Would a portable speaker work well enough for a roadtrip?
March 21, 2018 6:50 AM   Subscribe

I just found out that the six-hour work road trip I'll be taking tomorrow will be in an older car that doesn't have bluetooth, and I'm not sure it will have an AUX port. (It reportedly has a CD player but no tape deck.) Is it possible to buy a speaker that would work well enough to be listenable during a work roadtrip?

I like the person I'll be riding with, but six hours is a lot of time for me to chat. I need podcasts and potentially audiobooks to pass the time. I have about 12 hours to figure this out, and the answer will not involve me figuring out with my coworker which audiobooks to check out from the library or unearthing my old This American Life CDs. Instead I'm going to run frantically after work to the store to find an appropriate cable. But...in case there is no AUX jack...I wonder if there is a speaker that would work well enough to be satisfying?
posted by theefixedstars to Technology (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Not sure if you can find one in time but we have a gadget that plugs into the lighter port and has bluetooth to radio. One of those deals where you tune to an open station and it will play music from your phone on the cars radio.
posted by Captain_Science at 6:55 AM on March 21, 2018 [9 favorites]

I've done this using this speaker in my car before and found it to be totally satisfactory. The nice thing about this particular speaker is that it has an elastic strap on the back that I used to hook the speaker to the sun visor in the car for better acoustics.
posted by mjcon at 7:01 AM on March 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

Coat tailing Captain's answer, they're available at Best Buy for pick up.
posted by dlwr300 at 7:01 AM on March 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

Yep, if you are near a Five Below that's where I got mine. It has a power thingy for the cigarette lighter, then that goes to a selector to choose which radio station to broadcast to, then that has a headphone jack. It was $5 and I've used it for at least a couple years, works brilliantly. Much better than a speaker, which is how I was doing it, because this way the sound comes through the car stereo.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:01 AM on March 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

Oh yeah! My car does have bluetooth, but I use this anyway just because it sounds better than the speakers I have. Plus it's super portable so I don't have to leave it in the car to get swiped when I'm parked.
posted by mccxxiii at 7:13 AM on March 21, 2018

Ihome portable speakers at Best Buy ans similar are surprisingly great sounding, the littlest one is under $30. They don't hold a charge for a super long time, have a way to plug into the cigarette lighter or an external battery. I also have Anker portable speakers and the ihome speakers are much much better at the same pricepoint imho.
posted by jbenben at 7:15 AM on March 21, 2018

I've been using this particular iHome speaker for the past few years both at home and in the car for road trips, and it works like a champ. It's loud enough to carry over highway noise, compact, and uses a standard USB for charging/power. (On edit: It's also super cheap!)
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:30 AM on March 21, 2018

The JBL Clip is also a great Bluetooth speaker; surprisingly powerful given how small it is.
posted by neushoorn at 7:50 AM on March 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

We've had a couple of waterproof shower speakers (like this), which we also use next to the hot tub, and it's loud enough to be heard over the water and filter noise. If that's all you can get your hands on for cheap, it should do the job.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:07 AM on March 21, 2018

I have a Bluetooth speaker that I could happily listen to in a car for 6 hours. It's a Mini Jambox. I think it's discontinued, but there are definitely speakers out there that will be fine for what you want. Being able to charge it would be important though I think.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 8:14 AM on March 21, 2018

I've done it, it was fine. Much better than nothing.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:27 AM on March 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you are totally short on time/can't find a speaker you like, you can just use your phone's speaker and put it in a ceramic coffee cup, which amplifies the sound well enough for the front seat listeners. Heck, I play it like that for ambient sound in a classroom, too.
posted by sarajane at 9:22 AM on March 21, 2018

I have used the UE boom and the UE Roll for this. Excellent sound quality and great for everywhere else too.
posted by wowenthusiast at 9:37 AM on March 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

I’d like to Nth the recommendation of a UE roll. Just got back from several hours in the greenhouse at work where we all listened to music on a UE roll. They’re great portable water resistant speakers.
posted by sciencegeek at 10:57 AM on March 21, 2018

I'd go for the FM transmitter over the separate bt speaker.
posted by rhizome at 11:01 AM on March 21, 2018

We do this on road trips. It works very well.
posted by mmascolino at 11:12 AM on March 21, 2018

FM Transmitters on roadtrips can be a hassle as vacant channels in one area may not be vacant in the next. Also, many FM transmitters (at least, the cheap ones) have a very limited number of channels to choose from, so even if there are vacant channels you may not be able to tune to them. You can check your route here: https://radio-locator.com/cgi-bin/vacant
posted by sacrifix at 2:26 PM on March 21, 2018

I have a Bose SoundLink Color I use at home. The sound quality is nice and it can get loud, which was why I bought it, so in that sense, it could be better than playing your cell phone aloud. I bought it at a Bose store, but I'm pretty sure they are sold at places like Best Buy. I believe it can go at least six hours. I know I will listen to several podcasts before I recharge it. But you could also bring a portable power bank with you as well.

They do also sell bluetooth headphones/ear buds. I bought some very cheap ones off Amazon. They seem to work ok but I haven't used them a ton so I wouldn't recommend the specific brand. I went by the best-rated bluetooth ear buds for the cheapest cost.
posted by AppleTurnover at 6:19 PM on March 21, 2018

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