10 Best Boomboxes in 2020 (Review)
While portable speakers have been on the rise for almost a decade, boomboxes are just now making their comeback from the 70’s-90’s. They’re portable and they’re also capable of playing CDs and tapes. This novelty, along with an increased quality of sound, is causing people to switch from portable speakers back to boomboxes. They also create a sense of style and individuality that may not exist with the standard newer speakers.
Now that they’re new and they’re back, which one do you get? Will it be easy choosing a boombox? How do you know what you’ll need and what they cost? Is it worth it to buy one?
We’ve created a list of the 10 Best Boomboxes in 2020 to show you what people are buying and why it’s working for them. We will also go over different features that boomboxes offer today, your budget, and why these “comeback models” are often superior to basic speakers.
Whether you have old tapes that need converting into MP3s, old CDs that you’d like to listen to regularly, or even if you’re just looking for something portable with a little nostalgia and style, this article will lead you to where you need to go.
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The Best Boomboxes
1. JENSEN CD-490 Boombox
The JENSEN CD-490 Boombox is a great choice for music on-the-go. With an easy AC charging option and a C-cell battery backup option, it is sure to have a longer playing time than many others in its class. It also comes in at a mere 3 lbs., making it great for travel or camping.
Unlike the original boomboxes, this model has an AUX import option – perfect for plugging in your phone, MP3 player, or computer. One of its most unique features is its ability to play CDs, which many people have sitting around from the days before the iPod. On top of that, it offers a myriad of color options, sure to suit your personal style.
If you’re looking for a loud, clear sound for things like pool parties or large gatherings, this may not be the model for you. Unlike some of the other brands in our review, this unit is best suited for smaller gatherings or household use. For the price though, this is a fantastic option.
2. Sony CFDS70 Boombox
This is a model that is staying true to its vintage predecessors. It is equipped with a tape deck and CD player, but there are no AUX cables or modern-day technology present. The Sony CFDS70 Boombox is perfect for those who simply want a place to play music via FM/AM radio, tapes, and CDs without all of the extra added features.
One of the best things about this model is its sound. Sony has gone above and beyond by adding a low-frequency bass option, so you’re going to be able to turn the volume up with this one. The loud volumes won’t create any kind of static or mechanical hums. It’s also sleek, portable, and takes 6 C batteries that can last for up to 19 hours, should you wish to forgo the power adaptor.
A recording option is also available for FM/AM radio or CDs. If you’re the type that loves listening to the radio, this is a pretty good option because it has 30 station presets. You will be able to easily and conveniently access the stations you like.
3. Panasonic RX-D55GC-K
The Panasonic RX-D55GC-K is a little more high-quality as far as materials are concerned compared to other products in our review. There are also four speakers – two main ones and two smaller ones – meant to create a surround sound effect. This is a superior option if you’re looking at it from a sound quality standpoint.
The CD player is a little different with this one. It ejects, similar to a DVD player. The tape player will record CDs or radio, and the option for AUX and USB performance are a positive as well. There are also five equalizer presets, so you will be able to listen to your music the way you like it. Another nice thing about this model is that it comes with a remote, so you’ll be able to control it from across the room. It also only requires 2 AA batteries to operate without the power cord, which is a bonus for people who don’t like spending the extra cash on the C or D batteries.
4. Tyler TAU101-BL
The Tyler TAU101-BL is a great option if portability is your main desire. It’s compact size and shape make it easy to transport anywhere, and the D batteries will last a long while if you’re at the beach or a party etc. While it doesn’t offer a tape deck, it does have a CD player and an auxiliary input cable for your phone or laptop. It allows you to skip tracks on your device through the buttons located on the front. This model is also equipped with a headphone output.
Compared to others in our review, this Tyler may not provide you with excellent sound. Its main purpose is to provide you with a convenient way to take your music on-the-go. The sound may be a bit sharper than the models that offer bass options or equalizers, but for the price, it’s a good deal. The antenna also makes for a great way to get a quality AM/FM radio signal.
5. LONPOO LP-D03
The LONPOO LP-D03 is a bluetooth boombox, different from any of the others in our review. This is definitely a favorable feature, as you don’t need to actually plug a device into anything. Your phone will send the signal directly to the unit once they’re paired.
Along with the convenient bluetooth feature, this Lonpoo features an AUX, USB, and headphone jack. It has an auto-stop feature as well, so when your cassette ends, you won’t have to worry about the tape getting ripped out. The equipment isn’t the sturdiest, but with all of the features it’s a worthy purchase.
The package comes with an AUX input cable, a UL listed power cable, and a user’s manual: everything you will need to get started. This CD boombox is also compatible with CD-R and CD-RW discs, so you can use the ones you’ve created from your computer.
6. AXESS PB2703
If you’re looking for a simple top-loading CD/MP3 player boombox, this is a popular choice. This is a compact model with 3” speakers and has a power consumption of 15W. The low wattage will decrease electricity bills. If you like to have something plugged in all day to listen to, this uses about as much power as a small household lightbulb.
A 3.5mm AUX cable is all that separates your favorite phone playlists from the AXESS PB2703 . The cable is not included, but the AC power cord is. It also comes with an effective antenna that will bring in a nice AM/FM signal, should you choose to go the radio-route. No tape player is included with this – it is strictly for playing CDs, MP3s, and radio. The USB and SD outlets are conveniently located on the front.
This model also comes in a nice, sleek shape with a shiny exterior. It has two color options, as well: black and red.
7. QFX J-22UBK Boombox
If you’re looking for a model that looks and sounds similar to the original boomboxes, this is a fantastic option. With its rectangular, boxy shape and thick, wide buttons, it looks like it is from the 1980’s. It is able to keep its nostalgic aesthetics while maintaining a much smaller size, so it’s nice when it comes to portability.
One of the best things about this product is its ability to convert old tapes into MP3 files. The QFX J-22UBK is equipped with a tape deck and AUX and SD option, allowing you to listen to and re-record old favorites. While the conversion won’t sound exactly like the original tape, this is an ideal feature for people who have old tapes they’d like to put on their MP3 playlists. You can also record AM/FM radio and convert that to an MP3 file, as well.
If you do decide to purchase this model, keep in mind that the power cord is located in the battery compartment. At first glance, it may seem as if there is no AC power supply, but it’s there. It also takes D batteries for backup and travel. For the price, this is a great deal on a nostalgic find – curated with today’s technology in mind.
8. GPX BC232R
The GPX BC232R is unique in that it has an internal antenna, a matte finish, a loud sound (for such a small product), and vintage-style dial controls. This is probably one of the most aesthetically pleasing models in the review, next to the QFX. Unfortunately, this model does not come with a tape deck. The CD player is quite easy to use. And without an antenna taking up room, it will fit into small spaces.
The unit plays not only professionally mastered CDs, but MP3 CDs as well. It is fairly simple to transfer an MP3 playlist onto a CD, and the CD into your boombox. That being said, this GPX also comes with an AUX if you’d like to plug your devices into it. It also runs on 6 C batteries for backup power supply or portability.
9. Sylvania SRCD243
The Sylvania SRCD243 is a humble, small model. This is also a simple top-loading CD player with AUX capabilities, no tape deck, and a smaller sound. It may not work well for large gatherings. It will, however, work well in a small-party situation or if you just want it for around the house. The antenna is rather large, but a large antenna doesn’t always mean a terrific signal. This model is a good base model if you are just looking to try a boombox out. It’s also good to keep in mind that this model is not equipped with a headphone jack.
A unique feature about this product is its 20-track programmable memory button. It also has a bright LED display, which comes in handy if you’re taking it camping or using it at night. It also takes 8 C batteries, which makes it nice for travel.
10. GPX BCA206S
The GPX BCA206S comes in a classic design. It is very similar to the boomboxes that surfaced in the 1990s. With cassette players, CD player, easy-to-use buttons and programmable channels, it’s a good choice for anyone looking for a reason to dust off their old CD or tape collection.
This model does not come with an AUX import like the others in our review. It focuses a little more on sound, though, so you’ll be getting a slightly better sound quality. You can also record your MP3s to a CD via your computer, and proceed to use that CD in this boombox – this way, all of your favorite music can be played through this GPX.
How to Choose a Boombox: 5 Features to Look For
New, higher-tech boomboxes are emerging at an alarming rate, and it’s hard to know exactly what to look for when buying one. It’s important to know what you’re buying it for and what kind of features you’d need and like. Make sure you keep these features in mind before making your purchase:
Make sure that your speakers are at least semi-good quality. If you’re a large music enthusiast and you’re focused on sound quality, look for that. A good indication of this is often the weight of the boombox. Cheaply-made boomboxes are typically at or around 3lbs. Cheaply-made isn’t the worst choice if you aren’t looking for great sound quality. But if you want something that is going to last and fill a lot of space, check out the weight, dimensions, and sound pressure level (SPL). If the SPL is over 90 dB, you know you’re getting a great speaker system. The cheap boomboxes don’t have that, but you can get as close to that number as possible.
It may be true that some of you are buying a boombox simply because you need a place to play those old tapes and CDs you’ve had lying around for a while. But others may be buying the boombox because they want some nice speakers and portability. If that’s the case, you need to make sure you’re buying one with SD, HDMI, or AUX capabilities. Bluetooth boomboxes are also a wonderful option for this, as long as you’re around Wi-Fi.
Style is possibly one of the most important aspects to look at when buying. Do you want a boombox radio that is reminiscent of the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s? There are many types of boomboxes available, each one meant to suit the style of the consumer. Now that these models are coming back on the market with new features and capabilities, people are looking to find ones that match their personalities. If you like the 90’s CD players, find one of the rounded models with a top-loading CD player. If you’re more of an 80’s fan, look for the large boombox; the boxier one that includes a cassette player.
If you listen to any kind of music with heavy bass, or if you’re just more inclined to increase or decrease bass and treble (with wide range frequency and responses) equalizers are a nice touch. There are a couple of models in this review that have equalizers, so it is possible to get that feature at an affordable price. These equalizers were also quite popular in the old school boombox models, so having them will make your unit sound like an older boombox.
CD-R and CD-RW
Mixed CDs were often not playable on some of the vintage boomboxes, and you will want a model that allows you to play both. Especially if you’re converting your MP3 music to CDs. You will need the CD-RW feature in order to play those.
What Budget Should You Set for a Top Boombox?
It is possible to get a nice, functional boombox for a low price. This is evident by the list we’ve compiled for you. Many of these are considered “budget” boomboxes. But should you choose to go a different route and opt for a top-tier boombox, here are some tips about your budget and what to look for.
Don’t Plan on Spending Less than $60
Sound equipment is everything when it comes to buying the highest quality boomboxes. Unfortunately, you can’t create a great sound without great materials. Great materials cost money. Even with a base-level high-quality model, you’re looking at about $60 and up for that sound quality.
Understand What Kind of Features You Will Need
The higher the tech, the higher the price. If you’re looking for equalizers, AUX, SD, HDMI etc., you’re looking at another $50-$100. You’ll also want to look at the quality of the antennae, and the work that went into cultivating it.
Style Costs More
If you’re looking for something that perfectly matches “you”, you may find that some of your preferred styles cost more. Some of this is because it is slightly more difficult to manufacture boomboxes that look like the beloved models from the 70’s and 80’s. Another side of this is the materials they’re using on the actual boombox itself. Stylish boomboxes often require more lacquer, artistry, and time.
Durability is a “Must”
The heavier the unit, the more likely it is that it was made with custom plastics, aluminum, and metal that are built-to-last. A top-quality model is going to last for many years, so it’s important to take these materials into account before purchasing. Look for units made with heavier plastics.
Speakers Are Everything
2-way 4-way speakers are typically a feature you will find in top models. This is because they create a surround-sound like effect, making it so that you don’t need to plug your boombox into another set of speakers if you want that loud, clear sound. Incredible speakers will be found on the more expensive models.
After taking all of these things into consideration, you’re looking at spending anywhere from $60 – $200 on a long-lasting, top-tier boombox.
Are There Cheap Boomboxes Available That Are Made to Last?
Cheaper models can absolutely be built-to-last, you just have to take a few things into account to ensure you find the right one. One of the biggest signs of whether or not a model will last is the boombox review updates. Make sure you look for recent boombox reviews — companies often improve with constructive criticism. Make sure you check the updates – not just the initial review. The updates will often show you how the model holds up over time.
You also can’t go wrong with some of the best name brands in the business, such as Panasonic (the RX-D55GC-K in our review) and Sony (the CFDS70). Jensen (like our Jensen CD-490) is also a very popular name brand when it comes to boomboxes, and it’s because the products last longer than most.
Make sure you’re looking at where your product is coming from. You need to make sure the company is reputable and has a positive reputation. If you’re unsure about who the company is, do a little research to be sure. Some manufacturers will upcharge because of style and they will sacrifice the sound and features. Look up your manufacturer’s history.
What are the Main Differences Between a Modern and an Old-School Boombox?
The newer boomboxes are making a comeback, and a huge reason for that is simple nostalgia. People want to be able to play tapes and CDs that they’ve accumulated over the years. Many of the new ones even give you the capability to transfer tapes into MP3s. Another reason is portability and sense of style. The new models focus a lot on the aesthetics of their boomboxes, so they typically look as nice (if not nicer) than their 90’s counterparts.
We would say the largest difference between the modern and old-school is the technological capabilities. Before, you could access only stereo, CDs, and tapes. Now you have access to a multitude of options built to suit your needs. It’s even possible to hook some boomboxes up to televisions or DJ equipment.
AUX, SD, HDMI, and bluetooth are all audio sources that weren’t available in the 70s-90s. To be able to attain that same vintage sound and feel while utilizing newer technology is a huge advancement.
Aside from these newer features like aesthetics and MP3 capabilities, the newer models of these old favorites have a much clearer sound. Some of them work to mimic the 70s-90s original boombox stereo sound, but for the most part, the speakers are made with up-to-date technology. One of the more superior aspects of this technology is the advancement of antennae.
How Well Does the Radio Work on These Sort of Stereo Boomboxes?
How well your FM/AM signal works is entirely dependent on the unit you’re buying. When looking at models, look specifically for the models that advertise radio qualities. This will tell you how much thought and time went into the process of making this feature accessible.
If you’re in need of a radio that performs its radio functions the way it’s supposed to, it won’t be hard to find. Most manufacturers put time and effort into the radio functionality of their boomboxes. You’ll see a variety of ways in which this is displayed. For example: some of the units in this review focus on exterior antennae that have special AM receiver potential. Others have internal antennae. If you refer back to our earlier advice on finding lasting models, one thing that should be taken into account is the antenna.
The most important thing to note is that your signal also depends on your location. If you’re not near many sources of power/radio towers, you’re going to get more static. The antennae on these models are not high-tech, so you may not be getting a signal from three or four counties over. It’s the same thing with the car you drive. You’ll notice that when driving long distances, you’ll have a stronger signal in some areas and a weaker signal in others.
Radio access and functionality is the same on the newer boxes as it was on the old ones. There is typically a tuner or dial to help you locate your station. Some of the models we have listed, such as the Sylvania, have presets so you can save your favorite stations. Many of the newer models we listed also have LED or LCD display, making it simple for you to navigate from station to station. And if you purchase one that has AUX capabilities, you can even find your favorite radio station app and just play it from your phone.
What are the Main Ways of Playing Music Through Retro Boomboxes?
The older boomboxes were quite different than the boomboxes we have available today. There were typically three main functions in a boombox: the cassette function, the CD function, and the radio function. Today, as we have mentioned, you have more choices.
It was also common for people to use RCA audio cables to hook their models up to even larger speakers for a bigger sound. Equalizers were found quite often, especially on the older models. The equalizers were a wonderful function because they allowed people to hear music the way they wanted it. Some people like their music with more bass, more treble, or more middle. Those equalizers allowed consumers to fine-tune their style. They’re found on newer models, but not as often.
Essentially, the boombox would get plugged into the wall, a tape would be inserted, and the user would push the play button. The tape would then need to be flipped to the “B” side to listen to the rest of the record. CDs were similar, but didn’t need to be flipped. The CD feature was introduced much later than the tape deck. AM/FM radio was accessible at the flip of a button.
Today, if you were to own an old boombox, you would not be able to play your MP3s on it. You would have those same basic options. The sound would also be quite different. If you put a new boombox next to a retro one and played the same song, you’d hear a clearer sound from the new model.