Style and Design
Bluetooth speakers are available in several designs. The most common is the rectangular sound-bar design. Newer speakers boast a cylindrical shape rounded all over. However, the most recent developments are the fabric-covered speakers.
All in all, the design should be efficient and not just unique. It should help disperse sound all around the room. Cup-shaped and spherical speakers are the best for this purpose.
When you’re buying a Bluetooth speaker, it’s essential to understand the different Bluetooth versions. Bluetooth 1.0 was the first version of Bluetooth, and by now, it’s quite outdated. Higher versions of Bluetooth increased the data rate. However, this impacted a lot of stuff, such as compatibility with wearables and headphones.
Bluetooth 4.0 and 5.0 are the most recent innovations. They can communicate with a broader range of gadgets and send data over longer distances. Bluetooth 4.0 is the right choice for its high data rate, but it’s not compatible with wireless headphones.
Bluetooth 5.0, however, can send low-power data over up to 240 meters. It’s compatible with small sensors and great for connecting to your wireless headphones. It’s also backward compatible with previous Bluetooth versions.
The frequency response refers to the range of frequencies that the speakers can sense and transmit. Normally, humans can hear anything within 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. So, your headphones should be able to render that.
A typical frequency response graph shows the volume or intensity with which the speakers output each frequency. An ideal graph would be a straight line, where each frequency is sent and received at the same volume or intensity.
If you’re a regular listener of bass-heavy music such as rock and metal, consider a speaker enhancing the bass frequencies. The graph would look like a curve that goes from high to low.
Drivers are what emit the sound from your speaker. Larger home-theater style speakers use up to three drivers: one for the treble, one for bass, and one for the mid-frequency sounds. So, you may find other configurations as well.
However, in a typical Bluetooth speaker, a single full-range driver is normally used due to a space shortage. You might find a twin-driver speaker as well, which sounds louder and clearer. Similarly, some speakers may use a vibration generating device instead of a separate bass speaker.
If drivers decide the sound output, it should be no surprise that more significant drivers sound loud. A 40 mm driver is the most common one used in Bluetooth speakers. However, you can go bigger than that. Just remember that bigger drivers will mean a bigger speaker.
Audio quality is an umbrella term for several specifications. These include the total harmonic distortion and the frequency response.
The total harmonic distortion is the internal noise of the speaker. Ideally, you want it to be within 1%. Other factors such as mechanical and environmental noise may hinder your listening experience.
This may seem a bit ironic since Bluetooth speakers only need to connect to Bluetooth. However, aside from assessing the Bluetooth version, it’s good to have some wired connectivity.
Look for a basic AUX input. This is what people mostly use to play their songs from the speaker. Some speakers may also feature NFC. Not many people use it, but it enables quick pairing between your device and the speaker. It should go without saying that your device should also be NFC-enabled.
This brings us to another point: if you’re pairing to a device that doesn’t have Bluetooth, you must use the wired inputs. This is the main reason why you’ll want even to consider wired connectivity. But there are other reasons as well, such as saving up on battery life and reducing interruptions.
Many people like to listen to their music in the pool or the shower. This is why a waterproof Bluetooth speaker is always a good idea. But don’t worry, you have to look at the IP rating and then check the IP rating chart.
The first digit of the IP rating signifies the solid-particle ingress protection. In the case of Bluetooth speakers, this would mean dust and debris. The second digit indicates the water or liquid ingress protection. For example, an IP54 rating means that the speaker is dust-protected and can withstand light splashes.
A dust ingress rating of 5 or above and a water ingress rating of 4 or above is sufficient for most applications. For use in pools, consider a water ingress rating of 7 or above. A rating of 7 means that the speaker can be submerged in water, up to a meter in depth.
Finally, consider the battery life. This is a huge buying factor for any wireless device, speaker, or not. Most Bluetooth speakers can last up to 24 hours on a full charge. However, some cheaper quality ones don’t even last an hour. You’ll hardly use your speaker continuously for more than 4 hours. So you can settle for a lower-capacity battery too.
The charging time is also an important buying factor. The bigger the battery, the longer it will last, and the more you’ll need to charge it.
Buying a decent Bluetooth speaker is one tough decision. For one thing, there are so many unreliable and counterfeit brands on the internet. And for another, you never know what kind of sound quality you’re getting.
Once you do get a hold of a good Bluetooth speaker, though, don’t let it go. The best Bluetooth speakers are defined by their ideal frequency response and long-lasting battery. A decent IP rating is also a good idea, as is a twin-driver speaker.
Regardless of what you choose, be sure to find the right sound for yourself.