Update, 12/13/2022: We’ve reviewed our recommendations and we’re sure these are still the best portable stereos you can buy.
What to look for in a Boombox in 2022
We live in a different world than the one that produced the boomboxes of yesteryear. As much as we’re nostalgic for the style and utility of older boomboxes, that doesn’t mean we’re not looking for modern features.
Bluetooth, or wireless communication in general, is the cornerstone of those modern features we’re talking about. For most of us, our phone, tablet, or computer is the primary source of our music. All of the models we review in this article feature Bluetooth, so boomboxes can connect to these devices and play the sounds you want.
Of course, if you’re looking for improved audio fidelity, you might prefer another option on your boombox like an auxiliary input jack. Not all of the boomboxes we’re looking at here have an aux jack, but we’ll mention when they do.
If you’re looking to buy a boombox, there’s a good chance you’re also looking at one with a built-in radio. Most of the boomboxes we’re focusing on in this article feature a built-in radio, but not all do, and some are limited to FM radio only.
The original boomboxes relied on physical media in addition to their built-in radios. More and more people are going digital-only with their music, so this may not apply to you. But if you have physical media, chances are you’re looking for a CD player. Some of the boomboxes we’re highlighting here also feature cassette playback if you’re feeling really old school.
Finally, size is an important consideration. Some people want something small and portable, while others want something huge that really punches out the sound. Before deciding on a boombox, it’s important to consider when and how you’ll be using it to make sure you’re buying the right size.
If you’re ready to pick up a modern boombox, check out one of our recommendations below!
- ✓ can be very noisy
- ✓ Massive bass response
- ✓ Waterproof
- ✓ Can charge other devices
- ✗ No CD player or radio
For some people, the very idea of a boombox is defined by the image of a giant rectangular contraption with a cassette deck and radio. For others, it’s all about volume. The JBL Boombox 2 is designed for this ultimate camp, and the boombox’s ultra-modern design brings the party wherever you go.
If there’s one thing JBL wants you to know about its Boombox 2, it’s that it’s loud. If there’s one other thing the company wants you to know, it’s that it can produce some serious bass. Assuming that’s not enough, you can pair it with other JBL PartyBoost-compatible speakers to play music on multiple speakers at once.
Compared to some of the other boomboxes we’re looking at, the JBL Boombox 2 is a large Bluetooth speaker with a handle. It doesn’t have a built-in CD player or radio, though there is an auxiliary input jack. Similarly, the extras are more in line with what you’d expect from a Bluetooth speaker.
For example, the speaker can double as a power bank thanks to its huge battery, which can provide up to 24 hours of playtime, depending on the volume. This speaker is also IPX7 waterproof rated, which means you don’t have to worry about taking it to a picnic or outdoor party.
The built-in handle makes it easy to carry the Boombox 2, but at around 13 pounds, it’s not exactly light. That said, if you’re not into CDs or radio, but are into powerful sound, JBL’s offering is hard to beat.
Best Overall Boombox
JBL Boombox 2
The JBL Boombox 2 has the heart of a Bluetooth speaker and the style of a boombox, bringing them together to create the ultimate modern boombox.
- ✓ Bluetooth connectivity
- ✓ built-in CD player
- ✓ Auxiliary jack for other playback devices
- ✗ Radio is FM only
- ✗ Small speakers lead to a somewhat thin sound
The Jensen FM Stereo CD555 not only doesn’t look like your standard boombox, it also doesn’t appear to have any speakers. Take a closer look around the sides and you’ll find the hidden speakers, and that’s just the first of the tricks this budget boombox has up its sleeve.
For starters, the top-loading CD player is far from hidden, making it easy to play discs, including CD-Rs and CD-RWs. That’s not your only playback option, as you also have an FM radio and an auxiliary input to connect your digital players. If you’d rather not plug it in, this boombox is also equipped with Bluetooth connectivity.
Due to the small size, you won’t get much volume out of the Jensen CD555. Bass is also often a challenge for smaller speakers, but Jensen has included a bass boost knob that makes up for the lack of bass a bit.
Jensen’s boombox is portable thanks to the integrated handle and optional battery power from six C batteries. That said, you might want to be careful where you take it, as it’s not waterproof and doesn’t seem to survive a fall.
Assuming you’re using this boombox at home, you can ditch the batteries in favor of the included AC adapter and save a few extra bucks.
Best Budget Boombox
JBL Boombox 2
The Jensen CD555 combines a radio, CD playback, and Bluetooth into an easy-to-carry boombox at a price almost anyone can afford.
- ✓ wide stereo sound
- ✓ Excellent bass response
- ✓ Raincoats and floats
- ✓ Light and easy to carry
- ✗ Smaller size means somewhat lower volume
If you like the idea of a modern-style boombox like our overall pick but don’t want to pay the premium price, the Anker Soundcore Motion Boom is a fantastic alternative. It offers much of the same volume potential and room-shaking bass, but at a much easier-to-swallow price.
Like the JBL Boombox 2, the Anker Soundcore Motion Boom is a boombox developed from a Bluetooth speaker. In addition to stereo sound, Anker boasts on the store page that this speaker’s titanium driver diaphragm provides bass you can feel and clarity down to frequencies you can’t even hear.
The Anker Soundcore Motion Boom is also built to go anywhere, thanks to its IPX7-rated waterproof design. This speaker will also float, which means you can feel safe when you take it to a pool party, even if the boombox gets submerged.
You can make sure the party goes on too. Anker claims that the 10,000 mAh battery in the Soundcore Motion Boom can keep music playing for up to 24 hours. Obviously this will vary with volume, but it’s still impressive.
While this is a smaller speaker than JBL’s similar boombox, that also means it’s significantly lighter. At just over four pounds, it’s easy to take with you wherever you go.
If you’re looking for a quality boombox that doesn’t have a CD player, Anker’s option is one of your best bets that won’t break the bank.
The Best Bluetooth Boombox
Rise of the Anker Soundcore Movement
The Anker Soundcore Motion Boom offers the same build and features as more expensive Bluetooth boomboxes in a lower priced package that’s still packed with features.
- ✓ Playback of USB, CD, FM radio and Bluetooth
- ✓ Up to 26 hours of battery life
- ✓ Auxiliary connector to connect other devices
Sony has a long relationship with portable audio, thanks to its history as the creator of the precursor to the iPod: the Sony Walkman. That legacy is evident with the Sony ZSRS60BT CD Boombox, but it’s also clear that the company is far from stuck in the past.
More than any other boombox we’re reviewing, the ZSRS60BT takes the familiar boombox concept and presents it enough that it doesn’t feel outdated. This means you get a boombox with AM/FM radio, a CD player, and Bluetooth connectivity.
That CD player can handle CDR and CD-RW discs, as well as MP3 CDs, letting you cram hours of music onto a single disc. It also features USB playback for playing songs from a USB drive, as well as an auxiliary input jack for connecting to any other playback device.
This is a compact design, with a relatively low wattage of 2 watts per side. Loudness isn’t the issue you might imagine, and Sony has included a Mega Bass feature to combat the loss of low frequencies you normally get with smaller speakers.
Add batteries and the Sony ZSRS60BT becomes portable, offering up to 9 hours of CD playback or up to 26 hours of FM radio playback.
Best Boombox with CD Player
Sony modernizes the traditional boombox by adding features like Bluetooth and NFC pairing to the standard CD player and AM/FM radio.
- ✓ awesome retro style
- ✓ Built-in cassette deck
- ✓ Record cassette tapes to USB
- ✓ It has Bluetooth playback
- ✗ Max volume doesn’t make the walls shake
- ✗ Build quality is not the best
If you want the boombox that probably comes to mind every time you say the word, chances are the Victrola 1980s Retro Bluetooth Boombox is just what you’re thinking of. The only difference is that this boombox still has all the features we expect in a modern portable music machine.
The first thing to mention about the Victrola boombox is the style. With its bold silver finish and proud antenna, this is the kind of boombox you don’t see anymore. Then there are the extra touches, like the LED light on the front that pulsates with the volume.
Of course, this is also a functional boombox, as evidenced by the cassette deck on the front. This is not an aesthetic touch either. If you have cassettes you haven’t listened to in a while, or just got a great score at a garage sale, this will play them and you can even burn them to a USB drive if you want.
That USB port also plays MP3s and has an SD card port. If these don’t provide enough playback options, you also get Bluetooth connectivity and a 3.5mm aux-in jack for whatever playback device you like.
In case the Victrola boombox doesn’t play your cassettes loud enough for your liking, an included RCA output jack allows you to use it as a cassette player for your stereo.
Best Vintage Boombox