Waterproof Wireless Speakers for the Outdoors

Allen St. John

Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.

Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.

It’s a no-brainer that food tastes better alfresco, but the decision to take music outdoors is a little more complex.

Your house has traditionally been a wireless speaker’s best friend, protecting it from the elements and providing enough sonic support and noise isolation (i.e., walls) to let it sound its best. 

But many of today’s wireless Bluetooth speakers—including the models listed below—are ready to take on the challenge of the great outdoors. They provide good battery life and generate enough volume to fuel an impromptu dance party. And the speakers in this roundup add some degree of water resistance, so they can be played in a summer drizzle. A few can even handle a trip to the splash zone on a pool deck or the beach. 

Consumer Reports tests wireless speakers for sound quality and convenience, but we don’t test them for water resistance. So we can't confirm manufacturers’ claims about waterproofness.

Ultimate Ears Megaboom

A little bigger than UE’s best-selling Boom 2, the Megaboom features whimsical and colorful styling that says it’s time for fun. Our testers weren’t impressed by the Boom 2’s overall sound quality, but they were much happier with the deep bass and clear midrange of the somewhat larger Megaboom.

According to the manufacturer, the Megaboom can pass a water-resistance test that immerses it in 1 meter of water for a half-hour, so it could be the right choice for blasting the Beach Boys’ “California Girls”—or Katy Perry’s “California Gurls”—on your beach blanket. The manufacturer says the Megaboom floats, but we still suggest you move it before the tide comes in. 

JBL by Harman Flip 4

Portable wireless speakers can take a beating, rattling around in the bottom of a backpack or getting knocked off a picnic table—and maybe even getting lost entirely. All of which argues in favor of a modestly priced model, like the high-value Flip 4.

Despite a price below $100, the Flip 4 boasts impressive sound quality. Our test team found it easy to pair the speaker with a phone via Bluetooth, and the battery life was long enough for even your epic 81-song Abba-to-ZZ Top playlist. JBL says the Flip 4 is not only splashproof and spillproof but also totally dunkable.

Bose SoundLink Color II

Sometimes basic is a good thing. The Bose SoundLink Color II doesn’t have the biggest menu of features, but testers reported that it shines where it matters most.


It sounds good with powerful sonics that belie its modest size and moderate price of about $130. If you simply want to listen to “Walking on Sunshine” while sitting out in the sunshine, the SoundLink Color II might just be the speaker for you.

Bluetooth pairing is easy and intuitive, and the speaker is splashproof, according to Bose. The SoundLink Color II is less expensive than lots of competitors with similar sound quality.

JBL Boombox

Quality or sheer volume? With the JBL Boombox, there's no need to choose. As a modern rethinking of those giant cassette boom boxes from the 1980s, this 12-pound music machine is ideal for a beach party or a backyard dance-off.

 

The Boombox pumped out truly impressive bass—maybe even a bit too much, say our testers—along with plenty of distortion-free volume for the great outdoors.

 

But unlike its battery-powered predecessors, this Boombox doesn't eat D-cells. It features a robust Powerbank power supply that's good, JBL says, for 24 hours of nonstop music—with juice to spare for charging phones and other devices. And the Boombox features IPX7-level waterproofing, which means you should be able to fish it out after a dunking in shallow water and then go on with the party.

If you want an outdoor speaker that can play well with your indoor multiroom system, the Denon Heos 1 fills that niche. It can integrate with Denon’s larger wireless speakers, all controlled by an intuitive smartphone app, so you can listen to “Pet Sounds" in the den, in the kitchen, and on the deck, all perfectly synchronized.

Once you add the optional Go Pack battery, the Heos 1 becomes splash-resistant. That sets it apart from its main system speaker rival, the Sonos Play: 1. That means you can take the smallest Heos outside during a drizzle—just don't drop it in the pool. 

Bose Soundlink Micro

If you need a speaker that's not just portable but also invites you to carry it with you, look no further than the Bose Soundlink Micro. Just under 4 inches square, this device can easily strap onto a backpack or bicycle handlebars.


And while it fell a bit short of larger models in our sound-quality testing, our techs found the Micro to be enjoyable to listen to. It has a silicone cover in red, blue, or black, and is designed to meet IPX7 water-resistance standards, which means it should survive a not-so-deep dive into the kiddie pool. 

Ion Plunge

If you're more interested in waterproof functionality and a low price than the ultimate in sound quality, the Ion Plunge might be the outdoor speaker for you. 

 

With its boombox-style handle, the Plunge features styling that's similar to several more expensive (and better-performing) models such as the JBL Boombox and the Monster SuperStar Blaster. The manufacturer promises that the Plunge will float, and its IPX7-level waterproofing means it can survive a test in which it's submerged more than 3 feet deep for 30 minutes. That should make it plenty safe from unexpected showers and open water bottles. 

 

Our testers weren't impressed with how the Plunge sounds, noting the bass was a bit weak, vocals sounded nasal, and high notes had a sizzly, hissing sound. While these shortcomings can be annoying when you're listening to Andrea Bocelli in your living room, they're not as big a problem when the speaker is pumping out background tunes at a noisy pool party. Especially since the Plunge comes with a sub-$100 price that puts it in birthday gift—or even impulse buy–territory. 



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