AOMAIS Sport II G-Project G-Boom Ultimate Ears Megablast

The Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers

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  • Small package with big sound
  • Built for punishment
  • On-board controls
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G-Project G-Boom

  • Rugged and built for the outdoors
  • Big bass on a budget
  • USB device-charging capability
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Ultimate Ears Megablast

  • Alexa-enabled sound machine
  • IoT (Internet of Things)-ready
  • Portable and versatile audio solution
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Portable Bluetooth speakers: Second to shelling out $50 for a band T-shirt, they’re the best way to let everyone know what kind of music you like. And whether you’re into that indie (ahem, cheap) vibe or you wanna roll baller, we tested several options for blasting your favorite tunes on any budget. So open your dorm-room window, crank it up, and let’s get crackin’.



Starting from $36

The Details

Two 10-Watt Speakers

IPX7 Waterproof Rating

Weighs 1.41 pounds

Rubberized exterior for shock absorption

What / Who It's Best For

  • College students
  • People looking for a good gift
  • People who want a speaker they can take *anywhere*

Why We Love It

AOMAIS may not have the name recognition of Harman Kardon, Bose, or Bang & Olufsen, but in the short time they’ve been in the game, they’ve managed to carve out a niche making affordable speakers that sound like their more expensive counterparts. We tested a few AOMAIS speakers and the Sport II was the clear favorite in the $ category.

Small speakers typically suffer from a tinny sound that completely lacks bass, but the AOMAIS Sport II delivers a relatively rich sound range. It’s not going to rattle the windows, but unlike many others in this range, there was a fullness to the sound that was uncharacteristically deep. While testing, we didn’t just play music — we played everything from podcasts to phone calls, even films. The AOMAIS Sport II punched through the ambient noise and made itself heard, which was no small feat.

Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers Aomais front

The exterior of the speaker has tough rubberized edges and a metal mesh that covers the two 10-watt speakers. Weighing in just under 1.5 pounds, this thing can easily handle a rough-and-tumble life, bouncing around inside a backpack or balancing on bicycle handlebars. We literally threw it against a wall while it was playing and there was no interruption in the sound. It seems to be a glutton for punishment.

Speaker fact: One of the key factors that determine how loud a speaker can get is wattage. A lot of times you’ll see this in the product description: “50-watt subwoofer!” This refers to how much power the speaker draws. Basically, the higher that number is, the louder the speaker can get.

The AOMAIS Sport II packs in two speakers at 10 watts each for a total of 20 watts, a rarity in the $ category. This gives it the power to pump up the volume and still be heard no matter what’s happening around it. The IPX7 rating means that it can be submerged in up to 1.5 meters of water for 30 minutes and suffer no ill effects, as long as you close the charging-port cover.

Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers Aomais USB

The battery charges in a flash, provided you define “a flash” as “about 2.5 hours. That charge lasts up to 12 hours, depending on factors like volume; playing it at full volume drains the battery in about seven hours. It can even be paired with other AOMAIS speakers to create a true “surround” sound.

Priced at $40, this little thing can’t be beat. It makes a great gift for anyone who wants to bring their music wherever they go. From the beach to the bathroom, the AOMAIS Sport II is an awesome option that sounds like it costs WAY more.

User Reviews

“Best speaker I've ever purchased. Great sound, loud enough, and waterproof ability. Last week, we ran it over — several times with Ford, and then the all-terrain vehicle. Unbelievable, it still works! I attached a video ran over via Ford, will [buy] more and recommend for friends."
— Junmei From Amazon
“I was quite surprised at the quality of sound this unit produces, especially in light of its size. I'm currently using it in my shop, which can be quite noisy at times, but I can hear the music fine. The bass response is really very good for such a small unit, and it can play pretty loud. It easily fills my 12' x 18' shop with crystal-clear sound. It linked to my iPhone in a second, and continues to play even when the phone is 30 feet away with no dropouts. It came with a charge, and played several hours before I had to recharge it. I like the voice that provides status, letting you know that it's powered on, and linked. It's so good, in fact, that I am ordering another one!"
— nexy jo From Amazon
"I love this speaker. I want to start off with that. User-friendly interface with a bonus of waterproof and shockproof. The audio quality is by far the best I've heard for a $30 speaker, and highly praise it for how well it handles every frequency thrown at it. Not to mention this thing gets pretty loud at only two-thirds of the max volume, which, btw, if cranked all the way to full you have 10 hours of battery life. So it's extended further on lower volume. And honestly, half to two-thirds of the volume is all you need. I'm not even joking. BUUUUUUUUUT here is where it gets iffy for me. I'm a metalhead, and while I won't knock off a point for its quality, I WILL, however, mention that it cuts out about a second of the song when it cues up. Why? I don't know. Even on some parts it will just cut out during the song. I've experimented with other genres and it's only metal-genre-related songs that it does this to. I don't know if I got a bad one or what, but it only has these problems with a more aggressive style of music. Rap? Fine. Acoustic folky? No problem. EDM? Practically meant for it. All in all, it's a great device and I highly recommend getting one. If you're a metalhead, I'd recommend it for portable speakers considering it handles low-end and treble frequencies excellently. If you don't mind cutting out a bit of the song, then it's a buy. Not too invasive but it can get annoying after a while."
— the metal guy From Amazon


Tiny, but not tinny

Where to buy

$36 at Amazon

G-Project G-Boom

Starting from $59.99

The Details

Weighs 6.5 pounds

Dual Bass Ports

Three EQ Settings

Integrated carrying handle

What / Who It's Best For

  • People who need a rugged outdoor speaker
  • People who are “all about that bass”
  • People who prefer “loud” to “pretty”

Why We Love It

There was an argument among testers over this speaker when we decided it was the winner in this price tier. Some said it was “ugly.” We said that didn’t matter, because it sounded good. To settle this tiff, we played each of the speakers in this category, one after the other, and didn’t tell testers which one was which. And what did they pick as the best? The G-Project G-Boom. To be sure, we didn’t claim this portable boombox was pretty, we just think it doesn’t matter — and when you’re packing this much bass, it’s not about looks. It’s about that sweet, sweet sound. 

Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers G-Boom handle

Just about EVERY reviewer mentions the bass the G-Boom can kick out, and for good reason. Dual bass ports on the back of the unit allow thunderous low notes to emanate from its body. Many of the speakers we tested in the $$ range just didn’t have the physical size to incorporate speakers big enough to generate this kind of volume. And even though it couldn’t beat them, the G-Boom could definitely hold its own against the competitors in the $$$ category, for a fraction of the cost.

The boxy design is sturdily constructed and includes an integrated carrying handle. At 6.5 pounds, it’s easier to carry than its size suggests, and it even includes ports to clip on a carry strap if you prefer that method. It also includes a USB port so you can charge your phone while you’re out.

Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers G-Boom logo

Speaker fact: Wattage isn’t the ONLY consideration for a speaker’s volume, especially when it comes to thumping bass. In order to generate deep, punchy bass notes, a subwoofer needs to push air, which is why you often see subwoofers built into wooden boxes. This space, just like the empty space of a cello or a guitar, gives the sound a depth and richness that isn’t possible otherwise.

The larger size of the G-Boom allows for exactly this kind of depth. Behind the two main speakers are corresponding bass ports that give it the deep sound for which it has become known. Outdoors, it has the volume to stand out over ambient noise; indoors, it can add unexpected punch to movies, particularly during action-heavy scenes.

The G-Boom comes with an EQ button that allows you to choose from three presets. This is handy when you want to switch from listening to rap to a podcast, for example, because it allows you to push the sounds you most want to hear to the forefront.

Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers G-Boom control

One of the presets prioritizes the low end, and the other two push the middle and high notes, respectively. While testing it for music, we played live performances, studio cuts, and even fan-made recordings. Most of the time, the midtone-prioritizing EQ setting gave the best results. For podcasts, even the more treble-friendly EQ sounded a little fuzzy since the G-Boom is built to bump bass. It may not be the best option for spoken-word, but hey, that’s not why you would buy this thing anyway.

However, all that sonic power comes at a price, and not just the $80+ sticker price: The G-Boom’s battery lasts only about six hours. Luckily, it reaches full battery in about 2.5 hours.

User Reviews

“I've been researching and buying speakers for some time studying what style and design I could use when I perform my music on the streets. I actually went to the store to buy a whole different speaker but after seeing that my original choice wasn't doable I saw the G-Boom Box on the shelf by luck. So I pulled it up on the website and said why not? Wel, iIt turned out to be the best mistake I ever made in my quest to find what I really needed. The sound is full and I play it through on my phone using the Power Amp Player, which has a 10-band equalizer and sound adjustments on it, giving me a crisp clean sound buy this product not just for the price but for the entire package, period!!!!”
— scott69 From Walmart
“Bought it for the beach and my dusty shop. I rebuild 901s for a hobby so my taste in sound is pretty spot-on. The unit can be a little bass heavy but with the three- level EQ you can tone it down. the highs sound warm like some nice silk domes. Left it out in the rain overnight and it still works. That sold me on the build quality right there.”
— gruvenhaus From Walmart
“For under $100. Sounds like a deal… I have the Amazon TV Firestick, and the G-Boom is compatible with the Firestick. So whatever I’m watching I can hear it from this speaker. It’d be nice to have a controller to control the volume. Pros: Sound, bass, easy grab-and-control panel. Cons: No hang-on belt, no controller.”
— detodoelmundo From Walmart
“Truly a remarkable box!! Linked easily with my Chromebook and the overall sound is great (a bit heavy on midrange but acceptable), volume is more than sufficient!! Fills a room nicely and can be used outside as well. The price is the last thing, Wow, under a hundred dollars and really looks to be built tough. Very happy!!”
— yellowstonetodd From Amazon


Boxy boombox

Where to buy

$59.99 at Amazon

Ultimate Ears Megablast

Starting from $165

The Details

Weighs 2.8 pounds

360-degree sound

Built-in Wi-Fi

Rubber and mesh exterior

What / Who It's Best For

  • People who want a versatile home-assistant solution
  • People who already have smart-home products (Nest, Hue, Wink, etc.)
  • People who want a compact home-audio option

Why We Love It

Dang, you guys. Just dang. This freakin’ thing…we started out NOT wanting to like the Ultimate Ears Megablast because of a bad experience with another UE speaker. One of our testers immediately took it out of the box and dropped it on the floor, hoping it would break and they could write it off. “Bummer,” they would have written in the notes to the team. “It broke. Next!” But it didn’t.

So we begrudgingly charged it up and downloaded the app onto our phones. To our surprise, we found a much more fully featured speaker than many of the higher-priced models we were testing.

Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers Ultimate Ears logo

To begin with, the UE app includes an equalizer. Not just presets (though it has that, too), but a custom setting that allows you to dial in the exact type of sound you like for whatever you’re rockin’. For podcasts, you can lighten up the high notes. For hip-hop, up goes the bass. And for anything else, you can tweak it to your heart’s content.

It has been said that in the background of the Adventure Time theme song, you can hear someone typing on a keyboard in the background — but using the UE Megablast as a computer speaker was the first time we could actually hear it. Crickets in the background during True Detective (Season 1, duh) sounded like they were somewhere IN the room.

Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers Ultimate Ears standing

We’ve experienced latency issues before while using a Bluetooth speaker with a desktop, where the sound was out of sync by up to two seconds (the Amazon Tap is especially bad in this regard), but the UE Megablast had no such issues. It woke up and connected whenever the computer did, and since it comes with Alexa, it replaced the Tap as our testers’ external computer speaker.

The version of Alexa that currently ships with the UE Megablast is kind of a “lite” version of the smart home assistant. While, for instance, voice control for Spotify and Spotify Connect are available, certain features, such as adding it to a multiroom speaker array, are not (though the company expects to rectify this soon). 

Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers Ultimate Ears top

Speaker fact: IP ratings are designed to let you know how protected your speaker is from the elements. IPX ratings usually take only water into account, while IP ratings consider water and dust. The UE Megablast is IP67-rated — that is, it can be fully submerged in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes and is virtually impenetrable to dust. This means you can take it with you anywhere, and the 16-hour battery life means it will perform all day long without dying, even at louder volumes.

The physical design is sleek, as are most of the options included in the app, and the Megablast fits in quite well among other tech toys. On board, there’s a power switch, Bluetooth button, and the “+” and “-” volume buttons that almost all UE products have.

The Megablast delivers on all counts, giving you a versatile sound solution that you can take anywhere. At home, the sound will easily fill a room while also providing access to the Internet of Things and even Alexa. No other speaker in the $$$ range can do all that — and this makes the Megablast an easy option for our top pick.

Correction: Voice control for Spotify and Spotify Connect *are* available for this product; an earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that they were not.

User Reviews

“Bass output is second to no other device with Alexa onboard. Nothing is even close. Put your hand near the side when it is rocking and feel the air from the woofers and passive radiators! Bass sounds like a quality 8" woofer!”
— gadgetguy11 From Best Buy
“I love UE products! They sound great. With Megablast having Alexa, everything else becomes SMART. ‘Alexa, turn on bedroom lights.’ ‘Alexa, what's in my calendar?' Yeah, great! Not only that, Megablast is portable and wireless. The Alexa Echo Plus is wired. Megablast for me wins!”
— makqc293 From Best Buy
“The sound is so loud, instantly fell in love. Only downsides are the charger cable is verrrry unique, so you must take care of it, and battery life is a bit low because of internet and Bluetooth usage. Other than that it’s great.”
— Anna From Best Buy
“This speaker has really great sound, works as advertised, and I'm overall happy with it. I had to do a reset the first day I used it — after I turned it off it would not turn back on. Only had this problem once and I think it was because I tried to play a song with bass 80 hz or lower; the speaker didn't seem to handle it well. However, for normal songs the bass is fine, and if you don't use Alexa or connect to Wi-Fi you get a lot more battery life.”
— david ryals From Amazon

Ultimate Ears

Portable, powerful and pretty

Where to buy

$165 at Amazon