If you're shopping for a speaker on a tight budget, it can feel like you have to make a lot of sacrifices in terms of performance. However, speakers have increasingly improved their features while keeping prices fairly low. Although they tend to have a simple design and small size, many affordable speakers are still able to deliver clear vocals. Some speakers even have companion apps that offer additional controls and features, built-in voice assistants, and Bluetooth connectivity for more portability.
We've tested over 65 speakers, and below are our recommendations for the best cheap speakers. See also our recommendations for the best Bluetooth speakers under $50.
The best cheap Bluetooth speaker that we've tested is the Anker Soundcore 3. This decently built speaker comes with a carrying cord you can attach to its side to help with transporting it. It's rated IPX7 for dust and water resistance, though we don't currently test this.
Its sound profile has a balanced mid-range that ensures vocals and lead instruments sound clear, though they can also sound a bit dark. While it struggles to reproduce the deep thump and rumble in low-bass, its Soundcore companion app features a full graphic EQ and presets you can use to customize its sound to your liking. It also has an outstanding battery life that can last over 13 hours from a single charge, though battery life can vary depending on usage so your real-world experience may differ.
Unfortunately, it can't get very loud, and there are some compression artifacts at max volume, so your audio may not sound as clear during louder listening sessions. It also has terrible voice assistant capabilities, which can be disappointing to those who rely on them for support. That said, if you're looking for a cheap and versatile speaker, it's still a solid choice.
The Sony SRS-XB12 is the best cheap and portable speaker that we've tested. This very well-built speaker is rated IP67 for dust and water resistance, though we don't currently test for this. It's lightweight, portable, and comes with a carrying strap that makes it easy to take it with you when you're on the go. It also has a fantastic battery life that can last over 13 hours from a single charge, making it suitable for long listening sessions.
This speaker has a reasonably well-balanced mid-range that ensures vocals and lead instruments sound clear and present in the mix. It also has outstanding directivity, resulting in a wide and spacious-sounding soundstage, so your audio should sound clear from most angles. Additionally, it supports voice assistants from your smartphone, though its performance isn't very good.
Unfortunately, it struggles to reproduce low-bass and doesn't have any sound customization features you can use to tweak its sound to your liking. It also downmixes stereo content to mono which doesn't sound as immersive. It's important to note that its price tends to fluctuate a lot, so it sometimes retails for a bit more than our $50 price point. That said, if you're looking for a cheap portable speaker, it's still a good choice.
If you're looking for a portable cheap speaker that supports stereo content, consider the OontZ Angle 3 ULTRA instead. It isn't as well-built, and its soundstage performance isn't as good as that of the Sony SRS-XB12, but it can play stereo content. This lightweight speaker also has an IPX7 rating for water resistance, though we don't currently test for this. Its default sound profile has a balanced mid-range that can reproduce clear vocals and lead instruments, but those same instruments can also sound a bit dark or dull, and it struggles to reproduce a punchy low-bass. Fortunately, there are bass and treble adjustments in its companion app to help you adjust its sound. It also has a battery life of over 20 hours, which should be more than enough for long days on the go.
If you want a better-built option with a wider-sounding soundstage, check out the Sony, but if you want a stereo speaker that supports stereo content, and has some sound customization features, consider the OontZ instead.
The best cheap speaker for voice assistants that we've tested is the Amazon Echo Dot Gen 4. This speaker offers outstanding voice assistant support with Alexa built-in. It does an excellent job of understanding your commands from far away and in noisy environments. There's even a mute mic button you can use when you no longer want your assistant to hear you.
This speaker has a balanced mid-range, so voices and lead instruments in your audio are reproduced clearly and accurately, making it suitable for listening to vocal-centric audio like audiobooks and podcasts. That said, it struggles to reproduce low-bass, so you can't feel the thump and rumble typically present in bass-heavy music like Hip-Hop and EDM. Fortunately, there are bass and treble adjustments featured in its Amazon Alexa companion app, which you can use to customize its sound to better suit your preferences. It also has very good directivity thanks to its spherical design, so your audio sounds clear from most angles.
Unfortunately, this speaker can't get very loud, and there's some compression at max volume, so your audio may not sound as clean during louder listening sessions. It also needs to remain plugged into a power source for it to work, so it isn't very portable. Still, if you're looking for a speaker that offers fantastic voice assistant support at an affordable price, it's a good choice.
If you prefer Google Assistant over Alexa, consider the Google Nest Mini. While it doesn't get as loud as the Amazon Echo Dot Gen 4, and its mic struggles to separate your voice from ambient noise around you, it has Google Assistant built-in. It also has a mic-mute button if you don't want the voice assistant to always be listening to you. It supports Google Chromecast, which is nice if you like to wirelessly stream audio from your smartphone to the speaker. Thanks to its well-balanced mid-range, it can reproduce vocal-centric content like podcasts clearly and accurately. Even though it lacks low bass, its Google Home companion app offers bass and treble adjustments so you can tweak its sound to your liking.
Check out the Amazon model if you're looking for something with Alexa voice assistant built-in and a better-balanced sound profile right out of the box. However, try the Google speaker if you like to stream your audio via Chromecast or if you want to use Google Assistant.
The best budget Bluetooth speaker that we've tested is the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2. This speaker is outstandingly well-built and rated IP67 for dust and water resistance, though we don't test for this. It's outstandingly portable and even has a small built-in handle to help you carry it or suspend it from a hook.
It has a reasonably balanced sound profile, making it suitable for listening to a wide variety of audio content. There's also an 'Outdoor Mode' preset you can use to increase the speaker's bass; however, we didn't test this. Also, it has outstanding directivity thanks to its 360-degree design, so its soundstage is perceived as wide and natural-sounding.
Unfortunately, like most speakers its size, it struggles to reproduce the deep thump and rumble that fans of bass-heavy music tend to enjoy, and there isn't a graphic EQ you can use to tweak its sound to your liking. It also doesn't offer voice assistant support. However, if you're looking for a good Bluetooth speaker on a budget, it's definitely an option worth considering.
If you're looking for a more customizable speaker in the budget range, consider the Anker Soundcore Motion+. While its soundstage performance isn't as impressive as the 360-degree Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2, it offers a graphic EQ to help you customize its sound more to your liking. The Soundcore app also features some EQ presets like 'Bass Up', 'Voice', and 'Heavy'. Out-of-the-box, this stereo speaker has a balanced mid-range that can reproduce clear vocals and lead instruments, though they may also sound a bit dull due to the underemphasized treble range. It can also use the voice assistant from your paired smartphone, and its over 15-hour battery life makes it suitable for long days on the go.
If you want a speaker with a 360-degree design and a more open-sounding soundstage, check out the Ultimate Ears, but if you prefer something with a customizable sound, consider the Anker instead.
Jul 02, 2021: Minor changes made to the text for consistency. No changes were made to product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability.
May 06, 2021: Added the Anker Soundcore 3 as the best pick, the Sony SRS-XB12 as the best portable pick, and the JBL GO 3 to the notable mentions. Updated the text for consistency and accuracy.
Apr 20, 2021: Added the JBL JR POP and OontZ Angle 3 to Notable Mentions. Minor changes made to the text to ensure accuracy and product availability.
Mar 30, 2021: Confirmed all picks are in stock and still the best recommendations for our users.
Mar 09, 2021: Added the Sony SRS-XB12 as the 'Best' pick. Added the OontZ Angle 3 ULTRA as 'Stereo Alt' to 'Best Portable'. Replaced the Anker Soundcore Flare 2 with the Anker Soundcore Motion+ as 'Best Customizable Under $100'. Added the Anker Soundcore Flare 2 and the DOSS SoundBox Plus to Notable Mentions.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best cheap speakers for most people. We factor in the price (a cheaper speaker wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no speakers that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
If you'd like to do the work of choosing yourself, here's the list of all our speaker reviews under $100. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. While no speaker is perfect for every use, most are good enough to please almost everyone, and the differences are often not noticeable unless you really look for them.