Best Bluetooth speaker picks
The Wirecutter finds the best all-around value in waterresistant models.
The best all-around value in a water-resistant Bluetooth speaker today is the UE Megaboom. Although there are lots of less-expensive models, most that truly approach the Megaboom’s performance cost about the same, and none that we’ve seen can offer its mix of sound quality, features and ruggedness. We narrowed down 50-some Bluetooth speakers to 13 water-resistant finalists and tested each with The Wirecutter AV team and a deep swimming pool. The $300 Megaboom is pricey, but if you have other budgetary or functional needs, we have a few other picks as well.
Who should buy a water-resistant Bluetooth speaker?
Water-resistant Bluetooth speakers are intended for outdoor or indoor use, but they can come with a price: Most water-resistant Bluetooth speakers don’t sound as good as the best conventional portable Bluetooth speakers.
Portable Bluetooth speakers are a great buy for people who own smartphones and tablets. The rechargeable battery lets you take them anywhere, and water resistance expands your options even further.
What features do you need?
Most people want a Bluetooth speaker that sounds pretty good, is reasonably portable and is water-resistant. We drew the line in selecting speakers with an ingress protection (IP) code rating of 4, which means they can survive a rainstorm, but we also considered speakers up to an IP rating of 7, allowing them to be fully submerged in 1 meter of water. Additional features on certain models will appeal to some buyers: a speakerphone, pairing with another speaker and battery life.
How we tested
We looked at reviews at leading electronics websites. Additionally, we surveyed Wirecutter readers to learn what features and price points were important. We tested 13 speakers in two rounds. First, we set up six larger models on a table across the pool from our seating area. This allowed us to hear which ones had the sonic muscle to cover a large area.
In the second round, we set up seven smaller models on a table about 8 feet away; with these models, all you can reasonably expect is enough sound for a couple of people sitting on chaise lounges. After the blind tests, we discussed which models delivered the best blend of performance and features for the price.
To test water resistance, we poured water on the models, tossed the floatable models in a pool and dunked the ones rated as submersible fully under the water for several minutes.