A good portable speaker strikes a balance between compact size and serviceable sound quality. Smaller speakers can offer a great deal of power in a compact package, but they typically sacrifice clarity for loudness. For a better balance, consider the sleek Beosound Explore from Bang and Olufsen. This eye-catching model weighs just over a pound and delivers a surprisingly clear and crisp audio experience. Listening to Vince Staples’ “Law of Averages” on it, I was able to hear the sped-up samples, percussion sounds and high-pitched vocals clearly—something that would be nearly impossible with most other Bluetooth speakers this size.
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Long Battery Life
A portable speaker that lasts a full day on a single charge is a huge asset when you’re out and about or traveling. You’ll find a range of options from brands you know and love (JBL, Sony, Bose) to those more commonly associated with hi-fi equipment (Bang and Olufsen, Apple). Most models are rated at around 10 hours of operation.
If you prefer to use your Bluetooth speaker over WiFi, you’ll want to make sure it supports the latest Bluetooth version (4.x or 5.x) and low-latency codecs such as aptX. Some speakers also let you pair two or more together for a louder and more expansive listening experience.
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Waterproof and Dustproof Ratings
Some portable speakers are specifically designed for outdoor adventures such as hikes, pool parties or beach trips. Those models usually have an IP (International Protection) rating noted in the description or details section that indicates their ability to resist water, dust and other environmental elements.