As with many trends and styles, vintage is growing in popularity, and retro speakers that use today's technology are starting to get especially popular. In fact, there are a wide variety of retro speakers that can do something as common as play music on the radio or something as unique as displaying an image.
To help you find the perfect one, here is a simple buying guide that we put together to help you out. We also found 12 of the best ones that you can get today.
How to choose the best retro speaker.
Many of the speakers that you will see can do basic things like playing FM or AM radio, but there are some models that can play music through your phone (either through Bluetooth or wifi), be used for hands-free phone calls, plug into a computer or mp3 player, and more. There are some that can even be used along with Alexa, too, but these can be harder to find.
There are a few affordable models that have all of these functions, but generally, these tend to have a shorter lifespan compared to the ones that are more expensive.
Depending on the functions the speaker has, it may be designed to be large for better coverage (around a foot long and/or wide) or small enough to fit in your palm. The size can also depend on if it is meant to be portable and how it is connected with whatever device(s) it is meant to be used with.
For newer speakers that simply have a retro design (which is just about every speaker in the list below), the most common connection types are an AUX cable and Bluetooth. Most that use an AUX cable use the standard size, 3.5 millimeters, but if you are getting a truly retro speaker, then you may have to get a special audio cable depending on the speakers' specs.
For speakers that use Bluetooth, it can vary on which version of Bluetooth the speaker uses; it usually has to do with how expensive the speaker is and when it was made. Remember, a speaker will not work with your phone if the version on your phone is a lower number than the one the speaker uses; not all versions are compatible.
For a more detailed description of what Bluetooth is and how all of the versions are different or similar, check out this article from rtings.com.
Most of the retro speakers that you will find on and off this list will be powered through one of 3 sources: a power outlet, a rechargeable battery, or disposable batteries. Speakers that are rechargeable are the most common of the three, usually, and ones that use disposable batteries are generally the least common.
Rechargeable models can take anywhere from 2 to 10 hours or more to charge, and they can be used continuously for about 2 to 12 hours. However, this depends on several factors like the size of the speaker/battery, what volume you are using it at, and the connection type.
A good rule of thumb to follow is that the max time a speaker says it can run usually means if you are using it at around 50% volume the entire time, and it is connected through an AUX cable.
Most retro Bluetooth speakers usually have a range of around 30 feet or so when it comes to how far away you can have your phone or other device connected to the speaker before the audio starts to cut in and out, but there are a few models that can have an even greater distance (usually up to 50 feet or so).
If the speaker is a wired model, that the distance can be as far as whatever the length of the cable is, and some cables can be as long as 30 feet or even 50 feet. Remember, if you plan on getting an extra-long cable specifically for this, check to make sure it is the same size as what the speaker uses.
Some of these retro models come with canvas fronts that you can paint and personalize yourself. Others can come with fully functional knobs and even a micro SD, an SD, and even a USB port for storing your music directly into the speaker.
Things to look for that differentiate them.
Some are styled to look like similar radios and even turntables from specific decades or eras. There are styles that have that classic round and colourful 50s look and some that look like they are straight out of the victorian era.
What is the best way to use one?
Always make sure that the speaker is either fully charged or is properly connected to a power source before turning it on and connecting it to whatever source you are using.
You should try to avoid using the speaker at louder volumes for too long; this can age the speaker pretty quickly.
Try to clean it every few weeks or months with a cleaning cloth and a can of air to keep it dust and dirt free in all of the nooks and crannies.
Top 12 Retro speakers
The first on the list, this speaker only connects through Bluetooth, but it also connects to both FM and AM radio pretty easily.
The body is mainly wood, either walnut or espresso depending on which color you get, and the front is high quality enough to fool your mother/grandmother. The dials and border of the radio station indicator are a brass colored material that blends pretty nicely.
When it comes to the sound, it is pretty average, but when using the Bluetooth connection, there is a slight drop in the volume even if you did not lower the volume beforehand. That and the dial is a few numbers off when it comes to changing the radio station.
This speaker is very similar to the last one in terms of design and functionality. Instead of being made of wood, this one is covered in leather (possibly faux) and it comes in black or dark brown. It also does not have any dials or indicators on the front, either, but they are on the top.
This speaker has a slightly more noticeable bass boost that does not get fuzzy or distorted at higher volumes, which can be an issue with some of these speakers. It also seems to be a bit louder than most of the other models on this list, too.
The biggest downside would be that despite having a Bluetooth connection, the speaker does not support phone calls when it is connected to your phone since there is no built-in mic.
This speaker's appearance is a pretty simple cross between the first and last model: it has a wooden frame and a plain front with the controls on the top of the speaker. Unlike the other 2, this one is available in brown, black, and blue, and the faceplates are also different depending on which color the frame is; the wooden frame has a tan faceplate, the black has a gold faceplate, and the blue has a silver faceplate.
This is a rechargeable speaker that connects through Bluetooth, FM and AM radio, and has an AUX cable port. It also has a built-in mic for hands-free calling. One of the more unique features is the paintable faceplate which can be great for entertaining the kids.
The sound quality is a little bit better than most other models since it is clear and does not break up, but the volume is also a bit quieter than most. Although, the battery does last pretty long for being so small, but it is possibly from the volume being on the lower side; about 3 to 6 hours.
This is one of the few speakers that are available in more than 3 different colors, and it is also one of the few with a rounded design, looking like it belongs in the 50s or 60s.
Coming in black, blue, green, pink, white, and natural wood, this speaker is barely the size of a palm, but it is one of the ones with the most functions built-in including FM and AM radio, Bluetooth music and hands-free calling, a slot for a micro-SD slot, and AUX cable port, and it is even compatible with Alexa (though not with voice commands).
The sound quality is pretty average to below average since the bass is not the best, but the connection is fast and reliable, especially when it comes to watching videos. The battery is also more on the lower side since it can only last for around 3 hours on a full charge, but it is one of the most affordable models on and off this list.
This model has a similar design to the last one, but it is more square-shaped than round. The colors that this model can come in are cherry-stained wood, green, red, and walnut wood.
It also has nearly all of the same features, but it does not support hands-free calling. On the other hand, the sound and volume seem more powerful and higher quality. The battery is especially stronger since it can last up to 6 hours on a full charge.
The biggest downside is that you have to be careful when changing the volume or radio since the dials are very loose and sensitive; they require little to no effort to turn. On the other hand, they do light up either orange or blue depending on what you are using it for (Bluetooth or radio).
This is one of the more box-shaped and 70s-looking speakers that can connect to FM or AM radio and it can connect with Bluetooth or an AUX cable. It also has a micro-SD slot and comes with a remote.
This model is not available in different colors and does look a little more digital, but it does have a really high bass that can hold a tone. However, like with some of the other models, the volume does drop when it is connected through Bluetooth, and the remote can suddenly stop working and become broken without warning.
Still, it is pretty easy to set up.
This is possibly one of the oldest-looking models out there, and like many of the others on this list, it is pretty small and palm-sized. Its rounded, square-shape helps to give it a retro look regardless of what color it comes in; blue, black, walnut, pink or red. For some of the colors, the dials come in different shades of silver or brass, too.
The sound quality is pretty good compared to some of the other lower-quality models, but it is probably not the best. The longer-lasting battery does make up for it, though, since it can last for up to 8 hours on a full charge.
Like with one of the previous models, the dials are a little overly sensitive, which can be a bit irritating when it comes to changing the radio station or volume level.
This model is pretty similar to the last one in terms of design and shape, but it is only available in a walnut color with black dials and a tan/gold radio station indicator.
It is one of the more expensive options, but it does have a more refined appearance with a special pattern in front of the speaker itself. It can also connect with radio, through Bluetooth, and through an AUX cord.
However, the connection for this speaker, unless it is through the AUX cord, is a little more unreliable, making the sound quality lower and fuzzy for much of the time.
This speaker has a very similar design to the first model on this list, but the front plate and controls are made of and look like that old-fashioned and bulky plastic from the 70s, and the radio station indicator has that same vintage look, too.
It can come in this color with the walnut frame, but it can also come in a gold shade, too. There is also a full black with a white color choice as well.
The sound quality is pretty good no matter what type of connection you are using, and the battery is possibly the longest-lasting on this list since it can play for about 36 hours on a full charge at mid-range volumes.
This is one of the few models on this list that is designed to look like an old-fashioned turntable with a gramophone (the cone that comes out of the turntable and looks like a horn).
It is possibly the most expensive model on this list, but it does have nearly every function built into it, it has one of the rarest designs, and it is possibly the most durable and sturdy model, too.
Despite this, it is still a pretty quiet model and has a lower volume compared to some of the others on this list, but this is possibly one of the most one-of-a-kind models out there now.
This is one of the few square and flat models on this list, and like many others, it has one of the most functions built into it. It is also one of the more affordable models for how many functions it has.
For the price it is, the sound quality is pretty good and does not break up regardless of the connection you are using, and the battery life is okay, but only at lower volumes; around 8 hours.
However, this is only available in a brown color with black twists; not a natural wood grain.
This is possibly one of the only speakers on this list that has a vintage design, but a more futuristic function. It does not only connect through Bluetooth, but it can also be controlled through an app to display a pixelated image onto the small but working screen that is built into the face of the speaker.
From the app, which does act up from time to time and can be a bit annoying to program, you can also have the screen display the time, and you can even set an alarm to the speaker, too.
When looking at all of the speakers, the best one would probably be the fourth product: the Dosmix Wireless Stereo Retro Speakers. It is one of the most portable models, has some of the most built-in and reliable functions, comes in a variety of colors, and is one of the most affordable models, too.
However, if you are looking for a higher-quality bass and a better battery, then you would probably prefer the fifth model: the Greadio Walnut Wooden FM Radio with Bluetooth. It may not come in as many colors, but the sound quality is a bit better. It is also just as reliable, and it can last far longer on a full charge.