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How to buy the best Bluetooth speaker(一)

Published in 2018-1-30


Why a Bluetooth speaker?

As it’s gotten better over the years, Bluetooth has been implemented in more and more of the tech that surrounds us. One of the most practical use cases for Bluetooth has been for portable audio. You can now have music whereever you go without being forced to sacrifice quality like the olden days. This ability has allows manufacturers to get creative with their designs since they no longer have to be physically tethered to a source device.

There are tons of different designs and use cases for speakers, and there are also tons of weird technical language that gets tossed around when discussing them. This Bluetooth speaker buying guide is meant to help you understand what is important and what isn’t when it comes to speakers. If you’re new to speakers or just want to refresh your memory, here are some things you should know before buying a Bluetooth speaker.


*Frequency Response

As is the case with headphones, frequency response is the range at which a speaker can reproduce sound. You can usually find this number on the box or the company’s website, where it’s measured in the unit Hertz (Hz) and looks something like 20Hz – 20,000Hz. The exact number fluctuates, especially in speakers where something like 100Hz – 20,000Hz might be a little more common.

The first number is the lowest frequency that the speaker can accurately produce while the second number is, you guessed it, the highest frequency that can be produced. The smaller the speaker, the more narrow that range is going to be simply because of physics. It’s harder to get a large sound out of a small speaker which is why it’s all the more impressive when it’s done the right way.


*Stereo Sound

If a track is recorded or mixed in a certain way, you’ll be able to hear different instruments coming from different directions. An example could be songs that have a guitar come out from the left speaker while something like a shaker is coming out of the right one. Think of it as surround sound with music. It’s a neat trick that really adds another element of depth to the track, but that doesn’t always translate perfectly to small portable speakers.

One reason why this is hard to accomplish is because first and foremost, a speaker needs more than one driver for this to work. Many Bluetooth speakers aim for portability so they only use a single driver and the effect is hard, if not impossible to replicate with one driver since the sound is only coming from one direction. On top of that, the drivers need to be decently apart so that you can hear the differences in space.

Even if they have two speaker drivers many portable speakers are simply too small to produce a true stereo sound. Even if the sound is technically coming from two different drivers, if they’re right next to each it will sound like only one big speaker to your ears. That’s not to say that no Bluetooth speakers have stereo sound, because many of the somewhat larger ones do. Just be wary of any tiny speaker claiming that it has true stereo sound.


*Bluetooth Versions

One thing that most brands make it a point to share is the Bluetooth version. Bluetooth v.1 is pretty much nonexistent at this point, but version 2.1 is alive and well. That said, there are plenty of products with Bluetooth 4.0. So what does that mean in terms of audio? Well 2.1 introduced a profile called EDR, which all versions released afterwards also have. This stands for “Enhanced Data Rate” and is mainly responsible for the jump in quality streaming that we’ve seen over the past few years.

As the name implies, it allows for a higher amount of data to be sent per second between devices than previous versions and is basically all that’s required for good sound. Bluetooth 4.0, or Bluetooth Smart, simply allows for data collection from things like fitness trackers. So unless your speaker is also tracking your heart rate, it’s not necessary.

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