Wireless speaker guide: How to find the best speaker for you
Wireless speakers come in all shapes and sizes, suiting different environments and occasions
If you’ve been thinking about getting a wireless speaker and you’ve been searching the market to see what’s out there, but you understandably might feel unsure or overwhelmed by the amount of choice.
Naturally there are a few things you should consider that will in turn influence what you end up buying. This guide will help you feel more confident in making that decision and getting yourself a great speaker.
Form and function
Form can often influence function when it comes to design for technology and with speakers in mind, most brands will opt for simple layouts to best suit consumers—handles or grips for smaller, portable speakers for instance, or wider touch areas for bigger, bulkier speakers. The size of a speaker does play a role, as in most cases a bigger speaker will give you more encompassing and louder sound as they can carry more power and produce heavier bass. Despite this, you can still get fantastic, room-filling sound from smaller, more portable speakers.
Shape is also a factor as you can get great sound from a cylindrical or tower-shape speaker with enough drivers but, a spherical design like Apple’s Homepod Speaker may get you true 360-degree sound. Are you planning to have a speaker for house parties? Playing music in your downtime, or to take with you cycling, camping or travelling? These are just a few scenarios that may drastically change the type of speaker you need and the purpose of your purchase is always something to be considered.
The vast majority of wireless speakers are also Bluetooth capable, pairing to a smart device to be controlled, though how quickly they pair will vary slightly and depend on the speaker itself. A lot of devices are also configured through separate apps dedicated to each brand, which may require initial quick set-up to be able to use.
Also, while a lot of wireless speakers have Bluetooth, some are also voice-controlled smart speakers, making use of Google assistant, Alexa or Siri respectively, though again not every device has this feature. Bluetooth speakers aren’t fully standalone devices and need to be connected to function, it’s advisable to be aware of your phone when in use, as using Bluetooth will also drain a phone’s battery faster.
Voice control for devices has slowly been gaining traction over the years and it has seen increasing use in audio devices, from speakers to earbuds and headphones. A lot of wireless speakers connect with Bluetooth pairing and are also voice-controlled but not all of them are. You need to ask yourself if you prefer to control a speaker from your phone or with your voice.
The answer will really depend on the person as voice control isn’t for everyone, while some people may find it easier to use to control to navigate songs, or to ask a voice assistant questions. It’s important to research the speaker that you want and make sure it has the features that you’re after, as speakers can have different skews that can be easy to miss and you don’t want to end up with a touch-control speaker when you wanted voice control!
Roughly speaking, when you’re in the market for a speaker you probably already have a size in mind, whether you wanted to use it mainly at home or take it on the go with you when you’re out and about or travelling. If you always want to have the option of a mobile speaker, then size and shape are both important to consider. It’s convenient that many modern speakers aren’t necessarily too big but can still provide loud, pervading sound that can fill up a room, like the Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3 or the Sony SRS-XB100.
You may need to narrow down your choice in terms of size, as speakers can vary from the smallest portable speakers to ones that fit snugly in your pocket and small speakers that are more suited for backpacks or travel bags.
Battery life is in the top three things to consider when buying a wireless speaker as it will directly impact your listening time. Everyone wants a long-lasting speaker, but battery life duration may vary quite a bit. You may need to stay wary of descriptions as well, as the advertised life of speakers may not always live up to what’s been promised and you’ll probably find it’s a few hours short of reported battery life.
However, the technology involved in speakers has advanced to a level that if you’re paying a good amount for quality speakers, you should be getting long enough single use from them without having to worry about charging. However, quick USB-C charging in most speakers will keep you going regardless of how much battery life you have left.
Buying a new piece of technology can be daunting, but with the right advice and production information, you’ll feel more confident in making the right decision. Audio technology can be surprisingly complex and size will not always determine quality, so it’s advisable to think about the environment the speaker will be used in and the purpose behind the purchase itself.
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Read more: Top 10 portable wireless speakers
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