The way we listen to music has dramatically changed in the past decade; CD players have been replaced by the popularity of MP3 players, which were in turn replaced by the ever-present smartphone. As a result wireless speakers and docks that are more flexible and convenient to use have largely superseded dock speakers, which were once popular. Wireless docks and speakers allow you to listen to high-quality music and sound in any location with your smart phone close at hand. Wireless speakers are so popular because they give you the audio quality of a dock, as well as the convenience of having your smartphone in hand. The entire history of music and sound is now accessible anywhere from your couch to the beach.
The variety of portable wireless speakers is mammoth and so choosing the best speaker for you can prove quite daunting. Bing Lee has compiled this guide in order to help you filter through the choices in order for you to make the best decision for your wireless audio fix.
THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF WIRELESS CONNECTION
There are a variety of ways in which wireless speakers can connect to your phone, with each type of connection bringing different issues to consider in function and compatibility.
A Bluetooth connection is generally straightforward (requiring only a few seconds to connect) and doesn’t require any network support because it uses a “pairing” arrangement between two devices (generally a music player or smartphone with a wireless speaker). A disadvantage of Bluetooth is that the music files generally need to be compressed whereas with Wi-Fi this is not the case. Bluetooth also pairs devices that are in closer range, generally around 10 metres.
While Bluetooth is steadily improving in ease of use and quality, Wi-Fi is still somewhat superior in performance. Connection of your wireless speakers by Wi-Fi is advantageous because it allows for higher resolution in audio transmission than Bluetooth. This makes Wi-Fi ideal for listening to high-res audio files and getting the best quality of sound. Another advantage of the ability for a wireless speaker to connect via Wi-Fi is that you can access audio from multiple sources like NAS storage devices and media servers.
However, you must also consider that Wi-Fi is more expensive as well as limited. While Wi-Fi offers a stronger signal, you are more often than not restricted to your local area network over your router. Additionally, Wi-Fi doesn’t usually work straight with your smartphone by itself; it is more of a rail system for other streaming functions such as Airplay. Networking via Wi-Fi is a clumsy job if you aren’t the most tech savvy, and can prove difficult to set up.
Airplay is Apple’s mode of sending audio and video files using Wi-Fi. It is very Apple Specific and will only work with Apple devices. You’ll also find that most wireless speakers will cost more if they offer Airplay because Apple charges them a lot to incorporate it. It is an extremely convenient feature if you own an Apple product because it takes mere seconds to play audio from wireless speakers.
This is a handy feature to look for in a wireless speaker because it means you can play audio through your wireless speaker without having to rely on either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi or any other wireless connection. It is a practical addition to a wireless speaker, which may help you decide between a number of similar products.
NFC stands for Near Field Communication and is a wireless protocol that you will hear about a lot when you’re on the hunt for wireless speakers. It’s useful for simplifying Bluetooth connection, or pairing, by tapping the two devices together. It is limited by requiring devices to be close enough to touch in order for data transference and it isn’t compatible with Apple products – so it isn’t necessary in a wireless speaker despite being mentioned.
WHAT QUALITIES DO YOU WANT IN A WIRELESS SPEAKER OR DOCK?
The way you will be using your wireless speaker, whether you will be listening to it’s audio at home with Wi-Fi available or deep in the bush with no reception, will determine which wireless speaker at Bing Lee will satisfy your needs and give you the best audio experience available. Some speakers will offer extra networking features and functionality, but this may also complicate their ease of use – it’s important to find a balance will suite what you need. Understanding all the different tech specs is important, but remember that whatever sounds good to you is the most important.
Usually when you’re looking to buy a wireless speaker you are particularly interested in its portability. While most wireless speakers are “portable” their standards are different – some may be portable in the sense of moving it around different rooms in your house and others in the sense of taking it deep in nature on a camping trip. Both scenarios are very different. Obviously, the smaller the speaker the more portable, but the more the sound quality and level will suffer. Consider the size of the wireless speaker, it’s stability and the way it sits on a surface and also its battery life.
Durability is another very important aspect to consider. A wireless speaker may be extremely portable and convenient to move, but if it’s not durable it will not lost in conditions other than a bedroom or lounge room. Water resistance is important, with some products such as JBL speakers boasting splash proof quality. Generally a metal exterior is superior to plastic, however there is an increasing range of solid plastic exteriors, which do not necessarily decline in quality.
STILL NEED HELP?
Still have questions? If you are still unsure about what you need, chat to our friendly staff by clicking on the chat button below, or to find the closest Bing Lee to you, visit our Store Locator