You’ve got no intention of swimming with a speaker, so why for the love of all that is holy should you be interested in the best waterproof Bluetooth speakers? Well, have you ever listened to music while drunk? Thought so. Ever fancied taking your own tunes to a festival, park or beach? Of course you have.
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That’s where the waterproof Bluetooth speaker is really in its element. Buy one and you can forget having to worry about spilt beer frazzling your delicate electronics, and a sudden rainstorm won’t leave you damp and tune-less.
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What is the best waterproof Bluetooth speaker?
If you’re simply looking for the best waterproof Bluetooth speaker to rule them all, the Louder Choice is the new JBL Charge 4. The flashy colours might make it look a bit childish, but it’s also available in black and combines great sound with full waterproofing to a depth of up to 1.5 metres.
Chlorinated and salty water is fine, too, and the Charge 4 can take a beating, thanks to the chunky, rugged design. It’ll play for 20 hours per charge and at higher volumes than its predecessor, on account of the bigger battery. In other words, this is the perfect portable speaker for festivals, the beach, pool or bathroom.
Waterproof Bluetooth speakers: buying advice
When hunting for a waterproof Bluetooth speaker, you need to be aware that there’s a surprisingly large number of versions of waterproofing. Luckily, there’s an official rating system that tells you how waterproof a product is, ranging from Gremlin-like to James Cameron-like (he’s been to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, don’t you know?).
It’s an ‘IP’ rating that consists of two digits, the first of which actually relates to dust (‘6’ is very common and means no dust at all can enter, while ‘X’ means it hasn’t been rated for dust) and the second of which relates to water ingress. If you want to be able to fully dunk your speaker, you’re looking for IPX7 or better.
Of course, even a speaker as waterproof as the Red October is no good if it sounds like two wasps fighting in a Coke can, so you really do need to consider sound quality.
You’ll find a couple of brands – JBL and Ultimate Ears (often abbreviated to UE) – appear multiple times in this list, and that’s because they consistently produce portable speakers that are as good at playing music as they are taking a dunking. You could do much worse than stick to those guys.
One thing that can help with sound quality is better Bluetooth. AptX and aptX HD are particularly audio-friendly versions of Bluetooth, so do look out for those. Portable speakers without those can still sound good, but either of those badges at least suggests that sound quality has been considered.
Battery life is important when considering the best waterproof Bluetooth speakers too, of course, because if there’s no juice, that waterproofing has all been for nought. The best will give you about 20 hours of non-stop playback, and some will even charge your phone via USB in just the same way as a portable battery pack.
The best Bluetooth waterproof speakers to buy
We’ve already made this The Louder Choice and mentioned the excellent waterproofing and long battery life, but it really is worth reiterating how good the JBL Charge 4 sounds.
The bright colour options and rugged looks might lead you to assume sound quality would be equally garish and rough, but this is a surprisingly sophisticated little speaker. It’s really good at digging up detail and texture, and there’s great clarity and rhythmic drive.
Those expecting artificially enhanced bass might end up a touch disappointed, but if you want to go really big you can connect up to 100 JBL speakers and have them crank out the same track. That might well be louder than the festival’s main stage.
If you’re looking for a waterproof Bluetooth speaker with an extra helping of awesome, this little sonic hand grenade is the one for you. It’s a fair bit smaller and more affordable than the JBL Charge 4, but it produces a surprisingly big, weighty sound.
The IP67 rating means it’s officially dustproof as well as waterproof. Got some sand or mud on it? Just rinse it under a tap. This thing even floats, so it can rock out with you in the pool or bath.
The loop at the top means you can clip it to the roof of your tent when the rain comes, and the dedicated outdoor sound mode boosts audio so everyone in the field can hear. A brilliant option, particularly at this price.
Less of a typical portable Bluetooth speaker and more of a modern-day boombox, the JBL Xtreme 2 is an absolute beast that will reward anyone prepared to lug it about (there’s a detachable shoulder strap) with a big, solid sound that’s surprisingly sophisticated.
It’s waterproof to a depth of 1.5m and tough enough to take a beating at a festival. The JBL Connect+ feature means you can link it to other JBL speakers for a party mode, and it can charge a connected phone using its 10,000mAh battery, which is otherwise good for 15 hours of non-stop music.
Best of all, it sounds great. For some, the clarity and sophistication might be a bit of a disappointment, but it’s honestly much more satisfying over time than bludgeoning bass.
Arguably the most portable speaker in the excellent Ultimate Ears range, the disc-shaped UE Roll 2 is lightweight, slim and waterproof down to 1m. It even comes with its own miniature rubber ring, so it can float around the pool, pumping out tunes.
One neat feature the Roll 2 has up its sleeve is a battery checker; by pressing both volume buttons, it’ll tell you how much power you have left. Perfect if you’re keen to listen to Iron Maiden’s 18-minute Empire Of The Clouds epic without fretting over battery life.
If your priorities when buying a waterproof Bluetooth speaker are that it’s very small and very affordable, the £30 JBL GO 2 is for you. It’s got the look of a bar of soap, albeit one that’s available in 12 different colours (including old, reliable black), and is small enough to fit in your jeans pocket.
Sound is surprisingly good considering the size and price, with good clarity and weight. The only real issue is the five-hour battery life, which is much lower than all of the others here. Then again, it’s much cheaper, too!
The peculiar looking speaker (anyone else feel like they’re looking into the eyes of Wall-e) is bigger than most on this list, has a bigger battery, and has lights that flash with the music. Massive gimmick? Of course, but a massive gimmick can be fun every so often.
AptX Bluetooth ensures your music gets to the speaker in really high quality, and it makes the most of the signal with a really big, open sound with lots of crowd-pleasing bass.
The only issue here, other than the relative heft of the thing, is that it’s splashproof rather than properly waterproof, but we can’t imagine that being a huge problem for most people.
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The latest in the waterproof Megaboom series is tough, hard-wearing and can handle a drop of one metre. It can also float, which will make a last second scramble to retrieve your device from the bath or swimming pool much easier.
It’s somewhat larger than the Boom, and that increase in size is reflected in its 90dB output, bass tones and 360-degree projection. Its Bluetooth range is impressive too, and can be 150 feet away from your device. You’ll want to be close by though, as this stylish piece of kit will be very appealing to those who favour a five finger discount.
It might look a bit too classy for some rough and tumble, but the Denon Envaya DSB-250BT is water-resistant and, thanks to its rubber casing, will withstand knocks, although we’d stop short of dropping it from a roof. But that’s just common sense.
Sound-wise, it’s very accomplished - as you’d expect from a brand with Denon’s reputation in the hi-fi world. It’s got a decent battery life, too – playback can last up to 13 hours at what squares would describe as a ‘sensible volume’ – and it can be recharged using a microUSB port.
Like the earlier Clip 2, this slightly larger JBL model can be immersed in water and its built-in carabiner means you can attach it to your backpack, or belt loop, if you really want to cut a dash at the next party or festival.
Audio quality is a decent improvement on its predecessor, offering a slightly fuller, richer sound that packs more of a punch for those heavier tracks.
Best give your neighbours the heads up on this one – it’s loud! Boasting a 14W output, this IPX7-rated model offers great audio playback, whatever the weather.
Whether your tunes have throbbing bass or crisp highs, this speaker can handle it all. It’s shockproof and dust-proof too, so perfect for a riotous day on the beach.
This IPX7-rated speaker has a host of features, including 360-degree sound, BassUp technology (to get those fillings rattling) and the ability to pair up two speakers for true, ear-blasting stereo sound.
It also boasts a beat-driven light show, with a halo of LEDs pulsing in time to whatever song you want. Even Napalm Death, if you feel the Birmingham grindcore pioneers would benefit from a slick, nightclub vibe.
About the author
Tom Parsons is a music and film fan who's been testing audio kit of all varieties for around 13 years, most of those at What Hi-Fi?. He also loves rock and metal and is a particularly big fan of Coheed and Cambria.