Buyer’s Guide: How do I choose the right Bluetooth Speaker?
A Bluetooth speaker is a compact sound system with one particularly interesting feature - you can stream music from it wirelessly. Any smartphone, tablet or laptop with Bluetooth capability can be used to send music to a Bluetooth speaker. As soon as you've connected the two devices, you can listen to your favourite playlists, YouTube videos, or use any other music app through the speaker. Bluetooth speakers are available in all shapes and sizes, so the question is: which one is right for you? In this Buyer’s Guide, we'll be breaking down the most relevant factors in making the right decision.
Size, construction and capacity
The first choice you need to make is the size. It's important to note that the size of the speaker will influence the sound. The way speakers produce sound is by sending vibrations into the air. The bigger the diameter, the lower the frequency they can produce. A larger Bluetooth speaker will therefore have a lower, deeper audio capability than a smaller one. Bear in mind that large speakers need a lot of space inside the cabinet to vibrate freely, so large speakers in a flat cabinet is not ideal. An easy way to enhance the bass of your speaker is by using a type of faux speaker called a bass radiator, which provides extra vibration.
A compact speaker has its advantages, especially when it comes to portability, but you also want your music to sound as full as possible. Here's a Bax-shop rule of thumb: choose the largest version of the speaker that best suits your needs. In other words, if you want a speaker that will fit in your bag, get the largest you can find that will still fit in your bag. If you want a speaker for the kitchen table, make sure it's as big as it can be while still proportionate to the space. This is just one suggestion though - when it comes to audio quality, there are more factors to take into account. The quality of all the individual components is crucial to the overall sound, and more often than not, the price tag will tell you if that's the case or not!
What about capacity? If the speaker has a lot of power (watts), it won't easily distort at high volume levels. Essentially, what counts for a good Bluetooth speaker isn't only power, but clarity too.
Wireless speakers and charging
A wireless Bluetooth speaker is only truly wireless when it doesn't need a cord to function. This isn't true of all the Bluetooth speakers, though. Some need to be plugged into a power socket, such as the sound systems by Pioneer. Others are battery-powered or use rechargeables. Make sure to read through the specifications of the speaker carefully to avoid any unpleasant surprises. If the speaker has a rechargeable battery, you can usually charge it via the USB port of a laptop, for instance. Some speakers come with a USB charger so the device can be charged via the mains. Such chargers are also available separately.
Some of the rechargeable speakers in our assortment of mobile battery-powered speakers have Bluetooth capability.
While the sound and size of the speaker are of great importance, any extra features the Bluetooth speaker has can certainly be persuasive when making a choice.
- Mini jack input: Most speakers have one, and it means any device with a mini jack output can be connected to the speaker (a cable is often included). By means of an adapter cable, you can also use the mini jack input to connect devices with those well-known red-and-white RCA connectors.
- USB port: Some speakers have the added feature of a USB port for streaming music directly from your laptop or computer. It's good to double check that, however, as some USB ports are meant for charging only!
- WiFi: What's easier than streaming music via your own personal home network?
- AirPlay: If your iPhone, iPad, iPod or other Apple device supports AirPlay, then you can stream music to the speaker in an extremely intuitive way. Check out our AirPlay speakers category for speakers with this special functionality.
- NFC: This stands for Near Field Communication. If your smartphone is capable of this connection option, then you can create a Bluetooth connection simply by physically holding it against the speaker. No pairing process necessary!
- Hands-free calling: Some speakers have a built-in microphone that functions as a hands-free set. You'll then hear the person on the other end through the speaker while your own voice is picked up by the microphone. You don't even need to take your smartphone out of your pocket!
- Smartphone charging: Bluetooth needs battery power to function, so it can be handy if the speaker has a USB A connection (like that of a laptop) to charge your phone instead of having to use a power socket.
- Linking: A select number of brands, like Beats by Dre for instance, sometimes offer the option to link Bluetooth speakers together.