best jobsite radio for construction work

The Best Jobsite Radio for Construction Work

On construction jobsites across America, you usually hear the familiar sounds of hammering, sawing, drilling and chattering among the workers. But now, you’re likely to hear the stirring sounds of country, pop or rock music coming from jobsite radios. And let me tell you, these aren’t the jobsite radios of the past.

The jobsite radios of today are louder, bassier, tougher and more versatile than anything that’s come around the worksite in years. In a way it’s a shame to call them jobsite radios, because they are so much more than that. These job site boomboxes really boom and with Bluetooth capability and aux-in ports, these worksite music machines can play any genre of music you could ask for in any possible way, all without breaking a sweat.

So let’s crank up the volume and get to it.

The Best Jobsite Radios

1. Bosch Power Box Jobsite Radio with Bluetooth

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Best Feature: 150′ Bluetooth Range

Hey look! It’s R2D2! Not really, of course, but you have to admit the resemblance is uncanny.

First off, the Bosch Power Box looks darn near indestructible with its solid case and roll cage. It probably has been to more than one football tailgate party. 

This jobsite boombox is indisputably high tech. It’s more than a radio. It’s a radio/charger/digital media stereo featuring Bluetooth technology than can connect to a smartphone or tablet up to 150 feet away. With that connection it can stream Internet radio, podcasts and stored music from the user’s cloud library.

The portable radio features a powered USB port that you can plug an mp3-loaded thumb drive into. This is a far cry from the early days of listening to local radio DJs barking out, “Playin’ the hits while ya eat yer grits!”

It’s so multidimensional you could call this a portable sound system. Its high-performance, weather-resistant entertainment system delivers 360° of enriched stereo sound. With four-way speakers and a subwoofer, it can provide outstanding sound quality in all directions. 

That aluminum/rubber roll cage is weather-resistant, so if a sudden summer cloudburst rains down on the jobsite, you won’t have to worry about the music machine.

The Bosch Power Box can be powered by Bosch 18V Lithium-ion batteries – that should tell you something right there – or plugging into a 120V outlet. And let us not forget that Bosch is primarily a power tool maker. This unit’s built in battery charger will charge the user’s Lithium-ion batteries as well. The PB360C also features four 120V power outlets for connecting tools or other devices.

Features:

Weight: 24 pounds
Power Source: Dual – AC and 18-volt battery
Bluetooth Capable: Yes
USB Charging Port: Yes
Aux In: Yes

2. DEWALT MAX Bluetooth Jobsite Radio and Battery Charger

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Best Feature: Two AC Power Outlets

Can a company known for its quality power tools deliver on a jobsite radio? It’s kind of out of its league, isn’t it? Well, no. DEWALT wouldn’t put its name on a product that wasn’t up to its high standards. Besides, if Bosch can do it, so can DEWALT. And they did, with the DEWALT MAX Jobsite Radio.

The fact that many of these jobsite radios are powered by 18-volt or 20-volt batteries is amazing. True, they probably have step-down transformers to bring the operating voltage down to nine or 12 volts, but this opens up the door for long-lasting, high-fidelity performance that you can’t get with the old fashioned radios with their multiple C or D-cells stacked in series.

If you have other DEWALT items, you may already know that any DEWALT 20-volt battery will work in any DEWALT device, regardless of amp/hours. This holds true for the DR025 as well.

If you have 110 volt AC current available, you can also plug it in, but many jobsites aren’t powered yet, and construction generators never have enough receptacles to go around. But here’s a thought – in order to gain access to the jobsite generator, you can always point out that this radio doesn’t really take up a receptacle because it offers two of its own, plus has USB ports for device charging.

As for the music, the DCR025 provides 20 watts per channel. For a jobsite radio where they’re not going to let you crank it up full blast anyway, that’s plenty of power. This receives the AM and FM bands and connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth for all the streaming music you can get. The Bluetooth range is 150 feet, and that’s not too shabby.

The exterior is tough and well-designed, the controls are easy to use (even though you can control many functions from your smartphone) and there are reinforced extensions around the speaker to provide protection from bumps and drops. It’s not heavy-duty protection, but it’s enough for nearly all situations.

As an added bonus, there’s also a handy bottle opener on the side, if you want to kick back and have a cold one after a hard day’s work.

The warranty is excellent – three years (limited).

Features:

Weight: 15 pounds
Power Source: Dual – AC and 20-volt lithium battery
Bluetooth Capable: Yes
USB Charging Port: Yes
Aux In: Yes

3. Sangean Toughbox: Ultra Rugged Rechargeable Jobsite Radio 

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Best Features: Programmable Digital Radio; Rechargeable

The Toughbox is mainly designed as a radio, but they have put a ton of circuitry in this jobsite radio to make it stand out. And it definitely stands out.

The Toughbox features a flexible antenna and digital PLL tuner for better reception and has an AM/FM digital tuner with a large backlit LCD display to ensure excellent visibility. It also has five presets for preferred AM/FM stations. 

This can be plugged in or can be powered with four rechargeable C batteries, which you can charge right in the radio. When the radio is plugged in via the AC power, the batteries are recharged by default. The rechargeable batteries are sold separately. You can play this unit with regular alkaline C-cells, but that’s going to end up being very inconvenient for a device that will be played all day long in most cases. Pony up the money for the rechargeable batteries. You’ll thank yourself later.

The Toughbox has durable ABS plastic construction and a strong roll cage around it, which makes this radio suitable for use on building sites. This has really good sound from its water-resistant (not waterproof) speakers that are lined up back-to-back instead of side-by-side. In a work environment where a direct line of sight between the listener and the speaker is not always possible, this design helps utilize reflected sound for a fuller experience.

Now, we’ve said this is primarily a radio, but you can still get more music options by using the auxiliary-in (Aux-in) jack or Bluetooth. You can plug a stereo mini-plug into your smartphone or tablet to connect to the Toughbox and play whatever you’re capable of receiving on your smartphone. Otherwise, just connect via the Bluetooth.

Additionally, this radio is dust-resistant and shock-resistant. When they say “rugged” they mean rugged. Perfect radio for the jobsite.

Features:

Weight: 6.61 pounds
Power Source: Dual – AC and 4 C-cells (alkaline or rechargeable)
Bluetooth Capable: Yes
USB Charging Port: Yes
Aux In: Yes

4. Rigid Jobsite Radio with Bluetooth

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Best Feature: Big Sound, Yet Easy to Tote

This Rigid Jobsite Radio is so well shielded and heavily armored, so to speak, that you’d be hard-pressed to find a vulnerable spot on its exterior. You could probably drop this onto hard concrete without damaging it.

Like the other units, this is dual power, running from an 18-volt lithium battery or AC power. The rear of the radio has a handy cord wrap to keep the power cord tucked away neatly.

Play music through the AM/FM radio that’s built in, or connect wirelessly to your smartphone or mp3 player via Bluetooth. It also has an aux-in port if you want to hard-wire your external device to the Rigid.

With the Rigid Link app on your phone, you can control the radio volume remotely. The app is available on Google Play and Apple.

Probably the best thing about the R84087 is that it’s very lightweight – 10 pounds – yet has a massive sound, due in part to the hard shell plastic exterior that helps precisely focus the sound and keeps “bass rattle” (buzzing of plastic pieces due to loud bass passages) under control.

Features:

Weight: 10 pounds
Power Source: Dual – AC and 18-volt lithium battery
Bluetooth Capable: Yes
USB Charging Port: Yes
Aux In: Yes

5. Porter-Cable Bluetooth Jobsite Radio

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Best Feature: Loads of Volume

This junior philharmonic, aka the Porter-Cable Jobsite Radio, puts out some sharp notes without making your budget flat (and we’ll give puns a rest after that). Out of this foot-long music machine comes some very nice tones, shamelessly outperforming bigger and more expensive units.

Tight tolerances on the construction of this unit forces the sound from the twin 3.5-inch speakers right out front, so the sound is not squeaking through loose-fitting plastic housing components or escaping out the back panel. It’s loud and it’s proud!

Now, the product literature says it has EQ controls, but that’s gilding the lily just a bit. It has bass and treble knobs. Still, this unit has a fantastic sound anyway, so trying to dial in something better really isn’t going to be necessary.

In addition to regular AM/FM circuitry, it has Bluetooth capability, so you can connect your smartphone and play the music through the PC771B. You can control the volume from your smartphone, which is nice when you’re on some scaffolding and the radio is on the ground.

It also ships with a short mini-plug connector, which allows you to connect your smartphone, tablet, mp3 player or anything that plays audio through a mini headphone jack.

The AM/FM radio has 12 presets to program, plus there’s a nice little LCD window that shows the time, date, volume level, preset number and station frequency, plus an icon that shows you if Bluetooth is connected and operating.

Tough plastic bumpers frame the radio and protect it against drops, kicks, tumbles and 4:59 p.m. dance moves by employees who should know better than to try whatever that was. 

It runs off a Porter-Cable 20-volt battery, but the battery is not included, nor is a compatible charger, so yeah, that’s one bummer to go with all the hoorahs. Still, if you already have Porter-Cable tools in use and a charger on the jobsite, you just need to get an extra battery for the radio. Problem solved.

Features:

Weight: 3 1/4 pounds
Power Source: 20-volt battery or AC adapter
Bluetooth Capable: Yes
USB Charging Port: Yes
Aux In: Yes

6. DEWALT Tough System Jobsite Radio and Battery Charger

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Best Feature: Dual Purpose

The only problem with the DEWALT Tough System is that it looks sort of like a drill bit case, so you might have a co-worker bring you the radio when you really just needed the half-inch masonry bit. 

It also looks like a battery charger, which it is. DEWALT makes its second appearance on our best-of list with this clever, dual-purpose unit. It’s not often you get to say “It’s a radio AND a battery charger!”

Starting with the radio part, it’s got all the bells and whistles, only in a compact, low profile size. It has the AM/FM part already, and the Bluetooth to connect it to your smartphone or other Bluetooth-equipped device (100-foot range). With four full range tweeters, a subwoofer and an assisted bass resonator (whatever that is), it has killer sound.

The case is dust and water resistant, with a rating of IP54*, so a little sawdust or sheetrock dust isn’t going to bother it, and it can get rained on without gurgling and sparking (but not total immersion).

It has an LED readout that shows the audio status (volume level, radio frequency and preset number), battery strength and Bluetooth signal strength.

So now for the battery charger part. As all DEWALT batteries are interchangeable, this unit can charge any battery that DEWALT power tool uses. There are ports for two batteries at once, and it can charge 12-volt or 20-volt batteries.

*IP54 is short for Ingress Protection rating. The five indicates a device’s rating against solids, which in the case of the DEWALT, is dust. It’s five out of six, with six being the highest rating. The four indicates the unit’s rating against water. So for sealing out water, the DEWALT gets a four out of six. An IP54 rating is very good for something like this.

Features:

Weight: 17.1 pounds
Power Source: 20-volt battery or wall outlet
Bluetooth Capable: Yes
USB Charging Port: Yes (2 in total)
Aux In: Yes

7. Milwaukee M12 Cordless Jobsite Radio

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Best Features: Weatherproof Speakers; Digital Tuning

The Milwaukee M12 Jobsite Radio has one of the largest LCD screens of the radios on our list, and the digital tuning helps bring in the FM stations precisely.

If you remember the days of analog tuning and how difficult it could be to get a station just right, you’ll appreciate this radio. The Milwaukee M12 was the first jobsite radio to employ a digital tuner, helping bring about the end of the fuzzy, not-quite-tuned-in noise of old analog tuners. (Or the whole – “Don’t walk through there. It cuts off the radio reception” – dance step.)

This is not a Bluetooth unit, but it does have a compartment for an mp3 player and an auxiliary port to connect it with. The compartment closes tightly and is weather resistant. The overall unit is well protected with hard plastic outriggers and aluminum grates protecting the speakers. This bad boy also has weatherproof speakers so no need to fret if you need to leave the jobsite for a quick lunch and it starts to rain.

The M12 is powered by a standard Milwaukee brand 12-volt lithium battery, but the battery is not included, nor is the charger. But you may already have one if you have a Milwaukee power tool. Don’t let the two AAA batteries that are included fool you. They are only for the LCD screen and memory. They do not power the audio components of this model.

Features:

Weight: 5.15 pounds
Power Source: 20-volt battery or AC
Bluetooth Capable: No
USB Charging Port: No
Aux In: Yes

8. Milwaukee 2792-20 Jobsite Radio / Charger

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Best Feature: Big Sound

This junior brute, the Milwaukee 2792-20 Jobsite Radio, has a full-throated roar, with 40 watts of speaker-pounding power. So make sure your guys are all on the same page with the choice of music, because they’re all going to hear it.

Complementing the advanced audio circuitry are a pair of premium speakers, plus separate bass and treble controls to help dial in the perfect sound.

And while you wouldn’t want to leave it out in a crossfire hurricane, this jumpin’ jack can take a little rain without melting. There’s a watertight compartment for your smartphone and small belongings, so, no worries.

The AM/FM receiver has 10 presets for your favorite stations, and an LCD display on the front panel to tell you where you are in terms of radio frequency, time of day, volume setting, etc. With Bluetooth technology, this unit can play nice with your smartphone or tablet, and deliver crystal clear streaming audio, much of it without commercial interruption. The Bluetooth range is 100 feet.

It looks like a small guitar amp or a karaoke machine (You probably don’t want to get that started on the jobsite!) and it’s reinforced in key areas, so it can take a bump from a misguided 2 x 4 and slough it off like nothing ever happened.

This is also a battery charger for Milwaukee brand 18-volt lithium batteries. It will only charge one battery at a time, but it justifies using the AC outlet to power the radio, knowing that a battery is charging while the music’s playing. If there is no AC power, you can still run the radio off the battery.

Features:

Weight: 17 pounds
Power Source: 18-volt battery or AC
Bluetooth Capable: Yes
USB Charging Port: Yes
Aux In: Yes

9. Makita RM02 Jobsite Radio

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Best Feature: Compact Size

The Makita Jobsite Radio isn’t going to provide a concert for the whole work crew, but it may be just what you need for your own personal music player.

The smallest radio on our list, the Makita RM02 is no lightweight when it comes to durability and endurance. It’s as tough as a brick, and about the same size. With digital tuning and 10 programmable presets, it has features that the big boys do, but has them all beat on portability. It also has this odd-looking hook that won’t seem so odd-looking once you use it to attach the radio to a ladder rung or pipe grid while you work.

If you can’t find anything worth listening to on the AM or FM bands, it has a mini-plug jack for connecting to your smartphone or mp3 device.

It will play for up to 30 hours continuously on a 12 volt battery. Unfortunately, neither the battery nor the charger comes with the radio. They must be purchased separately.

Features:

Weight: 1 pound
Power Source: 12-volt battery or AC
Bluetooth Capable: No
USB Charging Port: No
Aux In: Yes

What to Look For in a Jobsite Radio

Here are some important things to keep in mind when buying a jobsite radio:

  • Batteries. You’ve probably noticed that many of the brands of jobsite radios are the same brands you see on power tools. The tool manufacturers have made their radios compatible with the batteries they already sell, so if you already have a half-dozen Bosch power tools, you’re going to want to buy a Bosch radio. That may or may not be a strong enough incentive, but for convenience’s sake, it makes sense.
  • Bluetooth. Bluetooth wirelessly connects your radio to your smartphone, tablet, laptop or mp3 player, and whatever those devices can receive can be transmitted to your radio for amplification. If you’re perfectly satisfied with what you can get on AM/FM radio, then don’t worry about the extra expense of Bluetooth.
    • Most units have a Bluetooth range of 100 to 150 feet. That’s nice, because you don’t have to walk over to the radio to turn the volume up or down or change music. You can do it from your smartphone.
    • The biggest benefit of Bluetooth pairing is the vastly increased selection of music available. Much of it is commercial-free music, if the smartphone is subscribed to a streaming music service like Pandora or Spotify.
  • Durability. Jobsite radios can be placed in precarious environments, subject to being dropped, knocked over, run over, slammed with a board or covered in dust or drenched in rain. If you intend to use your jobsite radio in a risky work environment, make sure it is well protected.
    • The radios on our list all have protection above and beyond what you would find in a regular radio. They use a variety of shells, cages, roll bars and outriggers to shield the unit from bumps and bruises, and many have a tight sealing cover that protects the unit from dust and moisture.
  • Sound Quality. Radio makers in all fields have caught on that the consumer expects high quality sound from his radio, regardless of how much he or she paid for it.
    • Some of the higher-end models have enhanced bass capability, even subwoofers. That’s nice, but remember that this is a workplace, not a critical listening venue.
    • You don’t want a radio that has annoying distortion in it, or rattles when it’s turned up loud (or if the bass is ramped up), or if the high end is “screechy.” Obviously, you can’t hear these radios before you order, so rely on consumer reviews for valuable advice.

Bluetooth Speakers: Who Needs a Radio Anyway?

With so much music available online now, the role of live radio is in a state of metamorphosis, whether it wants to be or not. More and more people now get their music from online sources, leaving radio stations to the talk show hosts and sporting events.

Plus, many radio stations have an online presence, and there are dozens of apps that provide access to radio stations from all over the country. Make that all over the world!

Yes, our list is the best jobsite radios, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t include a few other listening options. The following are Bluetooth speakers. They connect to your smartphone, tablet, mp3 player (if Bluetooth equipped) and laptop. Otherwise, they don’t play anything. They’re just powered speakers. 

The Best Bluetooth Speakers for the Jobsite

1. Craftsman V20 Bluetooth Speaker

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Best Feature: Compact Design

Sears may be an icon of the past, but its trademark tool brand, Craftsman, lives on. The Craftsman V20 is a compact Bluetooth speaker that runs off a standard Craftsman 20-volt battery or AC power. The Bluetooth range is 100 feet.

You can also use the speaker hard-wired, via the aux-in port. Plus, you can charge your cell phone or power pack via the USB port on the side.

It’s a small speaker (two three-inch speakers, to be exact), and not likely to disturb the neighbors, which makes it a perfect personal device.

Features:

Weight: 4.3 pounds
Power Source: 20-volt battery or AC
Bluetooth Capable: Yes
USB Charging Port: Yes
Aux In: Yes

2. Klein Tools Wireless Jobsite Speaker

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Best Feature: Phone Answering

You know how you can pair your smartphone to your car (if Bluetooth equipped) and use your phone hands-free? You can do the same thing with the Klein Tools Jobsite Speaker. It has a built-in speaker phone. 

As a Bluetooth speaker, it has decent sound quality for its small size and 5 watts of output. And when we say speaker, we mean singular, so it’s not stereo. It has a strong magnet in the back that holds the speaker to any steel surface, which is a handy feature. 

The range isn’t so great – just 38 feet, but maybe that will be enough. The speaker has soft polypropylene padding, and can survive a hard drop at a height of 2 meters.

It plays for up to 10 to 13 hours at 70% volume.

Its protection rating is IP45.

Features:

Weight: 10 ounces
Power Source: Lithium battery, 3.7-volt (charges via micro USB)
Bluetooth Capable: Yes
USB Charging Port: No
Aux In: Yes

3. Porter-Cable Max Bluetooth Speaker (PCC772B)

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Best Feature: Toughness Against Abuse

One quick glance at this item and you can tell it can take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’. (That’s a catch phrase from an ancient Timex watch commercial, for all of you youngsters). The Porter-Cable PCC772B is housed in a cage of hard plastic that lets the sound out and keeps the hard knocks of life on the construction site from making a mark on it.

This was clearly built for abuse, but assuming it will be reasonably cared for, it should last for a very long time. Like all Porter-Cable battery-powered devices, this speaker runs off the same 20-volt battery. The battery isn’t included in the package, but you probably already have the battery, if you’re using the Porter-Cable line.  If you have AC power handy, you can also simply plug it in.

The sound is thumpin’ and the sawdust will be jumpin’ when you crank this baby up. Tight tolerances and heavy material means the sound goes where it’s supposed to go, instead of rattling its own cage. Audio controls are conveniently located right on top, and there’s a quick-grab handle for easy transporting.

Since it’s Bluetooth-equipped, you can stream music from your smartphone or tablet, plus control the volume remotely – a good feature to have when the boss is getting out of his pickup truck and he doesn’t look happy.

Although it has a lot of punch, it’s not something that’s going to fill the whole house with sound. It’s more of an individual device, and in that regard, it’s going to be more than adequate.

Features:

Weight: 1.1 pounds
Power Source: 20-volt lithium battery or AC
Bluetooth Capable: Yes
USB Charging Port: No
Aux In: Yes

4. Black & Decker 20V Max Bluetooth Speaker

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Best Feature: Easily Portable

Of course, Black & Decker would wade in on this category. The familiar black and orange color scheme outlines this rugged speaker system that offers great sound and great durability for a low price.

Powered by a standard Black & Decker 20-volt battery (not included) or an AC adapter (included), this boomer really delivers!  A heavy duty enclosure ensures that this unit can take a hit, dust itself off and keep playing. You can tote it around with its solid rubber handle.

The Bluetooth range is not stated, but a good guess would be 40-50 feet. It’s easy to pair with your smartphone or any Bluetooth-enabled device.

Features:

Weight: 1.85 pounds
Power Source: Lithium battery, 20-volt
Bluetooth Capable: Yes
USB Charging Port: No
Aux In: No

5. Honeywell Sync Digital Radio Earmuff

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Best Feature: Cancels Loud Ambient Noise

When you want to listen to your music, and the people around you don’t, the Honeywell Radio Earmuff is the product for you. Its a pair of headphones with a built-in AM/FM tuner. It does a lot of things for you, since it’s primarily designed to be a hands-free device.

The Sync Headphones auto-search for the next clear radio station, or you can select one of 10 presets. You can also use the 3.5mm mini plug cable to connect to your smartphone or mp3 player for access to streaming audio.

Even when switched off, the earmuffs provide noise protection with 25db of cancellation. But never use these in situations where it’s crucial for you to be aware of your surroundings or to be able to notice threats to your safety.  If you’re walking on a roof, for example, don’t wear them. If you’re crossing roads, don’t wear them.  If you’re operating a backhoe, don’t wear them.

These are primarily for when you’re in one spot, doing repetitive tasks, and are working at your own pace.

The noise reducing rating on these is SNR 29- H 29 / M 27 / L 22. Provides listening for 111 hours with AA batteries.

Features:

Weight: 0.82 pounds
Power Source: 2x AA batteries
Bluetooth Capable: No
USB Charging Port: No
Aux In: Yes

Music at the Jobsite: Good Idea or Bad Idea?

To manage the tedium and put a little spring in the step, many construction workers bring music to their work, but music can either increase productivity or decrease it, depending on the environment and the type of work going on.

When the work is repetitive and second-nature to the employee, music with a fast beat can be a stimulant. A 1999 study by music psychologist Adrian North concluded that in environments where the work is repetitive, fast-paced music created a lively atmosphere, increased productivity and raised employee morale.

But as you could surmise, music was less effective, and indeed was sometimes a distraction in environments where the work was more dynamic and required more critical thinking and unique problem-solving skills. The use of personal listening devices, like mp3 players and smartphones, appeared to be even more of a distraction, and sometimes prevented employees from hearing ringing phones or pages over the PA system.

In construction, if you’re nailing down roof shingles, tying rebar, laying courses of bricks or attaching sheetrock, maybe you could use a little “Born in the USA” to get your blood pumping. But when measuring, managing, calculating or working in tandem with another employee, you could get off-beat with the work while being on beat with the music.

Music at the Jobsite: Sing or No-Sing?

Recent studies suggest that instrumental music may create a more productive workplace environment than music with lyrics. The reason for this is that people want to sing along with the lyrics, hum, or at the very least, anticipate a favorite line that’s coming up.

It can make concentration a little more difficult when music is playing and someone is singing. The theory suggests that instrumental music is less distracting because there are no lyrics and no singing to distract the thought process.

While there are no definitive conclusions, these are the best genres of instrumental music for workplace productivity:

  • Classical
  • Nature/New Age
  • Epic (triumphant, celebratory)
  • Video game music
  • Ambient tracks

What’s not on the list? – Country music. But good luck banning country music from construction sites. Obviously, construction workers have shown they can get the job done regardless of the music being played from someone’s radio.

With the new breed of jobsite radios now appearing on the job with a multitude of music sources, the debate over which is the best music to listen to may ramp up.

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