2022 Holiday Gift Guide: Bluetooth Speakers

The Christmas gift shopping crisis in 2022 is in full force, with just days to go. Many people rush like crazy to check everyone off their list – and run out of ideas. If you’re stuck, a Bluetooth speaker is a great option. Perfect for music lovers, parties, and they can also be used for applications such as making video streaming through a laptop sound much better. Easier to set up than Wi-Fi speakers and better sounding than ever, there are Bluetooth speakers for every budget, application and preference.

I’ve reviewed a lot of them Forbes and based on my hands-on experience, I’ve put together a list of Bluetooth speakers that would make great gifts.

Tribit StormBox Micro 2

Last year I got the StormBox Micro from Tribit. This thing was small enough to fit in the palm of my hand (3.9 inches square and less than 1.4 inches high), easy to mount on a bike’s handlebars thanks to the built-in silicone strap, with a battery life of 8 hours, and a micro price tag of $50. It sounded pretty good too – definitely a big upgrade over your smartphone’s speakers.

Tribit now has a StormBox Micro 2 available. It costs $10 more, but the extra money is well worth it. The new version is IP67 water resistant, gets an upgrade to Bluetooth 5.3, gets longer battery life (now 12 hours), sound output goes up to 10W, and it even doubles as a portable power bank in case your smartphone battery runs out.

Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 3

I’ve reviewed several generations of WONDERBOOM speakers from Ultimate Ears and they never fail to impress. This is a tiny softball-sized Bluetooth speaker that delivers a ridiculous amount of bass for such a small package, along with 360-degree sound. It is practically indestructible and in all my tests I have thrown the WONDERBOOM into a swimming pool with no ill effects. My kids take these speakers into the shower and one uses a WONDERBOOM in a restaurant kitchen.

The WONDERBOOM 3 is the latest in the series and at $99 it’s a bargain. In addition to great sound and the ability to take a beating, the WONDERBOOM 3 features 14 hours of battery life, a Bluetooth range of 40 meters, the ability to pair with a second WONDERBOOM 3 speaker for stereo sound, and a Athleisure inspired fabric cover available in a variety of colors.

Treblab HD Max

For those who want to take big sound with them everywhere, the Treblab HD Max is an option that won’t break the bank. I’ve been testing one for the past few weeks (look for a review soon) and it’s earned a spot on this list.

For around $190, you get a boombox-inspired portable Bluetooth 5.0 speaker (strap included) with 50W of power across four drivers. The battery is good for up to 20 hours of music and the USB Type-A port can be used to charge a mobile device. The speaker is IPX6 water resistant, making it a solid choice for outdoor gatherings and camping.

Como Audio Amico

Portable Bluetooth speakers come in a variety of sizes and shapes, but almost all have one feature in common: an extensive use of plastic. If there’s someone on your list who appreciates a more retro or vintage vibe, there’s an excellent option in Como Audio’s Amico.

I loved this portable Bluetooth speaker when I watched it several years ago. Instead of plastic, the Amico’s MDF cabinet (with tuned bass port on the back) is covered in real teak veneer. The Class D digital amplifier pumps 30W to a 3-inch long-throw voice coil woofer and 19mm soft dome tweeter, delivering outstanding audio with the warmth of a wood cabinet and the fine-tuning of a built-in EQ. The controls are retro-inspired metal knobs and to continue the vintage theme, not only does it stream Bluetooth audio, but this speaker is also equipped with an FM radio.

A small integrated display is a touch of modern technology that helps with navigation and also shows album art. The battery pack with an operating time of 8 hours is user replaceable. Prices start at $399.

Ultimate Ears HYPERBOOM

Ultimate Ears gets a second speaker in this gift guide. The company has long been a leader in bringing “boombastic” sound to portable Bluetooth speakers, so this isn’t surprising.

Available in black or white, the $449.99 HYPERBOOM (review here) is the company’s flagship portable Bluetooth speaker – although it’s also perfectly suited to stay connected as a mini stereo system in a room.

The super-sized HYPERBOOM is equipped with a whopping six drivers (two woofers, two tweeters and two passive radiators) plus an app-based five-band graphic equalizer to deliver truly epic sound. It is equipped with an adaptive microphone to optimize audio for wherever it is placed. With both 3.5mm AUX and optical inputs, this speaker can be connected to outputs such as a TV or game console.

Despite its size, the HYPERBOOM can also travel. It’s IPX4 water resistant (good enough to protect against splashes), equipped with an integrated carrying strap and the battery is rated for up to 24 hours of music playback.

SOUNDBOKS Go

For a portable Bluetooth speaker that packs a punch, it’s hard to beat the $699 SOUNDBOKS Go.

I reviewed this robust 20lb behemoth – which is actually considerable smaller than the company’s other offerings — several months ago, and it certainly drew attention. That size is necessary if you’re lugging around a 10-inch woofer (plus a 1-inch silk dome tweeter, 2 x 72W Class D amplification and three bass reflex ports). The removable battery has a capacity of up to 40 hours after charging.

With its indoor mode, the SOUNDBOKS Go can be used indoors, but this Bluetooth speaker blasts the bass outdoors at its best.

Marshall Stanmore III

If you have a true rock music fan on your shopping list, rest assured they know the Marshall brand. Chances are Marshall’s logo is on the guitar amps used by their favorite bands.

Marshall also offers a range of Bluetooth speakers designed to evoke the look (and sound) of those iconic amps. I tested the $379.99 Marshall Stanmore III and it has quickly become a favourite.

This isn’t a portable speaker, it’s meant to be plugged into the mains and left as a compact home audio system (it even has RCA AUX inputs to connect another audio source). The Stanmore III features a pebbled exterior, mesh speaker grille and the Marshall logo. The top-mounted controls get the vintage treatment with dials and a real rocker switch. Few Bluetooth speakers are more satisfying to turn on than these…

While it makes a visual statement, this speaker isn’t just about looks. Inside the cabinet (with integrated bass reflex port), a 50-watt amplifier drives a woofer, while a pair of tweeters get 15 watts each. The substantial speaker cabinet (approximately 13.5 inches wide) and driver positioning are designed to deliver a wide soundstage. There are even built-in bass and treble controls to fine-tune the sound just the way you want it. It is equipped with Bluetooth 5.2 and Marshall provides updates as technology improves through a mobile app.

Fluance Fi70

Finally, I’m going to close this gift list with a classic pick for those looking for a Bluetooth speaker with a presence. When the Fluance Fi70 is in a room, you know it. This imposing modern piece of furniture (how else to describe an 81-pound, sculpted, pedestal-mounted six-driver audio system including a pair of 8-inch woofers and a 280-watt amplifier?) dominates a room, both visually and sonically.

I reviewed this one in 2016, but the $749.99 Fluance Fi70 is still available and offers a truly unique choice among Bluetooth speakers. Yes, the Bluetooth radio is still stuck on Bluetooth 2.1, but it supports aptX – and the system is equipped with both 3.5mm AUX and optical inputs for physical connections, plus FM radio.

Available in a variety of finishes over the MDF cabinet, the Fluance Fi70 will be a challenge to wrap, but as a gift, the response will be worth the required investment in paper and ribbon.

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