AN IN-DEPTH COMPARISON OF BLUETOOTH® VERSUS WI-FI SPEAKERS
August 13, 2020
In today’s digital age, we have access to over 100 years of recordings all within the touch of a finger. This luxury makes choosing the right speaker more rewarding than ever before. Determining the best wireless speaker solution for your needs will depend on how and where you like to listen to music; and what you want that listening experience to be.
With speakers, “wireless” does not always mean portable. It may not even mean no wires. So, the term would be more accurate if we describe it as “fewer wires,” and in some cases, “no wires at all.”
Below are the pros and cons of Bluetooth® wireless speakers versus Wifi (or Wi-Fi) wireless speakers. There is no clear-cut winner in the Wifi versus Bluetooth® debate, but we can first define what wireless means for each so that we begin with a conclusive and fair understanding of what we are comparing.
A Wifi speaker is one where each speaker is connected to a network signal via your wireless router. While connected to the same wireless network, and using an app, one can control each speaker independently or as a group. Most Wifi speakers are not battery powered, meaning they require a power source, and therefore, a wire.
A Bluetooth® speaker connects directly to a transmitting device, such as your smartphone or tablet. When the source is in range, the user and their speakers can be virtually anywhere, and do not need to be connected to any locally shared network.
Beyond these two distinct differentiators, the two technologies converge both in sound performance and capabilities; though potential advantages lie with both solutions.
Bluetooth® Speakers Explained
Pros of Bluetooth® Speakers
- Portable: Many of the bestselling Bluetooth®speakers are powered by batteries, offering up to 10 hours or longer playback per full charge, thus making them truly wireless.
- Inexpensive and Reliable: Bluetooth® is a heavily researched and mature technology, allowing for integration into an abundance of products at a lower cost to the license holders. As a result, Bluetooth® devices tend to be less expensive and improves performance and stability with each new Bluetooth® update.
- Highly Compatible: Bluetooth® is backward and forwards compatible, meaning that old devices work well with new devices, and vice versa.
Cons of Bluetooth® Speakers
- Lower Bandwidth: High-definition music files can be too large to play over Bluetooth® and compression is often required to handle some song files.
- Interruptions: If you are streaming from your smartphone and a call comes in, the music will pause until your call is over.
- Range: Current Bluetooth® versions offer an impressive range, but the range territory is still limited to the distance between the source device and a connected speaker. Walls and other obstructions can reduce that distance even further.
Wifi Speakers Explained
Pros of Wifi Speakers
- Higher Bandwidth: Wifi supports lossless and uncompressed music playback.
- Fewer Interruptions: Wifi speakers all use a dedicated app that will not cause interruption with an incoming call.
- Manage Each Speaker: Wifi and some Bluetooth® speakers will allow multi-speaker and multi-room listening, but Wifi also allows for different songs on different speakers within the same application.
- Updatable: With Wifi, each speaker is connected to the internet, and updates from the manufacturer will offer fixes or improvements.
Cons of Wifi Speakers
- Can be Frustrating to Get to Work: Setup can be tricky, and when it stops working properly, can be extremely frustrating to resolve.
- Expensive: Depending on your budget, Wifi is generally 2-3 times more expensive than a Bluetooth® speaker.
- Not Truly Portable: A Wifi speaker system needs to be connected to the same Wifi network. This means it will only work if it is in range of your wireless transmitter (router).
- Limited Placement: Since most Wifi speakers need a power supply, the optimal speaker placement is not always possible, that is unless you bring in an electrician or use extension cords.
Summary and Conclusion
A Wifi speaker system is a great alternative to running speaker wires in your walls and/or ceiling. It can be expensive, which can be especially frustrating when new hardware releases are not backward compatible. This leaves you with a difficult decision: Do I throw everything away and start fresh or do I operate with two systems in my home that do not work with each other?
Bluetooth® development is fast approaching Wifi’s overall functionality, offering immersive multi-speaker and multi-room listening options which true portability that allows you to listen to your music virtually anywhere; your bike, the pool, indoors, outdoors, and everywhere in between.
Committing to a sonic ecosystem is one that many people cautiously consider before choosing, and the cost of Wifi speaker systems might make people hesitant. However, the most important thing is to love how your music sounds on the speakers and to understand that, like most technology devices, new innovations are often right around the corner, helping you to regret almost any purchase decision.
If you need a fixed speaker solution, Wifi may be best for you, but should you prefer affordable portability as your solution, Bluetooth® is the way to go. Options such as Rocksteady® Stadium speakers bridge that gap. As a Bluetooth® speaker that sounds great, it offers multi-speaker connectivity and individual speaker configurability, which, until now, was only found with more expensive Wifi solutions. Sign-up for the Rocksteady® Stadium newsletter below to receive even more helpful information about Bluetooth Rocksteady® Stadium speaker solutions for your home or office and find out how Rocksteady® Stadium is in concert your life.