A Bluetooth speaker is a speaker where you can stream audio over Bluetooth. Although there are different types of speakers that support Bluetooth streaming, a ‘Bluetooth speaker’ means a speaker with a built-in battery.
So you can use such a speaker completely wirelessly, wherever you are. Unlike Wi-Fi speakers, you are not dependent on an internet connection to stream music. Therefore, Bluetooth speakers are often aimed at moving and carrying them easily.
Are you orientating yourself on the purchase of a Bluetooth speaker? To help you with this, you can read all the important properties you can pay attention to when purchasing on this page.
7 Things to Consider Before Buying a Bluetooth Speaker
Application of use; portability (size and weight)
A good first step is to think about how you want to use the Bluetooth speaker. Bluetooth speakers are available in a variety of sizes, including weight. The site has a lot of influence on the application of the Bluetooth speaker. There are roughly four different sizes and associated suitable uses:
- Small (mini) Bluetooth speakers are the smallest type of Bluetooth speakers and really focused on mobile use. For example, many of these smallest types of Bluetooth speakers can be attached to something or a loop attached to something, such as a backpack. This makes these speakers very easy to carry, and therefore perfect for use on a trip and for taking and using in outdoor activities. Due to its small size, there is usually only one small speaker driver built-in. That is why these are mono (1.0) speakers. Because of the single small speaker driver, this is also the least powerful type of Bluetooth speakers. The small size mainly has a detrimental effect on the bass sound. Example: JBL Clip 3.
- Medium-sized Bluetooth speakers have a size that allows you to hold them in one hand. With this size, you can also easily carry these Bluetooth speakers in a backpack. However, they are less suitable for use on the go. The advantage of the larger size is that there is room for two speaker drivers. That is why you will also find stereo (2.0) speakers at this size, and the larger speaker drivers also allow better bass sound. Due to the good combination of portability and sound quality, this is the most popular size. Example: JBL Flip 5.
- Large Bluetooth speakers are often so large that they have a built-in handle to move them. With this size, they are a bit crass to carry in a backpack and sometimes come with their own carrying case. With this size, these Bluetooth speakers are suitable for, for example, taking with you on a car holiday. Another good use application is to use this speaker in your garden. These large Bluetooth speakers have even larger speaker drivers, allowing for powerful sound with low bass tones. Example: JBL Boombox.
- Bluetooth party speakers are the largest and most powerful type. As the name implies, the perfect use application when throwing a party is especially in places where you can’t easily connect it to power. With the large size, this speaker is difficult to move. If you want to move these speakers over a long distance, you can, for example, do so in the trunk of a car. Example: JBL PartyBox 300.
With Bluetooth speakers, you always compromise between the portability and the quality and power of the sound. There is not one Bluetooth speaker the best option for all conceivable situations. Think carefully about what you want to use the Bluetooth speaker for and choose one of the mentioned dimensions.
Battery/battery life and charging speed
To make Bluetooth speakers completely wireless, they contain a built-in battery or a battery. The disadvantage of a battery is, of course, that it can run out. Once the battery is dead, you won’t be unable to play music. Therefore, the battery life of a Bluetooth speaker is an important feature to pay attention to.
Manufacturers often specify battery life for Bluetooth speakers. However, this specified battery life is an estimate, which is often higher than the battery life in practice. Actual battery life also depends on the volume at which you play the music. The higher the volume, the shorter the battery life.
The battery capacity in mAh (at 3.7V) is also often specified. This says less about battery life because the power consumption of different Bluetooth speakers can also vary considerably. Large Bluetooth speakers consume more power. However, large Bluetooth speakers often have the best battery life.
The charging speed of the battery is also important. The faster the battery is full again, the faster you can use it again to listen to music. The charging time to fully recharge an empty Bluetooth speaker battery is often indicated with the product.
Most Bluetooth speakers can be charged with a USB charger, the same type of charger you use for your smartphone. The actual charging time of a Bluetooth speaker depends on the maximum power (Watts) of the charger you are using and the maximum power with which the battery can be charged.
Larger Bluetooth speakers sometimes use their own ac adapter, which you will have to connect to an electrical outlet. These chargers’ power is often much higher, so you can also charge a large internal battery quickly.
Do you want to avoid running out of music? Then use a power bank. This is a portable battery with a USB output. This way, you can charge the Bluetooth speaker without a power outlet.
Some Bluetooth speakers can be used as a power bank themselves. For example, you can charge your smartphone on the built-in battery of a Bluetooth speaker. This way, you prevent your smartphone from emptying prematurely. And that’s useful because even with an empty smartphone, you can’t play music. Of course, charging your smartphone will again be at the expense of the playback time of the Bluetooth speaker itself.
Waterproof, Dustproof and other Robustness
Do you want to be able to use the Bluetooth speaker outside? Then it may have to do with water and dust. Many good Bluetooth speakers are therefore also dust and waterproof.
The IP encoding indicates the degree of dust or water resistance.
A common IP encoding for Bluetooth speakers is IPX7. These are fully waterproof Bluetooth speakers, tested for waterproofing at 1-meter depth for 30 minutes. Do you want to use the Bluetooth speakers by the water? Some Bluetooth speakers float, for example, the UE Wonderboom.
Because you will move Bluetooth speakers a lot, the overall strength and robustness of a Bluetooth speaker are also important. Good Bluetooth speakers can take a beating. To prevent impact or fall damage, some Bluetooth speakers are equipped with rubber edges.
In addition to using Bluetooth streaming, do you also want to play sound on your speaker in other ways? Then you can also pay attention to these other possibilities. The more connections there are on a speaker, the more versatile you can use it. Below are the most common options.
- AUX entrance. This is a common audio connection, making it possible to connect the Bluetooth speaker wired to your smartphone, tablet, laptop, PC, TV, CD player or record player. An AUX input makes it possible to use the Bluetooth speaker with many more devices. The most common AUX ports for audio are suitable for 3.5 mm jack plug cables.
- SD or microSD card reader. Bluetooth speakers with a built-in card reader can play music files from the SD card. This has the advantage that you can also use the Bluetooth speaker without a smartphone, but as a disadvantage, you will have to control it with the speaker’s buttons.
- USB-A input. A USB-A input makes it possible to connect a USB stick or an external hard drive with music to the speaker. The speaker recognizes the music files on the disc and can play them. Again, you will have to use the buttons on the speaker.
All these connections, therefore, provide more possibilities for playing music. So you might be able to apply a Bluetooth speaker with one of these connections multi functionally.
Sound quality and noise (volume)
When you play music, you probably want it to sound good, too. So you will have to pay attention to the sound quality. If you want to buy the best Bluetooth speakers online, you will mainly assume reviews and test results. Furthermore, you can look at the different specifications:
- The frequency range in Hz and kHz. The frequency range indicates which tones the Bluetooth speaker can play, from low to high. With these specified numbers, you can mainly determine whether the Bluetooth speaker has a good bass sound. For example, the UE Boom 3 has a frequency range of 90 Hz – 20 kHz. The lower the first number, the lower the tones that the speaker can produce. A speaker with a range of 60 Hz – 20 kHz, such as the JBL Charge 4, achieves deeper tones or a deeper bass sound.
- Speaker drivers. These are the actual components that produce the sound of the Bluetooth speakers. There are roughly three different types, namely tweeters (can display treble well), mid-range drivers (mid-tones), and woofers (lows). The quantity, type, and diameter of the built-in speaker drivers are often indicated.
- Mono or stereo? A mono speaker plays one sound channel, and a stereo speaker plays two (left and right). A stereo speaker, therefore, provides a more spatial sound, which has more direction. Small Bluetooth speakers are often mono-speakers. These can often be paired over Bluetooth with a second speaker of the same type to make stereo sound possible. Medium and large Bluetooth speakers are often stereo speakers.
Also, you can select a Bluetooth speaker by sound level or volume. The larger space or the listener’s distance, the more volume the speaker should deliver.
The two properties you can pay attention to to get an idea of the sound level are the power and the so-called ‘sensitivity’ of the speakers. The power is expressed in Watts. The speaker’s sensitivity is expressed in the sound level (unit: dB(A)) one meter away from the speaker if it uses 1 Watt of power. More explanations and a calculation example can be found here.
Unfortunately, this data is often not provided by the manufacturers. Therefore, you will often have to assume reviews and/or test results for this property.
Bluetooth speaker brands
Do you prefer a Bluetooth speaker of a certain brand? Then you can also pay attention to the brand of the Bluetooth speaker. Brands known for their Bluetooth speakers include JBL, Sony, Bose, Ultimate Ears (UE), and Fresh ‘n Rebel.
If you already have a Bluetooth speaker, it can also be advantageous to buy a second Bluetooth speaker of the same brand. For example, it may be possible to pair two speakers of the same brand with each other to create a stereo set. Also, there are sometimes apps available to connect multiple speakers of the same brand and different types. This allows you to play the same music on all connected speakers at the same time.
Do you have a certain maximum budget in mind? The price of Bluetooth speakers varies considerably. The cheapest Bluetooth speakers cost less than 20 euros, but the most expensive Bluetooth speakers cost hundreds of euros.
The price of Bluetooth speakers mainly depends on the size. Large, heavy, and therefore powerful Bluetooth speakers are more expensive.
You can also find good earbuds in different price ranges in the article best Bluetooth speaker’. Here Bluetooth speakers are also mentioned where the value for money has been taken into account.