Long gone are the days of cumbersome stereo systems existing as permanent fixtures in the living room.
Modern speakers and boomboxes are all about portability and versatility, with cutting-edge design features that allow you to enjoy music anywhere you go. Here's a rundown of the countless functions and connections you're likely to find on the control panel of a boombox.
For many of us, a smartphone is the default media centre, so Bluetooth® connectivity is pretty much standard in all standalone speakers and boomboxes. But even this protocol has come a long way in recent times: NFC™ connectivity allows you to hook up your smartphone or tablet to the system more quickly and easily than ever. TWS (true wireless stereo), on the other hand, allows you to pair two compatible speakers with the same device and assign its left and right channel to each speaker.
Flash of genius
Many boomboxes will play music directly from a USB flash drive, while an SD or MicroSD slot gives you additional options for where you choose to store your music files. And speakers with onboard FM reception mean you don't have to supply your own source of music at all.
Socket to 'em
As an infallible fallback option, 3.5mm aux input lets you plug in anything with a standard headphone output. This lets you get creative with world-band radio, or take the old-school option of CD or cassette.
Some models include 6.5mm microphone inputs. Because there’s a significant difference in power between mic and line level, these speakers normally include a preamp allowing you to adjust the mic volume.
This means you can plug an instrument into the aux socket and use your speaker like an amp, plus a microphone for PA use, making you a one-person rock band! Combined with battery-powered portability, this makes them great for busking as well as jamming off the grid.
Power to go
Designed to play anywhere, some portable boomboxes have the option of running off either 12VDC or 240VAC power. Most have onboard rechargeable batteries, meaning they will play for hours without being plugged in at all.
Check out our top 5 Bluetooth® speakers.
-Updated May 2021