Many rely on their wireless speakers for everything from shower soundtracks to parties and camping trips. Most work through Bluetooth or WiFi, but some also offer a wired connection via an auxiliary cable for those who prefer a more stable and reliable connection.
Other features can include a built-in speakerphone for calls, stereo pairing, and party mode. Look for a speaker that is waterproof and dustproof.
As you can imagine, audio quality is a crucial factor in the wireless speaker market. You’ll want to find a great speaker like Bose to ensure you get the most out of your music, whether grooving at a party, unwinding after a long day, or breaking a sweat during a workout.
The music from the greatest speakers fills the space and has clear highs, rich bass, and consistent treble. The lower the number, the better, so look for a frequency response of anything like 100 Hz to 20 kHz. Choose a Bluetooth speaker or a phone with a built-in mic for hands-free calls that has a clean recording and little background noise.
Audio enthusiasts should also pay attention to the sampling rate and bit depth. These may seem like minor technical matters, but they are essential to digital audio and have an impact on how your files sound when played back by programmes.
Although Bluetooth is the primary feature of the majority of wireless speakers, some also have a USB connector and a traditional 3.5mm phono jack for auxiliary access. It’s convenient to transfer your music directly from your computer or another external source for those times when you don’t have a Bluetooth-enabled device or the audio quality isn’t quite up to snuff.
Nothing is more annoying than having your speaker warn you of low battery just as your favorite song or podcast starts to get good. Look for a speaker with at least ten hours of playtime and decent recharge times. Naturally, bigger speakers with larger batteries can last longer than smaller ones.
Bluetooth range is also a consideration. Some speakers claim up to 30 feet of range on their spec sheets, although this is often tested outdoors and with an unobstructed line of sight. Most manufacturers will be more honest with their rated range, however.
Many wireless speakers have an auxiliary input that allows you to connect media players that don’t support Bluetooth (or WiFi) connections. Look for a speaker with this capability if you want to use it in multiple rooms or with different devices.
A chosen voice assistant can typically be accessed hands-free through smart Bluetooth speakers. This can be helpful if you need to ask a question or check the weather while performing chores or preparing dinner. These speakers are typically more expensive than conventional models, but if you frequently use your smart home devices, they may be a wise purchase. In addition, unlike most Bluetooth headphones, smart speakers do not typically turn off automatically when not in use, so make sure to turn them off manually if not in use.
If you spend money on a wireless speaker, you want one that can easily fit into your existing gadget ecosystem. This means connecting to your mobile devices via Bluetooth or your home WiFi network.
Bluetooth speakers communicate with their source devices using ultra-high frequency radio waves carved from the 2.4GHz ISM spectrum band. They are typically smaller, cheaper, and more portable than WiFi models. However, they can only connect to a source device within range and can’t stream audio from multiple devices simultaneously.
Wireless speakers that connect to your home WiFi have more features and higher sound quality but are more expensive than Bluetooth models. Most of our top picks support streaming services and podcasts, and music stored on your phone. WiFi audio also doesn’t compress data as much as Bluetooth, which can result in a better-sounding experience.
Some models offer the flexibility of both Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, which gives you more options for listening sources and allows for multiple connections to the same speaker (often called party mode). Some also have an auxiliary input that supports media players that don’t use either technology. This can be useful if you have an older portable CD player or other media player that doesn’t support WiFi or Bluetooth, and it can make for a more stable connection than Bluetooth alone.
Rather than wires, wireless speakers transmit their music through radio waves. As a result, they can be impacted by interference from other devices in your home (like routers and TVs). You’ll also want to find one with an AUX input that uses a traditional 3.5mm cable for connecting non-wireless players.
Some wireless speakers use WiFi, which gives you more control options like multiroom audio and voice control (via Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa). This technology requires a home WiFi network with at least 8GB of free bandwidth to work well. It’s also important to look for a speaker that supports the 2.4GHz band for the best performance and range.
Most wireless speakers come with a clean, intuitive, and responsive app, making setting up and managing your music easy. Lastly, you’ll want to look for speakers that let you adjust EQ settings. For example, some speakers sound great for music but muffle dialogue or lack the bass to boost drums and guitars. This is especially true if you listen to much rock or soul music. Some of the best wireless speakers we’ve tested allow you to tweak EQ for different usage scenarios.
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