The 8 Best JBL Speakers of 2020

Enjoy the quality sound this brand has delivered for over 50 years

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown
Best Overall:
JBL Flip 5 at Amazon
"The JBL Flip 5 is a great all-purpose speaker with a fun design, durable build, and big sound."
Runner-up, Best Overall:
JBL Boombox 2 at Amazon
"When it comes to power, the Boombox 2 is the king of JBL speakers."
Best Budget:
JBL Go 2 at Amazon
"The JBL Go 2 is a great little budget speaker for under $50."
Best Portable:
JBL Clip 3 at Amazon
"The JBL Clip 3 is a very popular little speaker, featuring lots of fun colors and prints and one of JBL's most unique designs."
Best Smart Speaker:
JBL Link Portable at Best Buy
"The Link series is JBL’s foray into internet-connected speakers and a response to the growing popularity of smart hubs."
Best Party Speaker:
JBL Pulse 4 at Amazon
"If you’re looking for a speaker to liven up your next party, the JBL Pulse 4 is sure to impress."
Best Splurge:
JBL Xtreme 2 at Amazon
"The JBL Xtreme 2 blends the powerful sound of the brand’s premium speakers with the portable design of their popular mid-range offerings."
Best for Kids:
JBL Jr Pop at Amazon
"The JBL Jr Pop speaker is a compact little device with an affordable price tag and a very kid-friendly design."

JBL is one of the most popular brands out there for mid-priced wireless speakers. With fun, colorful designs and powerful sound, their extensive lineup of Bluetooth speakers has something to offer for everyone. The majority of their devices are made from durable plastic with impressive water resistance ratings, making them a great option for outdoor listening at the pool or on the beach. Models like the JBL Clip 3 at Amazon are also designed for portability and feature straps or handles that let you clip on or carry your music wherever you go. From tiny travel speakers with built-in carabiner clips to updated boomboxes with crazy volume, JBL’s speakers run the gamut from budget-friendly to premium.

Some JBL speakers like the JBL Flip 5 at Amazon also have brand-specific features like PartyBoost and JBL Connect+ that allow you to sync multiple JBL devices together. This is a great way to amplify your sound at a party or create a multi-speaker system in your home. We’ve searched through JBL’s offerings to choose the best speakers for different needs.

Make sure to read our guide to setting up your Bluetooth speakers for optimal sound before you dive into our top picks for the best JBL speakers.

Best Overall: JBL Flip 5

What We Like
  • Versatile design

  • PartyBoost pairing feature

  • IPX7 waterproof rating

What We Don't Like
  • Older Bluetooth specs

  • Only pairs with other PartyBoost speakers

The JBL Flip 5 is a great all-purpose speaker with a fun design, durable build, and big sound. Like most other JBL speakers, the Flip 5 delivers on bass. The PartyBoost feature also lets you pair this speaker with another Flip 5 (or other PartyBoost-compatible JBL device) to get room-filling stereo sound. Its 12-hour battery life means the party won’t get cut short, and the 2.5-hour charge time is minimal. The only downside here is that the speaker uses Bluetooth 4.2, which is a slightly older version of this technology — it may suffer from a shorter range and a spottier connection than a device with Bluetooth 5.

Even with its surprising power, the Flip 5 is a lightweight and portable speaker. It stands vertically or horizontally so you can set it up just about anywhere, and its IPX7 waterproof rating means you can take it to the pool or out into the elements without worrying about water damage. JBL is known for its colorful designs, and the Flip 5 is no exception: choose from 12 different colors and prints including grayscale camo, teal, yellow, and pale pink.

Runner-up, Best Overall: JBL Boombox 2

What We Like
  • Big sound

  • 24-hour battery life

  • IPX7 waterproof rating

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

When it comes to power, the Boombox 2 is the king of JBL speakers. It’s been given the runner-up spot on this list because the price tag is pretty out there for a portable device. But if you want something loud — and have some money to spend — then this speaker is the way to go. Its bass response is almost room-shaking at higher volumes and certainly powerful enough to provide the soundtrack at your next outdoor gathering. And the IPX7 waterproof rating protects against rains, spills, and splashes of pool water.

The Boombox 2 is quite a bit larger than JBL’s other Bluetooth speakers with a plastic carrying handle that’s reminiscent of classic boombox designs. It can deliver up to 24 hours of playtime in between charges so you don’t have to worry about carrying a cord with you. Bluetooth 5.1 technology provides a long-range and stable connection, and if you feel the need for even more immersive sound, the PartyBoost feature means this speaker can be paired with another Boombox 2 for a stereo effect. 

What We Like
  • Fun color options

  • IPX7 waterproof rating

  • Built-in microphone

What We Don't Like
  • Short battery life

The JBL Go 2 is a great little budget speaker for under $50. At 3.8 x 4.2 inches and 0.4 pounds, it’s super compact and fits easily in a bag or coat pocket. It delivers big sound compared to its size and even has a built-in microphone so you can take calls on speakerphone directly on the Go 2. It’s designed as a wireless speaker (the Bluetooth 4.1 is a little outdated but not surprising for this price range) and it also comes with an audio cable input for a wired connection to accommodate just about any kind of music player.

The IPX7 waterproof rating makes the Go 2 a great option for the pool or the beach. But if you’re going to be out all day, you may want to throw a charger in your bag — the Go 2 only lasts for about five hours between charges. This fun little speaker is available in 12 different colors, including Ruby Red, Moss Green, Champagne, and Coral.

Best Portable: JBL Clip 3 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

What We Like
  • Carabiner design

  • Solid battery life

  • IPX7 waterproof rating

What We Don't Like
  • Not very loud

  • A bit pricey

The JBL Clip 3 is a very popular little speaker, featuring lots of fun colors and prints and one of JBL's most unique designs. With a built-in carabiner clip at the top, it’s perfect for wireless on-the-go listening. Attach it to a backpack, a suitcase, even a jacket or a bike handlebar, and take your tunes with you wherever you go. With an IPX7 waterproof rating, it can handle rain, splashes, and even full submersion if you happen to drop it in the pool. It can also play music for 10 hours between charges and has an audio cable input if you want to connect it to a device without Bluetooth. A built-in microphone also allows you to take calls directly from the speaker. The downside is that the Clip 3 is quieter than most JBL speakers. This isn’t unusual for speakers in this size range, but it’s something to consider if you want big sound.

This little device is basically a wearable accessory, so color options are important. The Clip 3 is available in a dozen different styles including lots of tasteful neutrals and a few brighter options like red, yellow, and teal.

Best Smart Speaker: JBL Link Portable

What We Like
  • Wi-Fi connected for music streaming

  • Google Assistant voice control

  • Airplay and Chromecast compatible

What We Don't Like
  • Sound profile not as rich as other JBL speakers

The Link series is JBL’s foray into internet-connected speakers and a response to the growing popularity of smart hubs. The Link Portable is a column-shaped speaker available in black, grey, and blue that despite its minimalistic design, provides an impressive set of features for under $200. The Link Portable connects to your home Wi-Fi and is set up using the Google Home app. Here you can link the speaker to your favorite streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Youtube Music, allowing you to directly access your music libraries without having to stream from another device. Just say “Hey Google,” to activate Google Assistant and you can simply tell it what to play. If you do want to stream from your phone, then the Link Portable is Apple Airplay and Google Chromecast compatible.

Like the other JBL speakers on this list, the Link Portable is wireless and waterproof so you can carry it from room to room or take it outside into the elements without having to stop the music. While most home hubs are designed to be left in one spot, this handy speaker is still super portable and ready to take on the go. When the battery runs low (it lasts for about eight hours at a time), you can set it back on its charging cradle. The cradle blends seamlessly into the speaker's design and is nice-looking enough to leave out in the open. Our one complaint is that the Link Portable doesn’t sound quite as rich as JBL’s typical wireless speakers. But we think that comes down to price — these smart features make it a great value, even with slightly less powerful sound. 

Best Party Speaker: JBL Pulse 4

What We Like
  • 360-degree speaker

  • Custom light shows

  • PartyBoost pairing feature

What We Don't Like
  • Only pairs with other PartyBoost speakers

  • Older Bluetooth specs

If you’re looking for a speaker to liven up your next party, the JBL Pulse 4 is sure to impress. With 360-degree LED lights, this speaker generates a multicolor light show that automatically syncs and responds to your music. Download the JBL app on your phone and you can choose from preset light “themes” to set a certain mood or create a fully customized light show. The speaker can also just be used as a light (without music), making the Pulse 4 the most multipurpose device on our list. It also has JBL’s PartyBoost feature, which allows it to be paired with other compatible speakers for stereo sound. If you have another Pulse 4, you can simply place them close together and shake one to make them instantly connect.

The all-around light show is accompanied by all-around audio from a 360-degree internal speaker. The sound is heavy on bass and has good volume — two important things on the party speaker checklist. Its cylindrical design, minimal buttons, and colorful, lava lamp-esque light patterns make it an eye-catching addition to any room.

Best Splurge: JBL Xtreme 2

What We Like
  • Big sound

  • Carrying strap

  • IPX7 waterproof rating

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • So-so battery life for the price

The JBL Xtreme 2 blends the powerful sound of the brand’s premium speakers with the portable design of their popular mid-range offerings. Featuring four large drivers and two passive bass radiators for enhanced low end, the Xtreme 2 can run for 15 hours between charges. The battery life is good, but not amazing for this price range — the primary draw here is the sound.

Design-wise, its horizontal cylinder design looks a lot like JBL’s smaller devices. But this speaker is considerably larger at 11.3 inches long and 5.3 inches tall. It also weighs over five pounds. This makes it a little less portable, but JBL accommodates this larger form factor by adding two metal rings at the top of the speaker and including a fabric carrying strap in the box. The speaker has a few other fun features, including a built-in bottle opener on the strap, an internal power bank, and the JBL Connect+ feature that allows the Boombox 2 to sync with other Connect+ speakers. 

What We Like
  • Fun color options

  • Attachable strap

  • IPX7 waterproof rating

What We Don't Like
  • Short battery life

The JBL Jr Pop speaker is a compact little device with an affordable price tag and a very kid-friendly design. It has a strap with an easy-to-fasten snap that’s perfect for attaching to a backpack or car seat. The front of the speaker has multicolored lights around the outside that provide a mini light show while music plays, and the speaker even comes with a pack of stickers so kids can instantly customize their new device. The Jr Pop comes in six fun color options: teal, purple, blue, red, green, and pink.

These little speakers are decently loud for their size but relatively quiet compared to JBL’s larger wireless speakers (if you’re purchasing this for a young child, the quieter volume might be considered a plus). Their durable plastic design and IPX7 waterproof rating helps them hold up against bumps, drops, spills, and even full submersion in water. Their budget price tag really only shows when it comes to battery life — the JBL Jr Pop can play about five hours of music between charges. And depending on your kids’ needs, this might be plenty. 

Final Verdict

Our favorite JBL speaker is the impressively versatile Flip 5. It has a compact build, big sound, good battery life, and simple design with lots of colors to choose from. If you have extra money to spend, we’d also recommend checking out the JBL Boombox 2. Its premium price tag comes with massive sound and 24 hours of music between charges.

What to Look for

Sound Quality - There’s no single spec that can tell you how a speaker will sound, and that’s one of the trickiest things about buying this kind of device online. Many JBL speakers will mention the brand’s “signature sound profile” somewhere in the product description, which refers to the way they tune their speakers. For JBL, that sound profile tends to be punchy with a powerful low end. The brand is known for making speakers with a strong bass response, so they’re a great choice for people who listen to bass-driven music. Like several other audio brands, JBL has a companion app for its speakers that allows you to make adjustments to audio equalization.

Design - Choosing the best wireless speaker design depends entirely on your needs. Several of the speakers on this list look very similar in terms of shape, but some are much larger than others and therefore a lot less portable. Think about where you’ll be using it: Are you planning to leave it in one place? Carry it in a bag? Use it outside or in the shower, where it could potentially get wet? JBL makes lots of interesting travel speakers that include clips, carrying handles, and straps for easy portability or actual on-the-go listening while hiking or cycling. If you want powerful sound and don’t need to transport your speaker very far, you may want to look into something bigger and heavier — JBL has a few models that trade portability for premium audio quality and extra features like Wi-Fi connectivity and charging ports. Make sure you get something waterproof (IPX7 rating) if you plan to use it near the pool!

Battery Life - It may not be the most glamorous or interesting feature, but let’s be honest — needing to recharge all the time is annoying. Subpar battery life is frustratingly common with cheaper wireless devices, and it can really take the fun out of a new speaker. So what is considered “good battery life?” That largely depends on how often and for how long you typically use your speakers. If you work from home and have music playing all day, then you’re going to want something that can last for at least 10 or 12 hours between charges. It’s the same for people who host parties or events and don’t want their speaker dying in the middle. If you tend to use speakers in shorter bursts, then you may not need that kind of battery capacity. But as a general rule of thumb: longer battery life is better.

Syncing Features - Some JBL speakers have syncing features like JBL Connect+ and PartyBoost that let you play your music out of multiple speakers at once. Connect+ has you link your speaker or speakers to an app on your phone, and you can control and synchronize the connected speakers from that app. PartyBoost, on the other hand, directly connects speakers together. You can use it to listen to your music in stereo or link several together for a big volume boost. Syncing features can be lots of fun because they allow you to quickly create a multi-speaker setup, but there are restrictions about which speaker models are compatible with each other. If you already have a JBL speaker and want to buy another in a different model, you’ll need to double-check to make sure they can be synced with one another. For example, an old JBL speaker that has JBL Connect cannot be synced with a newer speaker that has JBL Connect+. A speaker with PartyBoost can only be synced with other speakers that have PartyBoost. If the syncing feature is important to you, look into this before you buy so you don’t get stuck with incompatible speaker models.

About our Trusted Experts

Emmeline Kaser is a former editor for Lifewire’s product round-ups and reviews. She is an experienced product researcher specializing in consumer tech.