For the previous model, the JBL Go, you will find a detailed test report on GIGA.

Design tip: Marshall Stockwell II

Marshall Stockwell II

Marshall Stockwell II

Design is a matter of taste, no question at all. Nevertheless one can assume: if 10 people get the Marshall Stockwell II see, 9 of them will say: “This is a nice Bluetooth speaker!”. The design, reminiscent of the 1960s, the successful proportions, the high-quality workmanship – this box for 199 euros (RRP) * is simply a feast for the eyes. The sound is warm and natural, thanks to the rear emitter also for those who sit behind the Stockwell II. The chic knobs for volume, treble and bass top off the experience.

Advantages:

  • Vintage design in perfection, beautiful knobs for volume and sound
  • Rich sound, goes well with rock music and live recordings

Disadvantage:

  • Getting used to: Volume can be adjusted separately on the smartphone and the box. Both controls must be turned up for the maximum level

Bluetooth speaker with 360-degree sound: Bose Portable Home Speaker

Bose Portable Home Speaker - with built-in Alexa voice control

Bose Portable Home Speaker – with built-in Alexa voice control

Advantages:

  • Rich sound, sounds in all directions around the box
  • Good workmanship, practical handle

Disadvantage:

  • 360-degree sound speakers are not always easy to set up in rooms, since ideally they need a little distance from the wall
  • Stably built, but not as shockproof as a suitably protected outdoor speaker

All-round sound has its advantages, for example when the loudspeaker is in the middle of a table or when a convivial group has gathered on a picnic blanket. The particularly high quality processed Bose Portable Home Speaker for 370 euros (RRP) * with the GIGA test rating of 85 percent, music radiates in all directions and is therefore particularly suitable for these situations.

As the name suggests, the Portable Home Speaker from Bose is a WLAN speaker (supports e.g. AirPlay 2), which can also be taken outdoors thanks to the integrated battery (then playback via Bluetooth). A technically very similar competitor would be the Sonos Move.

These Bluetooth speakers are particularly popular in Germany:

Top 10: The most popular Bluetooth speakers in Germany

Bluetooth speaker test: how we tested and selected

GIGA audio expert Stefan himself used all of the Bluetooth boxes discussed here. You can find detailed test reports on some of the products here on GIGA, which are linked to the respective model. The test samples were made available to us by the manufacturers. In addition, speakers are presented that have received special praise from customers and the specialist press and are recommended for a purchase. The test procedure of the Stiftung Warentest is on the corresponding website explained. Swell: Stiftung Warentest edition 01/2019, 08/2020

Buying Bluetooth speakers: what you need to know

Sound and volume

The basic rule is that housing volume cannot be replaced by anything. With digital signal processing, manufacturers can get the maximum sound out of small dimensions – but in the end, a party-ready box with a decent amount of bass does require a certain size. With a fist-sized cube you certainly won’t get a living room into a dance mood, with a boom box the size of a shoe box, you will.

Real stereo sound

Spacious sound from two sides? If some manufacturers promise an “impressive stereo panorama” with just one box, then one should be skeptical. Spatial stereo sound requires two speakers that are at least an arm’s length apart. With a compact box, it doesn’t matter if it only outputs mono (left and right channels combined into one) – a broad “stage” with instruments on the left and right side would not be possible anyway. Some Bluetooth speaker models can be connected to a stereo pair (usually two identical boxes are required, e.g. 2 x Dockin D Fine +). For home use, we also recommend WLAN speakers such as Sonos One or Apple’s HomePod (stereo pair with Airplay 2), which are specially designed for this.

charge the battery

Newer models have the twist-proof USB-C socket, just like current smartphone models. The older micro USB socket is not yet extinct, but in some households the newly acquired Bluetooth speaker could already be the last gadget to be charged with it. Most models with a USB connection can also be “refueled” on the go with a powerful power bank *. Some of the very large Bluetooth speakers can only be charged with the included power adapter (e.g. JBL Xtreme 2 with 19 V). We recommend to pay attention to the built-in connection before buying a box and to include this in the purchase decision.

Before buying, you should also check whether a charger (“power supply”) and USB connection cable are included in the scope of delivery – this is often not the case. The manufacturers assume that, for example, the charger of a cell phone is used. In case of doubt, it is worth buying an additional charger so that you can charge several gadgets at the same time.

Anker 24W 2-port USB charger with PowerIQ

Anker 24W 2-port USB charger with PowerIQ

Power bank function

Some Bluetooth speakers like the Teufel Rockster Cross for around 300 euros * have a “power bank function”. This means that they can deliver energy themselves via a USB connection, for example to a smartphone, which is recharged in this way (of course at the expense of the loudspeaker battery).

aptX and aptX HD

The higher the data rate for Bluetooth transmission, the better the sound quality – as far as the theory goes. Some manufacturers advertise their BT speakers by saying that thanks to aptX HD (or LDAC or Samsung HD) they offer a sound that cannot be distinguished from an audio CD. In practice, the difference in quality compared to conventional transmission (Bluetooth SBC) or the AAC preferred by Apple is barely noticeable for most Bluetooth speakers. The source (e.g. Spotify with 320 kbit / s vs. Internet radio with 48 kbit / s) and the placement in the room (reflections) have a stronger influence on the sound. When it rattles and booms at high volumes, it is often not the box itself – but the rickety shelf on which it was placed.

Multipoint Bluetooth

If you use several players alternately (e.g. 2 cell phones or 1 cell phone and 1 tablet), you will be pleased with a function called Multipoint Bluetooth. This means that the speaker can be connected to two sources at the same time. You can then hear the device on which the play button was last pressed. This “flying change” saves the detour via the Bluetooth menu of the playback device. One of the most important and at the same time greatly underestimated features that you should pay attention to.

Speakerphone

There are situations in which a speakerphone function is useful. In order for this to be possible, a microphone must be installed in the Bluetooth speaker. Think of a telephone call with many participants on one side, who all want to listen in and have a say. It is also conceivable to use the hands-free system in the car if you have stowed the box securely beforehand and paired it with your cell phone.

WIRELESS INTERNET ACCESS

Most Bluetooth speakers don’t support WiFi. But there are also exceptions such as the portable Libratone Zipp 2 (street price 200 euros), which also accepts music with Apple’s Airplay 2. In addition, some stationary WLAN multi-room speakers can also receive Bluetooth, such as the Bose Home Speaker 500 (street price 330 euros) – on the other hand, this lacks the battery, it is only intended for use in apartments.

Even more buying advice on GIGA:

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