The 10 Best Boomboxes

Updated December 07, 2017 by Ezra Glenn

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We spent 39 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. You may be too young to remember that portable stereos were once known as ghetto blasters, but call them what you like, these boomboxes can deliver great sound in a surprisingly portable package. They'll let you play music from a wide range of media, including AM/FM radio, cassette tapes, CDs, MP3s and even streaming services via auxiliary ports and Bluetooth. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best boombox on Amazon.

10. Quantum FX J22UBK

Sometimes you need a ghetto-blaster to get you through your day, and so sometimes you need the Quantum FX J22UBK. It's essentially an authentic 1980s model that's been retrofitted with USB and SD card inputs, and we are forever grateful.
  • built-in mic for tape recording
  • converts cassettes to mp3s
  • four d batteries not included
Brand QFX
Model J-22UBK
Weight 8.9 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

9. Sony CFDS70

On the off-chance that you still want to rock out to your drawer of analog music, the Sony CFDS70 is ready to play AM/FM radio, cassette tapes, and compact discs in stereophonic sound, and it has Sony's classic Mega Bass button that we are pretty sure does something.
  • digital clock tells hammer time
  • up to 19-hour life on 6 c batteries
  • has a tendency to damage cassettes
Brand Sony
Weight 5.2 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

8. Naxa Electronics NPB-428

For those times when you just need to take your cassette collection to the streets, the Naxa Electronics NPB-428 has you covered. This old school-style machine has been updated with a USB port, so there's still hope if you decide to upgrade your library.
  • speakers are detachable
  • comes with a remote control
  • not as large or loud as you'd think
Brand Naxa Electronics
Model 0
Weight pending
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

7. Photive M90

A compact update to the form, the Photive M90 keeps some visual continuity with retro portable stereos without compromising its technology. Play wireless audio via your Bluetooth enabled tablet or smartphone, or plug any device straight into its auxiliary port.
  • elegant water-resistant design
  • rubberized for shock protection
  • distorts sound at high volumes
Brand Photive
Model PH-M90
Weight 4 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

6. DeWalt Worksite DCR015

If you're the type of person who'd like to match your stereo to your drill and driver set, you need the DeWalt Worksite DCR015 in your arsenal. You can use the 3.5 mm line-in to hook up the Walkman and blast that old Village People tape while you build things.
  • can charge your dewalt batteries
  • 2 convenient ac power outlets
  • charger interferes with radio signal
Model DCR015
Weight 13.5 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

5. Pyle Street Vibe

The Pyle Street Vibe offers pairing via both NFC and Bluetooth technologies, making it easy to connect with most mobile devices. It's a thoroughly modern machine, as is reflected in its radio with no AM band, which humans stopped listening to in 1997.
  • lightweight portable and compact
  • built-in sd card and usb readers
  • battery lasts a measly 4 hours
Brand Pyle
Model PBMSPG50
Weight 5.4 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

4. Ion Job Rocker Plus

There is nothing subtle about the Ion Job Rocker Plus. For starters, it's bright orange. It's quite rugged, with reinforced corners and a padded metal carrying bar, and its part-amplifier, part-karaoke machine, part-ghetto blaster build is sure to rock any house.
  • fold-down radio antenna
  • can be powered or charged by a car
  • favors sound quantity over quality
Brand ION Audio
Model Job Rocker Plus (orange
Weight 24.5 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

3. SereneLife Portable

The SereneLife Portable allows you to not only stream music over Bluetooth but also features a wide range of physical inputs. Its potentially seizure-inducing LED light shows are perfect if you're in the market for something to match your souped-up Honda Civic.
  • mp3 playback via usb thumb drives
  • doubles as a pa system
  • sturdy built-in carrying strap
Brand SereneLife
Model SLBSP18
Weight 7.2 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. Doss Traveler

Perfect for perching on your shoulder like you're LL Cool J in 1985, the waterproof Doss Traveler allows for quick connection to any device via Bluetooth or 3.5 mm line-in. It boasts up to 12 hours of play from its rechargeable battery so you can keep the party going.
  • carrying handle and shoulder strap
  • onboard playback controls
  • impressive volume for its price
Brand DOSS
Model 21565
Weight 2.3 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. Sharp GX-BT9X

For massive sound from a 21st century device with a touch of a retro look and feel, consider the Sharp GX-BT9X. At full volume, its twin cannons will blast you into next week, and it features easy Bluetooth pairing with many devices via NFC technology.
  • can also be used as a guitar amp
  • x-bass button for extra boom
  • built like a tank
Brand Sharp
Model GX-BT9X
Weight 19.3 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

Even Hip Hop Needs Some Heavy Metal

Responsible for the death of countless batteries, boomboxes were notorious for pushing the limits of quality engineering. Although handles rarely broke, they often looked as if they wanted to just to spite the absurdity of what they were designed to do.

Take, for example, Lasonic's TRC-975. Weighing in at a whopping 23.3lbs (batteries included), it required 10 D cells to power its two 8" woofers. But that was back in 1988 when sound superseded sense and music wasn't meant to stay plugged in or sit in pockets.

Someone actually looked at that monstrosity, looked at the engineer guilty of conceiving it and said, without a hint of irony, "It needs a handle."

200-watt woofers vibrating their screws loose wasn't the only reason boomboxes had heavy metal casings. The handles needed something sturdy to latch onto. Ergonomic plastic handles folding flat in plastic housings simply wouldn't suffice. Portable stereos that could double as counterweights for elevators needed something stronger.

As Lewis Carroll once said, "Take care of the sound and the sense will take care of itself."

To Boom Or Not To Boom

Back in the Eighties and early Nineties, the most important feature of a good boombox was bass. Be you lounging in your backyard with some friends or hosting a romantic dinner in a van down by the river, it seemed like there was never enough bass to kill the mood.

Boombox manufacturers spent so much time trying to figure out how to overpower crowded streets with portable woofers they never stopped to think about how a boombox might sound at a reasonable volume. Indeed, if you turned your TV all the way up while watching Saturday Night Live and your boombox all the way up and you could still hear Chris Farley screaming at you, your boombox wasn't up to snuff.

For better or worse, we live in the Age of the Earplug. Noise pollution is no longer hip. Boomboxes no longer hop down the sidewalk. And those who love rap tend to keep it to themselves while they're in public.

Needless to say, the criteria for what makes a good boombox good has drastically changed.

Detachable speakers are great: We no longer dance with them propped up on our shoulders, anyway.

Smartphone docks have completely replaced cassette decks and CD players: Nobody makes mix-tapes anymore and MP3s have rendered CDs all but obsolete.

No handle? Not a problem. My friends and I aren't going anywhere.

Sure, you can still buy boomboxes for break-dancing on the street, but for those who just want portable speakers for their smartphones, there's no time like the present.

Up Jump The Boogie To Be

Lovingly called a Brixton briefcase by Londoners and a ghettoblaster by Americans, the boombox was invented by none other than the very same brilliant minds that brought us the compact cassette, Philips.

That's right. A Dutch company based in Amsterdam permanently altered British and American cultures in the Seventies and Eighties. Here's how:

About a decade before the boombox, Philips invented the cassette as a compact medium for storing audio. They announced their invention a year later on the Berlin Radio Show, and then waited an additional year before announcing it in the United States. They licensed the format for free in hopes that Japanese manufacturers would take advantage of the new technology and help spread the word. They did.

By 1966, the compact voice recorder and it's requisite cassettes were a huge success. But Philips wasn't satisfied. They wanted a recorder that could also play back the audio with state-of-the-art fidelity, something their compact recorder simply could not do. It recorded just fine, but the playback left a lot to be desired.

And so the first boombox was born.

Initially more popular in Japan where they were made and Europe where they were first distributed, the boombox finally made its way into the hearts and minds of young Americans in the mid-Seventies. The introduction of stereo-quality input and output jacks made it possible for the boombox to be used as a portable P.A. system. With the help of a microphone or a pair of turntables, MCs and DJs could spit and scratch on the fly so long as their batteries didn't run dry.

By the mid-Eighties virtually everyone in America had a boombox. There were boomboxes in the subway, boomboxes on the beach, boomboxes on hot dog stands in Central Park, boomboxes in the back seats of old cars that only had radio tuners on board.

By 1989, boomboxes were a pop culture phenomenon, featured in films such as Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing, Say Anything with John Cusack, and the hideous Teen Witch with its forced hip hop sequence. Why? Because every film needs a good boombox.

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Last updated on December 07, 2017 by Ezra Glenn

Ezra is a writer, photographer, creative producer, designer, and record label-operator from New York City. He's traveled around the world and ended up back where he started, though he's constantly threatening to leave again.

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