There’s just about nothing worse than going camping, spending the day at the beach, or even having a backyard get-together and there is no portable speaker to play music. The best party speakers can easily lighten up the mood, get the ball rolling, and turn virtually any environment into a club-like atmosphere.
Even in modern times, when we all have cell phones with good, loud, front-facing speakers for playing music, nothing compares to the full, rich tones and deep bass of dedicated party speakers. Amplifying your music with the best Bluetooth party speaker will ensure everyone can feel the beat.
While other speakers and their audio quality are just too small, portable speakers and their great feature will give you the volume and powerful sound you are looking for. They can have woofers and tweeters to handle the wide range of sound frequencies and elevate your listening experience in a way no other audio component can.
If you are tired of being the person sitting around the campfire with a plastic cup around your cell phone or just looking to up the volume out on the dock, a party speaker is just what you need. And if you are considering the best party speakers, read on for details about how to pick the best speakers to get your party started. If you are also on a budget, we also reviewed some of the best Bluetooth speakers for under 200 dollars which is also good for parties.
What to Look for In the Best Party Speaker
Size & Portability
The size and portability of your party speaker plays a major part into its possible uses and how much you will actually use it. The choices can vary greatly in size, weight, shape and portability with some models easier to carry than others. It’s best to know where and how you’ll be using the speaker and if it meets your requirements before taking the plunge.
With size, a rule of thumb is that the larger the party speaker, the beefier the sound. A smaller speaker may be more mobile and can easily fit in your purse, your backpack or even your large pocket but you will most likely be limited by its audio level. Bigger models will trade a certain amount of portability for stellar sound reproduction capabilities but you can only take them to fewer places.
The party speaker’s shape also plays a role in its portability. You will find a range of different speaker shapes in electronic stores to suit all tastes. They come round, square, rectangular, flat, triangular, circular, cylindrical, or even hexagonal. Those that are oblong in shape will be easier to grasp with one hand.
There are other features that make bluetooth speakers effortless to hold on to such as straps and handles. It is more convenient to transport a larger model to your outdoor party if it has a built-in carrying handle. Smaller models, on the other hand, can come with a fully integrated carabiner for clipping to your belt loop, clothes, backpack or bag.
So, if you will be bringing your speaker to a variety of places to enjoy your music on the go, opt for a smaller one. If you plan on placing the speaker out on the back deck or on a pickup truck bed while camping at the Gorge, and you really wanna crank the tunes, opt for something a little bigger. Large speakers, in most cases, will have a longer battery life, louder volume, and better sound reproduction while going to fewer places.
When it comes to speakers for parties, you have the option for wireless or wired connections. The difference between the two is that the wired one transmits electrical data using good old-fashioned cables while a wireless connection uses radio waves just like what cell phones, televisions and radios do.
Some audiophiles will say wired speakers simply offer better sound quality because the physical wires can relay greater amounts of data compared to a wireless signal. More data would equate to better audio fidelity. You also don’t have to worry about charging or Wi-Fi outage because the speaker is directly connected to the power and audio source.
Wireless proponents, on the other hand, contend that portable speakers nowadays have better sound and battery life as wireless technology continuously improves. Bluetooth in a communal speaker is non-negotiable as it allows anyone at the event to connect to the speaker easily, and the connection can be held from some distance. Recent bluetooth improvements did not only add connection distance but also keep the connection strong and secure.
For the best of both worlds, there are bluetooth-capable speakers that also have a line-in socket marked as “aux in.” The aux port allows you to connect your bluetooth speaker to any power or audio source in case you wish to save your battery or want a better quality sound. It can also be used with older, non-wireless components such as record players, CD players, or TVs.
If you are throwing parties nearly anywhere, your speaker should be pretty sturdy for use in any environment (like the speakers that are used with ATVs). It should be able to roll in the sand, get covered in sand or take a splash of water and still keep going. Its construction should be able to outlast both weather and the usual wear and tear, and protect it from drops and breaks.
In order to know how water-resistant or drop-proof the speaker you’re eyeing is, check its IP (Ingress Protection) ratings in the spec sheet. Consisting of the letters IP followed by two digits, it refers to the level of protection offered by an electrical enclosure against solids and liquids in harsh environments. The first digit indicates how well the device is protected against solids like dirt and dust, while the second digit tells its protection capability against liquids like water.
Go for the higher IP rating as it means the speaker will stand the test of time when exposed to extreme temperatures, wind, humidity, UV radiation, rain, and seawater. The higher the number, the better the protection is meaning a speaker with an IP67 rating is better than one with an IP55 rating. If you see a rating like IPX7, the “X” means no data is available for how fortified the device is against solids.
It goes to say that not all rugged speakers are built the same including waterproofing. The water protection rating runs from 0 to 8, with 0 offering no protection and 8 being complete protection. If you like to rock out in, near, or under the water, don’t settle for anything less than a 5 rating which is technically water-resistant.
Nothing can be worse than a hot dance party grinding to a halt because the speaker ran out of power. Most modern event speakers come with the ability to run plugged in or also wirelessly on a charged battery life. Solar Bluetooth speakers can also be purchased in the market now which is great since you don’t have to worry about where to plug it. For portable speakers, an extended battery life cannot be overstated. Battery life will vary, though, based on the size of your speaker and its use.
Typically, larger speakers with their larger batteries tend to have a longer battery life than their smaller counterparts. A good rule of thumb for a large speaker (think roughly the size of a single subwoofer) is about a full day or 24 hours on a single charge. For smaller speakers (the size of a football), you should shoot for a battery range in the 10- to 15-hour zone to give you plenty of time to groove before a recharge.
How often you recharge will also depend on how you use your speaker. Playing your speaker at a high volume won’t last as long as playing it at a low or medium volume for the same amount of time. Its hours of playback are likewise affected by the number of devices connected to the speaker. The more connections there are, the quicker the battery will drain.
If it’s going to be nice out and you decide to go hiking or camping, you can also purchase a portable solar charger (like the Hiluckey Outdoor Portable Power Bank) to stretch the time between wall chargings. There are also speakers with standard USB charging ports so you can charge them with power banks while you’re away from a wall socket.
Sound Quality and Volume Level
Sound quality is a very personal judgment but I think we can all agree that the most appealing sound resonates naturally to the ears, has a balanced tone quality, and can be enjoyed for long periods of time. Excellent sound production is an important consideration when buying a party speaker as it can create the best ambiance and energy levels.
The speaker should faithfully translate the sound with deep bass, clear treble, and rich middle range. For this result, you’ll want to look for a wireless speaker with a good mid, woofer, and tweeter. The more tweeters and subwoofers a speaker has, the greater the booming drums, the screeching guitars and the lead vocals will sound.
With audio levels, they are usually measured in decibel (dB) which is the level of loudness at which you can hear a sound. A great audio level for large speakers is around 100 dB. For medium speakers, look for something that hits at around 80 dB. And finally for small speakers, you would want to find something that is over 50 dB.
While it is important to have a sound system that can get loud enough to fill a large space, it won’t always be advisable to run your speaker at full volume. The magnets and cones might not sound great turned all the way up with increased distortion and sound quality issues magnified. This should not be a problem for indoor events where the music is not supposed to be too loud anyway.
Party speakers have come a long way in a short period of time with many of them coming equipped with unique features that make them suitable for particular uses. With so much competition in the market, the added features are meant to entice customers who want something more than proper, blistering sound.
Some speakers come to life visually as well as audibly with multi-colored led lights flashing to the beat of the music. If you want to add a little more oomph to your parties, the light show can create effects that bring an extra element of fun. There are models that let you select the lighting modes or customize the way the lights move.
If you can’t live without virtual voice assistants, there are party speakers that are synced with Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant. You can just blurt, “Play something I like,” and you’ll get an expansive mix of anything that fits your playlist. They can also tell you the sport scores, the number of calories in your latte, or how many teaspoon of salt to use in a chocolate chip cookie recipe when you’re not playing music.
Other party speakers come with a wireless microphone so you can use them as a speakerphone and take calls in a pinch. They are also an instant pa system for announcements, presentations, hosting, instructions, and more. You can sing to your own playlist during karaoke or open-mic nights without having to worry about wires getting tangled up.
Then there are speakers with flashlights for your next great outdoor adventure, or models with cup holders (like the Sony GTK-PG10 Portable Bluetooth Speaker) and floats for your coming pool party. There’s even a foldable speaker blanket that you can bring to your picnic along with your friends. Take a bath afterwards with a bluetooth speaker showerhead that easily connects to your phone.