Tailgating is a common practice by sports fans in parking lots during college football seasons and the beginning of NFL. However, it has become a sport in itself as enthusiastic fans engage in friendly competitions to throw the biggest, the loudest and the best shindig before the big game. And what’s a tailgate party without a good tailgate speaker that will fill the great outdoors with music?
Basically, tailgate speakers are what you call party speakers. Their number one characteristic: loud. A good tailgate speaker is supposed to be loud and deliver a strong bass. Because of these characteristics, super small and very portable speakers are out of the picture. Tailgate speakers are supposed to be rugged, because they are meant to be used outdoors. They should also be portable – not fits-in-your-backpack portable, but something that can be easily brought around, preferably with handles or wheels.
Here are some of the best speakers for tailgating you can find:
Ion Audio iPA77 Tailgater is one of the most popular tailgate speaker on the market. If you plan on throwing a tailgate party all night and you want a speaker that can hold up to outdoor elements, then this speaker is the one you take along. It can play music via Bluetooth plus Android or iOS app for expanded control. Its Bluetooth range reaches up to 100 feet, and you will get more than 30 feet even if there are obstacles.There is also an AUX input if you want to connect non-Bluetooth devices.
This speaker has a 50-hour rechargeable battery with enough power to spare so you can use it as a charger for your devices like smartphones and tablets.When it comes to sound quality, this speaker is equipped with a robust woofer and a wide-dispersion tweeter for a solid build and great audio quality. It has reinforced rubber corners so you can easily shift it around without damaging the exterior of the speakers. There is an AM/FM radio with a bright and clear display, so you can listen to the radio. It also comes with a microphone and auxiliary cable.
However, it doesn’t feature a built-in audio equalizer and presets, and it also doesn’t have LED lights unlike most tailgate speakers of this price. Also, this speaker is not IPX-certified, meaning it is neither waterproof nor splash-proof.
The SOUNDBOKS 2 is an upgraded version of the SOUNDBOKS 1, which was a mind-blowing speaker. So if the earlier version is already mind-blowing, imagine how loud this latestversion is. The sound quality of this speaker is its best feature, and it is considered as the loudest portable speaker by some review sites. It can deliver 40 hours of music playback at 50% volume and up to 8 hours of playtime at a maximum volume of 122 dB. It has one of the largest and most durable batteries used in Bluetooth boombox speakers. Outdoor mode boosts the bass and increases the loudness of the speaker, while indoor mode will be more balanced with less bass. The sounds are detailed and dynamic and the highs are sparkling.
This speaker features a Bluetooth 3.0 with a range of 30-60 feet. It is compatible with a wide range of Bluetooth devices like iOS or Android phones and tablets, PCs, laptops and the like. If you don’t want to connect it with non-Bluetooth devices, you can use the included auxiliary cable. There is an LED indicator that shows a green light for indoor mode, blue for outdoor mode and red if the battery is empty. Speaking of batteries, it has military grade batteries that keep the music going for up to 40 hours when set on average volume. The shockproof casing makes it very durable, as it is made from Baltic birch plywood.
The SOUNDBOKS 2 is has an AUX output but no AUX output, so you can’t use multiple speakers together for a louder sound. Also it doesn’t have any additional features like a radio, microphone, LED lights, so if you like the extras, this speaker isn’t for you. It is one of the best when it comes to sound quality and loudness, but it’s only a great choice if you’re willing to spend a lot of cash for this one.
The Aiwa Exos-9 Portable Bluetooth Speaker is one of the best tailgate speakers available, featuring the latest technology, extensive sound settings, endless connectivity options and of course, clear and powerful sounds. The sound is its greatest feature, as it can produce clean and detailed mids and highs, and a bass that is emphasized yet not overwhelming.
This unit has a nice and sleek design that is shaped like an old-school boombox. But since it’s not rugged at all and it’s entirely made of plastic, it’s best to use it indoors or in a roofed area. There is a small LED screen that displays mode, EQ settings and battery status. The control panel is touch-sensitive. It can be connected to your devices via Bluetooth and can remember up to 8 devices previously paired with the speaker so it can automatically pair with them when they are in range. It can also be connected to non-Bluetooth devices via the included AUX cable.
The battery of this speaker can only offer up to 9 hours of music playback at 50% volume, but only 3 hours at maximum volume. This battery life can be extended through an extended battery for the unit that you can buy separately. It has a USB charging port so you can charge your device in the speaker.
This one’s a party speaker you would like to bring in anywhere. The Ion Explorer Outback Wireless Speaker is a rugged speaker to keep it suitable for outdoors and has a multi-color light bar that pulses to the beat of the music for a dance party vibe. If you don’t like it, then it can be turned off for a plainer look. It is more rugged than other Ion party speakers, with edges and corners reinforced with rubber and aluminum. It’s even rated IPX4, meaning it can survive light rain and few splashes of water.
It features a large battery that can get you up to 100 hours of playtime, but it gets much shorter at higher volumes and even less when the multi-color bar is turned on. The Bluetooth connectivity works flawlessly and can reach up to 100 feet. It’s quick to pair with any Bluetooth device, especially Android devices through its NFC feature. There is an AUX input and output jack, so you can link other non-Bluetooth devices or you can link it with other Explorer speakers.
The sound quality of this speaker is really good and loud. It has some bass, but it’s not that impactful. The highs are crisp and clean, but the mids lack some detail. The bass can get distorted at high volumes (75% and above), but since it is pretty loud even at 50% volume, you don’t have to increase its volume to the max.
If you want the best budget speaker, this one is the perfect choice. The QFX PBX-61081BT Portable Bluetooth Party Speaker is the only speaker on this list that comes under $100. For that kind of amount, this speaker provides an amazing overall performance. The design and functionality of this speaker is what’s to love about it. It offers a lot of options when it comes to music playback: Bluetooth, micro-SD card slot, AUX input, USB port and mic input. It has a suitcase-like design (available in three colors such as red, blue and silver) with built-in wheels and a telescoping handle.
This speaker features a large battery that can play music up to 20 hours at moderate volume and less than 5 hours at maximum volume. It can blast music with its 8-inch woofer and 1-inch tweeter. For its affordable price, it produces decent sounds. The bass can’t really go very low, but the mids and highs are detailed and clean. At 80% volume, the speaker can produce distorted sounds, but it’s already quite loud at 70%.
This unit has no IPX rating so it’s neither waterproof nor splash-proof. It comes with a remote control that has buttons you can’t find on the speaker, so it’s best not to lose it. There are no AUX and microphone included with this speaker, so you need to buy them separately if you need them.
Ion Audio Party Rocker Max is an upgraded version of its brother, the Block Party Live. Its most attractive feature (and probably the greatest reason why you should consider this speaker) is its lighted grille that gives off the ultimate party vibes. It even comes with a light dome on top that can also give a light show. This speaker is very much recognizable because of all these lights, making it fun and special.
The Party Rocker Max has a satisfying build, considering the less than $200 price tag. It has a strong metal grill with built-in wheels, carrying handles on both sides and a retractable handle at the back. This speaker is a bit rugged and strong, however it is not IPX certified. It has two mic inputs so you can easily throw a crazy karaoke party. The connection quality is fine with Bluetooth that has a 100 feet range. The battery life is impressive as it can deliver up to 75 hours of playtime, but when the lights are on, this speaker can only last for 6 to 7 hours.
Since this is a party speaker, you might expect powerful party sounds. The bass is punchy at moderate volumes, but it can get distorted at 70% volume. The mids and highs are nicely balanced but gets muddy at high volumes since it can be overpowered by the bass. It’s best to play this speaker at 50% volume (since it’s already pretty loud at that level) with the lights turned on.
Ion Audio Raptor is a lot like Ion Explorer, but it’s even more rugged and cool. It has rubbery wrapping that evokes the feel of a stylish Ford pickup. It’s covered with an aluminum grille with the Ford logo on it, as the speaker is officially licensed by the car brand. Besides style, this ruggedness allows this speaker to be used outdoors and makes it probably shockproof. This speaker is splash-proof too, as it is rated IPX4 certified.
Its control panel is like that of the Explorer, and it also comes with a built-in AM/FM tuner, two aux inputs, two USB charging ports and a mic input. On the sides, it has two carrying handles plus built-in wheels and a telescoping handle. There’s a multicolor light bar that makes the speaker entertaining. You can easily connect it to any Bluetooth device, but it also comes with an AUX cable to connect non-Bluetooth devices. The battery can last up to 75 hours of playtime at full charge, but once the lights are on and the volumes are up, this can shorten the battery life.
The sounds it makes is pretty good, but it’s not that impressive. It produces a punchy bass at moderate volumes, but it can get distorted at high volumes. Meanwhile, the mids and highs are clear and balanced. This speaker comes with a microphone and a power cable with a 12-volt cigarette lighter adapter.