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JBL portable speakers tested: should you buy one for your summer holiday?

Whatever type of speaker you want, from travel-size clip-on speakers to high-powered home speakers, we’ve got you covered

If you’re just about to head off on your summer getaway, we could have the perfect portable speaker for you. We’ve looked at eight new models in our latest tests, from pocket-sized and carry-friendly models from JBL to more traditional-looking speakers from Bush and Denon.

There’s been a vast range of scores, with plenty of surprises. Find out more about some of the speakers we’ve tested below and click on the links to our reviews to see which ones are worth your money.

First off is the JBL Clip 3, and there surely can’t be a more portable speaker. You simply fasten it to your bag with a carabiner and the waterproof, lightweight speaker is ready to play your favourite tunes or radio station whenever you’re in the mood. JBL also offers the budget-friendly £30 Go 2 and high-powered portable Xtreme 2.

If you’d like a more traditional-looking speaker instead, the Denon Envaya Pocket is designed (you’ve guessed it) for carrying around in your pocket. And if you’re looking for a flexible speaker suitable to fill a room at home as well as use in the garden, Bush’s Classic Retro Bluetooth Speaker may be just the ticket.

Best Buy wireless and Bluetooth speakers – head straight to the best speakers on the market.

JBL Clip 3, £50

The JBL Clip 3 is a small, light, portable Bluetooth speaker that looks ideal for attaching to your rucksack, saddle bag or belt bag, ready for whenever you want to enjoy music or radio on your travels. It’s IPX7 waterproof, so you don’t have to worry about it getting wet even in a heavy downpour.

JBL claims its battery lasts for 10 hours of continuous music playing, and it even supports hands-free calling from your smartphone. It includes a 3.5mm audio cable so you can connect up an MP3 player or other device via a cable as well.

But is the sound up to scratch? See what our expert listening panel of music industry professionals thought in our JBL Clip 3 review.

JBL Xtreme 2, £280

If you’re looking for something a bit more powerful to fill an outdoor space, such a campsite, the JBL Xtreme 2 looks like it’ll do the business, combining power and portability with its handy carry strap. Like its smaller brethren, it supports hands-free calling, plus it has a 3.5mm socket for connecting wired devices and IPX7 waterproofing, so it can be fully submersed in water without damage for a limited time.

For parties, you can even connect up the JBL Xtreme 2 to other JBL Connect+-enabled speakers to spread the sound further, and connect two together to create stereo sound.

We see whether this is the high-powered portable speaker you’ve been waiting for in our comprehensive JBL Xtreme 2 review.

JBL Go 2, £30

The compact JBL Go 2, at only £30, looks like the ideal speaker to carry in your pocket. Available in a range of 12 bright colours, its small size doesn’t leave it short on features, packing in hands-free calling from your smartphone, a 3.5mm audio cable for connecting to devices such as your MP3 player via a wire, and IPX7 waterproofing, so it should survive even if you drop it in a puddle. You can even connect it to another one to create stereo sound – it seems to be the perfect pocket package.

We put this speaker through its paces in our expert JBL Go 2 review.

Bush Classic Retro Bluetooth Speaker, £30

Looking for a more traditional-looking speaker? The Bush Classic Retro Bluetooth Speaker comes at a great price, and isn’t short on features either. Nice classic-style knobs on the top allow you to change the volume, and there’s a built-in equaliser as well, with knobs for independently adjusting the treble and bass.

Despite being primarily designed for use in the home, it also supports battery power, so if you want to take it out into the garden or shed for a few hours to continue your listening on a sunny day, you have the flexibility.

See how this versatile speaker performs in our Bush Classic Retro Bluetooth Speaker review.

Denon Envaya Pocket, £79

Leading hi-fi system manufacturer Denon has also turned its expertise to wireless speakers in recent years, with some Best Buy success. The Denon Envaya Pocket is the smallest and lightest member of Denon’s portable Bluetooth speaker range – smaller than the Denon Envaya Mini and the Denon Envaya.

The perfect size to carry around in your pocket, the Denon Envaya Pocket also has a IP67 rating, which not only means its waterproof, but dust proof as well, so you can safely take it on to the beach. It has a 3.5mm socket for connecting devices via a wire, and you can connect two of the speakers together to create stereo sound on your travels. It also has a built-in equaliser to adjust the levels of treble and bass to your taste.

Our discerning listening-panel experts listened to a wide variety of genres, from classical to pop and rock, to see whether this speaker matches Denon’s hi-fi pedigree in our Denon Envaya Pocket review.

Even more wireless speakers tested

Luxury brand Harman Kardon is the latest big manufacturer to launch its flagship smart speaker, the Allure, which can be controlled with your voice using Amazon Alexa as well as having a unique 360-degree mood-lighting array to add a new dimension to your music. We see how it stacks up to rivals.

Denon has long been known for its excellent hi-fi and home speakers, so we’ve reviewed its latest Heos speakers as well, following on from the respected Denon Heos 1. See whether the larger speakers in the range can do even better in our expert lab tests.

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