best Bluetooth speakers
Technology, especially the smartphone, has brought about a true revolution in how music is listened to in the domestic and consumer environment. The music, in many situations, is already in our streaming service or directly in the internal memory of the mobile phone, so the listening system no longer usually goes through fixed sound systems but through headphones , the mobile speakers themselves if they are worth it and increasingly, wireless Bluetooth speakers .
But which wireless speaker should I buy? Which are the best according to what we are looking for? In Xataka we already have the Bluetooth wireless speaker buying guide with tips to get it right and a selection of what we currently consider the best models on the market.
How to choose a wireless Bluetooth speaker
Price, design and what else should we look at when choosing the best speaker for our needs ? We present some of the characteristics that you should take into account when deciding on one or another Bluetooth speaker.
best Bluetooth speakers Listening to music without cables is comfortable and every day the sound quality is better. Although there are exclusively Wi-Fi speakers, these have their natural habitat very limited to homes and offices. However, models with Bluetooth connectivity cover a broader market. Although it is the main connectivity that we are going to look for, we must not ignore the fact that the speaker that we are going to choose has more forms of connection.
The main one would be a jack input, usually 3.5 mm, so if you want or need it, you can use Bluetooth speakers as wired ones with almost any sound source. The same goes for the USB port that some models include for direct playback of audio content or even in very specific cases, there is the option of playing directly from memory cards.
If you want to be able to play directly from a USB port, make sure that the one included with the model you want to choose is not used exclusively for updates. In any case, if this is the case, it is good news because it will be able to extend the useful life of our device by updating it with new codecs, for example.
Another type of highly appreciated connectivity in a Bluetooth speaker would be NFC , a very useful technology due to its agile use: just bring the sound source and the speaker closer together and that’s it, without having to search, enter menus, download setup apps or enter pairing codes.
Bluetooth type and profile of a speaker
What we are looking for is clearly a Bluetooth speaker , but if you look at the different models on the market, you will find different versions that are associated with certain usage profiles of said base connectivity.
The Bluetooth version directly affects the bandwidth, and in the market we find models that generally do not drop below a 4.0 specification, although ideally they should be at least 5.0 to take advantage of some of its advantages, such as being able to have multiple simultaneous connections. Also the Bluetooth class (1, 2, 3 or 4) will determine the range.
As for the profile , that the one supported by our speaker is one or the other will determine from its functions to the quality of the sound that we can obtain. Although Bluetooth connectivity indicates the wireless connection, the profiles determine the functions capable of performing both source and receiver . Both one and the other must be compatible with the same profiles in order to use them.
If we focus exclusively on what is directly related to sound, the main Bluetooth profiles are:
A2DP . The most widespread is the main one used to transmit audio via BT connectivity.
AVRCP . Profile intended for remote control of different audio playback functions.
HFP . This profile, as we will see later, is necessary to be able to use a speaker as hands-free and make/receive calls from our smartphone.
HSP . It is the most used to receive audio content in headphones.
The maximum sound quality that we can receive via Bluetooth is set by the profile and the supported codecs , which will usually compress the sound so as not to exceed the maximum bandwidth assigned to that profile.
We have already said that the most widespread is A2DP, which generally supports the SBC codec , although this profile supports others such as MP3 or AAC as long as both the source and the speaker support it. SBC leaves us with audio with a bitrate of 320 kbps in stereo, more than enough for streaming services.
But if the content that we are going to send to our Bluetooth speakers exceeds that quality and we want to keep it with the lowest possible losses, we should look at the APTx codec , already available in high-end Bluetooth speakers and equipment. With this codec we obtain CD quality without excessively sacrificing sound and latency is also improved (although in this case the advantage is more for the audio that accompanies a video). Other solutions already go into Hi-Res audio (such as LDAC) which some brands are jumping on.
In the connectivity of our future Bluetooth audio system, it is convenient to be attentive to how many devices it supports linked at the same time as well as the equipment from which it saves the link. At home we can have several smartphones, tablets or even laptops and desktops from which we want to send audio to a Bluetooth speaker. If we already have them paired, it is more direct to start sending audio when we want, without waiting.
size and strength
In addition to connectivity and the environment of use, one of the differences between a Wi-Fi wireless speaker and one exclusively by Bluetooth is usually in its size. With a Bluetooth system, we will usually try to find a small and portable device that we can move from one place to another in the house and also take us to other places where we want to listen to music without cables.
Reducing the size and weight of a loudspeaker usually leads to lower performance due to the use of different materials both in the casing and in the drivers. Finding the balance between those dimensions and the quality that we can obtain will be one of the difficult decisions when we talk about choosing a Bluetooth speaker.
In the design of a wireless speaker we will find details that are usually appreciated, such as handles or the possibility of having carrying cases or that we can carry it from one place to another in a backpack without difficulty or excessive inconvenience.
Another important and highly valued section in the portable Bluetooth speaker sector is resistance to water and dust . If we intend to use the equipment frequently outdoors, it is highly recommended that it have a resistant profile so that it can at least withstand splashes of water and dust or sand, although there are models that can even be submerged and continue to work.
Technical specifications to consider
Something that we should never leave aside when choosing a Bluetooth speaker is to review its technical data sheet. There we will find a good part of the keys that will indicate the sound quality on paper . The main four would be:
Power . It is indicated in W, and you have to be very careful not to stay with the peak power that manufacturers usually give with the aim of confusing the consumer. The value that will really mark us and allow us to face two models directly is the nominal power or RMS, which reflects the maximum value that the speaker admits in optimal conditions of reproduction, and it is the one that you should compare without a doubt.
frequency range Indicates the maximum and minimum frequency that the speaker is capable of reproducing. It should be wide.
Impedance It is the resistance that the system opposes to the passage of current, and it should be as low as possible, as it will be a good sign of the general quality of the equipment.
Number of channels and size of the drivers In the world of loudspeakers, although the number of channels is not a direct sign of the quality that we will obtain, it does provide us with more options. The usual thing is that in the market we find 2.0 or 2.1 systems. Here the size of the drivers comes into play (and whether they are passive or active), which are key when we talk about the subwoofer, for example. In small sizes there are not many possibilities to offer good bass reproduction and that is where we can find some important differences.
Although the power will help us to know the sound pressure level where we will move with our speaker, the maximum volume that we will obtain with it will depend on the combination of that power with other factors such as impedance, distance to the speaker..
Other details to compare when choosing a Bluetooth speaker is whether they include sound enhancement technologies. A valuable one is the DSP or digital processing of the audio signal and that, applied at high volumes, can reduce the possible distortions that we find in powerful but small models.
Internal battery and handsfree
Most portable Bluetooth speakers offer us the possibility of expanding the places where we can use them thanks to the integrated batteries or the use of batteries. The autonomy of Bluetooth speakers is very varied, but it is a key aspect that you must consider if your priority is to use the speaker without relying on a plug, even at home. About 10 hours is a value that we should demand from our laptop, and we must bear in mind that this autonomy figure is usually indicated for using the speaker at 50% of its maximum volume.
When evaluating the purchase of a speaker with an internal battery, do not forget the charging times and the system used by each device. If it has a proprietary charging system, we will always have to charge with the factory cable, while if it leaves us the possibility of charging by USB or microUSB , it will be easier to recharge the internal battery.
Some users especially value the use of a Bluetooth speaker at home that it allows them to make both calls and receive them, and continue after that automatic interruption with the music where we left off. For that, make sure that the equipment you buy is hands-free , and much better if the microphones have some type of technology to reduce ambient noise.
The best Bluetooth speakers on the market
Once you are clear about what you should look for when choosing a Bluetooth speaker to listen to music wirelessly and comfortably, we have selected the fifteen best models on the market according to different criteria , so that depending on what you are looking for (price, quality, resistance, versatility…) you can make the right choice.