There’s a lot to consider when buying a portable Bluetooth speaker. It’s a very competitive market, and with so many options, it can be difficult to figure out which Bluetooth speaker is right for you.
In New Zealand, there’s a vast range of portable Bluetooth speakers. They all have different designs, and each has its pros and cons. Some are ideal for outdoor use with solid water and dust resistance ratings, some prioritise sound over sturdiness, and some are designed to stay home.
What they all have in common, though, is they don’t need to be plugged into a wall to work, and you don’t need cables and wires to connect your device to them. Wireless Bluetooth connections are accessible, manageable and, nowadays, reliable. The only tricky part is figuring out which portable Bluetooth speaker is right for you.
We’ve tested and reviewed an extensive range of portable Bluetooth speakers. We’ve also included some speakers that we haven’t had the opportunity to get our hands on yet. All these speakers come with impressive plaudits from our trusted sources.
In this expert guide, we’ve ranked what we think are the best portable Bluetooth speakers NZ, to help you with your purchasing decision in what can sometimes be an overwhelming market.
- Best wireless earbuds NZ (2022)
- Best Phone NZ 2022: What’s the best smartphone I can buy in NZ?
- The best over-ear wireless headphones NZ (2022)
The Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers NZ (…that we’ve tested)
1. Sonos Roam
IP67 resistance rating | Compatible with Sonos ecosystem | 10-hour battery | WiFi and Bluetooth connections
The Sonos Roam is a small, compact speaker that delivers high-quality audio and has a range of advanced features that set it apart from the competition.
Measuring 168 mm (H) x 62 mm (W) x 60 mm (D) and weighing only 430g, the Roam is light and easily portable. The IP67 resistance rating will protect it from dust, sand and water, meaning you can take it on a beach or camping trip and not worry about it.
It boasts a 10-hour battery and is compatible with Siri and Google Assistant.
There are two features here that set the Roam apart from the competition. First, it’s compatible with the Sonos ecosystem. If you already own Sonos speakers, the Roam seamlessly connects to them, allowing you to use it in a multi-room audio setup. You can also Sound Swap which enables you to swap audio between Sonos speakers.
Another great feature is the ability to stream audio to the Roam via WiFi. This means you aren’t reliant on Bluetooth. You don’t have to have your device near the speaker. You only need to have them on the same WiFi network. It also allows you to connect other devices, like a PC or laptop, to the speaker seamlessly.
The only negative about the Sonos Roam is the slightly low 10-hour battery life. Other than that, it can do everything you’d want in a portable Bluetooth speaker.
Read our review of the Sonos Roam
2. JBL Charge 5
IP67 resistance rating | Sporty design | Powerbank for charging devices | 20-hour battery
The JBL Charge 5 is a no-frills portable speaker that works well. It’s easy to connect to and can generate decent audio quality.
This is a speaker specifically designed for outdoor use. With its IP67 resistance rating, it will handle almost anything you can throw at it. Take it to the beach, wash it off in the sink, and it will work fine.
The main drawcard here is the massive 20-hour battery. It can easily last a couple of days’ playback without needing to recharge. Also, it has a USB-A port for charging devices like your phone.
The only reason it isn’t higher on the list is it struggles with bass frequencies at higher volumes.
Read our review of the JBL Charge 5
3. JBL Xtreme 3
IP67 resistance rating | Carry strap | 15-hour battery
The Xtreme 3 is a larger speaker boasting two 25W 2.8-inch woofers and two 0.8-inch tweeters. It’s a louder speaker at a very good price.
This speaker is designed for portability, coming with a strap, so it’s easy to carry around.
It has a decent 15-hour battery, an IP67 resistance rating and can produce loud enough sound to be heard over crashing waves or chatter at a house party.
It does struggle with bass, though, especially long-drawn-out subfrequencies.
Read our review of the JBL Xtreme 3
4. Harmon Kardon Citation 200
IPX4 resistance rating | Stunning design | 8-hour battery | Voice assistant compatible
The Harmon Kardon Citation 200 is a great-looking portable speaker designed mainly to stay at home.
Although portable, the Citation 200 is best when sitting at home. It only has an 8-hour battery which is low compared to other speakers on this list, and only has an IPX4 resistance rating which means it’s resistant to light water slashing.
It can generate consistent and precise sounds across genres. The 25mm tweeter and 120mm woofer are superior to cheaper speakers creating a better, louder sound. It also can produce good levels of bass without distorting mixes.
For $530, this speaker is significantly more expensive than others on this list, but it supports voice assistants like Siri and Google Assistant, is arguably the nicest-looking speaker and produces very high-quality audio.
Read our review of the Harmon Kardon Citation 200
5. UE Wonderboom 3
IP67 resistance rating | Ultraportable design | 14-hour battery | Floats
If you don’t own a Wonderboom 2 and you’re looking for a small portable speaker that will resist the elements and produce high-quality sound, the Wonderboom 3 is hard to beat.
For its size, it produces impressive audio, it has a winning design, Outdoor Boost mode is genuinely useful, and it floats! For $169, it’s significantly cheaper than similar competitors and is easy to use.
While it might not have all the advanced features of other speakers like the Sonos Roam, the Wonderboom 3 is an easy way to listen to your music, simply connect via Bluetooth and away you go. It’s easy and effective.
The only issues here are the micro-USB charging port and the fact that it hasn’t improved much on the Wonderboom 2.
Read our review of the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3
6. JBL Clip 4
Great price | Carabiner design | IP67 resistance rating | 10-hour battery
The JBL Clip 4 is a portable speaker designed to be taken anywhere. Weighing only 240g, it’s small, compact and the most portable speaker on this list.
The unique carabiner design means you can hang it on a branch or fence while working and it is a convenient design feature.
The speaker boasts an IP67 resistance rating meaning it will survive being submerged in up to 1m of water for 30 minutes.
The audio quality isn’t the best, but it’s a very small speaker. The true standout here is the price. For $100, the Clip 4 punches well above its price range.
Read our review of the JBL Clip 4
7. Harmon Kardon Onyx Studio 7
Stylish design | 8-hour battery | No resistance rating
The Harmon Kardon Onyx Studio 7 is a great-looking speaker. While it is portable, it probably shouldn’t be taken outside as it doesn’t have any resistance rating. This means it could get damaged by water, dust or dirt. Not ideal.
With that said, you can quickly move it from room to room, and it won’t look out of place. The design is stylish and unique.
The speaker has a 120mm woofer and 2x 25mm tweeters. It’s easily capable of producing high-quality audio.
Unfortunately, it only has an 8-hour battery, though, which isn’t great.
Read our review of the Harmon Kardon Onyx Studio 7
The Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers NZ (…we haven’t tested)
1. UE HyperBoom
Big portable speaker | IPX4 resistance rating | Loud output | 24-hour battery
The UE HyperBoom is a big portable speaker designed to take your volume to the next level.
This is a bass-oriented speaker with two 4.5-inch woofers, two 1-inch tweeters, and two 3.5-inch x 7.5-inch passive radiators. It’s loud.
There are many ways to connect to this speaker as it supports Bluetooth, AUX and an optical input for gaming consoles or TVs.
With a 24-hour battery at 50% volume, this speaker can be used for a long time. It’s impressive.
It’s not very portable, though. Being large, it’s pretty heavy and isn’t as easy to take around with you as other speakers on this list.
2. Bose Portable Home Speaker
IPX4 resistance rating | 12-hour battery life | Google Assistant and Alexa built-in
The Bose Portable Home Speaker boasts a sleek, minimalist design that stands out from the crowd. With a bucket-like handle on top, it’s portable and easy to carry.
It sounds excellent with a well-balanced soundstage, but it doesn’t go as loud as other speakers on this list.
It also supports voice assistants like Google Assistant and Alexa and has a respectable 12-hour battery life
3. UE Boom 3
Great price | IP67 rating, and it floats | Can get loud
The UE Boom 3 is a good portable Bluetooth speaker that’s let down by a few design features.
Frustratingly, it’s charged via a micro-USB port as opposed to the more common USB-C. And the wireless charging dock comes separately.
It can produce good sound, it isn’t as good as more expensive speakers on this list, but it does the job.
A bonus feature is the speaker floats, so you can have it in a pool, and it won’t sink to the bottom. Also, you can connect it to up to 150 other UE speakers via the app.
4. Sonos Move
IP56 resistance rating | Compatible with Sonos ecosystem | WiFi & Bluetooth connectivity | Expensive
The Sonos move is a very good portable Bluetooth speaker, but it’s also very expensive.
If you’re already part of the Sonos ecosystem, then it’s a worthwhile purchase. However, if you aren’t, it’s probably a bit too pricey to be worth it.
It has advanced features like WiFi connectivity, and you can use it in a multi-room setup, but it’s a bit difficult to maneuver.
This is a prime example of a speaker sacrificing portability for audio quality. It delivers highly detailed audio but isn’t as easy to take around as other speakers on this list.
What to consider when choosing the best portable Bluetooth speaker
How much should I spend?
There’s so much choice out there that there will be a decent portable Bluetooth speaker to fit your budget. Portable Bluetooth speakers come in all shapes and sizes. They also come in a variety of different prices.
The familiar adage, “the more money you spend, the better the product is going to be,” that is often synonymous with technology devices, isn’t necessarily true here. It’s more like the more you spend, the larger the speaker will be.
Bigger portable Bluetooth speakers can cost anywhere from $200 – $700. However, you can get smaller speakers for as low as $100. The amount you want to spend mostly depends on how large you want the portable Bluetooth speaker to be.
That said, higher-priced speakers usually come with more advanced features like voice assistant support, WiFi connectivity and larger battery capacity.
How big should the portable speaker be?
This is based on your personal preference, and you should always consider what you think you will use the speaker for.
If you’re looking for a speaker to play at parties, you’ll want a larger device. If you’re looking for a speaker to play music in the background, you can probably opt for something smaller.
It pays to remember that most of these speakers are designed to be taken on the go. The smaller a speaker is, the easier it will be to carry it around.
Larger speakers tend to sacrifice portability for louder volume capabilities. But there are large speakers with carrying straps, wheels and handles for easy portability.
IP resistance ratings matter
The whole point of a portable speaker is it doesn’t have to stay in one spot. You can theoretically take it anywhere.
With that said, not all portable Bluetooth speakers are as durable as others.
If you’re looking for a portable speaker, you can take away with you, like camping or to the beach, always have a look at the IP resistance rating.
Some speakers can survive being submerged in water; some can resist dust and sand, some will only survive light rain, and others don’t have any resistance rating.
It’s important to consider what you think you’ll be doing with your speaker, and where you’ll be taking it. Then purchase a portable Bluetooth speaker with an IP resistance rating to accommodate that.
Does sound quality matter?
Yes, of course, sound quality matters. If you’re buying a portable Bluetooth speaker, you’ll probably want one that can produce high-quality sound.
With that said, this can be a hard question to answer because the size of the portable speaker usually determines sound quality. The bigger the speaker, the bigger the drivers. Therefore the better the sound. It’s unfair to compare a massive portable speaker with a smaller speaker.
If you’re pondering between speakers that are roughly the same size, then yes sound quality matters. Low frequencies, like bass, are a good indicator of the capabilities of a portable Bluetooth speaker. The best speakers can produce powerful bass, while the lesser speakers usually struggle with it.
An easy way to see this if buying online is to have a look at the size of the drivers in the speaker. Larger drives usually have better sound quality.
Battery life is the most important factor to consider
Portable Bluetooth speakers don’t require power, this means they’re reliant on a battery inside.
You don’t want a portable speaker with a poor battery as it means you won’t be able to get much use out of it.
The battery life is the most important factor to consider when deciding which portable Bluetooth speaker to buy. The longer the battery, the longer you can use it.
Keep an eye out for advanced features
Not all portable Bluetooth speakers are capable of doing what others can. Some can connect to other speakers to create a multi-speaker setup. Some have voice assistant capabilities, some have microphones to take phone calls and a lot more.
When considering a portable Bluetooth speaker, think about what you’re going to use it for and see if there’s an option out there with features that meet your needs.