Isn’t retro great? Boomboxes were once the remnants of 80’s and 90’s dreams but with new upgrades they’re making a comeback. With the portability of an mp3 player but the sound of a full on stereo you can take the party with you.
For beaches, dorms, picnics, and even inside at the office or in the kitchen a boombox now gives you the choice of multiple formats to play your music on. There’s so many out there that they are almost designed with your personality in mind. So what features would a good boombox have?
A good boombox doesn’t necessarily need a lot of features, it just depends on what you want and what you need it for. Essentially they all do the same thing but the quality may not be the same which accounts for the huge difference in cost across the board. Whether you’re paying $30 or $300 these are a few things your boombox should have.
Most boomboxes come with AC adapters but the beauty of a boombox is that it also has a battery life away from the wall. If you want it for mostly outside use you’ll want to check out how long the battery life is and if the batteries are replaceable or it requires recharging.
While you should understand this isn’t meant to be a full home entertainment system your system has to sound good. Small speakers can still product rich sound so don’t be fooled by big anymore. The more watts and bass-boosting technology a boombox has the bigger and beefier the sound coming out of it will be.
Presets are the ultimate convenience and it would be silly to have something like this without them at the touch of a button.
Rather a standard for any boombox no matter how old this allows you to channel surf the airwaves at leisure but the newer digital tuners mean you’ll get that number right as you flip rather than hoping the needle lands close enough to hide the static.
Just in case you still have some old CD’s or mixes lying around these now play everything from store bought to CD-R/RW disks and allow you to record them directly in your boombox.
A Bluetooth speaker is extremely convenient if you don’t want to have to cable music from your phone or computer into the boombox. Wireless streaming with a louder speaker than a teeny portable.
Just in case you didn’t want the Bluetooth there’s also the auxiliary cable option where you can simply plug into the headphone jack and into the boombox as well to get your tunes to play.
While not a common feature many have in-built satellite radio so you can tune to your subscription service anywhere you go. These subscriptions are usually sold separately and require monthly payments.
Top 9 Best Boombox Reviews
Best Boombox Comparison Table 2016
Lasonic i-931BT Portable Bluetooth Ghetto Blaster
Ah the classic Ghettoblaster. No longer are you limited to nostalgia over this iconic silver box with a high performance Bluetooth stereo you can play mp3s from your phone via Bluetooth or the optional aux input. There’s also a built in AM/FM tuner, an alarm clock feature, LCD screen, and bass and treble controls. The boombox has two 15W speakers and a built in microphone. The real sweet deal is the remote and the option to run off of old fashioned D batteries so you can always keep spares and keep going. There’s also 20 programmable stations.
There’s some quality control issues and the speakers aren’t the best quality. Many models have poor soldering inside and that means you may have highs that don’t work or cut out. It’s reasonably loud but could use some more bass since the speakers don’t really sound like subs. It doesn’t really compare to something that can go across the range of subs, mids, and highs.
Sony ZSH10CP Portable Boombox Speaker System
While this might be light on features it’s designed to stand up to tough situations. If you work outdoors or construction or any location where this is likely to get battered it will survive. It’s water and dust resistant and has a safeguard bar and cage to protect it from falling debris. It has CD, AM/FM and aux only rather than just Bluetooth and can run on battery power.
Obviously not having Bluetooth is an issue since you’re not going to get the same quality sound from an aux input. The speakers are only 2.3W each so it’s not very loud without getting distortion and this might not be loud enough if you’re working somewhere noisy. For almost $400 just to be dust and water resistant it’s almost worth skipping for a cheaper stereo and replacing it as necessary.
Pyle PBMSPG200 Street Blaster Rugged and Portable BoomBox
With options for just the Bluetooth and NFC or USB recording and FM radio as well you don’t necessarily have to have everything with this imposing looking beast. The NFC is really cool, and it’s not a feature you see often as well as Bluetooth. There are also microphone and guitar inputs. It’s a rechargeable built in battery which means you don’t have to worry about keeping spares around. The striking glow LEDs are fun and look great.
It claims 1000watts, you’ll be lucky if it produces 20-40. The speakers are also badly positioned since the gain changes depending on where you’re standing in relation to the box and the bass is rattly. The quality is also rather poor as the speakers can rattle loose inside and they’re only paper and plastic.
Axel Pfaender Berlin Boombox
With a classic boxy look it’s got a convenient space for your phone or ipod to fit right into. This is actually a kit that you have to put together yourself and it’s meant to be just a way to enhance the sound from your phones speakers. It’s compatible with any mp3 or phone that has a headphone jack so you can connect via the auxiliary cord to the 5w speakers.
While this looks fancy it’s basically a cardboard box that has two little speakers inside. The sound isn’t impressive and 5 watts is barely bigger than your phone’s own speaker. For almost $70 it’s a bit of a rip off but it looks cool if you just want the basics and a bit of amplification. No Bluetooth, no radio, or any other features, just plain speakers and an aux cord.
Sykik SP2091BT Bluetooth Boom Box
This is fun looking and has a full color changing light show to your music. There’s an LED display and multiple inputs. SD/USB input as well as a Bluetooth option and an aux jack. The remote is convenient but at only 4lb you can easily pick this thing up and put it wherever it’s convenient. It uses AA batteries which is much more convenient than the massive amount of D batteries that go into the Lasonic, though it’s significantly smaller. This does make it more portable though.
At only 13” long and 6” high this thing is tiny. It looks like a toy and the light show doesn’t help to dispel that. There’s no deep bass, no boosting, and the sound quality overall is average rather than rich. It does what it’s supposed to do and for the average music listener it should work fine.
Sony ZS-BTG905/C Boombox All-In-One Mega Bass with Bluetooth
If you’re looking for what is essentially a professional sound system on the go Sony has a really nice option. It has two speakers, a woofer and a tweeter and you can play via USB, NFC or Bluetooth. The batteries last up to 26 hours of continuous playback which is nice and it looks almost space age. There’s a digital read out and it produces clear sound no matter what input. There’s a remote that’s much simpler to understand than the Sykik and a much better light show.
It’s a little heft at almost 20lb but the quality of the speakers really makes up for that. It also doesn’t have a microphone. The biggest problem with this device is that t doesn’t support mp3 and if you want to lower the lights on it you’ll also lower the power to the speakers. Unless you want to party it up you won’t get the full sound effects out of this. There’s also an issue with support for the device and Sony doesn’t do much if there’s a problem.
NAXA Electronics MP3/CD Bass Reflex Boombox
Another system that has every input you could possible want, including a 6.3mm for guitars and amps. It actually works as a pa system itself and you can add a microphone if you like. This also has Bluetooth, Am/FM, CD, USB, and mp3 playback options. It uses a significant number of d batteries but it is portable with the included nylon sling. There’s also the disco lights like the Sony and Sykik offer too.
The music preset types are disappointing and there’s a lot of issues with how they distort the sound (unless using Jazz mode) so you may not want to use them at all. It’s also large and bulky so it’s not very convenient to carry around. The controls are also rather muddled and don’t seem logically located on the box so that will take some getting used to and there’s no remote.
Pyle Industrial BoomBoX Bluetooth Stereo Speaker
A very simply designed box that is heavy duty and water resistant. This also has a protective bar and marine grade plastic so it won’t deteriorate. There’s an LCD and its rechargeable with a 6 hour life, though many people report getting double that from the unit on a full charge. The box is Bluetooth, USB, SD, FM, and mp3 compatible and the USB can also act as a charger. There’s also an aux jack. The speakers aren’t bad at all for a compact system, the bass is decent power, and it weighs only 7lb.
Despite the plastic being tough and the system being water resistant many features are steel and these will rust if it’s kept in a moist atmosphere for too long or in a sea salt environment. It also loses its memory once it turns off so you’ll have to repair your Bluetooth device every time you want to connect. There are also some quality control issues with the batteries not charging.
QFX PBX-505200BTGRN Portable Bluetooth Party PA System
With an option to customize color this thing is fun and space age looking. It has a variety of inputs including Bluetooth, USB, SD, FM and two microphone inputs. Those two microphone inputs can also record to USB or SD. It can also be used as a pa system and has two woofers and two tweeters to give impressive sound. There are also wheels on the bottom to make it easier to transport. The battery is rechargeable and gives between 6-8 hours of play time.
The reception for radio is poor but all the other inputs work well to make up for it. It’s also a little hefty at 15lb and the wheels don’t lock into place so it has a habit of traveling.
If you want the best sound out of your boombox then you have to go with the Sony ZS-BTG905/C. It really offers the best sound and has a proper selection of speakers with a decent amount of power. The downside is that it’s not really so rugged but you’re paying for quality. If you need a rugged boombox that will still belt it out while you work go with the Sony ZSH10CP instead.