Review: 6 wireless boomboxes

Boomboxes are back

The modern version of the 80’s ghetto blaster is versatile, but just as loud as the name suggests.


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.

(Photo: Manufacturer)


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

Sony GTK-XB60

More flashing than thumping

Despite its party exterior, the XB60 does not play as gripping as its competitors.

Sleek design and impressive light show. Party mode and microphone input. USB charger.
Short battery life with all features on. Requires adjustments to sound good with different styles of music.

Aiwa Exos-9

Works well at home, not when it’s away

You can't complaint about the sound, but it has its limitations as a boombox.

Replaceable battery pack. Plays loudly and powerfully. Balanced and good sound.
The overtones are not the most resolved. Not weather proof. Not exactly a boombox.

Braven XXL

A multi-faceted tank

An armoured vehicle on the outside that turns out to have unexpected music qualities on the inside.

Robust and IPX5 splash proof. Microphone input and USB charger. Unexpectedly good sound.
Quite heavy to carry around. No decent deep bass. Requires a special charger.

Monster Superstar Blaster

Great appearance and sound

Monster’s boombox is brutal to look at, but it sounds nicer than expected.

Can play outrageously loud and can be taken everywhere. Worth the price, can be a real bargain!
Weighs quite a lot. Bluetooth and Aux input only.

Vooni Boombox

Bigger is not better

Just like the gadgets in the Hobbex youth catalogue, the Boombox is too good to be true.

A lot of decibels for its price. Many sound sources.
Immensely huge and terribly heavy. Cheap, ill-considered construction. Sounds terrible.

JBL Boombox

Small speaker, big boom

Despite its relatively small size, JBL Boombox has a great sound with proper bass rendition.

IPX7-waterproof. Long battery life. Potent bass and good sound quality.
No tone controls. High price tag.

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