What to Look For in Outdoor Speakers in 2022
Not only do we want to take music everywhere we go, but we love to share it with others as well. Of course, that’s easier said than done, especially if you’re outside the home. With outdoor speakers, you need to balance audio performance, weather resistance, and portability to find the right solution for you.
The first decision you’ll need to make when it comes to outdoor speakers is whether you’re looking for something portable or speakers you’ll use as part of an installation. We’re leaning toward generally portable for the most part, as these are the best choice for most people, but if you’re looking for year-round outdoor speakers, we have a recommendation for those as well.
Wired or wireless is a consideration too, but this largely ties into whether you’re opting for portable speakers or an installation. For outdoor speakers meant to stay outdoors, you’ll need to choose the appropriate speaker wire to hook them up to your amplifier or receiver.
The overall size and form factor are important too. Even portable speakers can range from pocket-sized to speakers approaching the size of a boombox. You need to weigh whether you want a bigger, often better-sounding speaker, or a smaller model that’s easier to move around.
As we’re talking about speakers meant for outdoor use, every option we’re looking at has a certain level of weather resistance built-in. Even so, this will still vary between speakers. The portable models we’re looking at have different IP ratings, while the stereo outdoor speakers are even more weather resistant.
For Bluetooth and wireless speakers in general, battery life is a significant factor to consider. If you’re only using a speaker for an hour or two now and then, any model here (aside from the speaker system) will be fine, but it’s always better to have more battery life if you can get it.
After the above considerations, think about the extra features you might want. Some Bluetooth speakers let you pair two models for stereo, for example, while others feature fun features like color LED lighting.
With all of that out of the way, let’s get into the best outdoor speakers available right now.
- ✓ 360-degree sound is nice to have outside
- ✓ IP67 dust and water resistant
- ✓ The speaker floats in water
- ✓ Pair two for stereo
- ✗ Maximum volume could be louder
For years now, Ultimate Ears speakers have been a popular choice for anyone looking for booming bass and serious volume in a Bluetooth speaker. The Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2 takes this signature sound and presents it in a package perfect for outdoor listening.
Many Bluetooth speakers are directional, meaning they sound great if you’re in front of them, but less so if you’re listening from anywhere else. The WONDERBOOM 2 features 360-degree sound, meaning the music will sound great, regardless of where you’re standing. This makes the speaker great for outdoor parties.
The WONDERBOOM 2 also features an IP67 rating, meaning it’s dust-proof and waterproof. Even better, this speaker floats, so you don’t need to dive in after it if you drop the speaker into a pool. If you miss the pool but drop it on the ground, you still don’t have to worry, as it’s also drop-resistant.
When it comes to battery life, Ultimate Ears claims the WONDERBOOM 2 offers up to 13 hours of playback. This will depend on volume, but if you keep the volume at 50 percent or less, you should get close to the quoted time.
For as portable as it is, the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2 sounds surprisingly big. The only downside is that it isn’t stereo. If you need stereo sound and don’t mind buying another speaker, you can pair two WONDERBOOM 2 models for stereo sound.
Best Outdoor Speaker Overall
Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2
The Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2 packs a lot of punch for its relatively small size, and with IP67 rated dust and water protection and drop resistance, it’s tough enough to handle nearly anything.
- ✓ Improved battery life gives you up to 12 hours
- ✓ Clips to handlebars, backpacks, or belt loops
- ✓ Pair two for stereo
- ✗ Maximum volume can cause audible distortion
It’s easy to find a budget Bluetooth speaker, but it’s harder to find one worth recommending. We’ve recommended the Tribit StormBox Micro before, but this time, we’re opting for its new and improved follow-up, the Tribit StormBox Micro 2.
The StormBox Micro 2 has a few improvements over its predecessor, but the biggest comes in the form of battery life. While the original StormBox Micro was limited to a maximum playback time of eight hours, the StormBox Micro 2 ups that number to 12 hours.
The Micro 2 also updates the version of Bluetooth it uses to 5.3. This doesn’t offer much in the way of improvements to sound quality, but it does slightly extend the range. Tribit claimed up to 100 feet for the original StormBox Micro, while the Micro 2 tops that with a maximum range of 120 feet. The newer Bluetooth version also improves audio latency.
While the Tribit StormBox Micro 2 is nearly small enough to fit in your pocket, it doesn’t sound small. This is partly thanks to passive bass radiators and the same XBASS digital signal processing used in the original StormBox Micro. You may not want to turn the volume up all the way though, as this speaker tends to distort at maximum volume.
The small size isn’t the only aspect of the StormBox Micro 2 that makes it so portable. This speaker features a built-in clip that lets you mount it on bicycle handlebars, backpack straps, or even your belt loop.
Like the original Micro, the StormBox Micro 2 lets you pair two speakers, getting you stereo sound, assuming you buy a second speaker or borrow a friend’s.
Tribit StormBox Micro 2
Tribit StormBox Micro 2
The Tribit StormBox Micro 2 is a modest update of an already great budget speaker, but the improved battery life makes this an easy decision over its predecessor.
Best Bluetooth Outdoor Speaker: JBL Charge 5
- ✓ Excellent sound quality
- ✓ Bluetooth multipoint lets you pair multiple devices
- ✓ Built-in power bank is a nice extra utility
- ✓ IP67 rating for dust and water resistance
- ✗ No microphone for calls or voice assistant
- ✗ May be too large for some uses
When it came time to choose our pick for the best Bluetooth outdoor speaker, the solution was simple—why not just add our pick for the best Bluetooth speaker, period? The JBL Charge 5 is loud enough to keep a party going all by itself, and with weather resistance, it’ll be fine if it starts raining.
The Charge 5 is plenty loud, but what if that isn’t enough? Easy, just use the PartyBoost feature to pair another compatible speaker from JBL, giving you full stereo sound, or at the very least a boost in volume when listening to music.
Regarding battery life, the JBL Charge 5 has the longest battery life of any Bluetooth speaker we’re looking at, with a maximum playtime of 20 hours. Even better, you can use the built-in power bank feature to charge your other devices.
The Charge 5 is IP67 rated, meaning it’s dust-proof and waterproof. While we’re not sure if the Charge floats like the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2, the water resistance is still nice if it starts to rain in the middle of your outdoor party.
To ensure that the Charge 5 stays with you for a long time, JBL has included an accessory we rarely see in Bluetooth speakers—a hard-shell case. This helps protect the speaker when you’re not using it, letting you truly take it anywhere with you.
Best Bluetooth Outdoor Speaker
JBL Charge 5
If sound quality and portability are important to you, the JBL Charge 5 is a great choice, plus the built-in power bank will help you keep your other devices charged.
Best Portable Outdoor Speaker: JBL Clip 4
- ✓ Built-in carabiner is improved from previous models
- ✓ IP67 dust and water resistance
- ✓ 10 hours battery life is nice for a smaller speaker
- ✓ Loud for its small size
- ✗ Can’t pair two for stereo
- ✗ No built-in microphone
Not everyone is looking for a speaker to be the virtual life of the party. If you’re more concerned with something light, nimble, and easy to take everywhere with you, a portable Bluetooth speaker like the JBL Clip 4 may be more your speed.
One of the best features of the JBL Clip 4 is the titular clip, a carabiner-style attachment built right into the speaker. This lets you hang the speaker nearly anywhere, from a loop on your backpack to a branch on a tree at your campsite.
The Clip 4 has an IP67 rating, similar to many of the other Bluetooth speakers we’re looking at on this list. This means the speaker is protected from dust and water, two of the biggest problems you’re likely to encounter carrying a speaker outside.
JBL states the maximum battery life for the Clip 4 at 10 hours, which is on the lower end for the speakers we’re looking at, but this does make sense given the small size. Unlike larger JBL speakers, this model won’t charge your phone, and it doesn’t support PartyBoost for pairing multiple speakers.
The JBL Clip 4 is available in the nearly standard black finish, but while it doesn’t have as many color options as its predecessor, there are still plenty on offer. Color varieties include Blue, Grey, Pink, Red, Squad (Camouflage), and White.
If you’re looking for a more affordable model, the JBL Clip 3 is still available. While it doesn’t offer the same dust resistance (or at least isn’t tested for it), the speaker has the same battery life and features at a lower price.
Best Portable Outdoor Speaker
- ✓ Light Show feature is fun
- ✓ IPX7 water resistant
- ✓ PartyCast lets you pair as many speakers as you want
- ✓ Great sound quality
- ✗ Low bass can be lacking
- ✗ Can distort near maximum volume
As we’ve already mentioned, there’s more to an outdoor speaker than simply standing up to the weather. The Anker Soundcore Flare 2 proves this by bringing a healthy dose of fun to a water-resistant speaker that thrives in the outdoors.
Like our overall pick for the best outdoor speaker, the Anker Soundcore Flare 2 is meant to sound great wherever you’re standing. The 360-degree nature of the speaker is clear from the design, while passive bass radiators ensure that the bass has plenty of room to breathe.
While many of the Bluetooth options we’re looking at are both dust and water-resistant, the Soundcore Flare 2 opts for water alone. This speaker carries an IPX7 rated, which means that while it’s plenty water-resistant, it hasn’t been tested for dust resistance.
One of the more unique aspects of the Anker Soundcore Flare 2 is its built-in Light Show feature. The speaker features an LED ring around the bottom and another around the top. These change colors, pulse, and shift alongside the music you’re listening to, adding a fun visual element.
The ability to pair two speakers for stereo is becoming increasingly common, and Anker isn’t falling behind. With its PartyCast technology, you can link more than 100 Soundcore Flare 2 speakers, assuming you can get your hands on that many.
If you like the idea of the Soundcore Flare 2, but you don’t know if you like the size, take a look at the Anker Soundcore Flare Mini. It has many of the same features as the Flare 2, but in a smaller, more affordable package.
Best Wireless Outdoor Speaker
Anker Soundcore Flare 2
The Anker Soundcore Flare 2 boasts water resistance and 360-degree sound, plus more unique features like the built-in Light Show and PartyCast, which lets you pair as many other Anker speakers as you like.
- ✓ Ready for extreme temperatures and heavy rain
- ✓ Mount vertically or horizontally
- ✓ Easy to mount
- ✓ Small and unobtrusive
- ✗ Small size makes for lacking bass
- ✗ You need an amp or A/V receiver to use these
While the other speakers we’ve looked at are speakers you can carry anywhere, that doesn’t do you much good if you want a proper outdoor speaker system. For this, you’ll need a set of outdoor stereo speakers, like the excellent Polk Audio Atrium 4 Outdoor Speakers.
These are the smallest, most affordable speakers in Polk’s Atrium range, with 4.5-inch drivers still capable of bringing plenty of bass. While we’re looking at these for use in playing back music, these will also be a perfect fit if you’re looking into setting up an outdoor home theater.
Polk says these speakers are all-weather certified. This means they’re not just able to handle a few splashes of water. Instead, they will stand up to extreme temperatures and heavy rain, meaning you don’t have to worry when the weather takes a turn for the worse.
When it comes time to install the speakers, they’re easy to fit anywhere. This is thanks in part to the mounting system, which lets you mount them oriented either vertically or horizontally. The mounting bracket itself lets you install the speakers with just one hand.
These are passive speakers, rated 80 watts, so in addition to an amplifier or A/V receiver to power them you’ll also need speaker wire. If you’re using them outside (which you likely are), you may want to spring for some outdoor-specific speaker wire to ensure that they keep working for year after year.