Understanding Bluetooth Speakers

Bluetooth speakers are readily available nowadays, and they are becoming more and more affordable too. But it can be difficult to distinguish one make or model from another. Which is better? Our guide will narrow things down for you a little, and hopefully provide enough information for you to make an informed buying choice when you purchase your next Bluetooth speakers. let's start with the basics:

What is a Bluetooth Speaker Anyway?


Typically, audio speakers need cables to connect them to the sound source. For example, speaker cables that link back to a stereo system, including an amplifier, or a phono cable leading from a PC to an iPod.

Bluetooth speakers do away with the limitations and inconvenience of physical cables. Instead, they utilise Bluetooth technology, as used in wireless Bluetooth mobile phone earpieces, or the speakerphone systems in our vehicles.


All Bluetooth speakers on the market adhere to this same underlying protocol. But despite this, there are a number of variables that differ from one make and model to another.


To put it simply, a Bluetooth speaker is a portable speaker that links wirelessly to your smartphone, or your other devices.On average, Bluetooth will have a range of about nine meters.


How Does Bluetooth Differ from Wi-Fi Speakers?


Bluetooth speakers differ from Wi-Fi audio speakers in a couple of important ways. First, Bluetooth speakers are designed to be easily portable whereas your Wi-Fi speakers are designed to be permanent fixtures, and are placed in a specific location.


Second, Bluetooth speakers have a direct link to their source which is often a smartphone or tablet. They don’t need any intermediary. Whole-house solutions, on the other hand, need the Wi-Fi network to send the sound stream to the speakers.


Third, and for anyone who takes their music seriously this can be crucial, is that the sound quality is noticeably better on Bluetooth systems as opposed to Wi-Fi systems. This is because of the nature of the transmission. If you're out to buy a Bluetooth speaker system, note that with the cheaper versions, the difference in quality may not be discernible.


Why Buy Bluetooth Speakers?


Despite their popularity, Bluetooth speakers aren’t for everyone. But if you're in the market for a convenient way to play music when you aren’t near your pc, your stereo system or your vehicle, they could be just what you need. If you have a digitalised music collection or if you do a lot of live streaming, then you’re probably going to be very happy with a Bluetooth speaker.


Bluetooth excels at the beach, when you’re having a picnic or a barbeque, but also in the office. A really good quality Bluetooth speaker system could actually replace your home audio system completely.


The Size of Bluetooth Speakers


Now that you understand what a Bluetooth speaker is, and how it works, it’s time to go shopping. The first thing to look at is the size. Decide how portable you want it to be. Do you want it to fit into your briefcase or handbag? If you enjoy really good quality music, don’t go too small as it needs a certain bulk to deliver a great sound.


There are basically two sizes of Bluetooth speaker. The ultra-small and portable models that can fit into a jacket pocket or handbag can have the volume of a tin of beans and weigh around three hundred and fifty grams.


Then there are the semi-portable speakers that are too big to fit into a small bag. They’re approximately the size of a shoebox and usually have a handle on top to make them more portable. They weigh in the region of three kilograms.


Speaker Size and Arrangement


Most of the larger Bluetooth speakers have better quality speaker arrangements. Smaller, low-quality ones will have just a single speaker inside and deliver a flat, low-watt mono sound. Most Bluetooth speakers, however, consist of stereo speakers with two channels. Higher end speakers can come with a 2.1 channel sound, along with a subwoofer inside the case.


The speaker power and size really do make a difference. Basically, the bigger the speakers and the higher the wattage, the more powerful is the volume. This is important if you want to be able to hear your music over the sound of a crowd, or above traffic noise.


About Batteries


Because Bluetooth speakers are portable, they need a battery. It’s helpful to consider battery power in relation to the amount of power the unit requires. Speakers of a smaller design and less demanding speakers will get by on smaller batteries. Most can run for up to ten hours before needing to be recharged.


Rather than checking the battery capacity to work out playing time, use the manufacturers estimate because some units will use the battery power more efficiently than others.


Some higher-end Bluetooth speakers have a feature called “battery sharing”. This means that you can attach a USB cable to the speaker and charge your smartphone or tablet as well. The speaker essentially becomes a battery pack. This is a very useful feature if you’re outdoors and need to charge your phone.


How Robust is the Construction?


A rugged construction becomes a priority if you’re taking your speaker camping or to the beach, for example. Some models have rubberised edges, and others are waterproof. Other Bluetooth speakers can withstand being submerged in a meter of water for half an hour! These are great if you like to listen to music while you shower.


Do You Need Auxiliary Access?


You’re buying a Bluetooth speaker because you want to go wireless. But there may be times when you don’t have a Bluetooth sound source and need to plug your audio source into the speaker via a phono cable. So always check you purchase a speaker with a port for this function.


Some Bluetooth speakers also feature speakerphone access. This is useful if you use the speakerphone function on your cell phone. Listening via the speaker will give you a clearer, richer sound than you could ever get on your mobile phone.


And Finally...


The sheer number of Bluetooth speakers on the market can be overwhelming. But with a little research, you're bound to find a Bluetooth speaker system perfectly suited to your needs and your budget. Happy listening!

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