There's nothing worse than a party without music.
You might have a boomtastic hi-fi in your living room, but what good is that when you take the party outside?
What you need is a portable speaker, but you probably won't be willing to let it brave the outside world if you spent a fortune on it. Fear not though - these budget speakers provide the perfect compromise.
They're cheap enough that you won't freak out if you place a bottle of beer in their proximity, while still managing to pump out tunes without horrid crackles. Party on:
Beoplay A1 (£199)
The A1 is Bang & Olufsen’s cheapest speaker, but the Danish high-end audio specialist hasn’t skimped at all on this diddy delight. Its sumptuous ‘hockey puck’ design looks terrific, and the sound isn’t half bad either.
Rock solid and full-bodied, it’ll give you a hearty amount of bass from the thunderous vibes of Jamie xx and Popcaan. Better still, sound is pushed wide enough so you don’t have to reach for the A1’s volume button in louder surroundings.
Despite lacking a little attack compared to the UE Boom 2, it’s still a fab portable speaker.
Dimensions: 133x133x48mm, 0.6kg • Battery life: 24 hours • USB: C • Waterproof: No
Stylish and with plenty of substance to boot
UE BOOM 2 (£85)
Perfect for taking the party outdoors, the Boom 2 has a tough, water-resistant skin and shrugs off stains like they’re the latest David Guetta abomination.
A tube-like shape also means it’ll fit in your bike’s water-bottle holder, which is almost as smart as its Siri and Google Now compatibility, which lets you check the weather between choice cuts from your Drake megamix.
The bass-heavy sound doesn’t dim the details, but with a few tweaks to the EQ in the app it really comes to life. Keep the volume to about three quarters and it’ll really impress.
Dimensions: 69x69x180mm, 0.5kg • Battery life: 15 hours • USB: Micro • Waterproof: Yes
Great sound, tough build and eye-catching looks
BEATS PILL+ (£189)
The first Beats speaker made under Apple’s ownership isn’t a bitter pill to swallow, but it is a little sour in comparison to the other speakers here.
If volume is what you’re looking for from this minimalist effort, then it certainly delivers with oodles of oomph. But when cranked up to 11, the bass surrenders to sloppiness and treble is as shrill as your average X Factor reject.
You’d expect better for an asking price of near-on £200, and this sense of disappointment extends to a 12-hour battery life that, again, just falls short of what you can find elsewhere.
Dimensions: 64x210x69mm, 0.7kg • Battery life: 12 hours • USB: Yes • Waterproof: No
Just what the doctor ordered? Not quite…
LIBRATONE ONE CLICK (£139)
A throwback to boomboxes of old, the Libratone ONE Click features a removable rubber frame with two interchangeable handles. One’s a hook for hanging the thing and the other is a carry strap for, erm… you get the picture.
Either way, this speaker isn’t built to be cooped up indoors. Its 360° sound makes sure of that, with drivers firing out your favourite tunes from both sides of the ONE Click.
To be sure, this speaker isn’t bad when laid flat, but you get a wider, more balanced sound when it’s placed upright – one that’s pleasingly refined for the price.
Dimensions: 120x41x21mm, 0.9kg • Battery life: 12 hours • USB: Micro • Waterproof: Splash proof
One of the better options, but the Boom 2 is better stil
JBL FLIP 3 (£80)
A clear step up from last year’s Flip 2, JBL’s latest Bluetooth effort beefs up its bass and battery life with sterling results.
The cheapest speaker on test here, it offers plenty of noise without skimping on the nuance needed to handle more delicate fare; even finger-picked guitar sounds decent on the JBL when lesser offerings can be left floundering.
The speaker also has a splashproof casing and comes with the ability to connect three speakers together – perfect for when someone sticks on Phil Collins out of misguided irony. It’s a neat feature that caps off a welcome comeback.
Dimensions: 64x169x64mm, 0.5kg • Battery life: 10 hours • USB: Yes • Waterproof: Splash proof
You can’t say much fairer than the Flip 3 at this price