The Loudest Bluetooth Speakers — Which Sounds Best?


Our vast research project looked at the largest and loudest Bluetooth speakers. We focused particularly on those that sound great but are still portable enough to be taken out for beach parties, boating, patio soirées, tailgating parties, etc.

The market is saturated, to say the least, which is great: there’s something for any taste. Further down in this article, we’ll discuss the good large alternatives that are waterproof, that have “smart speaker” tech to chat with, and some cheaper options. And we have separate articles covering our top picks if you’re looking for a more portable (beer-can sized) speaker, or a speaker that is tiny and completely pocketable. But for most people looking for volume+quality in a portable package, we’re confident in recommending …

Marshall Kilburn II

The Marshall Kilburn II is our favorite among the loudest, largest Bluetooth speakers that are battery-powered and portable. It goes more than loud enough to annoy the neighbors, but unlike some of the competition, doesn’t distort or lose its composure doing so. There’s a satisfying thump on the bass end, whether at low or at top volumes, and a balanced, even mix. It is warm and resonant, and voices sound rich and inviting.

The Kilburn II is designed to replicate the look of classic Marshall guitar amps. It is a solidly constructed piece with enough battery life (20+ hours) to last through the most serious all-day, all-night beach party. We think it’s the best sounding of the Bluetooth speakers that’s portable and durable enough to be carried into the backyard and beyond.

Check prices on Amazon

Update History of This Article

This article was published on Friday, November 24, 2017. Some info and critical reactions to the MegaBlast were updated on January 22, 2018. Changed our second recommendation (waterproof) to the Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 on October 4, 2018. Changed our top recommendation to the Marshall Kilburn II on October 24, 2018, and made other updates.

Critical Meta-Review of the Kilburn Marshall II: Our Favorite of the Loudest Portable Speakers

We’ve listened to the Kilburn Marshall II (as well as its competitors), but as usual at SelectoGuru that’s hardly enough. Tastes vary, so we read what everyone else had to say about the larger, louder class of Bluetooth speakers as well.

Everyone’s got their preferences, but a small handful of speakers always came to the top of critics’ lists. And we found that the original Marshall Kilburn has been the most consistently loved of by the French or American consumer testing organizations and top audio critics and tech sites. And we found that the update to the Kilburn, the Kilburn II has been widely seen as even better in early reviews by those critics and others.

In fact, the Kilburn II is one of the only portable speakers to deliver sound at a quality approaching good bookshelf speakers. At middle volumes, there is a richness in the bass end and the vocals sound full and resonant. The sound is detailed and there is a reasonable soundstage for a single speaker. The balance is even — no overwrought boomy bass here — and it stays this way even when blasting out at top volumes. And while some reviewers felt there was a bit of distortion on occasion at top volumes with the original Kilburn, this is no longer at all an issue with the Kilburn II.

The cute and convenient analog knobs on the Kilburn II.

The Kilburn II has analog control knobs instead of the buttons found on most other Bluetooth speakers. While we wouldn’t consider this a breakthrough feature, it’s a pleasant throwback. The knobs control volume, bass, and treble, making it easy and incredibly intuitive to adjust on the fly. Other speakers have dedicated apps that do much the same thing, but you’re unlikely to actually open the app and use them much.

Battery life is advertised at “20+” hours although results will vary depending on how loud you’re playing your music and other factors. In any case, you’ve certainly got enough juice for an all-day, all-night outdoors party.

The downside of the Kilburn II is that it doesn’t have some of the bells and whistles of some of its large Bluetooth competitors:

  • There is no speakerphone function, but consider that you’re more likely to use the speakerphone function on your phone anyhow.
  • It is not waterproof. Sure, nobody usually intends to dunk a Bluetooth speaker, but it’s nice to know that a speaker is rugged enough to survive that. See below for the best waterproof model.
  • You cannot pair two of these speakers to create an bigger sound for a larger party. Again, see below for an option that can do this.

All that said, we think the Marshall Kilburn II is the best of the largest, loudest Bluetooth speakers. But not by much; there are other great options below.

The Best of the Loudest WATERPROOF Bluetooth Speakers

No, we’re not suggesting that you listen to music underwater. But if you’re the type of person who might put a portable speaker through a bit of abuse — maybe the odd splash from the pool, spilt beer, or abandonment in the rain — you should get the Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 instead of our main pick above. Both speakers sound great, and we’ve even done a focused comparison of the MegaBoom 3 vs. the Marshall Kilburn II. But here are the main differences to be aware of:

  • The MegaBoom 3 is fully waterproof (for up to 30 minutes submerged) and dustproof (rated IP67), and with its rubberized housing much more able to withstand shocks. It also floats, though you really shouldn’t leave it or any speaker floating in a pool for best results.
  • The MegaBoom 3 does not go quite as loud (although its close) or sound quite as great as the Marshall Kilburn, which is not surprising since the Kilburn is bulkier and weighs three times as much. (Bulkier tends to allow for better sound in speaker design.) But the MegaBoom 3 is nonetheless the getting rave reviews for its sound from audio critics and tech sites and we expect that to continue as more weigh in. It offers great 360-degree sound, meaning that it’s designed to be placed in the middle of the action and sound the same from any side. It has the trademark Ultimate Ears evenness of mix and a fair amount of warmth and expansiveness. The bass end is punchy satisfying.
  • If you buy two Ultimate Ears MegaBoom 3s you can pair them for an even louder party and for true stereo sound, via the app.
  • The MegaBoom 3 is advertised as having a 20-hour battery life and testers found that it generally went for nearly that long at normal listening levels.
  • There is a “magic button” that allows for play/pause and skipping tracks directly on the speaker.

If you can budget for two of them, we do think that the ultimate loudest Bluetooth party-on-the-go comes from buying two MegaBoom 3s and using them as a stereo pair. And if you or friends happen to have other Ultimate Ears speakers that work on the same app (that is: Boom, Boom 2, Boom 3, or original Megaboom), they can all be linked together for quite a loud portable party.

The Best of the Loudest “SMART” Bluetooth Speakers

The Ultimate Ears (UE) MegaBlast

A number of speakers have recently come out integrating Amazon Alexa, Google Now, and even Siri functionality. This allows you to give the speakers voice commands to play certain types of music, check the weather, and even control smart devices in your home. We think that the technology is a bit of a gimmick, or at least not really functional enough at this time to be worth it (especially since you can get a much better experience out of giving voice commands directly to your phone or tablet, thanks to its screen, which helps you along).

That said, for those who do want to venture into the technology, it’s nice to have alternatives to the Amazon Alexa Echo, Google Home, or the (apparently troubled) Apple HomePod. So far, critics have taken a dim view of the sound quality of these speakers. In fact, you’re probably best off getting an Amazon Echo Dot or Google Home Mini for the voice assistant functions, and using our top pick above or your home speaker system for actually listening to music.

But, if you really want an integrated large but fully portable and very loud Bluetooth speaker with some smarts, the Ultimate Ears MegaBlast is the best option; it’s quite a bit like the Ultimate Ears MegaBoom but with built-in Alexa (Amazon’s voice assistant). Audiophile blogs, tech press, and other reviewers laud MegaBlast’s performance as a speaker, which is not surprising considering that Ultimate Ears speakers generally tend to be at the top of critics’ lists (including ours). It can crank out up to 93 dB without distorting and like the Ultimate Ears MegaBoom 3 it delivers 360-degree sound, so it’s designed to be placed in the middle of the party and sound great no matter where you are standing. The sound is punchy and pleasant and the mix is relatively even across all frequencies.

The main complaint is that the Megablast’s functionality as a smart speaker is still a bit buggy. While it has the same Alexa voice assistant that allows you to play your Amazon Unlimited Music (currently no support for Spotify, Google Music, etc.), ask questions, and control your smart home, there is a significant lag in its response and no visual indication when it is on and listening to you. It can fail to restart your music when it’s done answering a question, and the Alexa functionality only works when you’re on WiFi. Also, unlike the Megaboom 3, you are currently unable to pair two Ultimate Ears Megablasts.

Other Larger, Louder Bluetooth Speakers that We Considered (but Not Our Top Picks)

Beats Pill XL (booming, weird bass)

Bowers & Wilkens T7 — This sounds truly fabulous, but much heavier and more expensive than our main picks. This would be our top pick if you’re looking for great sound and you don’t mind lugging around something a bit bigger — but we think portability is paramount as this ensures that you will actually want to toss a speaker in your bag and get lots of use out of it.

The Braven 805 has an 18-hour battery and generally reviewers like how it sounds, but it’s also twice as big and twice as heavy as our main pick.

Cambridge Soundworks Oontz XL

Some — but certainly not all — commentators feel that the Denon Envaya sounds better than our top pick. The Envaya was a top pick in the listening tests by the French consumer testing organization1In French, behind a paywall, just beating out the much-smaller UE Boom 2. In a nutshell, the Envaya is a bulkier and less rugged choice at the same price as the UE Boom 2, but with slightly better sound to some ears. It measures 10.1 x 1.9 x 5.5 inches (25.7 x 4.8 x 14.0 cm) and weighs 2.9 pounds (1.3 kg). It lacks a speakerphone function. It can charge a smartphone, but since it’s not really designed for outside use and is less convenient to travel with, this seems to us to be of limited use. Its battery lasted for only seven hours in tests.

There are not a lot of other quality tech website reviews of this speaker, but those who have done careful testing have loved it, saying that it compares well with larger and more expensive home Bluetooth speaker options such as the Bose Soundlink III.

ECOXGEAR Eco Stone Portable Outdoor

Fugoo Sport XL — A larger version of the Fugoo Sport; also comes in Fugoo Style XL and Fugoo Tough XL options

Harman Kardon Esquire Mini Ultra Tin Portable

IK Multimedia iLoud 40W — Reviewers liked how this one sounds.

Infinity One — Big, and delivers a poor sound mix

All of the main offerings from JBL got above-average ratings from various commentators, but the praise was not universal, and they did not beat the ratings given to our main picks above.

JBL Pulse 3 $119.95
The JBL Pulse 3 has the same cylindrical shape as the UE Boom 3 but is bulkier and heavier (8.8 x 3.6 in. or 22.3 x 9.2 cm; 2.2 lbs. or .960 kg). We don’t recommend it for travel because it’s fragile (with exposed radiators and a glass casing).

Its main selling point is its lightshow, so you can not just DJ but also bring disco/lava lamp lighting anywhere you go, if that’s your thing. Please, let that not be your thing. Reviewers generally liked its crisp, balanced performance as a speaker, but it’s not a favorite for its size and price. Basically everyone thinks there are better options. Battery life is advertised at 12 hours.

The JBL Charge 3 is often liked … but there are mixed reviews too. Some critics think the Charge 3 sounds better, but most think it sounds worse — audiophiles complain that it is uneven and that it lacks clarity on the high end. Many even felt that it was a step down from its previous version, the JBL Charge 2+. They did appreciate the JBL Charge 3’s thumping bass and it goes loud. It has the ability to charge your phone from the speaker battery, which is a nice extra. And with a 20-hour battery life and an IPX7 fully waterproof rating, the JBL Charge 3 could be a good choice for those who want long, loud parties on the beach and don’t mind the bigger size/weight.

JBL XTreme — Generally well-liked by reviewers and durable

NYNE Multimedia Bass — This speaker has its fans, but all of the careful reviewers who listened to both this speaker and the Denon Envaya (above) preferred the later, and this is much heavier and bigger (13.5 x 6.2 x 7 inches or 34.3 x 15.7 x 17.8 cm; 6.65 pounds or 3 kg).

RIVA Turbo X — This is acclaimed by many critics for its great sound, and we love it too as a home speaker, but it’s pricey and definitely too heavy for the road. Plus, some find that the Riva S (see above) actually sounds better. It appears to be rarely available nowadays.

Sony SRS-X5

Soundcast Melody

Spec Comparison of the Largest, Loudest Bluetooth Speakers

In the table features the 60-some speakers that we considered for this review. It can be searched, sorted, and filtered according to specific criteria with the options at the top of the columns. Price comparisons are easy to make by clicking through the various merchant links in the last two columns.

SpeakerWeight (oz.)ConnectivityBattery life (advertised)SpeakerphoneVoice ControlPair multiple units for stereoWaterproof?Can recharge phoneWarrantyHeight (in.)Width (in.)Length (in.)Also Available AtAmazon Pricing
Braven BRV-XXL315.414YesYes?Yes (IPX5)Yes1 year20.258.259.5eBay
BestBuy
Marshall Woburn Bluetooth278.71 year15.7511.47.87Marshall
eBay
BestBuy
B&H Photo Video
Marshall Woburn Multi-Room278.7Yes1 year15.7511.47.87Marshall
MONSTER Superstar Monster Blaster268.812NoWaterproof
Splashproof
YesLifetime - when purchased from manufacturer directly
1 year - when purchased from authorized dealers
8188.1Monster
eBay
BestBuy
newegg
B&H Photo Video
Marshall Stanmore Bluetooth179.9• Bluetooth 4.0 with AptX
• 3.5 mm input with included coiled cable
No batteryNo1 year13.777.287.28Marshall
eBay
BestBuy
newegg
B&H Photo Video
Marshall Stanmore Multi-Room165.8Yes1 year13.777.287.28Marshall
Soundcast Melody144.620NoWeather resistantYes1 year109.259.5eBay
newegg
Kicker Bullfrog Jump137.620NoYesIP66Yes1 year10.57.755.9eBay
BestBuy
newegg
NYNE Multimedia Bass106.410YesNoYes1 year13.576.25eBay
newegg
Marshall Acton Bluetooth105.8No batteryNo1 year10.456.35.9Marshall
eBay
newegg
Marshall Kilburn105.8• Bluetooth 4.0 with AptX
• 3.5 mm input with included coiled cable
20NoNoNo1 year9.535.55.5eBay
Marshall
BestBuy
newegg
B&H Photo Video
Wren V5BT105.6YesNoYes3 year6.0616.755eBay
B&H Photo Video
Marshall Acton Multi-room98.8Yes (Google Assistant)Yes1 year10.456.35.9Marshall
The House of Marley Get Together95.98Yes2 years515.753.25eBay
BestBuy
newegg
SONOS Play 391.7NoYesNo1 year5.210.66.3SONOS
eBay
BestBuy
newegg
B&H Photo Video
NORDSTROM
Vizio Crave 360 (SP50-D5)808NoYes (Google Home)Yes1 year10.555.25VIZIO
eBay
BestBuy
newegg
B&H Photo Video
Sam's Club
The Home Depot
FUGOO Tough XL7935YesYes (Apple iOS Siri and Android Google Now)Mudproof
Snowproof
Shockproof
Waterproof
Yes1 year4.644.3713.18eBay
newegg
JBL Xtreme74.515YesYes?Splashproof1 year54.811.1eBay
newegg
B&H Photo Video
BestBuy
JBL
FUGOO Sport XL6635YesYes (Apple iOS Siri and Android Google Now)Mudproof
Snowproof
Shockproof
Waterproof
Yes1 year4.724.2112.04eBay
BestBuy
newegg
Braven BRV HD65.628?YesYes(2)IPX31 year?3104.3eBay
SONOS Play 165.25NoYesHumidity resistant1 year6.364.694.69SONOS
eBay
BestBuy
newegg
B&H Photo Video
NORDSTROM
FUGOO Style XL6235YesYes (Apple iOS Siri and Android Google Now)Mudproof
Snowproof
Shockproof
Waterproof
Yes1 year4.523.8111.33eBay
newegg
B&H Photo Video
UE Megablast42.416Yes, AlexaIP672 years9.33.53.5eBay
BestBuy
Edifier MP70056.48NoIP54?
Water and dust resistant to withstand harsh outdoor conditions (not for underwater use)
Yes2 years6.75132.75eBay
newegg
Mass Fidelity Core56.412YesYesYes6 months + 12 if registered?
EU - 24 months + 6 if registered?
664eBay
BestBuy
B&H Photo Video
ECOXGEAR EcoStone5612Yes?YesYes3 years53.710.1eBay
BestBuy
newegg
Libratone Zipp52.910YesYes (6)1 year10.34.8eBay
newegg
Bose SoundLink Bluetooth Speaker III48.314Yes?1 year (2 years EU)?5.19.61.8eBay
NORDSTROM
Stellé Audio Pillar4815YesYes1 year
EU - 2 years
12.254.55.5eBay
newegg
Riva Turbo X4826YesNoNoYes2 years4.13.59.1eBay
newegg
IK Multimedia iLoud46.9101 year6.39.82.4IK Multimedia
eBay
BestBuy
newegg
B&H Photo Video
Infinity One45.8510Yes1 year3.99.53.9eBay
Harman
Denon Envaya45.110NoYesNo?Yes2 years5.5101.9
Braven 80544.818YesYes(2)1 year?49.52.8eBay
BestBuy
newegg
Altec Lansing Super Life Jacket4450YesYes (2)waterproof, shockproof, snowproof (IP68?)Yes?1 year4.54.58.5eBay
BestBuy
Jawbone BIG Jambox43.415YesYes?1 year3.73.110.1eBay
newegg
Marshall Stockwell42.3• Bluetooth 4.0 with AptX
• 3.5 mm input
25YesNoNoYes1 year10.25.51.5Marshall
eBay
newegg
B&H Photo Video
BenQ treVolo42.312Yes6.95.33.1eBay
newegg
B&H Photo Video
Creative Sound Blaster Roar Pro38.810YesYes?Yes1 year2.27.94.5eBay
newegg
B&H Photo Video
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay A238.824Yes (2)Dustproof, splashproof24 months?5.61.710.1eBay
B&H Photo Video
BestBuy
Bowers & Wilkins T733.218No2 years4.50.82.1BestBuy
Newegg
Bose SoundLink Revolve Plus3216YesYes, Siri and Google voice commandsYesSplashproof (IPX4)1 year?7.254.134.13eBay
newegg
B&H Photo Video
NORDSTROM
BestBuy
Libratone ONE Click3212YesSplashproof (IPX4)1 year84.71.6eBay
UE Megaboom31• 3.5 mm input
• "Smart" Bluetooth (speaker can be turned on and off via the app)
• NFC pairing
20YesYes, with Siri, Alexa, and Google Now integrationYes (2)Yes (IPX7)2 years8.93.33.3eBay
newegg
BestBuy
Cambridge Oontz XL29.610YesYesNo90 days3.53.410.2
Creative iRoar Go28.512YesYes?Yes (IPX6)Yes1 year2.17.53.8eBay
newegg
JBL Charge 328.220YesYesYes (IPX7)Yes?1 year3.58.43.4eBay
Newegg
B&H Photo Video
BestBuy
JBL
KEF MUO28.212NoYes (2)1 year3.18.32.3eBay
newegg
JBL Pulse 227.310YesYes (Siri and Google Now)YesSplashproof1 year3.37.63.3eBay
Best Buy
newegg
Klipsch Groove27.28NoNo?Splashproof (IPX4)1 year4.565.512.65eBay
newegg
B&H Photo Video
BestBuy
Harman Kardon Onyx Mini20.710YesYesNo1 year5.76.23.7Harman/Kardon
eBay
newegg
B&H Photo Video
Polk Audio Omni S219.0410No1 year3.969.063.92eBay
BestBuy
newegg
JBL Flip 315.910YesYesSplashproof1 year2.56.652.5JBL
eBay
newegg
Harman Kardon Esquire Mini8.48Yes1 year35.50.9eBay
newegg
B&H Photo Video
Harman Kardon Onyx Studio5Yes10.26.311Harman/Kardon
eBay
newegg

Wrap-Up: Our Loudest Bluetooth Speaker Recommendations

Marshall Kilburn II
Our top pick for big, gorgeous sound from a large portable Bluetooth speaker; no frivolous bells and whistles, but just great great balance, solid bass, and warm, resonant mids
Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3
More portable, rugged, fully waterproof and dustproof, great 360-degree sound, and the ability to pair two or more of them together for true stereo
Ultimate Ears Megablast
The loudest, greatest-sounding speaker that you can treat as a bit of a personal assistant (with Alexa integration), as long as you’re connected to WiFi

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