If you’re throwing a tailgate party, then you’re certainly going to need some music. You’re going to need speakers that are loud and have plenty of connection options. And they’re going to have to be tough and easily transportable too.
These are all the qualities you’d expect from the best tailgate speakers. Therefore, we’ve compiled a list of our top ten picks to get your party started. So, let’s dive in and find the perfect tailgate speakers for you…
- Top 10 Best Tailgate Speakers To Buy In 2020 Reviews
- 1 SOUNDBOKS 2 – The Loudest Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
- 2 ION Audio Tailgater (iPA77) | Portable Bluetooth PA Speaker
- 3 ION Audio Party Rocker Max – 100W Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
- 4 QFX PBX-61081BT/RD Portable Bluetooth Party Speaker
- 5 Ion Explorer Outback Wireless Rechargeable Speaker
- 6 ION Audio Raptor | Ultra-Portable 100-watt Wireless Water-Resistant Speaker
- 7 Sony GTKXB90 High Power Portable Bluetooth Speaker
- 8 Aiwa Exos-9 Portable Bluetooth Speaker
- 9 LG PK5 XBOOM Go Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
- 10 Milanix Tailgate Portable Bluetooth PA Karaoke Speaker
- Best Tailgate Speakers Buyers Guide
- Final Thoughts
Top 10 Best Tailgate Speakers To Buy In 2020 Reviews
1 SOUNDBOKS 2 – The Loudest Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
First on our list is the SOUNDBOKS 2. And this thing is big and loud!
It measures 25.6” x 17” x 13” and weighs 33lbs. It has two 10” woofers and tweeter and can produce a maximum of 122dBs of ear-splitting sound. Just to put that into context, 120dbs is the equivalent of being in a club, at the front of a rock concert, or standing next to a revving snowmobile.
The SOUNDBOKS 2 will give you an impressive 40 hours of use at a moderate to low volume. At full volume, it will still give a little under 10 hours. Now that’s some party. Don’t worry if that’s not long enough, as you can always buy a separate spare battery pack to double up its operational time.
The SOUNBOKS 2 has Bluetooth connectivity and an auxiliary input but no auxiliary output.
All the controls are on the left side of the unit. The controls are clear and simple to use. There are just two control knobs, one for volume and the other for off, indoor or outdoor function. There’s an LED light to indicate the power level, and the only other controls are for DC and auxiliary inputs.
The right-hand side of the speaker has space to house the battery.
The SOUNBOKS 2 has a strong, black, splash resistant cabinet that’s protected on all sides with metal edge-protectors. The corners are finished with sturdy round-metal ends. The front of the unit features a strong black metal grill.
There’s no doubt about it; this is a seriously well-built and robust tailgate sound system.
One thing that makes us laugh is the company promo photos of some of the most beautiful people in the world carrying the SOUNBOCKS, some one-handed, up mountains and across rivers. Seriously? This thing weighs 33lbs and needs those handles just to get it on and off the truck. But trying to convince us is as easy as pie to take it up Kilimanjaro or through the Amazon, well… funny really.
This is an extremely loud and powerful speaker set-up. The sound quality is solid, and you have to crank up the volume seriously high before things start to become distorted. The bass is prominent and punchy. The mids are well detailed, and the highs are nice and clear without becoming shrill.
Unfortunately, there are no direct EQ controls though there is an indoor and outdoor mode. These basically roll off the bass for a more balanced sound in indoor mode or roll the bass up for some serious partying in outdoor mode.
- Solid build quality.
- Good sound quality.
- Really loud.
- Long battery life.
- Bluetooth compatible.
- No auxiliary output.
2 ION Audio Tailgater (iPA77) | Portable Bluetooth PA Speaker
We’re going to calm things down now with the ION Audio Tailgater (iPA77).
This is a much smaller and lighter unit than the SOUNBOCKS 2.
The Ion measures 9.21” x 12.5” x 13” and weighs just under 17lbs. It has one six-inch woofer and one tweeter. The frequency response is between 77Hz to 20,000Hz, and it has a peak power output of 70 watts.
This is a tailgate system absolutely bursting with functionality. It has the latest 4.0 Bluetooth connectivity to allow you to hook up to the electronic device of your choice. The Bluetooth has NFC connection capability, which means just tap your phone on the side of the Ion, and you’re paired. Brilliant.
If your phone does not have NFC, you’ll just have to pair it with the button and waste a full 10 -15 seconds of your life.
If you want to go old-school, the good news is that there’s a built-in AM/FM radio with an LED display on the control panel. You’ll also find a battery level indicator. Though with a maximum of 50 hours of battery life, you should be good for a fair while.
What’s more, the ION Audio Tailgater (iPA77) also has an auxiliary input, an input for a microphone, and a USB port to charge up or power your electrical device.
We definitely give this the thumbs up for functionality and versatility.
This a well-built tailgate speaker system with some well-finished and protected edges and corners. There are carrying handles on the sides which, given its modest weight, could be useful for transporting short distances.
This isn’t waterproof, splash-proof, or IPX certified, consequently some care has to be taken around water.
One thing we would have liked to see on this device in an EQ control. It’s not deal-breakers, especially considering the price, but it still would have been a nice addition.
You’re not going to make your friend’s ears bleed with this unit, but the power output is sufficient if being used purely as a tailgate speaker in a reasonably confined area. When the volume is fully wound up, there is some distortion, particularly in the lower frequencies. At lower volumes, things are clearer with some punchy bass, together with accurate mids and trebles.
- Excellent connectivity.
- Maximum 50-hour battery life.
- USB charger.
- AM/FM radio.
- No EQ control.
- Not IPX certified.
3 ION Audio Party Rocker Max – 100W Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
Blimey! This thing is brighter than Elton John’s and Liberace’s combined wardrobe. We love it.
It measures 11.0″x 15.0″x 17.25” and weighs 24.6lbs. It has a frequency of 65Hz to 20,000Hz and a peak power output of 100 watts. It’s got, two good size drivers. The woofer is 8”, and the tweeter is 3”.
It’s got 4.0 Bluetooth connectivity, an auxiliary input, dual microphone inputs for those karaoke duets. It has a staggering 75 hours of battery life without the lights. With lights and music, the battery life plummets to just 6 hours. Frankly, we don’t understand why they quote a figure of battery life without the light effects. That doesn’t make sense. We’d want them on all the time. Forever!
For those that want to keep a check on the battery level, there’s a handy LED indicator on the right-hand side of the control panel.
Well, the lights on the top of the tailgate sound system can be changed to one of six colors, via the control panel. The lights on the front of the unit will hypnotize and dazzle you with every color you can possibly think of.
Underneath all the glitter and lights, this is a surprisingly well-built piece of kit. There are some good aluminum protective edges and corners together with a pair of robust carrying handles on the side. The Party Rocker also has wheels and has an extendable transportation handle.
The sound quality seems very much on a par with the ION Audio Tailgater (iPA77) we just reviewed. The Party Rocker has that same punchy bass and accurate mids and trebles. Since the Party Rocker does have a larger set of drivers and more peak power, therefore, there is more volume.
That’s good news since this unit is also likely to some distortion at higher volumes; therefore, it gives more scope to keep the volume rolled back and keep everything crisp and clear.
The Party Rocker is undoubtedly a party on wheels.
- Bluetooth connectivity.
- Two microphone inputs.
- Long battery life.
- It can be wheeled easily.
- The lights!
- No USB charger.
- Low-quality microphone.
- Not IPX certified.
4 QFX PBX-61081BT/RD Portable Bluetooth Party Speaker
This is one of the most compact and inexpensive best tailgate speaker systems we’re going to review. It measures just 12.4” x 12.4” x 20.9” and weighs 12.75lbs. Considering its size, the QFX has a good-sized 8” woofer, which is paired with a 1” tweeter.
There’s all the standard modern connectivity, too, including Bluetooth, auxiliary input, a Mico-SD card slot, and a microphone input. It’s also got a pair of external speaker connections, which is nice. Other features include AM/FM radio and USB charging point.
Battery life on this unit is quite moderate at only 20 hours maximum and five hours at maximum volume. Considering it takes up to four hours to fully charge, its battery life is a bit of weakness.
This isn’t the most robust of tailgate speaker systems. There’s nothing in its design or construction that makes it particularly suitable for rough treatment. It reminds us of a 1990’s ghetto blaster, stood on its end with a pair of wheels, and a handle thrown on it. We don’t recommend taking this one on your weekend hike up Kilimanjaro.
The sound quality was quite reasonable, considering the price of the unit. The Bass doesn’t go as low as some of the more expensive tailgate speakers, but it’s adequate if not pushed to higher volumes. The QFX sounded reasonable at medium volumes and when used in a smallish space.
The mids and trebles feel on a more solid footing than the bass. There is more detail and clarity in both of these frequencies. The good news is that there is an EQ function on the remote control, and we recommend you use it.
Unfortunately, we’d have to recommend that you don’t try using the FM radio. It was hard to dial in a station and get any listenable level of sound. A shame since having a radio is a great feature.
- Lots of connectivity.
- Light and compact.
- EQ function on the remote control.
- Poor battery life.
- Hard to dial in a radio station.
- Not sturdy.
5 Ion Explorer Outback Wireless Rechargeable Speaker
The Ion Explorer Outback Wireless Rechargeable Speaker is a more sturdy version of the previous Ion tailgate speakers we’ve reviewed.
This set of best tailgate speakers measure 21” x 14” x 21” and weighs 22lbs. It has 100 watts of peak power and has an extended battery like of up to 100 hours. This falls down to 8 hours at full volume. To keep check of your battery life, there’s an LED battery level indicator on the control panel.
Considering its size, the QFX has a good-sized 8” woofer, which is paired with a 3” tweeter.
It has similar connectivity as the Ion Party Rocker, which includes; 4.0 Bluetooth, an auxiliary input, and an auxiliary output. We like the flexibility of being able to connect extra speakers via the auxiliary output. Additionally, there’s also a Mico-SD card slot, a microphone input, an AM/FM radio and two USB charging points
For those that still fancy a bit of flash, there is a thin strip of lights on the front of the unit directly under the control panel.
There’s no doubt that this is a much stronger and better-protected tailgate sound system than the other Ion tailgate speakers we’ve reviewed. The corners are extra reinforced with aluminum and rubber. The front grill is strong and inflexible. All the control inputs have a protective rubber flap to protect against splashing.
The fact is this is an IPX certified speaker so you can spray it with lager, and you should be fine. The Ion Explorer Outback also has wheels and a telescopic handle, so it’s easy to move around.
The sound quality is on a par with The Party Rocker. It has the same punchy bass with some nice and precise mids and trebles. These rolling Bluetooth speakers have plenty of volume if you want to really crank things up to 11. But, this will produce distortion and bass booming at higher volumes.
However, if you keep the volume at around 70%, the amount of distortion is minimal, and this rugged speaker on wheels will still be pushing out plenty of noise.
- IPX certified.
- Excellent connectivity.
- It has an auxiliary output.
- Good sound quality.
- Has wheels and telescopic handle.
- Hard to dial in a radio station.
- Low quality of the included microphone.
6 ION Audio Raptor | Ultra-Portable 100-watt Wireless Water-Resistant Speaker
The Ion Raptor is designed around the FORD Raptor pick-up, with the same orange color scheme and the Ford logo boldly splashed across the front speaker panel. FORD, FORD, FORD!
The ION Audio Raptor measures 21” x 14” x 21” and weighs and weighs 22 lbs. Although it’s not particularly heavy, it does have wheels and an extendable handle. Very handy if you have a good distance to move it.
The Raptor has 75 hours of potential battery life, though, at full volume, you can expect around 8 hours. One cool thing we really like about this unit is it has a handy 12V DC charging input so you can charge the speaker from your car. And itcan generate 100 watts of peak power courtesy of 8” and 3” tweeter.
It’s got plenty of connectivity, which includes; an auxiliary input, an auxiliary output, a microphone input, two USB charging points, a Mico-SD card slot, radio, and a partridge in a pear tree.
The auxiliary output is handy for connecting satellite speakers, but unfortunately, the radio is every bit as difficult to tune-in and maintain a good signal as the rest of the range.
If they’re not going to include a telescopic radio antenna, they should just ditch the radio altogether.
This is another IPX certified tough piece of kit, so you’ll be able to throw beer at it, or any other kind of fluid you fancy, and it will be fine. Actually, Ion tells us it’s splashproof and OK in light rain, but you get the idea.
The good news is that this thing is tough and well reinforced. There’s plenty of reinforcement to all the corners and edges or wherever else it might need it. It’s more than capable of standing up to a decent amount of knocks and bangs. There’s also protection against water damage where you want it.
The sound quality is very much the same with this tailgate speaker system as other Ion systems in the range. You get plenty of volume and some good punchy bass with reasonably detailed mids and trebles. Keep your volume levels below around 70%, and you’ll have plenty of noise whilst keeping distortion and bass booming at bay.
If you’ve got a Ford Raptor and you like your gear to match, the Ion Raptor makes a lot of sense.
- Good connectivity.
- It can be charged via the vehicle through 12 DC charger.
- IPX certified.
- Easy to move around.
- Radio reception is poor.
- The provided microphone is low-quality.
- The Ion Raptor branding makes it a poor option for non-Ford owners.
7 Sony GTKXB90 High Power Portable Bluetooth Speaker
The Sony GTKXB90 High Power Portable Bluetooth Speaker weighs in at 29.1” x 15.9” x 16.3” and weighs 36.5lbs. It has a total of five drivers, two 7.4” bass drivers, and three 2.4” tweeters. Plenty of speakers to make some noise.
The battery has a total playtime of up to 16 hours or 3.5 hours at full volume. Compared to all of the competitors, this is very low. Frankly, we think this needs to be higher
It’s got NFC 4.0 Bluetooth connectivity and inputs for microphone, USB, two RCA outputs, and two auxiliary outputs. The outputs are nice to see and make it easy to hook up some satellite speakers.
That’s a little surprising. Though in our experience, most people these days are using Bluetooth anyway, we still believe that this kind of connection is a good few years from being redundant.
Al the controls are nice and sleek and located on the top of the unit. One thing we do like about the Sony GTKXB90 is that it has an EQ control. It’s a shame that more tailgate speaker systems didn’t have some kind of equalizer on their rigs.
The Sony GTKXB90 is a stylish and nice looking piece of kit, and we even like the integrated lights. However, the Sony GTKXB90 just doesn’t have enough built-in protection for outdoor use. There’s no extra protection on either its edges or corners or anywhere else for that matter.
Also, although the control panel is well-laid out and everything is easy to operate, the knobs and switches look like they came out of a part bin from their normal HI-FI range. They’re too fiddly to operate and are not tough enough.
Better news is that the Sony GTKXB90 has some decent sound quality. For a start, it has plenty of volume and plenty of bass. The sound is generally bass-driven but can be programmed to deliver even more by selecting the extra bass mode button. Then things really begin to shake!
Even in standard mode, the bass still tends to dominate the other frequencies giving an overall scooped out feel to the sound. Whilst this kind of set-up is ideal for genres such a Hip-Hop and Rap, you may need to start fiddling with the EQ controls if you need to tame things down bass wise.
- Outputs for satellite speakers.
- Good connectivity.
- EQ control.
- Sleek and stylish design.
- Not IPX certified.
- No reinforcements to the edges or corners.
- Only 3.5 hours of battery life.
8 Aiwa Exos-9 Portable Bluetooth Speaker
Aiwa Exos-9 Portable Bluetooth Speaker measures 7.5” x 11.7” x 19.4” and weighs a comparatively lightweight 13lbs. It has five separate speakers and a peak power output of 200 watts. That should be plenty loud enough for most circumstances.
It has mains or battery capability with the battery giving you around 9 hours maximum of listening time and only 3 hours when the volume hits 11. An additional battery can be purchased, which will double your listening time if you need it. We think you probably will. The battery life for a tailgate speaker is poor.
Connectivity includes; Bluetooth, auxiliary input, and USB.
The controls are easy to operate but look like they belong on an Aiwa tower system for the ’80s. Honestly, they look dated and don’t look like they belong on something to be taken outside.
The Aiwa Exos-9 doesn’t look like it belongs outside. There’s nothing to protect it against the elements. It looks and feels like it belongs indoors. There’s absolutely nothing to protect its corners or edges. Take this out, and you’ll need to treat it gently
It looks fragile for outside use. Andof course not IPX certified. However, the sound quality is really the saving grace for the Aiwa Exos-9.
It has a well-balanced sound with some good punchy bass and well-articulated mids and trebles. The bass doesn’t overwhelm the other frequencies, and the sound remains tight even when the volume is turned up high.
What’s more, there are also four EQ presets and a manual preset to help you shape whatever sound you’re after. The fact is that Aiwa Exos-9 is a good sounding system, but it just looks and feels like it wasn’t really built with tailgate parties in mind.
- Good sound quality.
- Plenty of connectivity.
- It’s light.
- It has good EQ control.
- It’s not IPX certified.
- It looks too fragile for a tailgate speaker.
- Poor battery life.
9 LG PK5 XBOOM Go Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
This is the smallest and lightest of all the best tailgate speakers we’ve reviewed. Measuring just 8.7” x 4.7” x 5.1” and weighing only 2.7lbs, it has a modest 32W of peak power and a maximum of 18 hours playtime before needing a re-charge.
It has the latest NFC 4.0 Bluetooth, auxiliary input, and USB charging. The LG PK5 XBOOM is not very loud at full volume and would really benefit from being hooked up to another speaker. You can, of course, do this via Bluetooth, but we’d have liked to see an auxiliary output on this speaker for a more assured connection.
All the controls are situated on the top of the unit and are simple to operate. There are a couple of EQ shaping options, always nice to see, but unfortunately, they only offer limited sound shaping.
The front of the unit has some built-in LED lighting. This is meant to pulse to the beat of the music. The reality is that it just pulses to exactly the same tempo regardless of what is being played. It might add a bit of atmosphere to your party, but not really in the way being claimed by LG.
The good news is that the LG PK5 XBOOM is IPX certified, so you can subject it to splashes and light rain. It looks well put together and appears to be capable of taking a few light bumps and scrapes. The design makes it nice and stable and hard to accidentally knock over. Overall it has the look of a robust ghetto blaster rather than a tailgate speaker.
The volume for the LG PK5 XBOOM is not particularly loud. If you need something louder, then you should consider the larger version of the same unit. You could alternatively pair it with some external speakers via Bluetooth.
These speakers, as you expect from Meridian, are well-balanced with good quality, clear and precise sound across all frequencies. The bass does lack a little punch though there is the EQ function to add some enhanced bass. However, even with the enhanced bass option activated, the bass is not as prominent or as punchy as a lot of alternative systems.
- It’s light.
- Good quality sound.
- IPX certified.
- NFC 4.0 Bluetooth.
- These are not loud at full volume.
- Low battery life.
10 Milanix Tailgate Portable Bluetooth PA Karaoke Speaker
Next up, we have a set of best tailgate speakers on wheels that offer a lot for very little money.
The Milanix measures 20” x 15.7” x 9.7” and weighs 12.6lbs. There no information concerning peak power, but we can tell you it’s pretty loud and puts out sufficient volume for a small gathering. Milanix also doesn’t give any information on battery life, though you can expect around 10 hours of normal use without the need for recharging.
The controls and inputs on this tailgate speaker system are impressive, given its low price. It has Bluetooth, auxiliary input, USB input, SD input, FM radio, and a Karaoke function. Unbelievably, it also has a recording function and a guitar input. We’re sure you’ll agree that’s pretty comprehensive.
All the controls and functions are on the top of the unit are easy to read and operate.
It’s easy to move around and transport as it has a telescopic handle and wheels. It’s also built reasonably well to handle the rigors of transportation. Though it’s not as rugged as some of the more expensive units we’ve reviewed, it does, however, have some reinforcement to its corners and edges.
Unsurprisingly it’s not IPX certified.
We weren’t expecting too much for sound quality, but here again, we were surprised. The volume was louder than we expected, and so was the overall sound quality. The bass had plenty of oomph, and the middles and trebles were clear. It did have a quite bass-driven sound, which would probably suit a lot of genres of popular music.
There’s no ability to shape the sound with any EQ functions, so you stuck with the sound you get.
The bottom line is, we’re genuinely amazed that this unit can sound this good and have so much functionality for such a low price.
- Excellent value for money.
- Very good functionality.
- It has a guitar input.
- No EQ control
- Not IPX certified.
Best Tailgate Speakers Buyers Guide
Having a long battery life is essential. The maximum battery life of a tailgate speaker system, which is often quoted, refers to a unit run at 50% of its maximum volume. However, if you’re partying hard with a fully cranked up volume, you can expect around only 20% of the claimed maximum battery life.
Before deciding on a unit, make sure the battery life is going to be enough for how it’s going to be used.
The tailgate speaker we reviewed with the longest battery life was the Ion Explorer Outback, which has a claimed maximum battery life of 100 hours and 8 hours at full volume.
That’s some seriously impressive battery life!
Tailgate speakers are made to be taken outside and moved around. Consequently, they should be built to take a reasonable level of punishment. Units with the best level of protection will be IPX certified against light showers and spraying water.
Additionally, you should look for tailgate systems with reinforced speaker grills, edges, and corners. Systems built for the outdoors also tend to have larger and sturdier knobs and controls. This is definitely something to look for.
Units with no build-reinforcements, and controls that look like they belong on an indoors HI-Fi unit, are unlikely to fare well on the tailgate of a pick-up for very long.
The size of your party or gathering will dictate just how loud your tailgate speaker system needs to be. Most of the units are suitable for small or medium-sized parties, but if you really need to throw out some serious noise, there’s no beating the SOUNDBOKS 2. It’s capable of pushing out 120dBs.
The best sound quality of any of the units was the Aiwa Exos-9 Portable Bluetooth Speaker. However, it just doesn’t have enough power for anything other than a small party.
For a good compromise of having great sounding audio and some decent volume, we’d suggest looking at any of the Ion range.
Must have connections are Bluetooth and an auxiliary input. All the speakers we’ve reviewed have this though not all have the latest 4.0 Bluetooth. The newer version of Bluetooth is preferable, but it’s not a deal-breaker.
Most of the tailgate speakers have USB connections. Though not essential, we’d say its probably the third most important piece of connectivity. A USB port is going to take care of your charging needs for your electronic devices with no hassles. It ‘s something well worth having.
Though it’s possible to link additional speakers with Bluetooth, an auxiliary output is a great feature to have. Unfortunately, it’s only featured on a couple of tailgate speaker systems. But if you’re looking for the most reliable way to link some additional speakers to your tailgate speaker system, this is a must-have.
Finally, the Milnaix Tailgate Portable Bluetooth speaker was the only system to offer a guitar input. Though it’s something nice to have rather than crucial, it does mean the Milanix has the greatest level of connectivity.
Even More Options
There are loads of excellent speaker options currently available. So, if you can’t find what you’re looking for in this review, you may find it in our Best Party Speakers article?
It’s probably also worth checking out our reviews of the Best Powered Speakers, the Best Wireless TV Speakers, the Best In Ceiling Speakers, the Best Bookshelf Speakers under 500 dollars, and the Best In Wall Speakers on the market.
So there you have it. A varied selection of the best tailgate speakers for both price and power.
We think the best pick out of the ten tailgate speakers we’ve reviewed is the…
It was easily the least expensive unit we reviewed but still had excellent connectivity. It even had an input for a guitar, and in fact, it was the only one to have one. There was sufficient volume for smaller parties, and the sound quality was surprisingly good.
All in all, the Milanix Tailgate Speaker offers incredible value for money.