Best Bluetooth Speaker Buyer’s Guide and Reviews 2016
There are simple, convenient ways to make the music or films on your laptop, smartphone or tablet sound even better. One handy solution for this is pairing those babies up with a Bluetooth speaker.
The market these days is filled to the brim with the most advanced high-tech gadgets and other sorts of electronic products. The Bluetooth speaker was made with convenience in mind—it’s portable so you can take it anywhere you go. You can take it with you at your favorite hang-outs, at work or even while traveling.
Even though you might have seen them on ads or heard your friends talk about them, you might not be that familiar with this particular gadget. Let us first get all bases covered with a few facts about the device, and then you can start shopping for a good model of your own.
Bluetooth Speaker Basics
What is a Bluetooth speaker? Usually, speakers operate by getting connected to an audio source first by means of a cable. These can be speaker cables that are attached to a stereo system or a handy phono cable linking an iPod device.
Bluetooth speakers steer clear of this cable option by depending on the Bluetooth system, a wireless audio scheme that can be found on cellphone earpieces and speakerphone systems on cars.
People who aren’t familiar with this gadget often think that they work in a similar way as Wi-Fi speakers. But they vary in a few approaches. Bluetooth speakers are usually meant for convenience that is why they are designed as portable pieces while those that are meant for home use are typically installed permanently or partially in immovable locations.
The device also differs from Wi-Fi speakers because it connects directly to its source, whether the source is a phone or a tablet. It does not need any go-between unlike the Wi-Fi, which needs its network to link the source and the gadgets.
The Wi-Fi network allows broadcasting of the stream of music to a variety of speakers at longer distances, which is unfeasible for a Bluetooth speaker because it only has a 30-foot range.
Bluetooth systems are also known for their finer audio quality as compared with Wi-Fi systems, and it is due in part with the kind of transmission. However, this is subjective since this particular factor would be imperceptible to several users.
You need this gadget simply because it’s handy and accessible. You can now listen to your favorite digitized tracks anywhere you go. A gadget that can connect to your phone or tablet wirelessly sounds good when you want to listen to your playlists at the park, the beach or outside the house beyond your stereo system’s access.
Factors to Consider
As mentioned earlier, there are plenty of Bluetooth speakers sold nowadays and it can be a handful choosing one.
They come in a wide selection of sizes, forms, battery life, colors, functions and degrees of resilience. It can be a chore shopping for one that will readily fit in with your requirements.
To lend a hand in your shopping, you must come up with an approximate idea of what you need from a Bluetooth speaker.
Here are some of the attributes that people should keep in mind during the search.
One main advantage of the gadget is its portable feature. Because you can take it anywhere you go, you can share your favorite music with friends and family on outings, in the porch of your house or you can tote it with you while camping. Portability is one of the reasons why people often purchase the loudest Bluetooth speakers.
Even though majority of this nifty guide will concentrate on portable models, models which are designed to supersede standard installed home stereo systems are also worth the mention. Home-use models are typically high-end ones and most of these devices are created by the big names in the business.
Take note of the model’s form—the shape and size will determine how portable the model is. Its built will also give you a hint of what battery life it can reach and its probable output power. A cumbersome model can be too heavy or full-sized to be carried anywhere while a model that is too small in size might mean lesser power or battery life.
The smallest in the line of this gadget are called ultra-portable speakers. They are pocket-sized models that include a lone speaker driver assembly and at times have an outer case that can expand to improve the performance of the bass.
These ultra-portable models come in a wide selection of shapes and because of their size and weight, they are convenient for traveling. But because of its lone speaker driver and lower power (most come with 3 watts), their output volume is inadequate so this particular type are best suited for applications with low ambient surroundings and smaller spaces.
The second in size are called portable models and they are considerably bigger and designed with lots more power than the former. They usually come with either 2 or 4 speaker drivers and integrate resonators (or passive subwoofers) for a plusher and more robust sounds.
The bigger speaker assembly permits the use of higher-capacity batteries to enable a better wattage output and an extended playback. If you do not want to sacrifice sound quality, then this model is for you.
In addition, you will get a longer battery life and power too.
Mid-size portable models are still downsized enough to fit in your backpacks or traveling bags and they are not that heavy. They can weight from around 0.25 to 1 kilogram depending on the size of the battery and the speaker’s assembly. This model then is the ideal gadget for everyday use.
Semi-portable models can be compared with devices for home-use but are still handy enough for travel.
This kind of model are typically bigger and heavier than mid-sized ones and also includes a molded handle for easier handling. Because of the model’s sizable form, this means that it has a better power driver ranging up to 50 watts.
Most models also include other features like airplay streaming, functions for DAB radio and Wi-Fi. Better power means these models are the loudest Bluetooth speakers around and if you want a beefier sound among all models, then this should be your top pick.
The gadget comes in all sorts of colors, shapes and styles. There is a wide selection out there so if you want a model that will fit right in with your home’s interiors, you won’t have any problems choosing one because of the different selections offered.
You should get a style that will correspond with your surroundings and your regularity of use. Several models feature superior-quality metal finishes which are functional and decorative at the same time.
However, they are not too practical in tougher surroundings. There are also styles that will suit outdoor use, with hardwearing assemblies and waterproof, shockproof or anti-scratch features.
Strength and Water Resistance
Water-resistant models are generally made for outdoor use and it’s suitable for folks who love water activities, hiking or camping out. You can also use these water-resistant models while taking a long, relaxing bath.
However, keep in mind that there are different levels of water resistance and they go by the IPX rating. This rating has been created to sort out the water-resistant properties of a device. The ratings range from the lowest, IPX0 to the highest grade, IPX8. The latter is resistant to constant water immersions up to a depth of 1 meter.
Splash-proof models are usually rated IPX4 or over in the IPX rating system. If you want a truly waterproof model then you should look for one with at least an IPX7 rating. Remember to always peruse manufacturer notes concerning a particular rating.
Since these devices are built for handiness and convenience, they require the need for a self-reliant power resource. They basically operate by means of a rechargeable battery and the capacity of the battery employed among portable speakers is usually measured in mAh. MAh means milli Ampere hour and it’s used to gauge the energy storage volume of a battery.
It’s crucial that you look into the battery size comparative to the power requirements of the model. Several models need lesser power to operate because of its effective design and single speaker driver. They might also work extensively with a bigger battery and higher output of power.
We have covered the factors one has to consider in order to score their dream Bluetooth speaker. Now let us delve into the device’s main features and functions.
Audio and Track Controls
Each and every Bluetooth speaker includes audio and track controls. Typically, the model will include buttons to allow users to fine-tune the volume, put tracks on play, pause a track, skip forward or pass over a certain track by means of the skip backward button.
There’s also an available function that offers hands-free operation for picking up phone calls.
If the speaker and the attached gadget support Bluetooth’s AVRCP conventions, which most models do, then the speaker will be allowed to manage the functions on the Bluetooth-enabled phone directly by means of the speaker’s buttons.
At times buttons are employed for several functions. The volume and the track control functions share similar buttons while sometimes, the volume and the Next Track function would divvy up one button and so forth.
This feature actually allows for a more convenient means of wrapping up more function into a reduced number of buttons on the model. However, it can be a bit puzzling to users employing the gadget, especially beginners who have yet to familiarize themselves with the device for the first time.
Near Field Communication or NFC is the technology that supports payment services like Google wallet and Apple Pay. However, it has inadequate range and the device needs to be extremely close to meet in order to allow the transfer of data.
As for the Bluetooth speakers, the NFC is only convenient for streamlining the pairing procedure between the speaker and the mobile gadget. If the phone and the speaker in question has NFC functions the connection can be achieved by means of tapping both devices together.
However, keep in mind that there are still smartphones in the market which does not include NFC functionality.
A model that’s designed with a built-in microphone normally allows hands-free functions. If the model is linked to a Bluetooth-friendly phone which has Bluetooth HFP or HSP then it can be employed as a hands-free speaker and phone to answer calls. The speaker can also be employed for a phone’s voice apps like OK Google or Skype.
Several models are capable of employing their internal battery to recharge gadgets like MP3 players and phones and this function refers to power bank battery sharing. Models with this function usually cost more and it has a power output rating ranging from 1A (5W) to 2.5A (12.5W).
The lowest grade is aimed at smartphones while the highest rating is meant for tablets or phones that feature faster charging capabilities.
A few power bank speakers back up a feature called pass-through charging. This feature lets users charge both the mobile device and the speaker’s power bank to guarantee that the latter will always possess enough juice when users have the need for it.
Keep in mind that employing the speaker battery to charge other devices while playing music will decrease the speaker’s optimal playing time. If you have plans to use this on the regular, then by all means look for a model with a bigger battery capacity.
One of the reasons why people buy Bluetooth speakers is because they want to connect wirelessly to their music gadgets. However in a few circumstances, one might be required to link to a gadget minus the use of the Bluetooth system employing a wired attachment.
Majority of models have the capacity to obtain audio signals by means of a 3.5 mm input connector which is typically called as the Aux-In socket. By using a 3.5 mm jack-plug, you can readily link to a speaker to any sort of gadget that features a headphone output.
A lot of models have an Aux-In cable and it normally deactivates playback from Bluetooth-enabled gadgets.
The model will also feature a power-in connector to run the device and charge the internal battery. Nearly all models employ the use of a micro-USB or mini-USB connection to operate. This is a handy feature since this is the similar connection utilized by standard mobile phones so you can employ the USB adaptor that comes with these gadgets to run or charge the speaker.
If you plan on buying one, remember to inspect the output rating of your current USB adaptor and see if it is on par or greater than the input current needed to recharge the speaker.
Several speakers include a micro-SD card socket which can be utilized directly to play musical tracks without requiring for Bluetooth devices to stream music to the speaker. This can prove to be beneficial if you have plenty of digitized music tracks that can be stored into a micro-SD card and played even though your phone has run out of juice.
Because of the quick appreciation for Bluetooth devices, the Bluetooth speaker is manufactured by a lot of brands and comes in a broad range of styles and functions. If you think you’re ready to give these speakers a go, choosing for the perfect unit can be a pain because of the astounding total of choices sold on brick and mortar stores and online shops.
Once you have narrowed down factors for choosing the perfect model, you can now peruse customer reviews. There are plenty of e-tailer sites that allow customers to contribute their reviews and opinions on products they have purchased and these wide availability of feedback is a good source of information in terms of a product’s strong and weak points.
In addition, you can also look for the official site of the brand or manufacturer. From there, check out whether the manufacturer can be phoned or emailed in case of issues.
You can also see whether the site includes an FAQ or Frequently Asked Questions page. Customer support is a crucial factor when purchasing any electronic device so be certain that you are assured that the brand or manufacturer can back you up in case of technical/manufacturing issues with your purchased product.
Read not only the reviews but also the comments that accompany them (if any) because customers often share about the quality of a product and whether it’s worth the buy.
Now that we got all bases covered, we hope this nifty guide has helped you zero in on a model that will best complement your requirements