A JBL speaker will allow you to fully enjoy your music whether you're listening to vinyl at home, or want to enjoy your favorite tunes on the go. The company has made deft moves to continually refine the designs of its speakers to meet the expectations of music lovers. We can't say the same about most companies established in the 1940s, as they're typically resistant to change until their hand is forced.

JBL's portfolio of speakers is so vast that you could have different models within one household that serve different purposes. The one unifying feature among the best JBL  speakers is the company's exquisite attention to detail, both with a speaker's outer design, and internal components.

— Best Overall: JBL Stage 180
— Best Budget: JBL Clip 4
— Best Waterproof: JBL Xtreme 3
— Best for Parties: JBL PartyBox 110

How We Picked the Best JBL Speakers

Our JBL speaker recommendations are based on a mix of research and hands-on testing. Below are the factors we considered most highly when deciding which turntables to include in this buyer's guide.

Passive vs. Active: The best JBL speakers include a mix of powered (active) and unpowered (passive) models, which each have a set of pros and cons.

Powered speakers have an amplifier built inside, which means they can work independently from other pieces of stereo equipment. For example, all wireless speakers are active. Powered speakers take up less space than their unpowered counterparts, but their technical components may break down over time, at which place you'll need to have them serviced or replaced.

Passive speakers require an external amplification source, like an AV receiver, but, barring a major accident, should work indefinitely. This type of speaker is typically preferred by fans of vinyl because it allows them to pick out every single component in their system.

Wireless Connectivity: Many of JBL's latest speakers support Bluetooth, which allows you to stream music to them wirelessly from a phone, tablet, or computer. Some of JBL's wireless speakers are fully portable (which means they run on battery power), while others need to be connected to an outlet at all times.

Battery Life: The battery life on JBL's portable speakers is consistent, and in direct proportion with their size. In general, we chose the JBL speaker with the best battery life in its size class. Please note that the battery life JBL lists may not be consistent with your personal experience if you use your speaker at its maximum volume all the time.

Durability: In our experience, JBL's speakers can handle exposure to water and dirt better than any equivalent speakers made from other companies. A product's durability for water and dust exposure is measured on the IP (Ingress Protection) scale, which you can learn more about here.

The Best JBL Speakers: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: JBL Stage 180

Continuing the Tradition. JBL

Why It Made The Cut: These traditional, floor-standing speakers can be enjoyed by serious music or cinephiles designing an audio or home theater system.

— Speaker Type: Passive
— Wireless Connectivity: No
— Water Resistant: No

— Multi-driver audio system
— Custom-designed waveguide
— Spiked feet

— Requires a lot of space

If you have enough room in your place for a traditional set of floor-standing speakers, a pair of JBL’s Stage 180s should get your serious consideration. Like most loudspeakers, JBL offers the Stage 180 individually, so you’ll need to get two of them if you want to listen to music in stereo.

We appreciate JBL’s efforts to branch into different areas of the audio world, but this classic speaker typifies what we love about its hardware. The two-tone design looks extremely clean, so you won’t mind keeping the Stage 180 in a common room, which is impressive given its size. Looks are a nice perk, but the Stage 180’s audio attributes earned it the top slot in this guide.

This speaker has a multi-driver system, which means bass and treble sounds are sent out through different parts of the speaker, allowing you to hear them more quickly. JBL even designed a waveguide — an inverted cone-shaped component that fits right on top of the speaker’s tweeter. The waveguide sends high-frequency sounds straight toward you, which will make them sound a little clearer.

The Stage 180 sits on a set of four feet, which actually elevates it off the ground. JBL did this to prevent vibrations from the speaker rattling its cabinet. A shaking speaker produces worse sound because the drivers are sensitive to movement. All of these smaller details add up to an excellent looking and sounding speaker that’d work well in any home audio system.

Best Budget: JBL Clip 4

Little But Big. JBL

Why It Made The Cut: The Clip 4 is small enough to be taken anywhere, and sounds good enough that you’ll want to.

— Speaker Type: Active
— Wireless Connectivity: Yes
— Water Resistant: Yes

— Built-in carabiner
— Excellent water resistance
— Solid sound for the price

— No multi-speaker pairing

You’ll struggle to find a better-sounding small speaker than JBL’s Clip 4, which quickly became our go-to hiking companion and bathroom speaker after our tests. The Clip 4’s single driver produced a surprising amount of sound, and didn’t sound garbled when listening to music at high volumes. Attempts to silence the speaker by fully submerging it underwater were unsuccessful; it just kept going. JBL says this speaker can be submerged underwater for up to a half hour without getting damaged, and it’s not being hyperbolic.

Smaller speakers are easier to carry around than larger ones, but you still have to find enough space for them in your bag. JBL solved this issue by building a carabiner (clip) into the Clip 4 itself. This namesake feature made it easy to attach the speaker to a backpack on our way out of the house. Inside, we’d typically use this speaker in the shower, providing tunes while we cleaned up after a long day out.

If you’re an active person who wants to enjoy music without having to dedicate backpack space to a speaker, JBL’s Clip 4 is the obvious choice.

Best Waterproof: JBL Xtreme 3

Built to Last. JBL

Why It Made The Cut: The Xtreme 3 is a big wireless speaker that can provide entertainment from dawn till dusk.

— Speaker Type: Active
— Wireless Connectivity: Yes
— Water Resistant: Yes

— Multiple drivers
— Excellent battery life
— Strap holsters

— Big for a portable speaker

The Xtreme 3 is JBL’s ultimate portable wireless speaker, and could be the last one you get for a long, long time.

This speaker takes some design inspiration from the Clip 4, namely the two loops on top, which can be attached to an included strap to help it feel more portable. We appreciate the effort, but this is still a huge speaker, which could make it hard to carry around if you’re not strategic with your packing. If you do have the space, the Xtreme 3 deserves a place in your pack.

This is one of the few portable wireless speakers with a multi-driver audio system, which does help it sound very good. Two bass radiators on the side help round out the speaker’s low-end without overpowering sounds in other frequency ranges. If you like bass-heavy music, the Xtreme 3 is a compelling speaker.

The biggest upside to the Xtreme 3’s big size is its 15-hour battery life. You can take this speaker to a party and it’ll still have plenty of juice by the time guests leave and if you plan on going for a multi-day trip, you won’t need to rush to find an outlet very often. Speaking of the outdoors, the JBL Xtreme 3 has the same IP67 durability rating as the Clip 4, so you shouldn’t worry about what happens if you get stuck in the rain, or if the speaker accidentally ends up in the pool.

The JBL Xtreme 3 may be a little big for a portable speaker, but it’s absolutely worth the space.

Best for Parties: JBL PartyBox 110

Turn It Up. JBL

Why It Made The Cut: The PartyBox 110 is a huge speaker, guitar amp, and USB charger in one big package.

— Speaker Type: Active
— Wireless Connectivity: Yes
— Water Resistant: Yes

— ¼-inch inputs
— Water resistant
— Stereo pairing

— Large size

Party speakers have become very popular over the past few years, but JBL’s PartyBox 110 takes the category to another level. The massive speaker has a pair of ¼-inch inputs, which allows you to plug in a guitar and microphone to use the PartyBox 110 as a PA speaker to entertain your guests. This speaker also has a built-in lighting system, so it can provide both sights and sounds for the people at your next party.

This speaker was primarily designed to be used outdoors, so we’re happy that it’s IP4 water resistant. You can’t dunk the PartyBox 110 underwater, but it can get splashed without malfunctioning. This is especially welcome considering this speaker has a USB-A port around the back, which you can use to charge your phone or another smaller device.

You can control the PartyBox 110’s lighting system (and other features) by installing JBL’s PartyBox app on your smartphone (iOS and Android). The app isn’t required, though, and you can pair it to your device quickly by pressing the Bluetooth button on top. JBL also placed a button to control the lighting in the same area.

The JBL PartyBox 110 is an all-in-one audio system whose ability to double as a PA for live music puts it a cut above comparable speakers.

Things to Consider Before Buying JBL Speakers

Space Requirements

We highly recommend making measurements of your room before buying any passive speakers, so you know exactly how much space they'll take up. It's frustrating to realize the JBL speakers you bought aren't going to fit well — or at all — in the space you have for your setup.


Q: Can my home audio system contain a mix of speakers from different companies?

Yes. If your home audio system is made up of passive speakers, you can mix and match.

Q: How do I responsibly dispose of my speaker?

If you're replacing an older speaker with one of our recommendations, we recommend reading our guide on how to responsibly dispose of e-waste.

Final Thoughts on the Best JBL Speakers

— Best Overall: JBL Stage 180
— Best Budget: JBL Clip 4
— Best Waterproof: JBL Xtreme 3
— Best for Parties: JBL PartyBox 110

JBL's audio hardware is designed to last, which is why we're recognizing its speakers specifically. Its passive speakers should become a permanent part of your home's audio system, delivering consistently good sound each time you put on music. Its wireless speakers may very well accompany you on trips around the world, and handle accidental falls and dips into the water without conking out. We've even found the battery life of JBL's speakers remains remarkably consistent, even after several years of regular use, so you shouldn't have to upgrade them very often.

Why Trust Us

Let’s get one thing out of the way: Online shopping is hard. Search for any product and you’ll be confronted with dozens (if not hundreds or thousands) of choices. Our mission at Futurism, where we cover the latest technology, is to simplify this experience by researching, testing, and continuing to evaluate products so we only recommend choices that are actually worth your time.

This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.

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