If you’re in the market to purchase a new speaker or you’re just curious to know the difference between Bluetooth and Wifi Speakers, you may be eager to know there is a difference between how they perform, and I have an answer.
The difference between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi speakers is that Bluetooth speakers tend to be better for smaller spaces and are very portable. Wi-Fi speakers have better range, sound quality, and are less likely to have their signal interrupted, but usually need to be connected to power at all times.
To wrap it all up concisely, the main difference between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi speakers is the range, portability, and sound quality, but there are other aspects to consider like price, among a whole spectrum of other things.
Understanding Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Audio Signals
Your space plays a large role in how either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi speakers sound, especially its size. The signal from the speakers reacts differently according to the size of the space, and the placement in relation to the walls and furniture.
Larger spaces and areas with many obstacles which can misdirect or absorb audio off will require a more powerful sound from your wireless speakers.
How Bluetooth Speakers Work
Bluetooth speakers, for example, are designed to receive an audio signal across a small distance usually limited to 30 feet. Bluetooth speakers can also suffer from sound quality because of how the audio data is compressed.
Explained simply, the data files are compressed into a smaller size and this affects how you hear the audio since data is lost during compression. It often doesn’t sound as crisp and clear at a distance as with Wi-Fi speakers.
How Wi-Fi Speakers Work
There’s no question that Wi-Fi speakers do produce better audio quality in larger spaces than other wireless speaker models. Unlike Bluetooth speakers that use a source device, A phone, laptop, tablet, and wireless speakers all connect to a Wi-Fi network.
Because Wi-Fi speakers that have no compression can send a much larger audio signal than a Bluetooth speaker, they tend to sound much better. In other words, their larger size produces better sound quality since less data is lost during the transmission process.
However, unlike most Bluetooth speakers that come with rechargeable batteries, Wi-Fi speakers typically need an external power source which is something you should take into consideration.
You will need to have the Wi-Fi speakers plugged into an electrical outlet. For individuals that are trying to eliminate cords, they might not want to add another one to their setup.
Consider the Audio Source for Your Speakers
Bluetooth speakers usually receive their power from a small rechargeable battery, making them easily portable. You can find them in a variety of sizes that are ideal for most situations.
Since these speakers are often designed for use away from home, their audio source often comes from a phone or other mobile device.
The audio source for both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi speakers is going to be the same though. It’s likely going to be a smartphone, tablet, or computer.
Streaming audio on WiFi does present some other benefits such as Airplay 2 compatibility. Using a local network, Airplay 2 creates the option to play audio through multiple devices all at once.
This way, you can create a network of speakers to entertain multiple rooms or an entire home. The only limitation is the distance from the network and the type of device you are streaming from.
Fortunately for Apple users, Airplay 2 is exclusively for smart devices like iPhone, iPad, Apple computers, etc.
If you want to listen to music from your phone or another mobile device at the beach, park, or during a morning jog, Bluetooth speakers are your best option. The speakers pair in seconds and you’ll enjoy your music anywhere you’d like.
Range Difference Between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Speakers
The range or distance varies between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi speakers. The speakers’ range also plays a role in which one you want to use in different situations with various audio sources.
Bluetooth speakers are designed to send small audio signals at short ranges, usually around 30 feet before you start noticing a loss in audio quality.
While Bluetooth speakers are designed for close range, Wi-Fi speakers can push audio to greater distances. How far will depend on the quality and strength of the network.
Most Wi-Fi speakers can produce audio further than 30-feet, but the range also depends on the quality of the Wi-Fi speaker and the strength of the Wi-Fi signal.
There are advantages to using either type of speaker, including Bluetooth’s capability to connect to more than one speaker as we talked about before. There are also downsides to using them with the wrong device.
The Range and Audio Quality of Bluetooth Speakers
Bluetooth speakers do have a shorter range and audio quality will suffer if you’re trying to blast sound to listeners 30-feet away or more. The audio will sound muffled and distorted if you are more than a few feet away from the speaker.
Since Bluetooth speakers do not need an external power source, thanks to the rechargeable battery, they’re a great choice when you want to stream music from your phone.
The downside to Bluetooth speakers is with the mobile device controlling them. The speakers rely on the synced device, and if it shuts down or the battery is exhausted, your music will stop playing.
As you may imagine, most people can find this annoying and cumbersome. Apps, phone calls, and messages can also interrupt audio signals from mobile devices to Bluetooth speakers.
The Range and Audio Quality of Wi-Fi Speakers
You get a greater range with Wi-Fi speakers due to the audio source. Instead of using the source signal from the connected device, the speakers rely on the Wi-Fi signal.
A stronger and more stable signal produces better audio quality. You don’t have to worry about signal interruptions and the speakers can produce sound at greater distances.
One of the downsides of using Wi-Fi speakers is that you do need an external power source. This can limit their use. If you don’t have an electrical source nearby, the Wi-Fi speakers are useless, regardless of signal strength.
Along with limiting where you can use Wi-Fi speakers, the cord can also be a hassle to the plugin. Moving room to room in a household with your music isn’t nearly as easy at this point.
Price Differences Between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Speakers
Not only do Bluetooth and Wi-Fi speakers differ on range capabilities and audio source, but also price. You can find budget-friendly models for both types of speakers, but when it comes to the audio equipment you often get what you pay for. You don’t want to purchase the cheapest speakers since audio quality usually suffers.
However, if budget is a concern you might want to look at a pair of Bluetooth speakers. Bluetooth speakers are less expensive and aren’t hard to find. You also have plenty of options if this is the type of wireless speaker you’re interested in.
The reason Bluetooth wireless speakers are priced lower is due to their design, and lack of included features often found in ones that use Wi-Fi.
Why Wi-Fi Speakers are Priced Higher than Bluetooth
While Bluetooth speakers are designed to be used with one device, ones that use Wi-Fi signals are intended for use in larger systems. This functionality adds to the price since the speakers are compatible with multiple components.
Adding a system bridge-like the Sonos Port (on Amazon) ensures that Wi-Fi speakers are as easy to sync as Bluetooth with the difference being you can pair them with several components.
Even considering Smart Speakers, they’re priced much higher than the average speaker, but reasonably priced. The following smart speakers all use WiFi and have many advanced features that Bluetooth speakers will not have.
- Sonos One - Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa Built-in
- Amazon Echo (4th Gen) Smart Speaker, Smart Home Hub and Alexa Built-in
- Apple - HomePod Mini
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They eliminate the use of a mobile device and you can stream just about anything you’d like once connected to Wi-Fi.
When to Use Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Speakers
If you only want to listen to your favorite playlist on a phone or other mobile device, inexpensive Bluetooth speakers will work great. You can enjoy immersive audio at a close distance without paying a lot of money for quality speakers.
However, if you don’t want to stay close to the speaker to hear crisp, clear audio, a pair of Wi-Fi speakers are a better choice. It also applies if you’re just starting to build a home sound system.
Bluetooth has its advantages to move about without interrupting the stream quality and you can bring the speaker with you. Without investing in some expensive speakers to create seamless audio, Bluetooth speakers can go with you which causes a little more hassle but cost a little less money.
Should You Buy a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi Speaker?
There are reasons to buy either a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi speaker. Both can produce amazing audio but some differences make one better than the other, depending on how you intend on using it.
If you want to take the speaker with you and listen to music from a mobile device you’ll find that Bluetooth is the easiest and cheapest option.
You’ll get impressive sound quality from Bluetooth speakers, along with portability. It’s also a breeze to sync a Bluetooth speaker with a compatible device because it takes literally seconds.
It is a little more difficult to pair a Wi-Fi speaker with a device, but once you get it paired, it’s not a problem.
If you want to listen to music and movies without sitting close to the speaker, you’ll want the power you get from one that relies on Wi-Fi for signal strength. You won’t have to worry about signal interruptions and audio will sound much more clear at a distance.
Wi-Fi speakers may be priced higher, (which doesn’t always matter as we talked about in our guide) but if you’re planning on adding onto an existing sound system, the speakers are worth the added expense.