If you're shopping for a speaker on a tight budget, it can feel like you have to make many 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 can still 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 70 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 transport 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 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, meaning that 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 disappoint 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 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. Also, 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 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 fluctuates, so it sometimes retails for a bit more. 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. It isn't as well-built, and its soundstage performance isn't as good as 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. If you want a stereo speaker that supports stereo content and has some customization features, consider the OontZ instead.
The best cheap Bluetooth 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 reproduce 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 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 microphone mute button if you don't want the voice assistant to always listen to you. It supports Google Chromecast, which is nice for those who wirelessly stream audio from their 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 Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2 is the best budget Bluetooth speaker that we've tested. This small Bluetooth speaker has a built-in handle to carry it or to suspend it from a hook. It's also remarkably well-built with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, though we don't currently test for this.
Its sound profile is fairly balanced, so vocals and lead instruments sound clear and present in the mix. There's also an 'Outdoor Mode' feature advertised to help bump up its bass, though we don't currently test this. Thanks to its 360-degree design, it has excellent directivity, resulting in a wide and natural-sounding soundstage. Also, while it doesn't get very loud, there aren't many compression artifacts present at max volume, so your audio sounds clean and clear during louder listening sessions.
Unfortunately, like most small speakers, it struggles to reproduce low-bass, so you can't feel the thump and rumble in bass-heavy music like hip-hop or EDM. It also lacks more comprehensive sound customization features like a graphic EQ, so you can't customize its sound to your liking. That said, it's still a solid choice if you're looking for a good Bluetooth speaker and are on a budget.
Check out the Anker Soundcore Flare 2 if you prefer a more customizable speaker under $100. While it doesn't get as loud as the Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 2, it comes with a graphic EQ and presets you can use to tweak its sound to your liking. This small speaker comes with customizable RGB lights and offers an excellent soundstage that you'll perceive as open and spacious, thanks to its 360-degree design. With its default settings enabled and its BassUp feature turned on, it has a balanced mid-range that ensures vocals and lead instruments sound present in the mix. However, like most speakers its size, it struggles to reproduce low-bass, so you can't feel the deep thump and rumble in bass-heavy music like EDM. Also, while it supports voice assistants through your smartphone, its performance isn't very good.
If you're looking for a better-built speaker under $100 that can get louder, get the Ultimate Ears. That said, if you're looking for a more customizable speaker with RGB lights, consider the Anker instead.
Aug 31, 2021: Replaced the Anker Soundcore Motion+ with the Anker Soundcore Flare 2, since the Motion+ is now above our $100 price point for budget speakers. Updated the text for consistency and accuracy.
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.
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.