Are portable speakers that much better than phone or laptop speakers?

I’ve seen portable bluetooth speakers for sale and I’m wondering if they are significantly better than the speakers on a typical smartphone or laptop. I’m sure they have to be better in some way, or else people wouldn’t buy, them, but how big an improvement are they for, say listening to music while relaxing at home? Are they closer in quality to the speaker on the smartphone or laptop, or closer in quality to a home theater system type speaker? I put this in cafe society because it deals with listening to music, but please feel free to move to IMHO if it fits better their. Here is a typical example of the type of speaker I’m talking about.

If you get a matching set you should be able to pair them in a stereo setup.

Any/Everything is better than phone/laptop speakers.

You’ll also get something approximating a bass response with a decent set, rather than just the tinny high end of whatever’s playing. It’s also just plain louder, so if you have a couple people watching a movie on the laptop you can actually hear it. If it was just one person, you’d probably get decent sound just by using headphones, but in the open air, a set of external speakers is a big improvement.

Size matters for speakers, both the size of the speaker and the size of the enclosure. Smartphone speakers are TINY speakers in a TINY enclosure. Laptop speakers aren’t much better, and are often of poorer quality to boot. Even cheap-ish (~$30) Bluetooth speakers sound better than the speakers on my phone (a Pixel 3 – one advertised as having high-quality speakers). Those super-cheapo $5 Bluetooth speakers you might see in a discount bin might not sound much better, but they WILL probably be quite a bit louder simply because they’re bigger.

I was skeptical, but love mine.

(Aukey, wireless, portable, easy to recharge, $40, sync to my iPad automatically.)

I have this Sony speaker and it is infinitely better than phone and laptop speakers. If you spring for two you get stereo.

The difference between portable bluetooth speakers and typical laptop speakers is like night and day…at a certain price point and size. You can get a decent bluetooth speaker for $25 on Amazon. I have several sets, including models from JBL and Oontz, and they have much, much better volume and bass than any laptop I have. I would say that you get very good sound for $25 to $40. You get much better sound in the $60 to $75 range. The even higher-end bluetooth speakers can get pretty darn good and fill a room. Avoid the little “folding” and pocket speakers you see for $10 to $20.

But, in fairness, I have heard some decent sound from laptops that are optimized for media.

I’ve recently taken to listening to SiriusXM all day while I’m at work, via an app on my phone*. The phone’s speaker isn’t horrible, but connecting to my small Bose bluetooth speaker makes a noticeable difference.

I generally don’t listen to music on my laptop. For one, crappy speaker. Two, it sits in a dock to my right (almost behind me) and I prefer to have the speaker face me. Also, I don’t want to be constantly streaming anything using my company’s network. Mostly, though, I want the volume of my email and Skype notifications to be indepenent of the volume of whatever I’m listening to; many web-based music sources support that, but not all do. It’s much easier to just use my phone or iPod for music.

This. As with most things, you will get what you pay for.

This might be short-lived, because I’m not connected to wifi at work. At one point I had an unlimited data plan, but I don’t think I do anymore…I could look it up, but more likely I’ll just wait and see what my next bill looks like. I hardly ever use data anywhere else, so it might not be too bad.

True (about getting what you pay for). I think the DOSS Touch does a nice job for less than $30. The JBL Flip 3 and Flip 4 are about $70 and $80, and I feel they are quite good. The Oontz Ultra is hugely discounted on Amazon right now, but it might be more speaker than the average person wants.

That speaker you linked to is pretty much the size and shape of an original Amazon Echo. My phone can maybe produce enough sound to be heard in my kitchen, but the Echo on half volume can be heard very clearly throughout my house. Granted my house is only 1080 sq. ft. but still, it’s much louder and fuller.

If you’re ever stuck using your phone’s speaker (and don’t already know this trick), try setting your phone inside a bowl or cup. It works as a reflector and can give you much better sound if you find the right container and position.

Thanks, typoink! I use a cell phone stand/holder, and have noticed that effect. :slight_smile:

I have used external speakers for quite some time with my various laptops because although the sound from the laptops has varied, they never were as good as the speakers I used. One other advantage of blue tooth speakers is that some can also be used as speaker phones (I use a Jabra Soulmate Mini) and so if you are using some teleconferencing application on your laptop you don’t have to contort your body to get to the right place for your voice to be heard.

One other thing that I have found nice, especially is that if you have one with decent range, is that you can carry it to with you to another room and keep listening to music or participating in a call without having to carry your laptop with you (or unplug your phone from where it is charging).


Definitely YES. I’ve got a tiny little $10 Bluetooth speaker that is significantly better than any phone or laptop I’ve owned. The biggest difference, as others have already said, is the bass, but also the volume. Hell, I put that little thing inside a mini-fridge on stage for a practical sound effect and the audience could hear it clearly with the door closed.

At the low end ($15-20) they are somewhat better sounding than most laptop or phone speakers. Up to about $100 they are much better, but nowhere as good as even a modest receiver/speaker stereo system. Above $100 they get better, but in my opinion Bluetooth speakers will always be inferior simply because Bluetooth sort of sucks in general. Speakers that can use wifi rather than Bluetooth can sound much better. Speakers like the Devialet sound fantastic, but you are up in the $1000 range and of course they should sound good. But it’s horses for courses, and a decent Bluetooth speaker shines when it comes to portability/sound quality balance.