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Bluetooth Speakers Shopping Guide
Having your favorite song play at a moment’s notice can turn any day around. Whether you need some funky jams while you’re washing dishes or you want some slower tunes while working, adding music can make all the difference. Moving your giant speaker to your room, plugging in an audio cable, connecting it to your laptop, and finding the playlist can take all the fun out of the listening experience. With portable Bluetooth speakers, you won’t get tangled up in cords, won’t have to lug around a subwoofer, and you'll have music with you in every room of the house.
Speakers for the Modern Age
We can probably all think back to the dual-tower speakers in our living room or bedroom. They were giant and immovable — wherever you set them up was where they were going to stay.
You might have had a roommate who had to listen to music, even when they were in the other room. So as a side effect, you listened to them turn the stereo up full blast until it shook the walls and rattled your teeth.
Now, you have the option to find a portable speaker that you can take from room to room. There are even waterproof speakers so you can listen to music in the bathtub, in the pool, or just out on the patio.
Even though some Bluetooth speakers are known for being compact and portable, that’s not what defines a Bluetooth speaker. In fact, you can have a giant speaker setup, but as long as it’s accessible via Bluetooth, it still falls under this category.
Bluetooth devices make it simple to sync your device to your speakers without any effort. Most smartphones and smart devices created after 2010 will have sufficient Bluetooth technology, and Bluetooth has been evolving ever since its creation in 1994.
Speakers with built-in Bluetooth work similarly to a Wi-Fi connection. Once you connect your device to that speaker, it will remember the speaker as a reliable connection, making it simple to connect again.
Remember when laptop computers came out and how excited we all were that computers could be used on the go? You could detach from your desk, leave the office, work from a coffee shop, and not worry about the nearest outlet. Wireless speakers capture that same joy and amplify it (pun intended).
As cell phones, laptops, and TVs get thinner, so do their speakers. Because of this, sound quality deteriorates and your speakers don’t match the high-tech quality of your device. Even though you can have 24/7 access to your favorite downloaded playlist, it’s a bummer to hear that new Lizzo song with a diminished bass effect. Wireless speakers help take care of this, pairing with your small, sleek devices so you don’t have to sacrifice sound quality when choosing a tinier device profile.
Some wireless speakers will need to be plugged in while others have a rechargeable battery that you can take with you anywhere. You can find battery-charged speakers that play music for up to 12 hours while still staying under $100. Of course, every 12 hours, you’ll just need to recharge these batteries.
Why Wouldn’t You Choose Wireless?
The biggest drawback to a wireless, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth speaker is sound quality. You’re purchasing a speaker because of its convenience, so typically sound specs are overlooked. Because data needs to be transferred via a digital channel, some of that sound quality will be lost to a trained audiophile’s ear.
For someone whose biggest priority is sound quality, you might want a speaker that connects through an audio cable. However, this is usually only an issue for someone who’s extremely picky about their music quality — most folks looking for an easy way to play music out loud will not be disappointed with the quality of a wireless speaker.
Thanks to modern technology, not only do we have music at our fingertips and around every corner, but we also have waterproof speakers that aren’t afraid of rain. Since you’ll be taking your speaker with you just about anywhere, it’s nice to not have to worry about it getting wet.
There is a difference between a water-resistant speaker and a waterproof speaker, though. Water-resistant speakers will survive in the event of rain or a spill, but they’re typically not designed to be fully submerged in the water.
Waterproof speakers prioritize protection against water and are designed to be out by the pool or by the lake. Some of these can be submerged and might even be buoyant, so if it falls off the edge of a boat, you'll find it floating in the waves nearby. If you’re wanting a speaker to join you on an afternoon of tubing, look for these speakers that are built primarily for use in water. Otherwise, you’ll find your speaker to be waterlogged in no time.
Features to Avoid in a Bluetooth Speaker
For some newer portable speakers, they’ll feature a list of options on how you can connect your speaker to your device. Some might be compatible with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other nuanced audio channels, while others might work best with one specific channel. If you already have a device where your music lives, make sure you find a speaker that is compatible. You don’t want to buy a high-end speaker only to find that your music lives on a device that is too old to connect.
Features to Look For in a Portable Speaker
Since you’re buying a new portable speaker to play music louder than your phone can handle, you want it to reach just the right volume level for your needs. There are different requirements for a speaker that can play out to a 10-foot radius and one that can clearly be heard between separate rooms.
To determine the right power of audio quality, you’ll want to look at the size and wattage of the portable speaker. Larger speakers generally allow for better audio quality and combined with more watts (10 watts is a good reference point), you’ll find a speaker that can emit high-quality sound at a higher volume.
If you see higher wattage in a smaller speaker, you might be asking for trouble. This is a formula for a static and audio blow-out, which will leave your speaker rattling. Make sure that your speaker’s size and power are not suspiciously disproportionate.
Topping off our list of preferred portable speakers is the Flip 3 Splashproof Portable Stereo by JBL. This handy little speaker hits all the bases, making listening easy and enjoyable. With 10 hours of continuous play time, you can use this speaker without interruption. Its external materials put it at the industry standard for protection, so you can take it to the lake, on your next hike, on a bike ride, and more.
Sitting well under $100, the Flip 3 is an affordable way to get the sound quality you’re really looking for. One of our favorite features of this heavy hitter is the JBL Connect — you can connect to other compatible JBL devices to create a bigger listening network. You and your friends can easily sync up your playlist and play from room to room for the perfect late-night soundtrack.
Take a look at our other top picks for your next audio investment. You’ll find your new favorite speaker without spending a pretty penny, and you’ll discover just how easy it is to constantly have your top playlist playing on repeat.
Compare and review our top 10 Bluetooth speakers and start boppin’ around the house in no time!
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