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Choosing speakers - WiFi or Bluetooth?

July 28, 2016
Choosing speakers - WiFi or Bluetooth?

When looking for wireless speakers for home, there are two key types to choose from - wifi or bluetooth speakers. There are reasons for buying both, what's important is that you understand the differences and the advantages and disadvantages that these may represent for you.

Here's a list of the features that are important to evaluate when making your decision on which speaker to buy.

  • How is the speaker powered?
  • Where is your music stored?
  • Do you want to listen to the same song, at the same time in different parts of your home?
  • Do you need a portable speaker?
  • Is sound quality important to you?
  • What's the range of the speaker?

What's the power source for the speaker?

Although they connect wirelessly to the audio, WiFi speakers connect to AC Power to function. This makes them more applicable for use at home. Bluetooth speakers are truly wireless – they run on battery power. It makes them perfect for taking places, but does mean that the power available to create great sound is less. And you have to deal with keeping batteries charged.

What's the source of your music?

WiFi speakers connect to your Wi-Fi network, so they can play streamed music from the cloud. While Bluetooth speakers work on a one to one basis. This means that a Bluetooth speaker basically amplifies the music playing on your phone, tablet or laptop. But it can only play the music from that one device on one set of speakers, not on multiple sets of speakers in multiple rooms.

This is important because if you still have a CD collection, have rediscovered playing vinyl on a turntable, still have music that was diligently loaded onto i-Tunes, plus streaming services like Pandora and Spotify, as well as enjoy listening to the radio, then you need to think about how all of these different music sources are going to work together with your new speakers.

If portability, and amplifying the music that's on your device is your key concern, then choosing a bluetooth speaker might be the right way to go.

Can I listen to the same song in different rooms on different speakers at the same time?

Yes! But only with wifi speakers. This is the bit that I really like about Sonos and other WiFi speaker products. You can add more smart speakers to create a mini network. Then you can play the same song on many speakers at the same time in perfect sync. Plus, the really good bit – you can play different songs in different rooms at the same time too, and you don’t need a different device to drive each speaker.

Unfortunately when it comes to Bluetooth, the answer is 'No'. You can't listen to the same song at the same time on different speakers around your house, and that's because it’s a paired relationship between your device and just the one set of Bluetooth speakers.

Where do they work best?

Because WiFi speakers need to be plugged into power and run off a wi-fi network, they really are best suited to in-home use. Bluetooth speakers can be paired directly with a device, and run off battery power so are ideal for taking around with you. Portability is one of their key advantages.

How does the music sound?

Like everything in life it does depend on the quality of the speaker you buy, but generally speaking, the wi-fi signal delivering the music has greater bandwidth and a higher bit rate which means more detailed, richer sound. Bluetooth speakers are designed to minimize the draw on both the device’s and the speaker’s batteries, so the bandwidth and bit rate are both lower than over wi-fi. But that said, a good quality Bluetooth speaker can still deliver great sound, when portability is your key requirement.

What's the range of the speaker?

WiFi Speakers generally have a range of around 40m indoors. Even though walls and partitions reduce this, with planning there should be enough range to cover your home. Bluetooth Speakers are designed for a much more immediate range of around 8 -10m. Once again walls reduce this down further.

So which speaker to choose?

In summary - if you are after a solution to stream music from a device for just one room without wi-fi, or the convenience of being portable is important to you, then choose Bluetooth. But be prepared for your music to be interrupted when your phone rings…

But if what you are really wanting to do is be able to play music in every room of your home, sometimes the same song, or sometimes different songs, and sound quality is important to you, then have a look at WiFi speakers, Sonos is a great brand of wifi speaker.

And enjoy rediscovering music in your home.

We hope you found this article helpful. If you are ready to start building your wishlist of Wireless speakers, then be sure and check out our range.

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