Should I choose WiFi Speakers or Bluetooth Speakers? Lets compare the two.
While looking for a wireless streamed music option for home, one of my key criteria was choosing a system that used WiFi over Bluetooth.
Here’s my non-techy rationale for why I made that decision. WiFi and Bluetooth are both ways in which unwired speakers connect to the source of the audio. There are, however, some key differences between the two that will really change your music listening experience - we’ve set them out below.
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.
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, we really like Sonos.