denon home 250 wireless speaker

Wireless Speaker Technology Explained: Should You Go for Wi-Fi or Bluetooth?

In some ways, amplifiers are much the same as they were the best part of a century ago: boxes that use drivers to convert electronic signals into sound. In other ways, they’re very different, perhaps most notably in the way they no longer require a physical cable to accept those electronic signals. That’s right, today we’re here to talk about wireless speaker technology.

Wireless speakers are a fairly recent innovation but they are becoming almost ubiquitous. If you’re reading this, chances are you have at least one wireless speaker in your home, whether it’s an Alexa or Google Assistant-equipped smart speaker, a portable Bluetooth speaker, a multi-room speaker or a set of cable-free speakers surround sound.

Here’s everything you need to know about the speaker technology that puts an end to the dreaded cable noodle threat. We’ll walk you through the types of speakers available, the technology they support, and anything else you should be aware of before you pull out your credit card and splash cash.

Bluetooth, Wi-Fi – or both?

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There is no single type of wireless speaker technology, but all wireless speakers use some form of radio frequency (RF) technology to receive signals. Most use Bluetooth, many have Wi-Fi, and some have both.

The term “Bluetooth speaker” usually refers to a compact wireless speaker that uses only Bluetooth wireless technology rather than Bluetooth and another form of wireless protocol. It connects to a source device (usually a smartphone, tablet, or computer) via Bluetooth, giving it a wireless range of about 30 feet / 10 meters for Bluetooth 4.0 and up to 800 feet / 240 meters for Bluetooth 5.0 (although walls, objects, and other interferences can radically reduce the range completely).

Bluetooth-only speakers often feature a built-in rechargeable battery, allowing them to be used outside and on the go. They’re often splash-resistant or even completely waterproof, too—perfect for providing the soundtrack to beach, pool, or picnic activities. Click the link below for our favorite examples.

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You then have (and again please understand that, in the typical tech world, there are no set standards applied to this term) “wireless speakers,” which add Wi-Fi connectivity to the mix.

When it comes to explaining the difference between Wi-Fi streaming and Bluetooth, it is worth emphasizing that Wi-Fi streaming allows for much greater sound quality as there is more bandwidth here.

The main advantage is that if you are streaming music from your phone over Wi-Fi, you can also continue to use your phone in the normal way. So you can take calls or watch videos on your phone without interrupting your music. This differs from Bluetooth because your music will be interrupted if, for example, you watch a video on your phone.

A wireless speaker is generally not battery powered or portable; It might come with onboard Bluetooth for live streaming, sure, but it’s mostly designed to be set up semi-permanently in your home or office and used for streaming from music services like Spotify, Tidal, Deezer, Amazon Music et al over your home’s Wi-Fi network. Wi-Fi tends to offer a stronger connection than Bluetooth with a longer range.

It may have smart technology on board as well, letting you use voice commands to choose tracks, adjust the volume, turn up the smart temperature or check the weather outside, and it might have a voice input for linking legacy audio sources (while iPod docks became a thing of the past, and there is still a place in our hearts for the humble aux cord).

Denon Home 550

Many of these speakers can also be arranged in a wireless multi-room or surround sound system, allowing you to fill your home with music/room with comprehensive multi-channel sound without having to start digging through walls and running cables around the top of baseboards. Sonos pioneered this type of multi-speaker setup, but there are plenty of other viable options these days, including Denon Home, Bluesound’s Pulse M, and Yamaha’s MusicCast. Many of the ranges include wireless subwoofers and amplifiers in addition to regular speakers, allowing you to customize the system even more towards the home cinema aspect if you wish.

some wiring required (usually)

When is a wireless speaker actually wired? When he needs strength, which is… well, always.

Well, there are portable speakers with battery that we mentioned, which once charged are completely wireless until all the power is used up, but if we are talking about wireless home speakers for hi-fi and home cinema, you’ll likely have to connect them to AC power, Which means plugging a cable into a wall socket.

If you want things to be as clean and wire-free as possible in this case, you can run AC cables through walls, under floors, behind baseboards, and under carpets to reduce visible wires. But yeah, in general, wireless means “fewer wires” rather than “no wires.” So keep that in mind when planning any purchases.