Is Bluetooth or WiFi Better for Music?


Is Bluetooth or WiFi Better for Music?

More people choose wireless speakers, thanks to their convenience. When you go for these speakers, you have the option of Bluetooth and WiFi speakers. Some speakers offer both WiFi and Bluetooth, but others only have one. When you need to shop, which one fits your needs?

Both these wireless systems have different ways of compressing data to play on a wireless speaker. WiFi speakers can play anywhere as long as there is WiFi connection while Bluetooth speakers connect to any smart device.

Is Bluetooth or WiFi Better for Music?

When choosing between Bluetooth and WiFi speakers, WiFi is better when you need better audio quality, a longer range, and fast speeds. On the other hand, Bluetooth is better when you need to connect two devices and to cut in costs. WiFi will cost more than Bluetooth and will also consume more power during use.

Bluetooth is the most ideal when you need affordable and easy to use. I saw a post where one likened Bluetooth and WiFi to shoes and an air ticket respectively. Shoes are ideal when you need to go a short distance, they are cheaper than an air ticket, but they leave you tired.

WiFi, which was likened to an air ticket, gives you faster connections, but it is expensive. Your needs and your budget will determine the option you go for.

Between WiFi and Bluetooth Which Offers the Best Audio Quality?

WiFi offers better audio quality than Bluetooth. Although it is more expensive, the technology allows you to enjoy cleaner audio with zero distortion.

The difference between these two wireless technologies lies in the way they compress files. Most of the files that transmit through WiFi come already compressed. This way, the files do not need more compression that will affect their quality.

Most of the digital files come compressed. Even if you subscribe to the best audio quality sites, Bluetooth will still compress the files enough to affect their quality. The audio quality and the speakers might be great, but the compression affects everything.

According to Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple, Bluetooth gives a flat sound even for high quality audio. Steve noted that he wouldn’t use Bluetooth when there are other forms of the transmitting the audio. Michael Greco of Sound United shared the same sentiments saying that anyone can hear the difference between the sound from Bluetooth speakers and that from WiFi speakers.

But is the difference that obvious? If you are not an audiophile, you may never tell that the quality of audio from Bluetooth speakers is not perfect. Granted, these Bluetooth speakers still play high quality audio.

Does High Resolution Bluetooth Offer Better Audio Quality?

You can still enjoy better audio quality with Bluetooth if you pick Bluetooth 4.0 or better or aptX. Developers have focused on new Bluetooth protocols to ensure that the audio quality is better and the speeds are faster. Under ideal conditions, these new Bluetooth protocols offer the same sound quality as CDs.

However, for you to enjoy the better audio quality, you need the two devices connected to have the same Bluetooth protocol. For instance, your Bluetooth speaker and your smartphone should have the aptX protocol. If one of the devices has a lower version of Bluetooth, the aptX and or Bluetooth 4.0 will default to the standard Bluetooth.

High resolution Bluetooth protocols are aptX and Bluetooth 4.0. The former offers high quality audio and can connect devices up to 30 feet apart. Bluetooth 4.0, on the other hand, delivers high quality audio and can connect devices up to 98 feet apart.

You can find these high resolution Bluetooth versions in high-performance Bluetooth speakers and some headphones.

What are the Pros and Cons of Bluetooth as a Wireless Technology?

Bluetooth has been in use since 1995. It took the place of short link data cables and offered so much convenience to users. Today, almost all electronic devices that can communicate come with a Bluetooth module.

If your device is not Bluetooth-enabled, you can install the Bluetooth external module, which also comes at an affordable price.

One of the main advantages of Bluetooth is availability. Most smart devices at home have Bluetooth, so you can play music from your smartphone, smart TV, laptop, or any other Bluetooth-enabled device.

The technology is also affordable. Most wireless Bluetooth speakers are cheaper than smart speakers. If your device doesn’t have Bluetooth, you can install an affordable external Bluetooth module.

There is no complicated installation as most devices sport a built-in Bluetooth adapter, so it is easy for one to use it.

However, Bluetooth has its shortcomings. If your device has an older version of Bluetooth, you will have to deal with audio quality issues. You can rectify that by going for more expensive speakers with advanced versions of Bluetooth.

Bluetooth is dependable, but when there are walls, the signal might be weak and your audio quality poor. Again, Bluetooth may not connect seamlessly at a distance of more than 30 feet. With advanced Bluetooth protocols, it is easier to connect longer, but that is still shorter than what WiFi offers.

What are the Pros and Cons of WiFi?

WiFi streams music from the internet and transmits the audio wirelessly to your speaker. You need to have a home WiFi router and a connected device to use WiFi for audio transmission. Most of the connected devices such as smartphones, laptops, and smart TVs come standard with WiFi.

However, WiFi is not as common in speakers as Bluetooth. Where Bluetooth offers you affordability and ease of use, WiFi offers range and better sound quality.

You can play audio anywhere as long as there is a WiFi signal. Even walls that separate a building will not affect the signal and your phone can stay in your pocket as it plays. Again, WiFi has more bandwidth than Bluetooth, and this means the music streams fast and everything you stream comes to the speaker amp fast.

With WiFi, you can set audio zones. This is important when you need to listen to the same music in different rooms, but at different volumes. You can also listen to different music in all the zones you set. You can control all these zones using the same device.

If you have multiple speakers in multiple rooms, you can connect the same audio device to all these speakers. This is unlike Bluetooth, which only picks one signal at a time. With Bluetooth, you can connect multiple speakers, but the audio device can only connect to one signal at a time.

Even with all its advantages, WiFi also has a few challenges. Although the price of WiFi installation has come down, WiFi still costs more than Bluetooth to install and use. Again, WiFi consumes more energy than Bluetooth as you have to keep the router on.

You also have to pay for WiFi. Compared to Bluetooth speakers, most WiFi speakers are expensive.

Which System is Right For You – WiFi or Bluetooth?

These two technologies have come a long way to offer better quality audio and more convenience. Both technologies compress that data that goes through to the speaker.

Compression refers to making the data smaller so that they are easy to send. When the technology compresses the data too much, the quality dwindles, and you will hear the audio the same way you see low resolution TV. Older versions of Bluetooth compress the data more, but that doesn’t happen with newer versions.

WiFi offers the best quality if you are willing to meet the cost. WiFi has a unique way of compressing files so that the audio quality and other details are not lost. With WiFi speakers, you can play high resolution music, Hi-Res music.

There are some speakers that are both WiFi and Bluetooth enabled. These speakers offer you the best of both worlds. They might be more expensive, but they allow you the portability of the Bluetooth when you need to step out and the quality of WiFi when you are using a home WiFi router.

Closing Thoughts

Are all Bluetooth speakers the same? No. This is why you need to take your time and pick the best speakers on the market.

The quality of sound from one speaker varies from one speaker to the next based on the wattage, the Bluetooth version, and other factors. As such, buying a good speaker requires more than choosing the audio technology.

With the best Bluetooth speakers, you will enjoy audio quality as great as that of some WiFi speakers. Again, some WiFi speakers might offer poor audio quality even when you have fast internet access. I recommend you go for the best affordable speaker.

Again, there are other factors to consider such as portability. If you need a speaker to use far from home, a Bluetooth speaker is more ideal as you can play the audio from your smartphone wherever you go. Bluetooth is less power intensive, so your speaker will last longer on battery.

If you need speakers to use in multiple rooms, then WiFi speakers are better as you can zone them. Choose what feels convenient for you.

Ken Cameron

There hasn't been an infomercial or cool gadget that I haven't at least thought about buying and trying. Let's just say my old nickname of "Go-Go Gadgets" was well earned.

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