Alan Ross – Top Picks

This is a list of some of my preferred portable bluetooth speakers!

Top For value

Tribit Stormbox Blast: Pound for pound champ! Unbeatable combination of deep bass and balance imho for the money. Not as deep (or boomy) as the JBL Boombox 3 but that speaker is much larger and costly. The blast actually uses the woofers from the JBL Boombox. For me in my neutral EQ I can get some sort of HiFi type sound, a bit more sophisticated than the normal party sound if you like from these sort of speakers. Currently flip flops in UK between £150-£200. Not perfect as the case with just about every speaker out there. Has a 5.5khz dip that you have to EQ around.

Special shout-out

Harman Kardon Go+ Play 3: Quite simply my current favourite speaker. This is the nearest you will get to a neutralish hi-fi (ish) sound at £300 or less. Warmer, smoother and bigger sounding than the go play 2, plenty of detail on offer and with a Hi-Fi type of quality to the sound. The bass is lovely and warm and present and this is a speaker i absolutely play a lot and enjoy. In a well treated room the default settings are just slightly warm side of neutral but in a boomy reverberant room it will sound bass heavy. You can tailor the highs and lows somewhat with the hidden eq settings. Volume up and phone button tapped together will give three adjustments for highs and volume down with the bluetooth button give three adjustments for bass. The yellow flashes tell you which one of the 3 eq steps you are on. default is 2 flashes.
Marshall Stockwell 2: balanced immersive, not loud. Often overlooked this compact 360 degree speaker with its abss set to 8 and the treble upped just a tad is very balanced but will fall apart at louder volumes. However still a go-to for me for a relaxing moderate volume listen and quite accurate with above settings. Mine and others has aptX but Marshall/Zound industries insist it doesn’t have aptX 🤷‍♂️
Soundcore Motion Boom: Amazingly deep bass to 40hz for its size and price. My last pound for pound champ before the Blast. Replaced by the Soundcore Boom 2 in March 2024. However they do not look or the sound the same. Motion Boom remains a warmer sounding speaker but Boom 2 goes much louder but with a single woofer and two tweeters.
Mifa Wildbox A Motion Boom alternative. Sound is dependent on the firmware which must be manually updated. The original firmware I reviewed was more bass heavy than the next firmware and I haven’t tested any firmware’s since. Some prefer its more neutral sound (they say) to the same sized Soundcore Motion Boom.
Soundcore Motion Plus Still worth a look, my original world pound for pound champ the Motion Plus can still offer great clarity.

£50 champion:

Soundcore Boost V2 Great bass for its size, Soundcore Boost: This is classed as a compact travel speaker but for me is a best buy at around £50. Note there is an issue where at lower volumes bass can pump but for me it’s so rare as to be a non issue, others find it more annoying than myself.

Other £50 or less speakers

Bogasing G4 One to consider. Bigger than the most compact £50 speakers and offering more volume and more bass as a result. Not the cleanest sounding speaker ever but offers a good combination of price/bass/loudness.
Mifa WildRod: sits between Soundcore boost and Tribit maxsound plus in sound and is about the same size. Uses the drivers from the Flip 6.
Bogasing M5: decent enough, bright sound up to 50%, 360 sound.
Tozo PA1: cheap travel speaker with quirks but also custom eq
Tribit Maxsound Plus: The most neutral speaker you will find for size and price. You might find it bass light but till you start hitting louder volumes this is very accurate down to some mid bass. Very clear. Replaced by the Tribit Xsound Plus 2 in April 2024. The Tribit Xsound Plus however is not a neutral sounding speaker with a very v shaped default EQ. it does however have a Maxsound Plus preset but at this point it is still more v shaped than neutral than the original Maxsound Plus. or

Good value Speakers I actually listen to:

JBL PartyBox Encore: Very small battery but VFM for a deep bass party speaker with karaoke features and included microphone. Really a party speaker but included here because it does do deep bass almost on a par with the Boombox 3 and depending on the deal its hard to find something with the all round balance and still be good for oparties.
Onyx Studio 5/6 These two speakers are the most deep bass heavy of the entire Onyx Studio series. The Onyx studio 5 being a tad more bass heavy than the 6 and the 6 being a tad more high end clear than the 5. Both are mono.
Bag of Riddim 2: Not for everyone but a lot of fun especially with some reggae music. Very mid and upper bass heavy and certainly not one for the audiophiles but has a great character of its own.
JBL Boombox 3 WiFi: Crazy price but I much prefer its balance to that of the BB3 bluetooth only edition which has a silly 700hz peak that ruins it for me. The Wifi is tuned slightly different, more for indoor listening than the bluetooth version. The Wifi version also has dolby atmos for music decoding.
Minirig mk3 2.2 system: The Minirigs are as fiddly as hell to setup and the app is flakey but when you get it right and the full 2.2 system (or 4.2 with the minis) is a fantastic hifi like listen. favours volume and upper bass over deeper bass. Has a low gain and high gain mode.
Audio Pro C3: Open and neutral but lacks deep bass, also has WiFi connection. Can make a refreshing change from party type speakers and v-shaped speakers.
JBL Charge 5: Definitely one of JBL’s better value speakers. Mono, clear and dynamic at low volumes, reasonably loud. Very travel friendly cylindrical shape, again not one for audiophiles but certainly one that will please a lot of people.
Beosound A1 1st gen: better than 2nd gen, connectivity and battery issues. Deep bass for small size. Not cheap but one of the best listens for its very small and flat size.
Denon 250bt: discontinued but still a reference for size/quality ratio. Has a rapid discharge battery but if you can find a bargain it’s still a great (and one of the best) travel friendly listens.
Bose Soundlink Micro Same size as the Tribit Stormbox Micro but different sound signature. Very warm sounding but falls away at loud volumes (relatively).
Tribit Stormbox Micro 2 Much cheaper than the Bose Micro option and way better value but a very different sound. The Tribit Micro is more clinical (neutralish) than the Bose, both decent for size but very different target market.
Tribit Stormbox Pro: Recently dropped to $99 making it great value. Not just a poor mans Bose Revolve+ this has tweeters unlike the Bose Revolve+. For me it can match the Bose at low and very loud volume sbut Bose better at around 60-80% volume.
Bose Revolve+: Crazy high price of $250 normally. I can’t recommend to buy it for a single driver 360 degree speaker at that price but at around 70% volume I find it a great listen given its size and 360 degree nature. But this is its sweet spot and it will sound muddy at lower volumes and at 100% the highs fall away leaving a weird but bass heavy sound.

Bass Heavy Speakers:

Onyx Studio 8 An improvement on the 7 and stereo (in terms of the two tweeters anyways) unlike the Onyx 5 and 6. Not as bass heavy as those two but better balance and will suit people who prefer balance over big deep bass. personally I prefer the 5 and 6.
Tribit Xsound Mega: small/medium sized mono speaker with fun bass and light show.
Soundcore Boom 2: Medium size speaker with decent upper bass slam and can go quite loud. Single woofer robs of some life. fair value for money for outdoor party sound from small package speaker.
Soundcore Motion Boom Plus: Best package for price, weight and loudness. However its bass is mostly upper bass and overall a bright sounding speaker that can sound harsh and maybe best played outdoors.
JBL Boombox 2 & 3: These two have similar bass but Boombox 3 is more mids forward
W-King D10 for upper bass with a balanced sound and well priced
W-King H10, loudest speaker i have tested so far with the biggest battery hitting 115dB playing at 100% at 1 meter.
Tronsmart Bang max: can match the low bass of the JBL Boombox but has issues elsewhere. Certainly an option for a cheap version of the JBL Boombox 3 just don’t expect great mids or highs.
W-King X20: When pricesd about the same as the Bang Max the X20 offers better value. Ultimately X20 will go louder with more bass and better balance. However the Tronsmart in Soundpulse mode has a sweet spot around 75% volume which is more bass heavy than the X20 and if those are your volumes and you want more bass the bang Max still can out-do the X20 but its only around this specific volume step it can do that. The X20 also goes much louder than the JBL Boombox 3 even with the Boombox 3 on mains power.

Party Speakers

Soundcore Rave Neo 2: reasonably balanced, lacks deep bass but plenty of mid and upper bass, a bit too lively for me but if you can get it for the $99 i have seen it on sale for its one of the best value speakers out there.
W-King T11, party type speaker that can hold bass even at max volume (110 dB)

Hi End Picks

Vifa Oslo: expensive but very clear with deep bass, lacks warmth:
Rocksteady Stadium 2.1 system: good subwoofer, satellites could be better
Dali Katch: lots of issues, best at low volumes
Soundcore Motion X600: analytical, slightly bass light, bass distorts for a lot of people. Entirely dependent on the firmware you have since for the first weeks after release no less than 9 different tunings were loaded onto different versions of the Motion X600.
JBL Authentics 300: has a notable 50hz boost, a little sharp and thin, not too loud

Travel Speakers:

Soundcore Motion X500: Ignore the hype. Sounds pretty reasonable in bass heavy Dynamic mode up to 60%.
Soundcore Motion 300: bright tuning, distortion in Xtra bass, nice enough for medium to low volume
Earfun UBoom L: Detailed and neutral mids but lacks bass impact (firmware 0.4x). This speaker is totally dependent on the firmware. Originally tuned by Olaf of Oluvs Gadegts youtube channel his firmware was later dropped by Earfun for a more bass heavy crowd pleasing sound. This firmware is not without its merits but is a very different sound to the more relaxed Olafs tuning. This speaker is often spoken of as flat with Oluvs tuning but really only the mids are flat. Also with 0.4x firmware you get a lot of volume control at the lowest volume steps. That is to say there are gradual increases in loudness rather than big jumps.
Soundcore Motion 300: Class leading app gives lots of options for EQ, decent for the money
Bose Soundlink Flex: good bass for its compact size.
Tribit Stormbox Flow: Bose Flex clone. deeper bass than Flex but some distortion in xbass mode.
JBL Flip 6: can be a bit harsh).
Wonderboom 3: really nice form factor with reasonable sound
Bose Soundlink Max: Not awful but with lots of issues once you go over 50% due to its use of virtual surround processing and lack of mids. It remains a nice form factor for the beach in a compact form going loud with some bass but at $400 is probably the most overpriced speaker I have so far purchased. At time of review cannot be paired with a second Bose max as far as I know. Just with other Bose smart spoeakers.

Micro Options:

Mifa Tango: 100% tuned for outdoor or low level listening, camping geared

360 degree speakers:

Tribit Stormbox 2: similar sound to StormBox 1 but with a lot more overall volume but strangely a tad less bass than V1. Its an ok sound, clearer than the Glow but with a lot less bass. The Tribit Stormbox Pro is a better buy but also more expensive. App support.
Minirig Mk3: works best paired with the sub:
Soundcore Glow: Safe sounding, reasonable balance but certainly on the bright thin side but still a safe listen for most. has a big 13khz peak which is a bit overdone.

Worth a Listen:

W-King T9-1:, reasonably loud and balanced big bright detailed stereo sound. Note this is for the original T9. Since then W-King have made different versions with different chips. I am told the newer models may have more bass so may not be the balanced detailed sound I got from my original version.
LG Xboom GO PN7: relaxing, not bass heavy, DTS mode for open sound. This is what I class as a large travel speaker form factor. True spatial sound format in the form of DTS upmixing 3 years before the fake spatial sound claimed by Soundcore on the Motion X500 and Motion X600. Fake as in just stereo upmixed to a third upward firing driver and not playing and decoding any true spatial formats.