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How do I Choose the Best Travel Speakers?

B. Miller
B. Miller

Travel speakers are tiny, easily portable speakers that can fit into a bag and be brought along on a trip. Though some sacrifices in sound are to be expected due to their compact size, many can offer a much better sound than that of a pair of headphones, or even speakers built in to a laptop computer. To choose the best travel speakers, begin by considering the ways in which you travel, and how you hope to use your speakers.

Travel speakers come in different sizes. Some tiny ones fit easily into a purse or briefcase, while some might fit better into a larger suitcase, carry-on bag, or backpack. You will want to be sure the speakers you purchase will fit easily into your bag along with any other items you are bringing. Some are even capable of folding and being slipped into a small travel case. Many travel speakers are powered by batteries, though some may have adapters available to allow them to be plugged into the wall.

Many travel speakers are able to play music from an MP3 player.
Many travel speakers are able to play music from an MP3 player.

Another consideration when choosing these speakers is the way in which they will play music. If the speakers are designed to be hooked up to a computer through USB, it is not an issue. However, most travel speakers are designed to play music from an MP3 player. The speakers will connect through the device either through the 3.5 millimeter headphone jack, or through the charging/docking jack. Typically speakers that connect through the headphone jack will be compatible with virtually any MP3 device, whereas those that connect in another manner may be proprietary.

Keep in mind that in most cases, the MP3 player will also need to be charged in order to play music over the speakers. If the MP3 player is connected to the speakers through the headphone jack, it may be able to charge simultaneously through an adapter plugged into the wall, but may not if it is connected through the charging/docking jack, typically found on the bottom of the device. In addition to these considerations, design is another issue; travel speakers come in many different shapes, colors, and designs, to suit different tastes. Some are even designed to be water resistant, to listen to while shaving or showering, for example.

The final consideration is, of course, sound. If possible, it may be a good idea to try out a pair of travel speakers before purchase, or at least read reviews online. Keep in mind that sound is often sacrificed for size; it may be a better idea to select a larger set of travel speakers if you are more concerned about sound quality than portability.

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Discussion Comments


I have a little personal travel speaker that I take with me whenever I go on a trip. It is small and not very powerful. It would struggle to fill a hotel room with sound. But I like to stream local radio stations while I work and I can't stand listening to headphones. Playing the stations through my phone with the little speaker is my only option. It's not perfect, but it works.


There are so many different kinds of travel speakers available out there and they all make different claims and they are all available at different price points. When I went to buy a pair I was overwhelmed. I couldn't decide what was best.

I ended up shopping online and reading a ton of travel speaker reviews. I would check multiple sites, compare specs. I ended up going with a pair of Bose travel speakers that I got on sale and absolutely love. They are small and light but produce an amazing amount of clean, pure sound. They are better than some speakers I've heard that are 5 times their size.


Definitely think about battery life when you are buying a set of travel speakers. If you are buying and using travel speakers you probably don't want to also bring the A/V adapter with you. And if you are traveling abroad you may not even be able to use the AV adapter. In all likelihood you will need to run your speakers off of batteries, or off of power that they draw from the device they are playing from.

Ask at the store before you buy how long the speakers will run on a fresh pair of batteries. If it is less than a few hours those speakers are probably not worth purchasing.

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    • Many travel speakers are able to play music from an MP3 player.
      By: lionel VALENTI
      Many travel speakers are able to play music from an MP3 player.