It’s never been easier to take the party mobile.
It’s easy to take many devices we live with today for granted. Can you imagine a world where our social lives, work and travel were once orchestrated without the use of a smartphone? Tech has made life infinitely easier to navigate, and this extends to entertainment too. Where once a party conducted away from a power source would necessitate lugging unwieldy devices around and scores of batteries, now a wireless speaker the size of a can of soup can be tossed into a bag to soundtrack an outdoor adventure. The range of wireless speakers available is mind-boggling, with an extensive suite of applications for every situation. So, if you’re in the market for your first wireless speaker – or an upgrade – where do you start?
Like all modern consumer tech, setting up a wireless speaker is easy. Most wireless speakers will connect directly to a smart device using the Bluetooth setting. Bluetooth is the predominant connection method used in portable speakers. Without being tethered to a home network, a wireless speaker can be taken on the road to wherever the party is happening. New speakers compatible with Bluetooth 5 will reap many benefits. Better energy management will preserve battery life, and a vastly improved range means the music won’t cut out if you leave a room with a connected smart device in your back pocket. And, importantly, multiple smart devices can connect to a wireless speaker at the same time, so budding DJs can go head-to-head with playlists.
Some wireless speakers feature Wi-Fi connectivity, and these can be used to form a chain of speakers throughout the home, each capable of playing different music. Sonos has developed hybrid wireless speakers that connect via both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, with automatic switching to Bluetooth if the network is out of range.
Connecting external media players – such as a CD player that won’t connect via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth – will require a speaker that has a 3.5mm AUX-In port.
Smart speakers are gaining popularity due to their ease of use. Connected to the internet, these speakers are voice-controlled, so if you’re up a ladder or stretched out in a hammock, you can call out to skip a track, line the next one up, or even make a phone call. Depending on the speaker, Google Assistant, Siri, Amazon Alexa, or a combination are at your command.
Where will it be used?
An important question. If the wireless speaker is intended for home use, then no special dispensations need to be applied; most speakers will be up to the task. However, if the speaker will be used outside, then consideration will need to be given to battery longevity. Protection from dust and water will also come into play. These are measured on specifically designed charts known as IP (Ingress Protection) ratings, so the higher the rating, the more dust or waterproof the product is.
There’s nothing worse than killing the vibe of a get-together with a flat battery, so battery longevity is a key consideration when choosing a wireless speaker. This is particularly important if you’re taking the speaker on the road. It’s worth remembering that a manufacturer’s advertised battery duration is based on moderate use, so if you’re pumping music with the volume at maximum, expect it to last for less.
The price is right
For many of us, the main consideration when deciding to buy is price. This really does come down to what you want from a sound perspective. If you’re a discerning acolyte of music and enjoy good audio quality when listening to a favourite artist, then obviously a more significant investment will be required. Conversely, someone with less of an audiophile lilt could well be satisfied with a lower tiered model.