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8 best waterproof speakers for blasting those shower time tunes

A drizzle of rain? A dunk in the bath? It’s like water off a duck’s back for these portable devices

David RS Taylor
Friday 03 September 2021 17:06
<p>Some of our top picks can even survive a 30 minute submersion under 1 meter of water </p>

Some of our top picks can even survive a 30 minute submersion under 1 meter of water

Most people have some form of soundtrack to their life. Those songs that they go back to time and again to evoke memories or emotions, the ones that accompany every aspect of your life from your morning shower concert to the moment your head hits the pillow at night.

While we’re all for the former, it’s a bit of a risk to put your phone next to the shower or balance your laptop on the toilet, surrounded by steam and errant water droplets. So, what you need instead is a waterproof shower speaker.

Of course, a waterproof speaker is useful in plenty of situations, and not just your private gigs. A wide range of brands now produce portable speakers that can hold up under the pressure of a spilt drink, a drop in the bath or even the British weather.

Not all waterproof speakers are created equal, however, with many veering into “water-resistant” territory. All well and good for light rain or a few splashes, but not a proper dip.

How we tested

We charged our speakers, filled the bath with cold water and pressed play to see which speakers offer the best protection from the elements while producing the best sound.

Read more:

We looked for the usual from our audio: clarity at the top end, balance between frequencies, and lack of distortion, especially at higher volumes. And we also tested for ease of use, be it via an app or physical controls.

When it came to waterproofing, we did a few quick tests to see if performance was affected by spillages or immersion, in the sort of way you might accidentally encounter (or cause) in the wild.

The best waterproof speakers for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Sonos roam: £159, Sonos.com
  • Best budget mini speaker – Tribit StormBox micro: £41.99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best for versatility – JBL charge 5: £164, Jbl.com
  • Best for a signature sound – Marshall emberton: £129.99, Marshallheadphones.com
  • Best for premium durability – B&O beosound explore: £159.58, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best mini-speaker – Bose SoundLink micro – IPX7: £89, Johnlewis.com
  • Best for extra features – Anker Soundcore flare 2: £69.99, Currys.co.uk
  • Best for outdoor smart capability – JBL link portable: £129.99, Jbl.com

Sonos roam

Best: Overall

Rating: 9/10

  • Size and weight: 168mm x 62mm x 60mm, 430g
  • Battery life: Up to 10 hours
  • IP rating: IP67

The Sonos roam is the rational next step for the multi-room titan. With the Sonos move (£399, Amazon.co.uk), the brand started to flirt with portability, but the still-large Bluetooth speaker was more of a garden feature than a back of the car road-tripper.

The roam has taken the beginnings of Sonos’s portable revolution and run with it. It manages to pack all of the smart capabilities we expect from Sonos into a small, attractive product that fits nicely in your grip and adds another level of durability to the brand’s products.

For such a compact product, the sound is expansive, to the extent that bass can sometimes verge on overpowering the overall sound signature. However, this proves to be an advantage in an outdoor setting, where bass can easily be lost to the open air, and the roam’s trueplay tuning can adapt to your surroundings using built-in microphones for the right balance.

The battery life could be better, but you’ll still get almost 10 hours of use out of the roam – enough for a day’s hiking or, more likely, lazing. The best waterproof Bluetooth speaker on the market.

Tribit StormBox micro

Best: Budget mini speaker

Rating: 8.5/10

  • Size and weight: 98.3mm x 98.3mm x 35.8mm, 257g
  • Battery life: 8 hours
  • IP rating: IP67

The StormBox micro is a tiny hero when it comes to portable, waterproof speakers. The fun, square mini speaker is anything but diminutive in sound, with great bass capacity for its size, and an audio clarity you wouldn’t expect from a speaker at this level – especially when it already has the advantage of an IP67 dust and waterproof rating.

Its size, shape and style would work in just about any setting, and the handy strap on the back is perfect for attaching the micro to bicycles or a backpack. Tribit, a relatively unknown brand, has leapt to the front of the market with this. A smashingly good-value speaker.

JBL charge 5

Best: For versatility

Rating: 8.5/10

  • Size and weight: 223mm x 97mm x 94mm, 960g
  • Battery life: 20 hours
  • IP rating: IP67

In our review of the JBL charge 4, we explained how it pays to have a distinctive “look”, and the small speaker champion’s charge range certainly commits to its oblong/pill/can hybrid aesthetic.

For those of us following the development of portable speakers, this shape is synonymous with disproportionately big sound. It’s no different with the latest iteration, the charge 5. It’s a bold, straight-up audio bomb that can take all manner of rough and tumble, has a built-in power bank to charge your phone, and plays your tunes for 20 hours.

JBL has added top-level rustproofing to the already premium IPX7 waterproof rating in the charge 4, as well as including a dome tweeter for extra clear treble, and packed in an extra 10 watts of output power. It’s bigger and better – but still unmistakably JBL.

Marshall emberton

Best: For a signature sound

Rating: 8/10

  • Size and weight: 68mm x 160mm x 76mm, 700g
  • Battery life: 20+ hours
  • IP rating: IPX7

The emberton is a must-buy for any fans of Marshall’s usual looks and sound but it offers everything most casual listeners would want out of a portable speaker too. The brand’s signature sound punches through strongly, the classic amp sound in full effect. With front and back speakers utilising Marshall’s stereophonic system and a battery life that lasts almost 24 hours, it’s an impressively versatile product.

From the unnecessary, but immediately treasured, little guitar lick when you switch it on and off, to the cool grille design and the button finish, the emberton is a premium waterproof speaker for a good price. We loved the sound and used the speaker outside of our testing: a very good sign.

B&O beosound explore

Best: For premium durability

Rating: 8/10

  • Size and weight: 81mm x 81mm x 124mm, 631g
  • Battery life: Up to 27 hours
  • IP rating: IP67

In our standalone review for the beosound explore, our writer described Bang & Olufsen’s latest portable speaker as “the Bear Grylls of portable speakers”. He wasn’t wrong: it looks swish and Scandi, but this is a solid speaker, one you wouldn’t worry about dropping down the side of a hill and running after in some sort of comical, tortured chase.

The sound is as refined as you’d expect from this brand (that’s very, if you were wondering), with a nice balance between frequencies, and bass comes out fighting when you tell it to on the simple B&O partner app. This is B&O with a bit of bite, for a price that belies its design and technical sophistication. We’re not complaining.

Bose soundlink micro

Best: Mini speaker

Rating: 8/10

  • Size and weight: 98.3mm x 98.3mm x 34.8mm, 290.3g
  • Battery life: Up to 6 hours
  • IP rating: IPX7

The second of the mini speakers on the list, the Bose soundlink micro is an impressive pocket rocket of a product. For such a small speaker, the micro produces audio more polished than many bigger rivals, something that the brand manages to achieve on a consistent basis. The speaker has a particularly premium feel, and it’s refreshing for a product with such technical ability to come in under the £100 mark, especially from a brand as trusted as Bose.

The micro only loses out to Tribit’s namesake (£35.69, Amazon.co.uk) due to price and battery life. But for a more considered performance, good voice control and a safe pair of hands, this is a solid purchase.

Anker Soundcore flare 2

Best: For extra features

Rating: 8/10

  • Size and weight: 89mm x 89mm x 160mm, 600g
  • Battery life: 12 hours
  • IP rating: IPX7

Anker, known more readily for its power banks, chargers and cables, also makes some impressive budget speakers. The best of these is the Soundcore flare 2, an under-the-radar waterproof Bluetooth speaker that produces a considered sound much better than the price would suggest.

In fact, the flare 2 feels nothing like a budget option: it has a good weight, the design is pleasingly ergonomic, and the light shows that pulse with the beat of your music all works consistently well.

There’s an obvious sturdiness that makes using the flare 2 outside or on the beach a worry-free activity. The fabric mesh over the speakers bats away water with ease, and the rubberised rims add a nice grippy touch. A genuine contender for your go-to waterproof Bluetooth speaker.

JBL link portable

Best: For outdoor smart capability

Rating: 7.5/10

  • Size and weight: 88mm x 88mm x 170mm, 740g
  • Battery life: 8 hours
  • IP rating: IPX7

The second JBL speaker on the list, the link portable is the smart-casual relative of the sporty charge 5 (Jbl.com). While the sound might not be as all-encompassing as with the charge, audio quality is the best at its price point: there are distinct yet balanced levels at play between the frequencies, and the 360 degree sound works especially well.

The link portable is one of the sleekest speakers on this list and doubles up as a good-quality smart speaker. Working with Google Home and Apple Home, voice commands are picked up consistently, and replies are clear.

For £130, you’re getting a wide range of features in a waterproof body. Poolside smart tech, telling us about the torrential rain five minutes away? Yes, please.

Waterproof speakers FAQs

Waterproof vs water-resistant: what’s the difference?

It’s all in the name. Waterproof speakers have an IP rating that indicates they can survive full submersion in water – be that at the beach, in the shower, or during those garden pool parties that you regularly host. Water-resistant speakers can deal with splashes, a rain shower, and, usually, quick drops into shallow water, but you wouldn’t want to play catch with them over a pond.

What does IP rating mean?

The Ingress Protection code, or IP rating, is a quick and easy way to tell if your product is up to the task. The two numbers after IP stand for dust resistance (from 0-6) and water resistance (from 0-9) respectively: that is, how well the casing of your product stops anything getting at the delicate inner workings. The higher the number, the better the resistance.

For true dust and waterproofing, look for an IP rating of IP67 or above. Six is complete protection from foreign objects, and seven gives you waterproofing up to a depth of one metre for 30 minutes. If a number is replaced by X, it means that no rating has been provided for that certification, and usually means that the brand didn’t test this for one reason or another. It doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s no protection, especially if there’s a water-resistance rating: if water can’t get through, chances are that dust will have a hard time.

The verdict: Waterproof speakers

It’s been interesting to watch the development of Sonos’s portable speakers, and the roam doesn’t disappoint. It offers the best sound on this list, is light, smart and shuts out everything that could threaten performance. It is, however, pretty pricey.

For an unbelievably cheap, no-nonsense waterproof speaker that you can chuck in your bag and be sure of a decent performance anywhere, the impressive Tribit StormBox micro is hard to beat.

Voucher codes

For the latest discounts on speakers and other tech buys, try the links below:

Impressed by our best buy from Sonos? Why not check out the top-rated Sonos Move Bluetooth speaker too?

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