Planning on Buying a Wireless Speakers? Read This Before Making a Purchase

Considering buying wireless speakers? If so, don’t you dare open your wallet! Close it, take a deep breath, and read this before making any purchase.
 
bluetooth-vs-Wifi
You’re here because you know that wireless is far superior to wired. There’s just no way that maneuvering around hazardous wires beats walking a straight path without tripping. And honestly, does any piece of furniture go with a black wire? Exactly.

 

Before going into details, know that wireless does not refer to a power cord. Discounting portable devices with (rechargeable) batteries, you need a power cord. Unless you go back in time and help Nikola Tesla perfect his idea of wireless transmission of electrical energy, there’s simply no way of getting around it.

 

Let’s get to it!

The Battle: Bluetooth vs. WiFi

We begin with a battle between the wireless giants: Bluetooth and WiFi. Bypassing their origin stories, Bluetooth used to be the standard if you wanted a wireless speaker system. If you wanted wireless, you got Bluetooth. Simple as that. That ceased being the case once WiFi stepped into the picture.

 

Let’s start with a side-by-side comparison that focuses on specs:

WiFi Bluetooth
Where you’ll find it:
home networks, home theater receivers, network servers
Where you’ll find it:
portable speaker systems, car audio receivers, wireless headphones
Compatibility:
smartphones, tablets, computers, media servers
Compatibility:
smartphones, tablets, computers
Connectivity:
multiple devices simultaneously
Connectivity:
one device at a time
Data Transmission:
2-way: can receive data (e.g., streaming audio from a phone), and send data (e.g., downloading an image to a phone from the Internet)
Data Transmission:
1-way: can receive data (e.g., streaming audio from a paired phone)
Media Support:
audio, video and images
Media Support:
audio only
Bandwidth:
11 Mbps (megabits/second): higher bandwidth allows for large files (high-res audio) to be transferred without significant lag
Bandwidth:
800 Kbps (kilobits/second): smaller bandwidth requires less energy to transmit
Bit-rate:
600 Mbps: a higher bit-rate means that more details can be transferred, and similarly, different types of files (e.g., WAV and FLAC)
Bit-rate:
2.1 Mbps: a smaller bit-rate limits file formats that can be transferred (e.g., compressed files like MP3s)
Range:
100 ft. (inside) and 300 ft. (outside)
Range:
30 ft.

 

Most audiophiles opt for WiFi, and from the table above, you can see why.

The Setting: Inside? Outside?

Out of Bluetooth and WiFi comes the setting. Where are you planning on doing your listening? Based on the information in the section we just covered, you can see that if portability is what you’re looking for (outside listening), Bluetooth is for you. Most Bluetooth speakers are portable and are rechargeable, so they get the upper hand in outside ease-of-use.

 

Inside listening, on the other hand, goes to WiFi. Bluetooth signals are greatly limited indoors, especially because objects like people or furniture can get in the way and weaken signal strength.

 

Standalone or Multi-room?

Whether you want a standalone or a multi-room system has to do with a couple of factors, namely money and space. Having a small space or being short on funds leads to a standalone speaker selection. Similarly, Bluetooth speakers tend to be cheaper than WiFi speakers. Although if you have more space and more money, your options open up.

As their name states, standalone speakers are composed of a single device in a single location. Some like the HEOS wireless speaker system can be standalone or paired with each other for a multi-room experience. Better yet, they come with a mobile app that functions as a control for when you’re in one room but want to change the music of another room.

 

Ready to Choose?

So, are you ready to choose your wireless speaker system? Keep in mind that everything we covered today is intertwined. You might prefer WiFi speakers because of sound quality, but your intention of using speakers while camping means that Bluetooth is for you. In a similar vein, you might want Bluetooth because you’ve known and loved it for years, but your intention of creating a multi-room listening experience is pushing you toward WiFi.

 

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Ellen Parker, a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, writes articles on consumer electronics, home audio systems, audio industry trends, home entertainment solutions, useful tips, and tricks. Her writing has appeared internationally in various print and Web-based venues.