In the 80’s, every teen movie and music video contained break-dancing and huge ghetto blasters that played hip hop. They quickly became popular due to their relatively portable size and impressive sound. The link to the hip hop culture was strong, and groups like The Beastie Boys were strongly associated with them. Then came the 90’s and the Walkman, which resulted in the downfall for loud systems in favour of convenient personal sound.
With the introduction of wireless portable speakers, the boombox seems to be on its way back. Not everyone is satisfied with a small pocket speaker for personal use at the picnic or by the pool. For each year that goes by, bigger and bigger speakers with more powerful drivers and larger batteries are making an appearance. Just last year, UE Megaboom, about the size of a can of Pringles, was considered a giant. Then came speakers in the size of shoe boxes, such as Marshall Kilburn and Beoplay Beolit 17, and now we suddenly have speakers that require a proper carry handle again from manufacturers like Sony, Monster and JVC.
Something to think about
Before you head out and buy the first and best boombox, it’s a good idea to think about what you really need. Where are you going to use it? If you’re just going to have it on the balcony or in the garage, it may not need 100 decibels of sound pressure. However, if you want to use it at outdoor parties, you might need a little more sound pressure and a more powerful bass than if you were going to use it indoors. Do you want to take it to the beach? Then it may need an IP code so that it not only tolerates splashing, but also is protected against sand.
Are you going to be carrying it around a lot? Then beware of loudspeakers upwards of 8 kilos, they quickly become hard to lug around. Also, check how you can carry them. Is there a large, comfortable handle? Can it be carried with a shoulder strap?
You should also think about connectivity and other features. If you are going to play it for a long time, running it cordless drains a lot of battery power from your mobile phone. Using a cord is more energy-saving. If you are almost running out of power, can you borrow power from the speakers to charge your mobile phone? How is the speaker charged? Can you borrow a regular device cord from your buddy, or does it need a special charger? You can easily get stuck if you forget to bring the special charger.
Products in this test
More flashing than thumping
Despite its party exterior, the XB60 does not play as gripping as its competitors.
Works well at home, not when it’s away
You can't complaint about the sound, but it has its limitations as a boombox.
A multi-faceted tank
An armoured vehicle on the outside that turns out to have unexpected music qualities on the inside.
Monster Superstar Blaster
Great appearance and sound
Monster’s boombox is brutal to look at, but it sounds nicer than expected.
Bigger is not better
Just like the gadgets in the Hobbex youth catalogue, the Boombox is too good to be true.
Small speaker, big boom
Despite its relatively small size, JBL Boombox has a great sound with proper bass rendition.