When buying a wireless speaker, be it for public or personal use, there are some questions that we need to ask ourselves as well as some factors that we have to consider before buying one.
Most people prefer going the wireless route for the simple reason, which is that they are easier to move around than their wired counterparts.
There are many different kinds of speakers, but today, we will only be discussing Bluetooth and Wi-Fi speakers, and the question, does a Bluetooth speaker need a Wi-Fi connection for it to work and vice versa.
We will also take a more in-depth look at the ranges, how each technology works, the limits of both technologies, and which one is better for a particular purpose, a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi speaker.
Yes. You don’t need Wi-Fi for Bluetooth speakers to work. Bluetooth is a technology that transmits data from one Bluetooth device to another. You don’t use Wi-Fi in any way for this to happen. Therefore, if you connect your wireless Bluetooth speaker to a Bluetooth ready device, it will work just fine without any need for Wi-Fi.
Bluetooth is a technology that enables you to connect two devices and does not need any Wi-Fi connection or any internet connection for it to function. Portable Bluetooth speakers work without WiFi, you only need the devices to be Bluetooth enabled and be in an acceptable range.
This range differs from device to device depending on the Bluetooth version that is installed. If two devices have different versions installed then the range is determined by the older version.
Once you have paired the devices, they can communicate, meaning they can exchange data.
Bluetooth works by sending and receiving radio waves in a band of over 79 frequencies, all of which rely or center on 2.4GHz. It is worth noting that these frequencies exclude television, radio, and mobile phones, as they have their own reserved frequencies.
The main difference, between Bluetooth portable speakers and a speaker with Wi-Fi, is that speakers with Wi-Fi can connect to more devices. Unlike Bluetooth, Wi-Fi allows more connections concurrently. Bluetooth devices detect and connect automatically as they all communicate on different distinctly allocated channels of the 79 available.
If two Bluetooth devices want to communicate, they randomly pick a channel available on the network. If the channel has already been taken, they switch to another one.
This action is commonly called the Frequency-hopping spread spectrum (FHSS). To minimize any form of interference, the devices continuously shift frequency. This happens over a thousand times per second.
Two or more connected Bluetooth devices form a small computer network called a Piconet and one or more piconets can also join to form a scatternet.
Wireless Bluetooth speakers come in different sizes and shapes. Depending on the speaker’s size, it could be lighter and easier to carry around. These speakers do not need cables to be connected.
Since these speakers are built to be moved around, they are built to withstand wear and tear and other conditions, such as dusty and rainy weather.
These kinds of speakers have a battery that can easily be recharged providing hours of music to entertain you.
It is more energy-efficient than a Wi-Fi speaker, as it only needs a battery or a single power connection. Unlike a Wi-Fi speaker, which requires power for the speaker, the router, and the other connected devices, for example, laptops and other electronics.
Wireless Bluetooth speakers are way easier to connect compared to a Wi-Fi speaker as you only need to pair the speaker to your phone or other device and go ahead and enjoy your music. Hence, the reason Bluetooth is used in headphones and earbuds for sound.
The range of a Bluetooth connection was very limited to about 40 feet for Bluetooth 4.2. Walls in a house can cause interference with the Bluetooth connection as well. This in return can cause dropouts in the entertaining experience when using headphones, speakers etc.
The later versions of Bluetooth have solved most of the earlier versions' defects; and range is much better now. Newer versions of Bluetooth allow up to 100 feet between devices.
Bluetooth not only uses a lot of power, but also drains the battery power of the device that it is paired to. This is caused by continually scanning for signals, even when already paired. However, energy consumption is reduced in later versions.
Bluetooth 4.2 enabled devices to only send and receive data at 1 Mbps and Bluetooth 5.0 onwards send/receive data at 2 Mbps, which is a lot less than the speeds of Wi-Fi and USB enabled devices.
A Bluetooth device's security can be weaker compared to Wi-Fi.
It was possible on earlier versions of Bluetooth for others to gain access to your device through the connection. However, security has somewhat improved since then.
Wireless Wi-Fi speakers require a stable internet connection, be it on your home network or a public network, for them to operate.
When you buy a wireless Wi-Fi speaker, you would also need a router connected to the internet that can share the signal with other devices around its range, including the Wi-Fi speaker. The speaker might not need to be connected to the internet signal, but it co-exists with the Wi-Fi connection.
Such a setup allows you to connect more than one Wi-Fi speaker.
As long as there’s a good internet connection, the wireless Wi-Fi speaker can function uninterrupted anywhere in the Wi-Fi range. Physical barriers, for example, walls and alike in a home do not affect the functioning of the Wi-Fi speaker.
It is also worth mentioning that Wi-Fi can act like Bluetooth does, whereby it can connect two devices in a short-range using Wi-Fi Direct. It almost functions in a similar way as Bluetooth. Wi-Fi Direct functionality is installed on most Android, iOS, laptops, smartphones, and other consumer electronics.
You only need to configure the settings, and you wouldn’t need Bluetooth anymore for effective data transfer.
Wi-Fi speakers allow for connections of more than one speaker and other consumer electronics, like mobile phones and laptops. Hence, you can operate and manipulate these devices anywhere within range of a Wi-Fi internet connection.
Wi-Fi speakers have high-resolution audio transmission, which is not possible with Bluetooth speakers. Thus, the audio files' sound quality is way better than a Bluetooth speaker. If you're streaming movies on the TV then these could be a great edition for sound.
Wi-Fi speakers have a higher range of connections than Bluetooth speakers, and they mainly rely on the strength of the Wi-Fi signal and not the range of the signal.
Wi-Fi speakers can transfer data at insane speeds depending on the signal strength of the Wi-Fi. Perfect for streaming with sound.
Not all Wi-Fi speakers are portable as they need a Wi-Fi connection to work.
Wi-Fi speakers are more expensive than Bluetooth speakers. That is because they have more features and properties compared to those that Bluetooth speakers offer.
Wi-Fi speakers can also be a target for attackers. Through your Wi-Fi connection, an attacker can gain control of your speakers and use them as he or she pleases.
Earlier, this was not possible, but with the advance in technology, more and more companies have been designing and developing speakers that can function with both a Wi-Fi and a Bluetooth connection.
These latest speakers have the best of both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi speakers. You can connect more than one of the same speakers while also having a direct connection between a device and the speaker.
Although they are expensive, these speakers are worth the money for the added features they have. A cool addition to the home.
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi can both coexist together on the same frequency, but one at the expense of the other, if you haven’t configured your Wi-Fi settings or router settings well to avoid the interference.
Bluetooth is made to work on the 2.4 GHz frequency, and so are some Wi-Fi routers, although they work on different channels, hence the interference.
When you connect through Bluetooth to another device and use the same device on a Wi-Fi internet connection, the strength of the internet connection often tends to drop. To avoid this problem, you can change your router’s Wi-Fi channel to minimize or avoid interference entirely.
Bluetooth speakers do not need an Internet connection like Wi-Fi speakers do to work. Also, Wi-Fi speakers are more superior to the Bluetooth ones in many forms, for example, data transfer and range. However, all of these speakers have advantages in some situations and disadvantages in others.
If you are looking for a simple working device to device connection that's waterproof and durable, then the Bluetooth device is your go-to option.
But if you want to sync your home as a single system including the speakers, higher quality of audio resolution, and higher range, you have to dig deeper into your pocket for Wi-Fi speakers.
Then, there is the other option of the speaker, with both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functionalities. These provide you with a wide range of features and properties that will make your audio system standout. These speakers bring the best of both worlds together, including the portability and the high range to improve your listening experience.
These kinds of speakers come of course at an added expense.
Wireless speakers have both: advantages and drawbacks.
Their benefits include the fact that they are easy to install compared to the wired ones, and they give you the freedom to put them anywhere you like as there are no wires to interfere with.
Their cons are that with wireless speakers, there can be an audio delay and interference in sound.
The most significant drawback is that they tend to consume more power and have to be recharged, unlike the wired ones.
Lastly, as you have now seen, Bluetooth speakers do work without Wi-Fi. And, with the advances made to this technology of late, you definitely don't need Wi-Fi for them to work.
So, if you want new Bluetooth speakers, go for ones that are Bluetooth 5.0 or higher for best results.