Portable speaker reviews can definitely come in handy, because it can be annoying buying the wrong ones. Taking your music with you when you’re on the go is supposed to be easy with all of the handheld devices available. Between smart phones, iPods, iPads, tablets, MP3 players, laptop computers and everything else, your music collection can pretty much go anywhere.
The unfortunate part is that the speakers that come installed in these devices usually sound, well, horrible. There’s only so much the manufacturer can do to get them to sound good, so a market has opened up to provide the missing link between portability and sound quality.
Of course the biggest concern is how a speaker sounds, no matter the size of it. Manufacturers have one heck of a time trying to figure out how to make such small speakers sound relatively good. Portable speakers have a disadvantage over headphones, because headphones get placed right up against your ear. This means that a small speaker can sound pretty good because it doesn’t have to contend with all of the outside noise and a larger area.
It’s All About Portability
Portability is the next concern with a portable speaker. If you can’t take it with you easily, you probably won’t be taking it with you at all, so it’s got to be able to pack up in a neat little package and not weigh you down. Sometimes a company will get the sound right, but will make the unit so big that it doesn’t justify being in the portable speaker category. Or sometimes they’ll get the design right, it’s light and portable, but it sounds awful. You’ve got to find a portable speaker set that hits both criteria.
Portable Speaker Review Recaps
We’re on a mission to bring you the best of the best in the world of portable speakers. Here are recaps from our full reviews that we’ve done for each model. We’ll keep adding to this page as we find more speakers that either make the grade or need to be avoided.
iHome Portable Speakers Recap
iHome has built a name for itself for about a decade now, offering things like docking stations, speakers, and other home audio built for iPods and all their incarnations. Now they’re going portable with their latest offerings. You can plug your portable device into these speakers and you’ll actually enjoy listening to your music again.
They not only focus on the treble, they include good-sounding bass, because you can extend the accordion-style speaker to experience actual bass sounds from a speaker this small. Truly impressive.
See our full review of iHome Portable Speakers
Music Bullet Recap
The Music Bullet really came out and shook up the portable speaker scene. We’re not sure if they invented the accordion style bass speaker system, but they were the first to package everything up in this nice design, and the first to promise concert quality sound from such a small unit. Most of us are wise enough to to expect it to really sound like a concert, but if it even comes close it would be worth getting.
We ran this speaker through our review engine and it came out with a Thumbs Up rating. Of course there were a few things we didn’t like about it, but you’ll have to see our full review for the details.
See our full review of Music Bullet
X-Mini II Capsule Speaker Recap
Some have said that the X-Mini II is the best sounding speaker you can get at that price point. We don’t know if we’d go that far, but it definitely brings a lot to the table for the price. It hits home on the two major criteria, great sound as well as portability. You can set these up virtually anywhere, and you’ll be rocking your tunes with clear, powerful sound.
The batteries on this one are rechargeable, which is a nice feature and means you won’t have to constantly be buying batteries, which can really add up on other models.
See our full review of X-Mini II Capsule Speaker
Altec Lansing Orbit Recap
Altec Lansing proves that they can make high-quality audio speakers when they’re allowed to make them as an external device and not an internal laptop speaker. The Orbit model range varies in price as well as features, and you can pretty much spend as much as you’d like on them. We recommend going with the iM-237 Ultraportable. It’s got stellar reviews from users, and the price is a little higher than others, but still reasonable.
It’s rare that a speaker will get such one-sided feedback, as people usually have different opinions to what sounds or not. But take a look at our full review to see what we discovered.
See our full review of Altec Lansing Orbit
You can read a ton of different portable speaker reviews on a lot of different websites, but at the end of the day your choice is going to come down to your own personal preferences. Maybe a specific style or brand name is going to jump at your or resonate with you. However, there are some basic tips to keep in mind, no matter which speakers you go with. Follow these tips and you won’t have to make multiple purchases from bad decisions, you can get it right the first time.
What is the Consenus?
Your head will throb if you get lost in individual reviews about speakers. People will yarn on about their quest for the perfect portable speaker, and let you know in excruciating detail why they like it or why they don’t like a certain model. Who cares? It’s just one person and if you ask 10 people how something sounds you’ll get 10 different answers.
What you want to see is an overall trending of opinion. The individual voices don’t really matter as much as what the whole picture looks like. If 1000 people gave their feedback and 900 of them said it sounds great and 100 of them say it sounds bad, you can safely disregard the 100 negative reviews. It may sound like you’re ignoring a substantial amount of people but on a 10 to one ratio this is 9 people saying it works and only 1 saying it doesn’t. That’s no roll of the dice.
What to Look For
The first thing you should consider is the price. More expensive doesn’t always mean better sounding, but when you’re talking about a $10 pair of speakers and a $20 pair it tends to better your odds to spend the extra money. Almost all of these electronics will be made abroad, it’s just the way things like this are made. But by spending more what you should be getting is a product that was made in a better facility, one that has better quality control, and one that produces fewer mistakes per thousand items made.
What to Avoid
They say that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, and with portable speakers this is the case as well. if you think you’ve found an amazing pair of speakers at an amazing price, you should be leery. You can expect to pay anywhere from $30 on up for a good set of these, so you should raise an eyebrow and not get your hopes up too high if you think you’ve found a set of speakers for dirt cheap.
As Technology Improves
As we move along and technology gets better and better, you can expect a lot of improvement to be done on small-sized speakers. The models on offer today are just a glimpse into where we’re headed. Maybe one day we’ll all have implants that play perfect quality music right in our brains. But for now we’ll just have to get by with the next best thing, and some of the speakers mentioned above provide a really good listening experience for a small price and a small size.
Our Portable Speaker Recommendation
We’re continually reviewing portable speakers as they hit the market, and we’ll be adding to this page as we do so. Most times you won’t spend too long making a purchasing decision on them, because it’s kind of a pressing matter when you want to listen to your music and the price is reasonable like it is with most brands. At this juncture we’re going with the iHome brand of portable speaker. They’ve built a solid reputation for making high-quality home audio products specifically designed for use with your small gadgetry and electronics.