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The evolution of the way we listen to music has been a spectacular journey. From the days of records to cassettes, compact discs to mp3, to today’s vast number of online streaming platforms.

Although audio technologies have dramatically improved over the past few decades, there has been another shift in more recent times.

Not only do we now have access to decades of music from the palm of our hand – this music can now be enjoyed throughout homes and workplaces without the need for sophisticated wiring or cables.

Quality Audio – Untethered.

Wireless audio hit the shelves a number of years ago and has since been gaining momentum. There are a vast array of differing devices out there, however if you’ve spent any time looking, you’ll quickly discover that wireless audio isn’t simply ‘wireless audio’.

There are many options and terminologies that come into play when learning about wireless audio. You’ll hear ‘Near Field Communication’ (or NFC), ‘AirPlay’, ‘Digital Living Network Alliance’ (or DLNA) and ‘multiroom’, just to name a few. These terms offer different features, and depending on whether you’re looking at portability, in-home audio or multimedia solutions, each has their pros and cons.

When you have a closer look, you’ll soon see that every wireless audio device you come across is based on one of two main technologies: Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

So which one is right for me?

This question comes down to what you are after. In the basic sense, if you want portability – to enhance the sound of your mobile phone wherever you are, Bluetooth audio is the best solution for this. If on the other hand, you require more flexibility and control, Wi-Fi offers many more features.

The Breakdown: Bluetooth

Just as it works within car stereos, Bluetooth units simply pair with your mobile device and allow you to wirelessly playback your audio through the external speakers.

Many Bluetooth audio devices you will find in stores are often portable and battery powered units.

The Upside:

Bluetooth doesn’t rely on a network. Instead, it connects directly with your device. This can be great for enhancing the audio quality of your mobile device.
Bluetooth is portable. Most Bluetooth audio devices are smaller allowing you to take it with you wherever you go.

The Downside:

Bluetooth range is limited.

Take your phone away from your Bluetooth unit and the audio will begin to break up and eventually cut out.
Battery life is often limited. Although this technology is improving, portability comes at a price – make sure you recharge before taking on that day out.
Audio resolution is limited. Bluetooth can nowadays give near-CD quality playback, however, this won’t satisfy those looking to enjoy the depth of sound that can be discovered in premium high-resolution audio formats.
Bluetooth is all or nothing.

When your mobile device is connected to a Bluetooth unit, all of your audio will output to that device. The same as when you used to connect to an auxiliary cable, if you receive a notification on your device, your playback is interrupted.

The Breakdown: Wi-FI

Wi-Fi audio is far superior in quality and features to Bluetooth but generally will include a larger price tag. Wi-Fi technology not only offers features that are accessible across a multiroom network, allowing for multiroom playback and control, but also allows for two-way connection and even stand-alone connectivity, giving the added benefit of device independence.

The Upside:

Range is as far as your network will reach. Whether wired or wireless, as long as you’re on the same network, your Wi-Fi speaker unit is accessible.
Staggering audio resolution. Wi-Fi can transmit data at much faster speeds, therefore allowing you to stream at better quality. This isn’t limited to audio, with some devices also supporting video. This goes even deeper with some Wi-Fi technologies not only allowing you to control your audio playback but also stream your audio directly from the internet using inbuilt dedicated apps such Amazon’s Echo and Apple’s AirPlay.
Multiroom playback with multi-control. Premium Wi-Fi units not only allow you to stream your audio throughout your home or office over multiple speakers, you also have control over what is playing where. Using a mobile app to control the playback and speakers, you can choose what is playing in a particular room while something else is being sent elsewhere.

The Downside:

Quality always comes at a price. You will generally pay more for Wi-Fi audio due to the advanced features.
Less portable options. Wi-Fi systems are larger and mostly require mains power. Some brands have additional accessories you can buy to make them portable. These accessories have the Bluetooth hardware builtin for when Wi-Fi isn’t available.

Making The Decision.

Both technologies have their advantages and disadvantages but it comes down to how you wish to use wireless audio.

If you’re more interested in portability, Bluetooth is your answer.

If you’re leaning towards multiroom or not wanting to compromise on quality, go Wi-Fi.

Limited Time Deal

DENON HEOS 90 Day guarantee

Until 31 January 2017, our friends at DENON are offering a 90-day money back guarantee on their HEOS range of wireless speakers. If you’re interested in going wireless or would like to experience the added benefits multi-room speakers offer over Bluetooth-only units, give our team a call to arrange your consultation.

 

Industry News

Wireless for Sound: Bluetooth or Wi-Fi?

20 December, 2016

The evolution of the way we listen to music has been a spectacular journey. From the days of records to cassettes, compact discs to mp3, to today’s vast number of online streaming platforms. Although audio technologies have dramatically improved over the past few decades, there has been another shift in more recent times. Not only do we now […]Read More »

Invisible Speakers

Heard But Not Seen

15 December, 2016

Home is a place to relax. A place of comfort. A space that you can unwind from the busyness of the day and put your feet up. We understand that to create a comfortable living space, the ability to be able to enjoy quality music or flick on your favourite show, movie or sports channel is […]Read More »

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