When it comes to the wireless speakers vs Bluetooth speakers debate, the similarities are more than the differences. Both of these speaker types provide a convenient cable-free connection without sacrificing top-quality sound. Thus, you may choose one or the other, depending on your needs.
What is a wireless speaker?
A wireless speaker is one that uses Wi-Fi connectivity to play audio from different devices. It is a smart speaker that connects to other devices via your home Wi-Fi network. However, some people use the term to include Bluetooth speakers. Several models of wireless speakers include both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.
Wi-Fi speakers or smart speakers exist in different sizes. The smallest are battery-powered and perfectly portable speakers. On the other hand, the largest may require a connection to mains electricity. They provide a range of 100 to 200 feet, which makes them perfect outdoor speakers.
Setting up a wireless speaker requires you to download and install an app on your device. You can then go through an elaborate setup process to connect the speaker to your home network. It involves selecting the network and entering its password.
Ability to stream from multiple speakers at the same time
A Bluetooth speaker is one that utilizes Bluetooth wireless technology to stream music from various devices. Such speakers instantly connect to the streaming devices within a range of up to 30 feet. That’s because Bluetooth technology is meant to provide connectivity between devices within a small range.
Mostly Bluetooth portable speakers have rechargeable batteries, meaning you can use them virtually anywhere in your home. However, it’s not possible to play music through two or more Bluetooth speakers at the same time.
It is easier to set up a Bluetooth speaker than Wi-Fi. All you have to do is to turn on the speaker, search for it via the streaming device, and connect. Once you connect for the first time, the devices will automatically connect in the future.
Works with different types of mobile devices
Less costly than Wi-Fi speakers
Easier to connect via Bluetooth
Provides a thinner range compared to Wi-Fi Speakers
Wireless Speakers vs Bluetooth Speakers – Audio Quality
One of the most important considerations for a wireless or Bluetooth speaker is the sound quality. In the wireless speakers vs. Bluetooth speakers debate, the former has the best sound quality. All of that because Bluetooth compresses data, reducing the audio quality. However, several manufacturers produce high-definition Bluetooth speakers.
Wi-Fi speakers are better because they compress files without compromising the audio quality. Thus, the speakers can play high-resolution (Hi-Res) – the highest possible quality – audio files. They are the best TV speakers you can find on the market. In conclusion, several brands now make wireless speakers with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. They include Sonos, BlueSound, Yamaha, and Paradigm.
In conclusion, several brands now make wireless speakers with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. They include Sonos, BlueSound, Yamaha, and Paradigm.
In many homes, you will find a smart speaker of sorts. In some ways, current trends seem in line with predictions made back in 2016 about exponential growth in the uptake of these devices.
However, the application of voice-enabled technology isn’t just to speakers. Today, voice recognition has been incorporated in smartphones and similar devices to make them more secure.
So, we can only expect that speakers that respond to human command will become more widespread in the coming years. But just what is a smart speaker? What kind of technology does it use?
What Is a Smart Speaker?
A smart speaker is one that acts on voice commands with the help of a built-in virtual assistant such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. One needs to say a “hot word” to activate a smart speaker.
Therefore a smart speaker is much more than just an audio playback device. It connects to other smart devices via the home Wi-Fi network, acting as the central command. Thus, you can use it to control your HVAC smart thermostat, smart lights, smart lock, and so on.
Smart speakers are also called wireless speakers or Wi-Fi Speakers. They pack a lot of advantages, including portability, better sound quality, and functionality.
What Is a Virtual Assistant?
In our definition of a smart speaker, we have mentioned virtual assistants. Therefore, we need to understand what this is all about. Well, a virtual assistant (or smart assistant) is a software that enables an intelligent device to answer questions and perform specific tasks.
Smart assistants link the user to the functionality of smart devices and can control smart thermostats, smart lights, smart cameras, and so on. Notable examples of intelligent virtual assistants include Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple Siri.
What’s The Technology behind Smart Speakers?
There are different Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies that drive smart speakers. They include Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR), Natural Language Understanding (NLU), and Natural Language Generation (NLG). Let’s look at each of these techniques to see the role it plays in making smart speakers work.
1. Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR)
Automatic Speech Recognition or ASR is a technology through which human beings can speak to computerized devices. In short, it enables interaction between human beings and machines. When it comes to smart speakers, ASR is the technology that allows the device to listen to human speech soundwaves and converting them into words.
The advanced form of ASR is the Natural Language Processing (NLP), which enables realistic conversations between human beings and smart devices. Incidentally, virtual assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, and Google Assistant rely on the advanced form of ASR.
Regardless of the virtual assistant you use, ASR systems work in a similar sequence of steps. They pick up your words and break systematically break them down using the following steps:
The smart device speaker listens as you speak and creates waves representing your words.
It filters the waves by removing any background noise. If the volume was low, the device normalizes it.
The smart speaker then breaks down the waves into phonemes or basic sound building blocks. In English, there are 44 phenomes.
It put the phenomes into a chain link, analyzes them, and uses statistical probability to deduce the words and complete sentences.
At that point, the smart speaker has understood the speech and can now offer a meaningful response.
Of course, all of that happens in a flash, given that you are dealing with a computerized system.
2. Natural Language Understanding (NLU)
Natural Language Understanding (NLU) is the section of AI that breaks down human language and translates it into a format that machines can read. In a smart speaker, it is NLU that derives meaning from an individual’s speech.
Using grammatical rules, standard syntax, and overall context, NLU understands natural language better than the literal translation. Even though still under development, the goal of NLU is to understand the spoken and written language like humans.
NLU understands what humans say using sentiment analysis. Through that, a smart speaker detects and interprets the emotions in a speech categorizing them as negative, neutral, or positive. A smart speaker uses machine learning (ML) to understand an individual’s speech pattern, but it eventually does.
With that, a smart speaker can understand questions and provide appropriate answers. Virtual assistants need NLU to tell you the day’s weather, for example.
3. Natural Language Generation (NLG)
Natural Language Generation (NLG) is the part of AI that enables a smart speaker to translate data into spoken words. For example, when you ask the smart speaker the weather, it is NLG that allows it to give you an answer.
Even though NLG has been around for long, it is becoming more sophisticated with its application in Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple Siri. Through NLG, a smart speaker sifts through large amounts of data and gives you the answer you need.
Smart Speaker: How Does It Come Together?
Despite the AI tool in action at any particular time, smart speakers work by collecting and interpreting data. When a person speaks, the speaker digitizes the voice in the form of machine-readable data. It does that through Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR).
The smart speaker has to analyze vast amounts of data to determine your needs. Machine Learning (ML) enables the system to internalize the contexts, environments, and emotional nuances of your speech. In the end, it can interpret what you are saying using Natural Language Understanding.
After that, the part that responds kicks in. The smart assistant uses the data to generate speech in a format that humans can understand. In doing so, it utilizes the built-in natural language generation capabilities.
Smart speakers provide much more than virtual assistants. Most of them utilize Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to give you convenient wireless connectivity. Also, they control the smart devices in your home and produce the sound of the highest quality. No matter your reason for buying a smart speaker, there are so many options available on the market. Examples include LG XBoom AI ThinQ WK7, Bose Home Speaker 500, UE Megablast, and Echo Dot (3rd Gen).
The Best Wireless Speakers of 2020 are must-have cool gadgets for all music lovers. They are pack important features leading to enhanced functionality, portability, and durability.
Among other benefits, you can use wireless speakers virtually anywhere in the home – no wonder most music fans prefer them over their wired counterparts. Since you don’t need to attach them to music players, you can carry the stereo speakers to your garage, the beach, and so on.
Furthermore, it can be hard deciding a wireless speaker to buy. After extensive research on the subject, we have compiled an authoritative list of Wi-Fi speakers to help you narrow down your choices. We review each of the speakers below:
Ability to make hands-free calls to any phone number
Reasons Not to Buy
Sound quality is not that good
Echo Dot is one of the most popular wireless speakers in this category. Similarly, it is a compact, portable smart speaker that fits well anywhere you want them. So, you can easily use them as bookshelf speakers for your home office.
Compared to the Echo Dot gen-2, these speakers and louder and provide better sound quality. They are Wi-Fi speakers. Therefore, they can be paired with similar devices to produce a stereo experience.
The smart speakers connect to Apple Music, Amazon Music, Sirius XM, Spotify, and other online music streaming services. You can operate them through simple Alexa commands and play music, set alarms, control other home devices, and answer questions. These speakers are designed to lock doors, adjust thermostats, turn on lights, and control other devices.
If you ever wanted to take a hands-free phone call, these devices will make that possible for you. Besides, you can use them to make announcements across your home. The makers of the speakers vouch for their ability to protect your privacy. Who am I to doubt them?
Are you looking for airplay speakers with a powerfully rich sound? Why don’t you buy the Ultimate Ears Megablast? According to the manufacturer, the speakers provide sound in 360 degrees, which makes them suitable for placing at the center of a room.
The smart speakers are packed with a lithium-ion battery. Therefore it provides up to 10 hours of continuous playtime. That simply means you can play all the music you need before recharging the battery.
One of the biggest promises advanced by the manufacturers is that these speakers are waterproof. Hence the speaker doesn’t break down upon submission in water. However, it cuts off the music until they are dry again. I found that to be a huge inconvenience.
Even though it doesn’t have all the features of the Echo Dot Gen-3, they still perform well as smart speakers. You can use most of the Alexa commands to operate this speaker but cannot say “echo.” It may take a while for you to connect the speakers to a Wi-Fi network.
Can connect speakers in different rooms to one device
Reasons Not to Buy
Polk Omni app isn’t smooth
Lacks Bluetooth connectivity
Past users of the Polk Audio Omni S6 Wireless Wi-Fi Music Streaming Speaker have said it provides some of the best sound quality. That’s because it combines two 4-inch drivers, two 0.75-inch tweeters, and a multi-channel amplifier, making it a go-to stereo speaker system.
Like any other smart speaker, it allows you to stream music from various online sources remotely. You can easily stun an intruder into your home by unexpectedly turning up the volume.
Users have to download and install the Polk Omni app before they set up the speakers. However, some users have found the app to be a little sticky when it comes to streaming music.
The compact smart speakers can fit in any room inside your house. Besides, you can add music to multiple rooms at the same time if you have several of these speakers. It is a definite must-have airplay speaker that punches above its weight.
None of the speakers listed here can beat the Naim Mu-so Qb when it comes to providing high-resolution sound. Originally designed to stream music on the Naim Audio service, it is a must-have device for people looking to play music in multiple rooms inside the house.
It has more advanced features such as better midrange speakers and micro-fiber tweeters for better sound quality. Even so, the inclusion of an amplifier in each speaker ensures little or no cross-interference and accurately clear sound.
The fully-fledged smart speaker is compatible with Alexa or Google Assistant. Therefore, you can’t issue commands to it concerning some of your smart home devices. But that’s not an issue, especially if all you want is good sound quality.
Apple Music subscribers can stream music using the iPads, iPhones, or Mac computers, and use voice commands to tell the speakers the music to play. It is a stereo speaker and is incapable of producing surround sound.
Some users had trouble connecting several speakers
Reports of poor customer service
Audio Pro Addon C10 is one of the best airplay speakers anywhere. It is a must-have compact stereo speaker that incidentally hits the right codes when it comes to producing rich, powerful, room-filling sound.
If you have several smart speakers lined up in different rooms, you can choose to play either one song or different songs on each one of them. That way, you don’t have to stick in the living room for your entertainment.
The Wi-Fi speaker system comes with four easy-to-personalize presets that give you one-touch access to your preferred radio stations and playlists. Once you personalize the speakers, they won’t move from a given radio station until you change it. You can use it to connect to music streaming services such as those offered by Amazon, Deezer, IHeartRadio, Spotify, and Tidal.
It comes with a free app, which you can easily download and install on your Android or iOS phone. The wireless speakers seamlessly connect to your home Wi-Fi network without the usual configuration hassle. Adding extra speakers is also extremely easy.
Complaints about its failure to fill large rooms with sound
Some got an electric shock after some time
Naim is one of the few smart speaker manufacturers that has managed to provide multiple connectivity options – Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Ethernet, HDMI, and USB – in one device. With that, you can connect it to Android and iOS devices, as well as your TV.
With revolutionary speaker drivers, this device has ten times more processing power for more precise musical notes. That’s much better that you would expect from the first generation Naim Mu-so, which has smaller drivers.
The device is the latest in Naim’s line of smart speakers, having been released for the first time in November 2019. It comes with a uniquely luxurious design – with cloth speaker grilles and a Perspex base – that compensates for its large weight.
Once you have installed the app and connected the speakers to your home network, you can stream music from internet radio stations, Spotify, TIDAL, UPnPTM, and so on. Furthermore, you can play music from any Android, iOS, and Windows devices. Before I forget, the airplay speakers are also compatible with Amazon Alexa.
The KEF LSX Wireless music system comes hot in the heels of the first generation KEF LS50, which didn’t disappoint. That’s because delivers an incredibly clear sound over a 160-degree coverage, enough for a small and medium-sized room.
It is the go-to wireless speaker for those looking for various connectivity options. You will have to decide whether you want to use Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, 3.5 auxiliary, Ethernet, or digital connectivity. That means that the music will continue even when the home Wi-Fi system breaks down.
Do you often stream music from various online sources? The device is compatible with TIDAL, Spotify, and so on. Additionally it is compatible with Apple AirPlay 2, which is a seamless streaming service for all iOS devices.
The Wi-Fi speakers, which are available in a variety of colors, allow for connection to a subwoofer for extra bass. In that case, you will still use the app to control the music.
Best Wireless Speakers – Buying Guide
So, do you want to buy a wireless speaker? If you do not know the features to look at, choosing one can be a big problem. In this comprehensive buying guide, we are going to make that easier for you. Read on for more information.
Bluetooth Speakers vs. Wi-Fi Speakers
Don’t confuse Bluetooth speakers with Wi-Fi speakers (Smart Speakers). From the name, Bluetooth speakers rely on Bluetooth. They can stream music from other Bluetooth devices such as smartphones, laptops, tablets, and so on. The speaker receives music signals, decompresses it, and plays it out loud. Therefore, they are one type of wireless speakers.
Wi-Fi speakers, on the other hand, draw the music signal by connecting to your home network. Due to their connection, potential Wi-Fi speakers make an integral part of your home smart devices. They are smart speakers since they have pre-installed voice assistance capability from Alexa, Google Assistant, and so on.
The main difference between Bluetooth speakers and Wi-Fi speakers is the range within which they can stream music. Mostly, Bluetooth speakers have a range of between 30 feet and 100 feet. You can only stream music between one device and one speaker at a time. Wi-Fi speakers have a range of up to 200 feet within the network or even remotely via the internet. Besides, you can connect one device to multiple speakers.
Features That Define the Best Wireless Speakers
Nature Battery and Its Life
A wireless speaker may use a disposable or rechargeable battery. If you are ready to keep replacing batteries, then you should go with the first option. Otherwise, you are better off with a device with a rechargeable battery. In that case, you may want to give a good look at the battery life. Anything more than 12 hours is good enough for starters.
Compactness and Portability
For you to use a wireless speaker around the home, it should the compact and portable. Things to look at include the size and weight. It should be easy for you to carry from one room to another. Otherwise, you may not be able to use it as a bookshelf speaker. Also, consider whether the speaker is battery-powered. It shouldn’t rely on a mains power outlet.
Does It Allow For Connecting Multiple Speakers?
One of the things that define a good wireless speaker is its ability to connect with others on the same network. Because of that, it should be possible for you to listen to the same song or different songs on multiple speakers. Most Wi-Fi speakers have pairing capabilities, even though not all of them work well. If this aspect is important to you, ensure you pay close attention to it.
The Built Quality
Like any other electronics, wireless speakers are built to different levels of quality. If you intend to carry the speaker around, make sure it is of the highest built quality. It should withstand accidental falls, bumps, and scrapes. Some manufacturers have even created waterproof wireless speakers as a way of improving their longevity. With these devices, you will never be disappointed.
It is not enough for a wireless speaker to have Wi-Fi connectivity. Some manufacturers have included Bluetooth, Ethernet, HDMI, auxiliary, and USB. Others even have digital audio connections through coaxial cables and ports.
When it comes to a purely wireless speaker that packs lots of features, we recommend the Echo Dot (3rd Generation) Smart Speaker. It is one of the best wireless speakers since it has everything you would expect from a Wi-Fi speaker and even accepts Alexa operability. However, if you want a bigger wireless speaker with lots of connectivity options, choose the KEF LSX Wireless Music System.
AirPlay speakers provide the best audio streaming for all Apple devices, including the iPhone, iPad, and Mac computers. They work on the Apple AirPlay as well as Apple AirPlay 2, providing better sound quality than Bluetooth.
Given that they work through Wi-Fi connectivity, AirPlay speakers provide the best multi-room music streaming for Apple devices. Besides, you can control other devices via the speakers using Siri.
To use these wireless speakers, you need to have a home Wi-Fi Network. The wireless speakers connect to other devices through the Wi-Fi network. Your iPhone or iPad comes with an app through which you can connect the speakers to the network in a simple, short process.
Make sure that the speaker is connected to a power source or that the battery is fully charged. You can then stream music directly from your smartphone or tablet to the speakers placed throughout your home.
Which AirPlay platform should you use?
We have already mentioned the original Apple AirPlay and Apple AirPlay 2. With the former, it was only possible to stream to one Airplay speaker. However, with the latter’s improvements, you can stream to multiple speakers.
While there would be an interruption of music when one called on Apple AirPlay, the improved platform allows the music to pick up from where it stopped. So, if you want your speakers to stream music simultaneously in different rooms, use Apple AirPlay 2.
Do the speakers work with TVs?
Yes. Some of the brands with a pre-installed AirPlay 2 include Apple TV 4K, Sony 2019 TVs, Samsung 2019 TVs, and LG 2019 TVs. You can stream audio to your Airplay Speakers without the need for extra components.
What else can AirPlay speakers do?
Wireless speakers with AirPlay capability can do everything expected from other wireless speakers. You can use them on most of the streaming services like Deezer, Pandora, and Spotify. They also provide clear audio when streaming videos and movies to your iPad from YouTube and Netflix.
The benefits of wireless speakers are many compared to their wired counterparts. Whether they operate on Bluetooth or Wi-Fi wireless speakers come with various advantages. For instance, they are portable, have better sound quality, and provide convenience. Let’s delve deep into the things that make wireless speakers must-have electronics in the home.
1. Is the Wireless Speaker Portability?
Wireless speakers are incredibly portable and can be carried around the house or to any location. Even so, they aren’t tied to a wire or specific device, thus making it easy to choose how you want to listen to your music. Incidentally, many of the wireless speaker models are incredibly compact and lightweight. Thus, you can pack one in your laptop bag and carry it to the beach, hotel room, or any other location.
2. Benefits of Wireless Speakers – Improving Sociability
The term “wireless” means the speakers do not need to be connected to electronic equipment through wires. They, therefore, improve the sociability factor by making it possible for you to share music with others. Depending on your needs, you can use it indoors or outdoors without getting tied down by static wires. Nevertheless, the loudspeakers enable you to carry music to a picnic, camping trip, or the park.
3. How Powerful is the Sound?
You will be surprised by the quality of sound you will get from a compact wireless speaker. For instance, you can use the speakers in small, medium, or large rooms, depending on the rating. Some of them provide concert level sound quality, thanks to the inclusion of quality speakers and tweeters.
4. Lower Power Consumption
While there are a few that require connection to mains electricity, Bluetooth speakers mostly have rechargeable batteries. Those that feature lithium-ion batteries recharge quickly and take long to exhaust the power. The electronic mechanisms inside the loudspeakers require very minimal power while providing high-quality sound. For example, some models have batteries that last for over ten hours before requiring a recharge.
5. Benefits of Wireless Speakers – High Functionality
Wi-Fi speakers or smart speakers do more than play music. For instance, they can turn on, turn off, or control other smart devices via voice control platforms such as Alexa and Google Assistant. You can issue voice commands and turn on the lights or turn down the thermostat on your HVAC system. They work through apps installed on smartphones and tablet computers.
6. Benefits of Wireless Speakers – Easy Installation
Did you know that Bluetooth speakers don’t need installation? For them to work, all it takes is an automatic connection to an electronic device such as a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. On the other hand, smart speakers require some installation, which is incidentally very easy. In a few minutes, you will have your speaker up and running.
7. Is the Wireless Speaker Affordable?
Regardless of your budget, you can find a wireless speaker you can afford. However, that doesn’t mean that the sound quality would be worse for cheaper models. As you go searching for wireless speakers on sale, compare the features of loudspeakers within a given price range, and choose the best.