What are some good choices for portable speakers?
June 15, 2015 3:13 PM   Subscribe

I'm interested in getting some kind of WiFi based speakers for my apartment -- preferably something small and reasonably portable that I can move from room to room (or alternatively, something cheap enough to get a unit/pair of speakers for the kitchen, one for the living room, and one for my bedroom). There are a lot of similar devices on the market now and I'm not sure how to start combing through them.

I primarily use a MacBook Pro but I'd also like something that can handle my iPhone and my desktop, an old Linux box. (The last of which makes me lean toward avoiding anything tied too closely to the Apple ecosystem.)

I would want something compatible with any application on the computer -- i.e. Youtube or another website playing through a browser window, music playing from a music player app (I mostly use Radiant Player, a Google Play player for OS X), and potentially any music streaming service I might sign up for (I'm not a member of any yet). And I'd want some way to play my local public radio station through it (if that meant loading up the station website, that would be fine, as long as the speakers are able to transmit output from a web page.)

I'm not clear enough on the options out there to know which ones will do this and how easily. I'm looking for something on the cheap side, and I'm not demanding in terms of sound quality. Also, I don't like messing with batteries and I have lots of outlets, so something I have to plug in is fine.

Also, I'd like something reasonably easy to find and order, as I may ask my parents for it for my birthday.
posted by mister pointy to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I just bought this Oontz angle speaker I use primarily via Bluetooth with my iPhone and I like it very much. I've also been able to connect my iPad.

I tried once getting my Macbook to find it and it hasn't worked, but I haven't done any troubleshooting.
posted by pantarei70 at 3:27 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

It's not cheap cheap, but Sonos is by far the best thing going in this arena and their entry level unit is $200. It is a standalone player (that is, it receives the streaming content itself rather having to have it piped from a computer or other device) that can also access a music library stored on the network and shared with SMB.
posted by contraption at 3:35 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

I use a Logitech UE Boom, which I love, and also Amazon Echo with Prime Music, which is really convenient but plugs in, and a Vizio soundbar on the TV which I can connect to by bluetooth and sounds the best of the three...

But that Oontz Angle linked above seems like a great deal. The Wirecutter actually recommends a lower tier Oonze as their budget pick for best bluetooth speaker, but that one up there is 72% off right now so it's almost the same price as the little one... and the reviews are great. For $36 I think that's your best bet.

You should absolutely be able to get it to connect to your laptop.
posted by Huck500 at 3:52 PM on June 15, 2015

I have a Jawbone Jambox. It's very small and holds a charge very well, I've gotten more than 10 hours of playback on a charge. The sound is small but louder than I expected for the size, not really a heavy metal play back device but it sounds pretty good. If I lost it, I'd buy another one tomorrow.
posted by doctor_negative at 4:02 PM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

For $20, this Sabrent unit will make any speaker in to a Wifi speaker - it connects to USB for power and has a standard audio jack for output, connects to your Wifi, and provides AirPlay and DLNA support (which between the two means you can play from pretty much any device imaginable). When I wanted something pretty much identical to what you're looking for, I wound up getting three of them and three cheap speakers. They work great, and cover my living room, kitchen, and bedroom for half the price of the cheapest single Sonos unit.
posted by Itaxpica at 4:26 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have a Bohm SoundBlock, which I received as a Christmas present. It works well, connects to my MacBook and my iPhone with no problems, plays any app that has sound.

The one caveat is that in order for the "next track/previous track" buttons on the speaker itself to work, you have to do things (connect the Bluetooth, start the app in question) in a specific order, and I can never remember what the order is, and so the buttons never work.
posted by Lucinda at 5:59 PM on June 15, 2015

Oooh, you need the UE Boom. Maybe a pair of them.

Easy to pair with Bluetooth, portable, put up with abuse, awesome.
posted by leahwrenn at 8:54 PM on June 15, 2015

I like the adapter and then any speakers idea. this also lets you use real, full sized speakers in your living room and wherever your computer is.

I got an amp a few years ago that included airplay+DLNA like that recommended sabrent unit above, and i love love love it.

I also have a big jambox, but if i was mostly going to use it around the house i'd rather just use real plug in speakers.

By the way, if you google around, airplay is super easy to set up on linux. Like, under 5 minutes of following a short page of instructions to get an app and a couple dependencies installed then set it and forget it sort of thing.

If you end up going bluetooth, i like recommending this now. It's better than any of the other jambox-y-boom-speaker things mentioned above, just a bit larger... but way cheaper. It's indestructible, you can use it as a tiny chair.
posted by emptythought at 10:59 PM on June 15, 2015

I have the Bose Mini Soundlink and am happy with it, use it with my macbook, no idea about linux. If the bluetooth is connected it plays whatever is emitting sound regardless of program afaik.
posted by lafemma at 7:03 AM on June 16, 2015

The Ooontz Angle is not loud enough for anything but a small office/room. The Bose Mini color, or Bose Mini should be considered, but at $150 to $200 each they get pricy. A 3rd option and probably best if you already have the equipment is a Bluetooth receiver that you can plug into the AUX in of a table radio, mini stereo system, or non-BT powered speaker. For about $30.00 each you can add several BT receivers.

One thing to note, is that BT is not as smooth as it should be. Since the BT speaker or adapter can only connect with one device at a time You will have to connect/reconnect your various devices every time you switch sources.
posted by Gungho at 7:59 AM on June 16, 2015

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