What Makes a Good Speaker?

What Makes a Good Speaker?

The biggest consideration when choosing a wireless or Bluetooth speaker is sound quality, however, the latest models come equipped with  more extra features than ever before, so as you can imagine, selecting the best one can be a challenge. For example, various models can access online radio stations and streaming services – such as Soundcloud – giving you a wider range of music to listen to.

Here are the main features to look for:

Wi-fi connectivity

The latest releases of speakers connect to your home internet network using a wi-fi connection, to wirelessly play or stream your favourite albums. They still need to be plugged into mains, but other than that, they are completely free of wires! As is the futuristic world we live in today. Most wi-fi-enabled speakers from the same brand can be synchronised to form a multi-room speaker system, where you can play the same audio simultaneously from all connected speakers, or different audio from each individual speaker, the world is your oyster. Here are the pros and cons:

Pros: You are free to move around your home without audio interference, can be controlled by mobile device or computer, most brands give you access to a host of online music streaming services.

Cons: Can be tricky to set up, need a reliable wi-fi internet connection, music service subscription may be needed to make the most out of them, can only playback audio from devices on the same wi-fi network.

Bluetooth connectivity

Most speakers use a Bluetooth connection to wirelessly play or stream music. They can also be used to enhance the sound quality of your phone or tablet, for example, you can watch a YouTube video on your tablet with the audio coming out of your Bluetooth speaker. Here are some pros and cons of Bluetooth enabled speakers:

Pros: Easy to set up on most speakers, doesn’t tie your phone down, great for playing music stored on your mobile device and streamed from music services such as Spotify, can be used to enhance the audio on your mobile phone or tablet.

Cons: Limited range of around 10 metres before the connection is lost, need to own a Bluetooth device to play music from, music may stop if you receive a phone call when connected.

Battery Power

If you’re hoping to move your speaker from room to room, out in the garden for a BBQ, or even travelling with you, we would advise purchasing a compact model that can run on battery power alone. Many battery powered speakers can last more than 10 hours without needing a recharge, but some models we’ve tested will struggle to see you through 2 hours maximum. We’ve tested several battery-powered speakers that are both compact and lightweight, without losing any sound quality. They tend to mainly be Bluetooth but some battery-powered wireless speakers can connect via wi-fi. Here are the much awaited pros and cons:

Pros: Can move the speaker without interrupting your music, great for garden parties, some last for hours and hours.

Cons: Batteries may need replacing over time, some need regular recharging.

Remotes and Apps

The vast majority of Bluetooth speakers are quick to set up, even my nan can do it, but wi-fi speakers and multi-room systems can be a bit more challenging. Whether Bluetooth or wi-fi, very few speakers come with a remote control. One of the advantages of a wireless speaker is that you can keep your phone comfortable in your jeans where skipping tracks and turning up the volume can easily be done with just a reach into your pocket, just like you would if you were listening through headphones – your phone essentially becomes the remote. While many speakers have a few physical buttons on the device itself, most advanced functionality – such as connecting another phone to the same speaker or multi-room set-up – is done through an app. Some are very simple to use and give simple step-by-step guides to get you up and running quickly. On the other hand, however, this isn’t always the case. Many are clunky and poorly designed, which can make using your speaker the last thing you want to do.

Pros: Controlling the speaker with your phone is no different to listening through headphones, no need for a separate remote.

Cons: Some apps can be tricky to use, onboard controls can be awkward and limited.

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