Who remembers the1980s? Surely, some do, and others are aware that there was a decade called “The 80s”.
And what a decade it was! Wild fashion and hairstyles. The golden age of muscular action stars, Heavy Metal, and even Hair Metal. But most importantly, the 80s saw the birth of Hip Hop and break-dancing. Along with the newly emerging musical genre came a new kind of audio device: the boombox.
For any break-dance session, the best boombox featured prominently. That is because break-dancing was more “underground” at that time. Almost literally underground, since many sessions happened in subway stations, under bridges, and apartment block basements.
Without any kind of sound system for these locations, the boombox became part and parcel of the growing Hip Hop scene.
And from there, it spread…
Everyone fell in love with boomboxes. They could be found everywhere. From high school keggers in the woods to the silver screen with John Cusack holding one high blaring Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” to his reluctant love.
If one piece of technology could accurately sum up the 80s, it would be the boombox. Some may argue that the Sony Walkman or Motorola pagers are more apt choices. But those items did not have the same wide-spread appeal, nor lasting use.
While the world has embraced digital wireless audio solutions, the boombox was really the first wireless audio device. And while the designs and features have changed over the decades, boomboxes remain popular, portable, and powerful.
So comb out that mullet, dust off that ‘Members Only’ jacket, and join us as we look for the Best Boombox currently on the market…
- Top 5 Best Boomboxes On The Market In 2021 Reviews
- 1 JBL Boombox Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker – Most Durable Boombox
- 2 Panasonic RX-D55GC-K Boombox – Best Compact Boombox
- 3 Sharp GX-BT9X Large Portable Bluetooth BoomBox – Best Premium Boombox
- 4 Victrola 1980s Retro Bluetooth Boombox – Best Value for Your Money Boombox
- 5 Sony Compact Portable Stereo Sound System Boombox – Best Budget Boombox
- Best Boombox Buying Guide
- Advantages of Boomboxes
- Types of Boomboxes
- What is the loudest portable boombox?
- What is the best sounding boombox?
- Looking for Something Else?
- What is the Best Boombox?
Top 5 Best Boomboxes On The Market In 2021 Reviews
1 JBL Boombox Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker – Most Durable Boombox
This is no 80s boombox. It comes with features geared to the modern age.
First of all, this is one strong boombox. It is very durable while still being lightweight. In fact, it is one of the lightest boomboxes on our list. It weighs just under 2.5 pounds, meaning it is ready to go anywhere.
And we mean literally anywhere. In addition to its rugged construction, it features an IXP7 rating. Therefore, it can be submerged in one meter of water and keep on rocking. It is an ideal companion for beach and pool parties.
There is a convenient carrying handle mounted on top. However, it is fixed and cannot be folded down. It comes in a nice, sleek black finish with a leatherette covering for the handle and around the edges. However, the grille is a mesh fabric rather than metal.
Like most portable JBL speakers, the controls are simple and straightforward. There are plus/minus buttons, a Bluetooth button, power, and play/pause button.
We won’t spend much time discussing these basic functions. That is because, as a Bluetooth speaker, most of the controls are handled through your smartphone or connected device.
This speaker has a primary connection via Bluetooth 4.2, so it can connect two devices at the same time. Additionally, it can connect to JBL Connect+ enabled speakers. This allows you to further amplify your music. However, you are still limited to the media sources on your phone or other connected device.
There are two USB ports on the back. These can actually charge your devices while connected to the boombox. Honestly, we thought a company like JBL could at least include a 3.5mm input. A real boombox needs to have a bit more versatility, in our opinion.
At the heart of its power is a high-capacity Lithium-ion battery. It can deliver up to 24 hours of continuous playtime on a single charge. However, it does take over six hours to fully charge the battery. On the plus side, the battery can be used to charge your devices, as we mentioned earlier.
Unfortunately, the charging adapter and cable are not included.
What this boombox lacks in connections, it makes up for in sound performance. It is most definitely a powerful and loud boombox.
It features two 20mm high-performance tweeters and two 4-inch woofers. The sound is impressive, clear, and delivers a thick and punchy low-end. Everything is powered by a 30-watt amplifier.
- Durable and lightweight.
- IXP7 waterproof rating.
- Powerful and loud.
- Excellent low-end response.
- 24 hours of playtime.
- No connections other than Bluetooth.
- No battery charging cable included.
- Quite expensive.
2 Panasonic RX-D55GC-K Boombox – Best Compact Boombox
Panasonic has been in the boombox game for quite some time. At one point, the Panasonic RX-5100 Jambox was THE boombox to own. And who could forget the RX-FM15 with its audacious Barbie pink finish.
The RX-D55GC-k is basically a smaller version of Panasonic’s vintage Jambox. Although with some updated modern features.
This is a 5-in-1 boombox with plenty of power. It is compact, measuring 10.67 x 16.06 x 5.83 inches. And it weighs roughly ten pounds. Therefore, it is easy to transport and won’t take up much space. Likewise, there is a fold-down carrying handle that helps make it easier to take it on the go.
The housing is a sturdy plastic, with metal grilles covering the speakers. It is fairly durable, but does not have any additional protection from water or dust.
These are almost too numerous to list. There are independent manual controls for the cassette player as well as the CD player. Additionally, you will find a radio tuner, mode selector, and volume controls.
However, everything can be easily controlled with the remote that comes with this boombox. Everything you need is on the remote, meaning the operations are conveniently at your fingertips.
As we mentioned, this is a 5-in-1 boombox. The playable media includes a tape cassette, CD, USB, MP3, and AM/FM radio. Furthermore, there is a 3.5mm headphone jack as well.
However, there is no wireless or Bluetooth connectivity. But, with all the other connection options, that shouldn’t really be a problem.
In a throwback to classic boomboxes, this one is powered by two AA batteries. This is convenient for portable and outdoor use.
However, these are not rechargeable batteries and may not offer more than eight hours of playtime. Fortunately, it comes with an AC adapter so you can power it directly from an electric outlet.
This is a powerful boombox that delivers high-quality sound. It features four 2-way speakers with 10 watts for each channel. It boasts 280 Peak watts. The sound is further enhanced with an MP3 re-master and sound virtualizer. This helps to create a natural sound that is clear and detailed.
Likewise, there are four preset EQ modes and independent bass and treble controls. Therefore you can shape the sound to your liking or match a particular genre.
- Multiple playable media sources.
- Lightweight and compact.
- 280 Peak watts through four 2-way speakers.
- Natural, high-quality sound and four EQ presets.
- Sturdy construction.
- MP3 re-master and sound virtualization.
- AC adapter included.
- Not water-resistant.
- Batteries are not rechargeable.
- No Bluetooth connectivity.
- Slightly pricey.
3 Sharp GX-BT9X Large Portable Bluetooth BoomBox – Best Premium Boombox
This is a high-end boombox. For those on a budget, you will need to look elsewhere. But for those who can afford it, this boombox is a beast.
When we say beast, we mean it. This boombox is neither lightweight nor compact. It weighs nearly 15 pounds and measures 29.50 x 11.00 x 10.80 inches. The construction is highly durable and very strong. However, it is kind of oddly shaped. It is cylindrical and needs to be placed with care. On an uneven surface, it could start to roll away.
That being said, it does come with a detachable carrying strap. Yet, at 18 lbs with the batteries included, it is not the most convenient to carry around with you.
The matte black finish is lovely, and all the input and output ports are solid.
Again, these are too numerous to cover them all. Suffice it to say; if there is a control you can think of, there is likely a button for that function. Plus, this boombox comes with a remote control. So, all the buttons on the front and back panel are easily accessible from the palm of your hand.
That said, two of the more interesting controls are the EQ presets and X-Bass. The EQ presets are Flat, Rock, Vocal, Hip Hop, Salsa, and Reggae. Each has a specific EQ tailored for those music genres. The X-Bass is essentially a bass boost control. When engaged, it will push the low frequencies higher in the mix. But, beware! The bass on this thing is, well, a beast.
Furthermore, there are options to store presets and playlists. As well as select and view files in a folder on a USB drive or mobile devices.
If there is one major downside to this boombox, it is the batteries. It requires ten D batteries! Those batteries alone add nearly 4 lbs to the weight. Furthermore, they are not rechargeable. Nor can you use rechargeable batteries.
Thankfully, it comes with an AC power adapter. So, you can plug into the mains if you don’t want to haul around or pay for ten D batteries.
For the primary connection, this boombox uses Bluetooth 2.1 that supports A2DP for streaming. Likewise, it will support both Android and Apple devices. Along with Bluetooth connectivity, this boombox features a USB port that can play MP3 and WMA files. Furthermore, there is an FM radio tuner, a 3.5mm aux input, and a headphones jack.
What really makes this a boombox special are guitar and microphone connections. Yes, you read that right. This boombox comes with two quarter-inch input jacks. Plus, each input has an independent volume control knob on the back panel. Therefore, you can use this boombox as a karaoke machine or a small practice amp. Or you could go crazy and even try busking with it on the streets.
Like we said, a beast.
Since this is a premium boombox, we expect premium sound performance. And it did not disappoint. As mentioned earlier, the X-bass function adds a massive low-end. This is aided by a powerful amplifier that delivers a monstrous 100 total RMS watts. It also has a frequency response of 200Hz – 20kHz, making it exceptionally clear and detailed.
There are two 2-way front speakers. Each one pumps out 17 watts per channel. Additionally, there are two bass-reflex ducts on the back. And finally, a subwoofer that dishes out 66 watts per channel.
So, yeah. Beat mode activated.
- 100 RMS watts.
- Bluetooth 2.1 connectivity and A2DP support.
- USB, FM radio, 3.5mm aux, and headphones connections.
- Two quarter-inch inputs for guitar and mic.
- Android and Apple compatible.
- Incredible low-end power and definition.
- Remote control included.
- NFC pairing enabled.
- Carrying strap included.
- Requires ten D batteries.
- Not water-resistant.
- Certainly not lightweight.
- Quite expensive.
4 Victrola 1980s Retro Bluetooth Boombox – Best Value for Your Money Boombox
A real blast from the past. This best boombox’s vintage look and feel is reminiscent of the classic Ghetto Blasters that pumped out Run DMC and Grandmaster Flash.
Pure 80s nostalgia! It has a boxy rectangular shape and straight fold-down carrying handle, complete with a rubber grip. This boombox even features a slide-analog AM/FM radio tuner.
There are two big control knobs for volume and tuning. They, of course, have a classic silvery chrome finish. All the lines are straight and angular, with a lovely silver finish on the plastic housing. Heck, there is even an old school digital clock on it.
Furthermore, it is surprisingly lightweight and not bulky. It weighs just over 7 lbs and measures 17.87 x 9.44 x 5.31 inches. So, it is easy to transport.
This boombox has some retro control knobs and switches. We mentioned the large control knobs for volume and tuning. On top are two vintage-looking slide controls for fuction/mode selection, and one for AM/FM selection. The function switch allows you to choose tape, radio, USB/SD card, or Bluetooth modes.
Additionally, there are basic playback control buttons on the front panel. Play/Pause, USB/SD card button, skip forward and back, stop/pair/AUX, and standby buttons make operations easy. Furthermore, the cassette player has individual push button controls. It even includes a record button, just like most classic boomboxes.
Here we find one of the main drawbacks of this boombox. It does require eight D batteries to work. And again, these are not rechargeable.
But, it does come with an AC power adapter plug. So, you can power it using a normal electrical socket.
In the tradition of vintage boomboxes, the primary connections are the cassette player and the radio. In addition to these, there is a USB flash drive input as well as an SD card slot. To give it more modern applications, it also includes Bluetooth connectivity. It pairs easily with any device with just the push of a button.
Likewise, there is a 3.5mm AUX input. This allows you to connect an MP3 player or even a laptop computer. However, it does not have a CD player. Some may find that disappointing. But we feel it just adds to its authenticity.
First of all, this is not the loudest boombox, but it is loud enough. It features two 2-way speakers, and each has 5 RMS watts of power. Certainly, not enough to use at a pool party. But enough power for backyard barbeques and fidgeting around in the garage.
The other significant drawback is the equalization. There is none. No treble or bass control or any EQ presets. Likewise, there is no bass boost or sound optimization.
Not the best option for EDM…
That said, the sound quality is just about OK. It is still clear and balanced even without any EQ options. Just remember, the speakers might not take too friendly to EDM or other similar musical genres.
- Awesome 80s vintage look.
- Easy to use.
- Good sound profile.
- Cassette player with record function.
- Bluetooth connectivity.
- USB port, SD card slot, and 3.5mm AUX input.
- AM/FM radio.
- Lightweight and sturdy.
- Headphones jack.
- AC power adapter included.
- No CD player.
- No EQ controls or sound modification options.
- Requires eight D batteries.
- Not as loud as other boomboxes.
5 Sony Compact Portable Stereo Sound System Boombox – Best Budget Boombox
The last item in our review is one that has been around for a while. And it really hasn’t changed much in the last 30 years. Other than improvements in sound quality and reliability.
It is a Sony boombox we are talking about. When it comes to affordable, reliable, and quality audio products, Sony knows what they’re doing.
There’s nothing fancy or unique about its design. Unlike the Victrola or the JBL boomboxes, we reviewed earlier. This boombox is just a little rock solid, compact, and extremely durable boombox. Not surprising then, you can still find 10-year old versions of this little guy used on worksites and used by painting crews all over the world.
While it does not have an IPX rating, it won’t be bothered by sawdust or the occasional paint droplets. If anything, this boombox is meant as an affordable workhorse. The housing is a strong and durable plastic, and there are metal grilles covering the speakers. Likewise, it is extremely lightweight and fairly compact.
Lightweight and portable…
It weighs just over 4 pounds, making it super easy to carry around. It measures 15.80 x 12.30 x 8.60 inches, which allows it to fit almost anywhere.
Lastly, there is also a convenient fold-down carrying handle.
All the controls for the radio and the CD player are simple push buttons. They are recessed, so they can easily be snapped off. Plus, the recessed design does a good job of keeping debris out. The control buttons almost never get stuck or wear out.
The tape deck has independent control buttons. They are also quite sturdy and keep the crud out.
Every control is laid out on top and is clearly labeled. Each button has a function symbol stamped on it as well. You know, the square, triangle, plus sign, etc. It also includes a power button and a “sleep” or standby button.
Since this is a budget boombox, the connections are limited. No Bluetooth connectivity here. There isn’t even a USB port. Just a radio, tape deck, CD player, and a 3.5mm AUX input. You can connect your MP3 player or mobile phone using the AUX in. However, there may be some CD playback issues with FLAC and other lossless file formats.
The radio can store up to 30 station presets. Furthermore, there are three buttons to store your favorite stations. And, of course, there is a headphones jack to round it out.
This boombox uses six C batteries for power. Likewise, it can also use an AC power adapter cord, which is thankfully included.
Depending on the function you use, the batteries will last between 10 and 23 hours. For the CD player, it’s about 10 hours of playtime, and the radio gives you 23 hours.
While it is a good sound, it is nothing to get excited about. The sound stage is clear, accurate, and balanced. It uses a simple bass reflex structure and delivers audio in stereo quality. There are no EQ controls or sound virtualization, but it does feature the first-ever “bass boost” found on boomboxes.
Sony’s own and original MEGA BASS. This was one of the first attempts to add more low-end definition to portable audio players with the push of a button. And while it won’t shake the walls, it adds depth and richness to the lower frequencies. It is essentially a bass boost, but with a cooler name.
- Very durable and rugged.
- Incredibly portable, lightweight, and compact.
- Easy to use.
- Up to 30 station presets.
- Clear, accurate, and balanced stereo sound.
- MEGA BASS boost function.
- AC power cable included.
- Very affordable.
- No Bluetooth connectivity.
- No USB ports.
- Requires six C batteries.
Best Boombox Buying Guide
If you are in the market for a boombox, you know that durability and portability are very important. While boomboxes are made to be portable, some are easier to carry around than others. Smaller boombox are easier to transport than larger ones. And a sturdy carrying handle is always a big help too.
Furthermore, boomboxes are usually used outdoors. Some people will be playing their boombox near water, such as at the beach or poolside. This means you should look for a waterproof boombox.
Finally, the other major consideration is the battery life. Some boomboxes have a wonderful sound but limited playtime. And we all know a pool party is likely to last for more than two hours. So, it is recommended that you find a boombox with a long-lasting battery.
Advantages of Boomboxes
The first, and for some the most important, advantage of a boombox is style. True audiophiles have always preferred a boombox over wireless speakers and systems.
Anyone with a limited knowledge of the 1980s knows that boomboxes were an integral part of every music scene. If it was not for boomboxes, break-dancing might never have come into existence.
Another advantage of a boombox is versatility. A typical boombox will have several options for playing different kinds of audio mediums. This includes things like an AM/FM radio, CD player, 3.5mm AUX input, and even a tape deck on some. Plus, modern boomboxes generally feature wireless connectivity, as well as USB ports.
Finally, the main advantage of a boombox is portability. All boomboxes are designed to be taken pretty much everywhere. Even back in the day, there were waterproof boomboxes built for pool and beach parties.
Types of Boomboxes
Generally speaking, there are three types of boombox, and they relate to size. There are small, medium, and large size boomboxes. Other classifications could be made using certain features. For example, wireless/Bluetooth boomboxes or waterproof boomboxes.
But in reality, most boomboxes have similar features and functions. The real difference is typically the size of the boombox.
What is the loudest portable boombox?
From our shortlist, we can easily pick the loudest. Without a doubt, the Sharp GX-BT9X Portable Bluetooth Boombox is the loudest.
The reason is simple. This boombox boasts 100 RMS watts. RMS meaning “Root Mean Square” and refers to the continuous power of the speaker, woofer, or amplifier. Therefore, 100 RMS watts means a very loud boombox.
It is important to know that RMS watts are not the same as Peak watts. Often people look at the Peak watts, thinking a high Peak means greater volume. It is not true. Higher RMS watts translates into higher overall power and sustained volume without distorting.
What is the best sounding boombox?
It is no surprise that JBL makes the best-sounding boombox. After all, JBL knows how to make high-quality audio equipment. The JBL Waterproof boombox offers some serious low-end definition. Especially when used outdoors, the sound is widely dispersed and full.
Four active transducers and dual bass radiators contribute to an impressive sound. Plus, there are two listening modes to further enhance the soundstage performance.
Looking for Something Else?
There are lots of portable speakers out there, besides traditional boomboxes. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Loudest Portable Bluetooth Speakers, the Best Tailgate Speakers, the Best Party Speakers, the Best Solar Powered Bluetooth Speakers, and the Best Wireless Outdoor Speakers you can buy in 2021.
What is the Best Boombox?
There is one boombox on our list that stands out from the rest. It is affordable, has a vintage look, delivers a decent sound, and has enough connections for the modern world.
In case you haven’t guessed it, we chose the…
It may not have the best or loudest sound. And it may not play CDs. But it’s totally rad, man. What more do we need to say?
Until next time, happy listening.