With the advent of Bluetooth technology, boomboxes can break free from their wired confines. There’s no shortage of Bluetooth boomboxes on the market, from dinky travel speakers like the five-star JBL Go 3 to heavier options that are designed for rugged outdoor use.
Boomboxes with Bluetooth connect wirelessly to smartphones and music players, making them portable party hubs. They also have USB and CD/MP3 player slots.
A boombox is a portable, stereo radio receiver that features a cassette-tape-recorder/player and often includes other advanced technology. Modern variants often incorporate a DVD player in the position of the cassette deck, which can play video content from a connected television. Some boomboxes also feature a USB port to support music playback from compatible flash drives.
Originally used by urban youth in the US, especially African American and Hispanic communities, the boombox became closely associated with hip hop culture. Its widespread use in these communities led to its nickname, the ghetto blaster. Photographer Lyle Owerko documented its cultural impact in his 2010 book, The Boombox Project: The Machines, the Music and the Underground.
A Bluetooth boombox is a newer version of this device that integrates wireless Bluetooth connectivity for streaming audio from compatible devices. It typically has a USB port for music playback and can be powered by AC power or batteries. Some boomboxes also include an aux input for connecting other external devices.
Bluetooth-enabled boomboxes allow you to wirelessly play music from any compatible MP3 player without the hassle of wires. Some boomboxes also offer a line-in for connecting other devices like CD players, or slots for various flash memory media such as SD, MMC, SmartMedia, and more.
This boombox is rated to last up to 24 hours on a single charge, and it’s also IP67 waterproof and dustproof (and floats in case you accidentally drop it into a lake or pool). It uses upgraded dual 3.5-inch woofers and dual 1-inch tweeters for powerful stereo sound.
The controls are easy to navigate, and the LED lights can be used as a party light show. This model also features a USB-out port for charging other devices and an analog audio input if you want to connect a device without using Bluetooth. It’s also possible to link two units together for stereo surround sound. The UE Hyperboom is similar to this boombox but costs slightly more and adds an optical digital input.
The design of this boombox doesn’t stray too far from JBL’s other outdoor speakers and that’s a good thing. It’s rugged and has a handle for easy transport. It’s also IPX7 waterproof so it can be used at the beach or pool and it can connect with other JBL boomboxes using JBL Connect+ technology.
This speaker comes with a USB input to charge your phone or other device and there’s a 3.5 mm input as well for wired devices. It also features a battery charger input and has a display that shows you how much charge is left in the battery.
The Bluetooth boombox has a built-in microphone for hands-free calling and can be connected to another Bluetooth device for stereo sound. It has a rechargeable battery and comes with a carry case and instructions. It has a frequency response of 50 Hz to 20 kHz and a signal-to-noise ratio of 80 dB, which is high enough for it to produce clear sounds.
Streamlined to be your go-to Bluetooth boombox, this portable JBL speaker packs a punch. It’s large by portable Bluetooth speaker standards but still fits in your hand easily. It’s a great pick for dance parties in the basement, garage, or beach — although it may benefit from being plugged in for best sound.
This portable JBL boombox is the bigger brother to the Xtreme 3 and delivers the same dynamic highs and floor-shaking bass with a higher output power (160 watts versus 2 x 20W). It’s IP67 rated to handle the elements and can be linked wirelessly to two Xtreme 3 speakers for stereo pair play.
While boomboxes can play music from USB and Bluetooth, the latter requires more setup and a device that’s already enabled for Bluetooth pairing. For a more hassle-free experience, consider the Ultimate Ears Hyperboom which can be paired with other UE boomboxes to create a stereo pair and spread sound across a larger area.