WIFI vs Bluetooth

Wireless audio: Wifi versus Bluetooth explained

 As you will well know, when it comes to music – and most electronics actually – the world’s going wireless. Any discussion of wireless audio is really a comparison of two main technologies: Bluetooth and WiFi. So how do you easily explain the differences in formats? And how do you help your customers find the solution that will work best for them?

Why (or why not) WiFi?

Decisions surrounding wireless formats come down to how and where your customers want to be able to listen to, and access, their music. For starters, WiFi enabled devices usually require AC power, but they typically have better range than Bluetooth devices; with some planning it can be possible to cover an entire house with WiFi. WiFi devices can also be linked together and controlled remotely as part of a coordinated, multi-room audio system.

Because they connect to a network, WiFi enables connectivity with multiple devices at once, allowing them to directly sync with cloud-based music sources and internet radio stations, like Spotify. Furthermore, for the true audiophiles, the fact that audio signals can be conveyed via WiFi using a lossless codec will come into play – as with this method there is no loss of audio fidelity as the signal travels. Able to support audio, as well as video and images (compared with just audio for Bluetooth), WiFi has a higher bandwidth than Bluetooth that supports the transmission of large files.

But what about Bluetooth?

Bluetooth devices, on the other hand, don’t connect to a network – instead connecting directly to a music-playing device, one at a time. Because of this, their range of transmission is far more limited; typically a device must stay within about 10 metres of a Bluetooth receiver and while a “line of sight” is not essential, walls tend to decrease the possible range further.

 

On the plus side, Bluetooth technology is universally compatible and the devices are usually battery-powered, compact and portable – so wherever you are, you can keep the tunes blasting. Not all Bluetooth technology is created equal and some chips will provide better range and less sensitivity to interference from things like microwaves, cordless phones or baby monitors.

Both might be best

When it comes to wireless audio, it doesn’t have to be a case of one or the other. Both have their place and you could create a killer WiFi-based, multi-room audio system that also has Bluetooth enabled speakers for flexibility. Look for wireless speakers that support both technologies.