Are Wireless Speakers Really Wireless?

are wireless speakers really wirelessWireless speakers are a hot, popular product right now, heck Sonos had a commercial during the 2014 Superbowl touting their wireless products. In the last few years demand and sales for wireless speakers have exploded. Many of the solid household brand names are in the wireless market like Bose, Klipsch and JBL, but so are many new brands as well. The technology is rapidly changing and there are many offerings to choose from, in fact good offerings, with many cool features, but lets get back to the question are wireless speakers really wireless?

Conventional Wired Speaker Systems

What is speaker wire used for in the first place? Well the audio signal (music) needs a way to get from the stereo receiver out to the speaker, therefore we had to put up with speaker wire, as that wire carries that audio signal, without it there is no music. So we do need power cords for the music components such as the receiver and then each speaker being used has to have speaker wire connecting it to the receiver. It surely can be a pain to hide the speaker wire, or running it through the walls, but the wire is needed. This has been the norm for years and still is in many homes.
Full Stereo Sound: yes
You can listen anywhere: not likely, only in the room it is all set up
Make music more social/sharing: you can only enjoy music in that particular room, usually from a CD, local radio or perhaps the music channels through your cable or satellite TV
Easy to transport: no
No wires: we only wish right, we need wires to each speaker, plus the spaghetti of wires behind the components

**Note** Now you can use a $40 Bluetooth device to stream music from your devices to your existing conventional systems, which makes your system more social as you can now easier share your music.

Portable Bluetooth Wireless Speakers

This is most likely the most popular type of wireless speaker around today, very popular with teens, but the big players have entered the market and for higher dollars you can get some fantastic serious sounding wireless speakers.
Bluetooth simply is the wireless standard, the most common one that delivers the audio signal through the air from the music source such as your smartphone to the wireless speaker.are wireless speakers wireless

So do they need wires? The only time they need a wire connection is when the user is charging them up. These types of wireless speakers have rechargeable batteries as a secondary power source.The battery life continues to improve, and some advertise up to 24 hours of music before needing a charge. These speakers alone cannot play anything as the source of the music needs to come from somewhere. Most all of these speakers use Bluetooth technology to stream the music from the source such as your smartphone, laptop, ipad, or even your desktop to the speaker wirelessly.

So the advantage to owning one of these speakers is that they are portable and you can take them anywhere without having to plug in say for a party on the beach.
Full Stereo Sound: As a result of the continuous improvements and technology, some of these speakers deliver rich full amazing stereo sound
You can listen anywhere: you can take these anyplace, totally portable, great for folks on the go, there are many sizes to choose from
Make music more social/sharing: you can share your favorite music in the middle of the woods camping, top of the mountain you just hiked, with the company you are with. You can also easily share
your music with friends, some speakers will allow several people to connect to them, so you can share your music, this is great for parties or sleep overs.
Easy to transport: the speakers range from 6.5 ounces to 5-6 pounds and everything in between, all shapes and sizes for whatever fits you.
No wires: no wires to mess with, until you need a battery charge.

Bookshelf Wireless Speakers

These speakers are usually not as portable, some are made beautifully, with the emphasis on sound quality.

Do they need wires? Well actually yes they do but not to stream the audio signal as you might think, that is streamed wirelessly through Bluetooth or some other method. The wire needed is for the power source, these speakers have special technologies built in as the speakers inside tend to be smaller, but they produce big crystal clear sound. They have amps built inside that delivers the power to the speaker,so they need to be plugged in.

So the advantage to owning one of these speakers is the sound quality, plus you can move them if you wish to anywhere there is a power outlet. Some wireless speakers use Hi Fi vs Bluetooth and the wireless range is longer. Some also use a higher more advanced Bluetooth for a better sound.

Full Stereo Sound: the sound quality, stereo is unbelievable as remember these speakers are smaller than what you are typically used to.
You can listen Anywhere: you can move these from room to room if you wish, you just need a power outlet
Make music more social/sharing: if the party is in your home and you wish to share music, your guests can easily connect and share music from their smartphone or device
Easy to transport: some of these are small enough to move to the kitchen and use, you just need a power source
No wires: not for the audio signal, but yes they need a wire for power.

Home Systems using Wireless Speakers

Using Sonos as an example, as they are growing in popularity, their speakers are in 3 different sizes, can be moved from room to room.are wireless speakers wireless

Do they need wires? Yes, each speaker needs to be plugged in to an electrical outlet. This system also needs to be connected to your homes wireless router through a speaker or by using a Sonos Bridge.
The audio signal is streamed wirelessly from the source to the speaker. Sonos uses HiFi vs Bluetooth so the range is much further, so it expands your system. See our Sonos Components Explained article.

You can start with just one speaker and build it out to a full 5.1 Surround Sound home theater system. (Right, Center, Left front, subwoofer, 2 surround in the back)

Full Stereo Sound: each speaker has individual stereo sound, but these speakers can be paired for a wider more powerful, beautiful stereo sound
You can listen Anywhere: you can move these from room to room if you wish, you just need a power outlet, or you can also expand to every room in the house, play the same song, or different music in each room.
Make music more social/sharing: if the party is in your home and you wish to share music, your guests can easily connect and share music from their smartphone or device
Easy to transport: some of these are small enough to move to the kitchen and use, you just need a power source, heck the smallest speaker in the Sonos line is built to be used in the bathroom.
No wires: not for the audio signal, but yes they need a wire for power

So when shopping for wireless speakers you should know that wireless simply is referring to how the music is being moved from the music source to the speaker.

The portable speakers are likely going to have a battery source, the methods for charging via AC power or USB cable.

Bluetooth Wireless

As mentioned Bluetooth is currently the most common way music is streamed from music source to speaker. I don’t want to get too technical but want you to be aware of a few things.
There are different levels of Bluetooth, and if you see a speaker advertised that says Bluetooth with AptX, that is a higher level of audio quality, but the music source needs to be using AptX
as well to enjoy AptX streaming. It will still stream, you can still enjoy your music, and most folks will never know the difference, but on the higher end speakers there is a difference in audio quality.are wireless speakers wireless

Most of the home systems use HiFi or a proprietary technology to stream the music source to increase the wireless range and to increase the audio quality. They are also a bit more reliable, less drop offs or music interruptions than with Bluetooth.

Most all devices use Bluetooth, the range from device to speaker is around 30 feet.

Music Sources

If you have a smartphone, desktop, ipod, ipad or other portable device you have access to all kinds of music. If you have a music library, listen to internet radio, get your XM sirius radio through your device, or if you listen to some of the other paid options like Rhapsody or Spotify you can play any of these sources of music from your device to your wireless speaker.

So the bottom line here is these speakers due to the technology are fantastic sounding and if you have not shopped for speakers in a while say the last several years, you will be blown away. You will quickly see why they are so popular. Music is a very social commodity and we are a very social society….we love sharing our music, taking it with us, and having it be of quality sound. So it is with wireless speakers, even with the occasional wire we are hooked!

 

 

 

 

 

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