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How to choose wireless speakers – what you need to know

Sonos Play1 Wireless Speaker

When it comes to buying a set of wireless speakers there are some important factors you need to consider. First you will have to determine why you are buying a wireless speaker and what its purpose is for. Perhaps you require surround sound 3.1 for home cinema theaters or even 5.1 for sound systems with rear wireless speakers, or just a single wireless desktop hifi for the home office or kitchen.

Whichever reason you decide it’s important to understand wireless speakers are designed for different purposes. Some speakers are suitable for broadcasting over a specific frequency such as 802.11 IEEE (Internet Engineering Taskforce) standard and others use Bluetooth wireless technology standard. A stereo speaker has the ability to deliver sound on both left and right channels. Other wireless speakers have various transmission abilities ranging from anything upwards of 100 feet.

Wireless speakers can also be referred to as smart speakers because they have the ability to transmit data over Bluetooth or Wifi technology. Popular wireless speaker manufacturers such as Sonos and Bose have developed apps which can be used to control speakers wirelessly using any smartphone or tablet device on the same network. This means you can stream audio wirelessly to any room of the house whether it be for a party, relaxing in the bath or watching a family movie in the Livingroom. Popular music streaming services such as Spotify, Amazon and Soundcloud are usually all included.

Who are Sonos?

Sonos are big players in the smart speaker industry. Founded in 2002 they have been on a mission to completely transform home audio throughout the digital revolution. Sonos were the first people to introduce multi-room speaker technology, allowing music lovers worldwide to instantaneously connect all their home speakers wirelessly at the same time. Watch the official introduction to Sonos in the video below:

 

Sonos have a range of wireless speakers starting with the Play:1, a small compact hifi system capable of delivering big sound. The Play:1 comes with two class D amplifiers, a tweeter and one mid-woofer for deep rich bass.

The next model up is the Sonos Play:3 which comes with three class D amplifiers, one tweeter, two mid-woofers and a bass radiator to provide extra deep clean sound. This wireless hifi system is surprisingly powerful and sounds noticeably lounder than the Play:1.

At the top of the Sonos range is the Sonos Play:5 which boasts six impressive class D amplifiers, three tweeters, three mid-woofers, phased speaker array and an audio line-in (3.5mm). The Sonos Play:5 is the only wireless speaker in its range to include the line-in, which is useful for connecting directly to your TV or other smart home device.

Sonos also have the Playbar which is a high-end soundbar for TV audio. The Sonos Playbar makes a great addition to any existing Sonos setup and can be used alongside the Sonos SUB to create surround sound and 5:1 home theater cinema experience.

Sonos sound systems use the 802.11 IEEE standard over a wireless network and do not support Bluetooth.

Who are Bose?

Stepping up the game Sonos are certainly not without rival. Bose are well known for their impressive home audio equipment and building high-end speaker components in the past. The Bose SoundTouch Wireless speaker series is set to rival the Sonos speaker range. At a similar cost the Bose smart speakers include Bluetooth as well as Wifi, although they lack the desirable ergonomic design and quality of sound offered by Sonos. Watch the official introduction to Bose SoundTouch in the video below:

 

The Bose Soundtouch 10 cost roughly the same price as the Sonos Play:1 and has been engineered for exceptional sound. The Soundtouch 20 is the larger model with OLED Display and delivers better sound coverage and deeper base than the cheaper Soundtouch 10 model.

At the top of their smart speaker range Bose have launched the Soundtouch 30 which boasts an even bigger speaker with OLED Display and special Bose Waveguide speaker technology. The app is not as intuitive as the Sonos interface and Soundtouch need to improve this if they truly want to compete with Sonos. All Bose wireless Hifi systems include a remote control.

Ultimately once you have decided on how you want to stream music and where you want to do it, then it really comes down to budget and personal preference on desirable features. If you are planning on using Bluetooth to stream audio to your new wireless speaker then Sonos is not the right choice for you. Also if you need line-in support then it’s important to know that this is only included on the Sonos Play:5 and not other models.

Other brands to consider when choosing a wireless speaker include Samsung with their R1, R3, R5 and R7 range. Jam Audio is another popular smart speaker to consider if you are on a low budget.

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