Modern compact portable Bluetooth speakers are probably good enough for some mellow background music while out and about, but for a serious tailgate party, you need volume. In addition to volume, good tailgate speakers should be able to deliver quality audio as well. Being loud means nothing if everything sounds clipped or distorted. Of course, a good looking design is always a plus for a tailgate speaker as it will be in the public eye. Though most tailgaters are larger than the current breed of party speakers they are still portable often fitted with wheels or a sturdy handle to carry them by.
Best Value Tailgate Speaker
Our best value pick goes to the ION Audio Tailgater iPA77. This little powerhouse features a 50W of power, 50-hour battery, Bluetooth and it comes with a cable microphone all for under $100! The iPA77 is not just great value for money but also one of the most versatile tailgate speakers we have reviewed.
Loudest Tailgate Speaker
Most Rugged Tailgate Speaker
The ECOXGEAR EcoBoulder+ is 100% waterproof and dustproof, with an IP67 rating. The first thing you will notice is its rugged black design that looks like it can take a tumble down the stairs and come out completely unharmed. Did we mention it has a built-in bottle opener and cup holders?
The 10 Best Tailgate Speakers
Some people prefer light, compact party speakers that are easy to transport around in their vehicle, while others prefer something that looks as impressive as it sounds. Below is our list of the best portable tailgate speakers and a quick review for each:
1. ION Audio iPA77 Tailgater and PA System
Our favorite tailgate speaker comes with a microphone, AM/FM radio, and USB charge port. If you plan on throwing an all-night tailgate party and want a speaker that is going to last, then the iPA77 is the one to take along. This tailgate speaker features a 50-hour rechargeable battery with enough power to spare that you can use its USB power bank to recharge your other devices, such as tablets and smartphones.
It features Bluetooth to connect with other audio devices and can even link up via near field communication. For playback from non-Bluetooth devices, you can use the auxiliary input instead. In fact, you don’t even need any external devices for audio as the speaker has an integrated AM/FM radio. If any of your guests are in the mood for some karaoke, they can make use of the microphone that is bundled with this speaker to sing along.
This speaker is also compatible with a free app for iOS and Android that allows you to adjust its EQ settings amongst other things. Although it doesn’t have wheels like the SBT1009BK, this speaker can be transported with ease using its two side handles. It is also a pretty rugged device and has reinforced rubber corners, so you don’t need to worry about damage when shifting it around.
When it comes to sound quality the iPA77 is no slouch either as it has a robust woofer as well as a wide-dispersion tweeter. Even in wide-open outdoor areas, this speaker is able to make itself heard. For a speaker with a solid build, great audio quality, and enough battery power to last the whole night you can’t go wrong with the iPA77. It doesn’t have any fancy gimmicks, like spinning disco balls but will still impress everyone at your next tailgate party. You can read our full review of the Ion Audio iPA77 here.
2. SOUNDBOKS – The Loudest Portable Speaker
For those big spenders – this will probably be one of the best purchases of your life. This is one mind-blowing speaker. Yes, it is loud! If we had to go on power and sound quality alone then this will definitely be the best tailgate speaker but we also take the price into consideration so we couldn’t very well put this speaker at the top of the list.
It’s not the cheapest speaker but my oh my, the sound is supreme. It has everything you could possibly want. At an outstanding volume of up to 119dB, this is one of the loudest portable speakers on the markets and consists of custom selected parts that are combined with powerful class-D amplifiers. With a sound range of about 100 yards, you can easily entertain a crowd of 100 people.
It is not all about volume though, this speaker has amazing sound quality in every way imaginable – mids, highs, bass – it has it all. The mids and highs are both clear and distinctive even at max volume while the bass is deep and powerful. It doesn’t have that cheap thumping bass that you get from so many speakers, but rather a low bass that you can practically feel in your chest. It’s awesome!
The battery is also amazing – or should we say ‘batteries’. The Soundboks comes with 2 powerful removable batteries that can be recharged within 3 hours and will give you 50 to 150 hours of music, depending on the volume you are playing it at. The 2 battery thing is pretty cool since it is rare in these portable speakers and it gives you the option of powering the speaker with one battery while the other is charging.
It is also a very durable, high-quality speaker that is constructed from high-quality Baltic birchwood and reinforced with a brushed aluminum frame. The speaker is water-resistant so you do not have to be worried when setting it by the pool or even taking it to the beach. Especially since the speaker is also shock resistant, temperature resistant and weather resistant.
If you take the Soundboks to a tailgate party or any party for that matter, it is guaranteed to impress all the guests and you will probably leave as the official new ‘music guy’ – or girl.
3. Aiwa Exos-9 Portable Bluetooth Speaker
Powerful and clear sound, extensive sound settings, and endless connectivity options. The Aiwa Exos-9 Portable Bluetooth Speaker is without a doubt one of the best tailgate speakers available on the market this year. Not only does it look and feel absolutely amazing, with high-quality materials – but with the latest technology, the Exos-9 stands out from its competitors.
When it comes to sound, you get a whopping 200 watts of continuous power and 5 drivers which include an outstanding 6.5″ dual-voice coil subwoofer that gives you epic bass. The sound quality is great and loud enough for a proper tailgating party, but if you want more power for a bigger party then you can link two of these babies together for a decent 75-guest party – and possibly some cops.
You can listen to the great sound of the Exos-9 while plugged in or you can charge it up and enjoy up to 9 hours of partying with its portable function absolutely anywhere.
Now, let’s get to the really cool part of the Exos-9. Unlike most other portable tailgate speakers, this one gives you extensive control over your sound. You can literally change the music up by cranking the bass, mids or highs as you please or you can fine-tune the EQ.
With the sound control features, this tailgate speaker can be used for so much more than tailgating – listen to any music genre in clear and distortion-free sound at loud volumes, indoors or outdoors, and since it looks so classy, it will fit in perfectly with your living room for those days that you want to use it indoors.
Lastly, when it comes to connectivity, the Exos-9 has virtually no limits. You can connect it to your iPhone, iPad, any Android device, any Kindle tablet, Windows device, PC, or Mac via Bluetooth with aptX and A2DP support. It also supports Android NFC and if wireless just isn’t your thing, make use of a 3.5mm audio jack for direct connection.
Seriously, this tailgate speaker is just plain awesome. There are a few people who say it is too heavy but at 13 pounds, all I have to say to those people is; hit the gym and buy the Aiwa Exos-9. Read our full Aiwa Exos-9 review.
4. Big Blue Party Bluetooth Speaker
Powerful speakers packed into a take-it-anywhere Bluetooth device. If you’re looking for a Bluetooth speaker that is both stylish and delivers some serious beats at a volume that would make the neighborhood dogs cringe, then the Big Blue Party Speaker should be your speaker of choice.
Weighing in at just 14.7 pounds it is light enough to haul onto the beach or up to your impromptu rooftop party. Four speaker drivers, a subwoofer, and a passive radiator kick out a solid 72 watts (18 watts per channel, 36-watt sub). Audio quality is very good and it is often compared to higher-end BOSE speakers – while a lot of reviewers on Amazon simply think it’s louder!
As the Big Blue Speaker was primarily designed and constructed to be a party speaker, rather than just another tailgate speaker hidden in the trunk of your car, it is arguably also the best-looking speaker on our list of the popular tailgate and party speakers.
The construction is solid, sturdy, and durable. Nothing about this speaker looks or feels cheap or tacky. The design is stylish and hip yet timeless enough not to go out of fashion with every change of the season. Simply put, it’s s a solid high-quality product that comes highly recommended.
Finally, its primary and preferred method of connection is via Bluetooth of course. No need for wires and no need to dock your phone or iPod. Simply pair your devices and let the party begin! We’ve written a full review of the Big Blue and you can find it here.
5. Sharper Image SBT1009BK On-The-Go Speaker
To get a tailgate party started, and keep it going, the Sharper Image SBT1009BK is a solid choice. It comes with a Disco Ball Light Show, Karaoke Functions, Wheels, and Microphone. This Bluetooth speaker with wheels packs everything you need from a good tailgate speaker and then some.
While it might look pretty sizeable the speaker is actually fully transportable thanks to its retractable handle and built-in wheels. It is also lightweight enough that it can be carried around using the attached handle.
With this speaker, you don’t need to worry about being close to a power source either as it is rechargeable and able to last for hours. To ensure that everybody in the area can see that you have a party going the SBT1009BK features a disco ball right on top of the speaker. The disco ball actually rotates and uses multi-colored LED lights to light up its surroundings for a great effect.
Another feature of this speaker that will make it a firm party favorite is its karaoke function, which comes complete with an included microphone. Whether you want to broadcast a message to everyone that is gathered around or simply sing along to your favorite tunes, this speaker will make it happen. It must be said though that there are several reviews online of buyers complaining that the microphone stopped working after a while. It looks like this may be the weak link in the features list.
As this speaker features Bluetooth you can connect it to any compatible audio device to play music or make use of its aux-in plug for a direct connection if needed. It even has inputs for a guitar and microphone for those who want to make their own music at the next tailgate party. The sound quality doesn’t disappoint either with crisp, clear audio that can be cranked very loud.
Anyone looking for a solid tailgate speaker on wheels that is easy to transport to where you need it and can double as an amplifier should consider the SBT1009BK.
6. Ion Explorer Outback Wireless Speaker
This is one awesome speaker for those who want something that is both rugged and has a party vibe. Its design is a bit more on the rugged side to give it a more outdoorsy look. Despite this though, the speaker still features a multi-color light bar that pulses to the beat of the music, if this isn’t your taste then it can be switched off for a more plain look.
At 100 watts, this speaker can make quite a bit of noise and produces a ton of bass. If you like deep pounding bass, then you will love this speaker. That is not all though when it comes to bass and treble, it is usually one or the other – well not in this case. The ION Explorer Outback produces beautifully clear mids and highs all the while shaking the ground with its powerful bass.
If the bass is too much for your non-partying needs then you can simply download the equalizer app on your Smartphone and adjust it as you would like. The speaker is also splash-proof so it can stand near the pool or handle so rain without breaking down on the spot. The built-in battery is rechargeable and it lasts pretty long at 100 hours. Just think how long you can party with this speaker.
The speaker weighs 22 pounds but if that is too much for you then you can just use the telescoping handle and wheel it to where you need it without having to physically exert yourself.
7. ION Audio iPA30 Audio Job Rocker
For those funky and bold, check out this bright but rugged powerful tailgate speaker. This bright orange portable heavy-duty Bluetooth speaker was originally designed as a speaker to use on a job site. It is extremely durable and the bright orange design was used in order to ensure that laborers would easily see it. The speaker supports AM and FM but it is unlikely that you would make much use of that feature when you are at a tailgate party.
If you find the orange color of this speaker to be a bit too much then you can opt for one of our other featured speakers, but to be honest we kind of like the color. I mean, if you are looking for something ordinary then this won’t be your first choice but every now and then you need to step outside of your comfort zone and make a bold choice. The ION Audio Job Rocker is a great way to do that.
The rechargeable battery will give you 50 hours of uninterrupted music while your Bluetooth device will connect to it at up to 100 feet and allow you to stream music from your Smartphone or whatever Bluetooth device you decide to use. Further than that, the speakers’ rugged design that was meant to withstand the harsh job site environment and all the dust and bumps that come along with it will certainly withstand even a more rowdy tailgater.
Personally, I think that makes this an even better tailgate speaker especially if you know that your parties can get pretty rowdy. The corner bumpers that surround these tailgate speakers further ensure that the speaker will survive should it be dropped or collide with something hard.
The Job Rocker is also pretty loud as it was meant to be heard over the racket of a job site. As for the sound quality, I have to say that it is not bad at all. The bass is deep and powerful and the mids and highs are clear. Now, this speaker won’t win any audio awards but you won’t even notice the audio when you are partying away with this speaker.
8. Sharper Image SBT1028 Bluetooth Tailgate Speaker
For all the rockers and musicians out who want to party at a tailgater. We featured a very similar Sharper Party Speaker in this list but we are adding this one as well. The reason is simple, while the speakers are very much the same they also have some very significant differences. First off, and probably the first thing you would notice is that this one does not have the LED disco ball that the party version has.
This speaker was designed for tailgate parties and while it does not have a light at the top of the system, it does have a guitar jack so if you wanted to, you or one of your buddies can bring a Fender along and play a couple of great guitar solos for the crowd. If you are not the electric guitar solo type then you can plug your acoustic in and play something more relaxing and if somebody is up for it, they can also plug a mic in and sing along. Maybe it is just me but some live country songs at a tailgater just sound too darn perfect.
This speaker also comes with a retractable handlebar and wheels at the bottom of the speaker so that you can easily wheel it around from one place to another – not that the speaker is very heavy. However, even at a mere 10 pounds, wheels are always better. The rechargeable battery lasts a pretty long time and should get you through the day, but if it does happen to run out, you can charge it through your car which is pretty convenient for a tailgate speaker.
As for the sound, the Sharper Image Tailgate Speaker is pretty loud and will definitely be more than capable of entertaining a crowd at a tailgate party with a plentitude of volume and deep bass. The sound quality wouldn’t please an audiophile – but let’s face it, nothing short of the B&W Nautilus does. The sound quality is decent for a tailgater and for this price, you aren’t going to get the perfect sound. Overall, this is a great speaker and does what it was built to do.
9. Sylvania SP328-Black Portable Bluetooth Speaker
The Sylvania SP328-Black is a cheap budget option that will still do the job. If you have burned through your salary and suddenly remembered that you have a tailgater coming up and need to get a tailgate speaker like asap then this is your go-to speaker.
First of all, the speaker is easily portable with a rechargeable battery and a handle that allows you to carry it around with convenience. It’s not the biggest speaker at a height of about 15 inches and a weight of 5 pounds but it is loud enough to bother your neighbors so it is a good choice for tailgate speaker.
The sound quality is also surprisingly good for the size and price. We already mentioned that it is pretty loud but the audio is pretty clear and even at maximum volume there is minimal distortion. As for the bass, there is no booming bass but it is decent for the price. The speaker does have some EQ controls that allow you to set the bass and treble to perfect the audio to suit your taste and needs.
These tailgate speakers are backlit by blue LED lights to give it more of a party vibe. The battery is said to last between 6 and 12 hours which is probably long enough but it depends on your needs.
It is undeniable that Sylvania has produced a great speaker at an affordable price.
10. EcoBoulder GDI-EXBM901 Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker
This 100% waterproof and dustproof speaker with an IP67 rating is certainly impressive on many fronts. The first thing you will notice is its rugged black design that looks like it can take a tumble down the stairs and come out completely unharmed. Well, I am not completely sure how shockproof it is since I am not planning on throwing the speaker down the stairs but it is pretty durable.
My favorite thing about this speaker is the fact that it is waterproof and you can actually toss it n the pool while playing music as it will float and continue producing great audio. While on the subject of audio, it really does have some awesome sound. The tailgate speaker has 100 watts of power so it can make quite a bit of noise – definitely enough to make your tailgate party memorable.
As for the tweeter and woofer, it has an 8” full-range speaker, 3” tweeter plus an 8” passive woofer. The mids and highs are clear and precise and you should not hear any distortion when the speaker is set on max volume so no need to be cautious – just crank up that volume.
The speaker has a powerful battery that will give you a full 10 hours of playtime and 100 hours of standby time which is great since it is more than enough to continue playing straight through the party and still have some battery to spare.
The speaker is also easily portable weighs 27 pounds and while this might be on the heavier side for some people, the speaker has a telescoping handle and wheels so you can conveniently drag it around to wherever you want to place it for optimal sound distribution.
It also features a waterproof storage compartment where you can easily store your phone, keys and any other valuables that you do not want to get wet or damaged. All these features in addition to the great Bluetooth connection are more than enough reason to buy the EcoBoulder for your next tailgate.
How to Choose a Tailgate Speaker
So you’ve read our Tailgate Party Checklist and you’re ready to invest in a speaker. Here are some pointers and tips on what to keep in mind before you spend your hard-earned money.
As you probably know, technology never stands still – there are constantly newer and better models surfacing, trying to take the place of those that came before it. Anybody who has ever bought the latest Smartphone will know how this feels as the upgraded model is always released as soon as you buy yours – immediately making your brand new shiny phone as outdated as bell-bottom jeans. Well, the same goes for speakers. There are constantly new speakers that try to claw their way to the top so, how do you choose the best tailgate speaker for you?
As with any speaker that is designed for a specific purpose, there are a few things that you will need to look for. Keep in mind that your tailgate party will likely go down in a parking lot or secluded area and, except if you bring a generator along, there probably won’t be electricity, so you can’t just take along any old speaker. Here are some things to consider when picking the best tailgate speakers.
When it comes to tailgate speakers, they need to be portable. You will need to load it up and take it to the party and once you’re there, you’ll need to be able to place it in the perfect spot where everybody will be able to enjoy the music and party hard. Simply put, it needs to be portable. In order for it to qualify as a portable speaker, it will need to have the following characteristics:
- Battery-powered – First and foremost, tailgate speakers need to be battery powered. This means that you need to be able to charge the speaker and then be able to play music through it, without it having to be plugged in. So make sure that you do not buy a speaker that needs to be plugged into a socket. Also, remember to make sure that its battery will last long enough so that it does not die in the middle of the party.
- Right size – When it comes to the size of proper tailgate speakers you need to make sure that they are not too big or too small. Do not buy a small portable speaker that will barely make enough sound to entertain a hand full of people, nor should you buy a speaker that will be difficult to transport. It should be large enough to entertain a crowd, but small enough to fit in your vehicle.
- Handles and or wheels – Okay so this is probably not a necessity but it is definitely something to keep in mind. Take it from somebody who has had to carry a speaker that was not really made to be carried – tailgate speakers need handles or wheels – or both.
So you want to get a speaker that is loud enough to entertain all the guests and has enough bass to at least make the earth shake just a little bit. Looking at the wattage is an easy way to determine the volume capabilities of a speaker, but with modern advances in audio, a low wattage does not mean the speaker is soft.
Volume is of course measured in decibels. Check this article out if you want to better understand the relationship between wattage and decibels. So, take a look at the reviews and make sure that the people who have listened to the speaker say that it is loud and powerful enough.
There are several speakers out there that cost next to nothing but also sound horrible. Do you have any idea how annoying it is to have to listen to music through low-quality speakers all night long? Don’t be cheap, buy a decent sounding speaker.
Make sure that the tailgate speaker you buy has the ability to sound crisp and clear, as well as loud. If there is one thing in this world that you can be sure of, it is that you will never regret buying a great sounding speaker.
Here is a quick table summary that of all the speakers evaluated and reviewed in the article below. Our rating is based on a variety of criteria which include sound quality, features, design quality, fit for purpose, desirability, and price.