The introduction of wireless technology has made it easier to set up speakers virtually just about anywhere without the problem of running speaker cables. However, a number of people are still hesitant about getting portable wireless speakers because, for them, the quality of sound that they produce is not as good as the traditional wired speakers.
When they were just new in the market, a number of the wireless speakers did not sound as great but the latest wireless speakers are very much improved. To make sure that they make the right choice, consumers should let the speaker undergo a sound quality test before they proceed with their purchase.
Naturally, those that are in the higher price range offer high-quality sound. So, for people who can afford to buy high-end speakers, these are all worth the investment.
About Portable Wireless Speakers
As their name suggests, portable wireless speakers are the kind of speakers that you can take along with you when you travel, go to a picnic, beach or hotel room, wherever and whenever you want music on the go. Though they are available in different sizes and shapes, there is one thing common about them. They have a transmitter that sends a signal to a device such as a laptop, tablet, MP3 player, or mobile phone.
When they were just new in the market, they did not have good sound quality. Thanks to technology, manufacturers have come with significant improvements that can really make an impression.
Letting a Wireless Speaker Go Through a Sound Quality Test
At present, there is a wide variety of wireless speakers in the market that comes in a range of sizes, styles, and finishes. Perhaps, the most important thing to consider when choosing one is the quality of sound they produce and the different ways to test this is as follows:
Check if they are correctly wired
- Listen to right and then to the left speaker channels. Next, click on the Center Balance Test. This way, you can be sure that the sound in distributed evenly between both of them. Then, click on the Speaker Phase Test so that when you plug the speaker wires, you do not mix the positive with the negative connections. If they are properly plugged, there will be a difference in sound halfway through the Phase test.
- When you download and then play back the Surround Test File, you will hear the position of each speaker such as a the rear left, front left, rear right, rear right and center. Each position should match the correct speaker. Otherwise, the wiring needs to be checked.
- If you are setting up a speaker with 8 channels, you can scroll down then download the right test file. This is available in WMA and WAV form.
Test the Tones and Frequencies
When you are sure that the speakers are properly set up, with the sound coming from the right direction, you can proceed to a more comprehensive sound quality test.
There is a multimedia test that can check whether the speaker’s different ranges of highs, mids and lows are all working properly.
Since a number of the files may play too loud, you should make sure that the volume of the speaker is just around 25% before these are played back. In case a certain test tone can’t be heard, you can try to increase the volume a little more then try again. If this still cannot be heard, something may be wrong.
Checking the Range
When choosing a wireless speaker, another important thing to consider is the range. This sound quality test determines how far a speaker can be placed from the transmitter while still receiving high-quality audio.
If the media cannot be connected to the speakers, then the user will not be able to enjoy the advantages of being wireless. So, it would be best to opt for wireless speakers that come with an aux jack that functions as a headphone jack.
There are several different reasons to opt for wireless speakers nowadays. They are a welcome addition to any home, garden, and patio. Their portability allows users to take them along just about anywhere, to a beach or to a hotel. As long as they have a mobile device to function as a playback device, users can tune in to their favorite music. In addition to this, technology has improved their performance, giving them a better quality of sound that is comparable to traditional speakers.
Connection and Compatibility
Why settle for the tiny speakers in your smartphone when you can connect to a wireless speaker to enjoy music out loud? Of course, not all wireless speakers are made the same.
If you’re looking for convenience and availability, you’ll find that all modern smartphones and most tablets support Bluetooth, so purchasing a Bluetooth speaker will work with most, if not all, of your devices. Not all devices have WiFi radios, including the newest iPod Nano so a WiFi speaker won’t be compatible. Bluetooth is the way to go if you wish to use your speaker as a conferencing tool because many speakers have integrated microphones. This allows you to answer calls from your speaker as well as enjoy music.
One of the perks of Bluetooth speakers is that you don’t need a wireless network for them to work. You simply pair your input device — phone, tablet, PC, or stereo — with the speakers. Frequently, your speakers will pick up that signal again whenever you have Bluetooth enabled on your device when it’s in range, which is convenient.
WiFi speakers require you to connect to the wireless network just like you would with a new tablet or PC. This may require only the push of a button if your router is equipped with a WPS button. Otherwise, entering WiFi passwords is necessary. People who aren’t tech savvy when it comes to networks may want to stick to Bluetooth speakers because of this. WiFi is the basis of Apple’s AirPlay technology, which is available with iOS devices and Apple TV. However, Android devices use DLNA technology so your Galaxy S 4 and iPhone won’t be able to connect to the same WiFi speaker.
One thing to keep in mind is that most speakers won’t allow you to connect multiple speakers whether they’re Bluetooth or WiFi devices. Multiple speaker connection isn’t available with Bluetooth at all. You may connect multiple speakers via AirPlay to your Mac or PC using iTunes; however, this option isn’t available for iOS devices such as the iPhone that are connecting to wireless speakers without a third-party solution such as Airfoil or AirPlay Multiroom Player, both of which are paid apps available in the iTunes store.
Signal and Quality
Bluetooth has limitations, however. The current technology only has a range of about 10 meters. As your device gets further from the speakers, you will experience interruptions in the signal, and your music won’t sound as good. It’s best to position your speaker so that the signal doesn’t have to go through doors, walls, or furniture to reach your phone or stereo. You may also get a better signal if you don’t keep your device in your hand.
Audiophiles may find that the compression used to send music over Bluetooth signals degrades audio fidelity. Wireless audio streaming uses a lossless codec that preserves the sound quality.
Devices that rely on WiFi may have a longer range, especially if your wireless router or gateway has a stronger signaler. This is especially true for WiFi-enabled speakers by Sonos. The company manufactured speakers that each act as a wireless repeater, boosting the signal through your house. On the other hand, WiFi speakers will suffer from lag if many devices are connected to the wireless network simultaneously.
Wireless Speaker Features
Regardless of the type of wireless technology, you’ll have a variety of features to choose from. These features might push you to one side of the fence more than whether the speaker used Bluetooth or WiFi. Some common features include:
- Physical buttons to play/pause and skip music
- Remote control for the speaker
- A stand or cover
- Ruggedness and waterproofing
- Rechargeable battery (versus AC adapter or disposable batteries)
Additionally, you might consider a speaker dock that connects directly to your phone’s dock connector, for iPhones, or an audio jack for other phones and music devices. You don’t get wireless abilities, but you can charge your devices, use them as a clock/alarm and connect even your older MP3 players.
The final consideration between these two types of speakers might be price. As you’d expect, AirPlay WiFi speakers tend to cost more because of technology licensing from Apple. Even if another company manufactures the speakers, you’ll pay more. However, you can purchase Apple Airport Express adapters to connect to your existing speakers to use AirPlay with your current stereo system.
Small and portable Bluetooth speakers can cost as little as $15; although, you’re certain to get a better sound if you spend a little more on your speaker. This might be a concern if you want to fill a whole room with sound so take the time to test out Bluetooth speakers in stores and to read reviews online before you make your purchase.
The Final Verdict
Ultimately, audiophiles with a permanent wireless network who only use one type of device — Android or Apple — will find WiFi speakers to provide the most bang for your buck, especially if it’s important to play music throughout your entire home. However, you’ll want to opt for Bluetooth if you’re looking for convenience or your household uses a combination of Apple and Android devices, and not all of those devices have WiFi capabilities. Bluetooth speakers are certainly easier to find at a variety of price ranges, too.