Bluetooth or WiFi? Which speaker should I chose?

 

Bluetooth or Wi-Fi – Which Wireless Speaker Is Right for Me?

When looking for a wireless speaker, there are a number of key factors that will determine whether a particular speaker is right for you. The real question isn't what's better between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The actual question is, which technology of wireless speaker suits me? Both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi offer certain advantages over the other and it's all about what suits you better. For example, what device will you be using to play music on the wireless speaker? What range of wireless connectivity are you looking for? These factors and more will help you decide which type of wireless speaker is ideal for you.

The most important factor that you should consider while buying a wireless speaker is the method the audio source will use to communicate with your wireless speaker. This will help determine the compatibility of the audio setup and the range of the operation. Of course, the choice is between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi at the moment, so which one is better for you?

Bluetooth Is Universal

Let's first make a case for Bluetooth connectivity. Bluetooth is a universal technology and is compatible with almost all devices. Even your car (most probably) has Bluetooth wireless technology. Most phones, laptops, and tablets have Bluetooth and it's very easy to enable and disable it. That's the biggest advantage of Bluetooth wireless speakers that they are compatible with almost every device. You can connect them to your phone as well as laptop. Some Bluetooth speakers can even be connected to multiple devices at once.

Bluetooth Has Limited Range

Now this statement is also true for Wi-Fi connectivity, but Bluetooth's range is very limited. Even if a manufacturer is claiming 30ft. range, it may not be more than 15ft. in real life. This range is sufficient for a room or a small apartment, but it definitely doesn't cover the entire house. Though Bluetooth connectivity doesn't need a line of sight between the transmitter and receiver, walls and partitions will significantly decrease the range.

Bluetooth: Verdict

Another statement true for Bluetooth is that not all Bluetooth hardware is equal. Some Bluetooth hardware can offer a significantly wider range and can be less sensitive to interference from other devices. Therefore, it's all about how much you're willing to invest because the better the Bluetooth hardware in your speaker, the bigger range you'll be able to get.

It's also worth noting that not all versions of Bluetooth support stereo music transmission and you should look for A2DP technology as this is the type of Bluetooth that is ideal for streaming stereo audio.

While the audio quality conveyed via Bluetooth is good, it's not as great to attain audiophile status. In reality, Bluetooth technology relies on data compression to accommodate stereo audio, which reduces the bitrate of the audio and degrades audio fidelity slightly.

Wi-Fi Offers Better Range

Wi-Fi is also ubiquitous but not as much as Bluetooth. Many of the latest smartphones, tablets and laptops have Wi-Fi connectivity. It's referred to by its technical label of IEEE 802.11 and its range is much greater than Bluetooth. It can even reach 120ft. indoors, but the actual range might be less than that. However, Wi-Fi can easily cover an entire house if placed strategically.

The rule of the thumb while placing a Wi-Fi router is to place it in the center of the house or where it's used the most. For example, if you'll be using your wireless speaker mainly in your lounge, you should place the router central to that location. You can even use a Wi-Fi extender to further enhance the range. Just like with Bluetooth, you don't need a line of sight, but walls and partitions can decrease the range.

Just like Bluetooth, there are differences in Wi-Fi hardware. Some chips provide more range and are less sensitive to any interference from other devices. While all types of Wi-Fi will easily convey audio signals, the version "n" is the fastest and offers the greatest range.

Wi-Fi Offers Better Audio Quality

The best feature apart from its range is that Wi-Fi can convey audio signals with a lossless codec, which means there is absolutely no loss when it comes to audio fidelity as the data signal travels through the Wi-Fi network. The digital bits at the source will be identical to the digital bits at the receiver.

One problem, however, is that while all wireless systems may be using Wi-Fi, they sometimes use incompatible data formatting. This makes the systems incompatible, which is a problem faced by both iOS and Android.

Wi-Fi: Verdict

So far we have discussed how Wi-Fi offers better range and there's no loss in the quality of the stereo audio, but setting up a Wi-Fi is not as easy as connecting the wireless speaker to a Bluetooth compatible device. Connecting to a Wi-Fi system will also require a password, but the speaker will be secure. You can also rely on the WPS feature to establish a secure Wi-Fi network without the need for a password. It's important to make sure that the setup and operation of the wireless system are clearly defined.

Conclusion

Thus, the choice between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi is simple. Bluetooth is universal and easy to use, but the range is limited and sound quality is not the best. On the other hand, Wi-Fi connectivity offers a wider range and excellent fidelity, but compatibility can be a big issue and setup proves to be difficult.

If you're looking for a wireless speaker setup that you only intend to use in a single room, you may prefer the Bluetooth option. If you're looking for a wireless audio setup for professional use, Wi-Fi can be a much better choice as it offers a better range and gives superior audio quality.

In using Bluetooth, you may be sacrificing on range and fidelity, but the ease of use and universal compatibility are hard to ignore. In the end, it's about what you need as both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth have their benefits.