The age of the home theater is over.
Audiophiles can now broadcast high-fidelity music to any room in their house thanks to WiFi and Bluetooth speakers.
But between WiFi and Bluetooth speakers, which is best?
WiFi and Bluetooth speakers use different forms of wireless networking technology to broadcast music. While the technologies are similar, there are distinct differences in sound quality, range, simplicity, portability, and price.
This article will explore the differences between WiFi and Bluetooth speakers to help prospective buyers make the correct choice for themselves.
It’ll also explain the differences between WiFi and Bluetooth technology.
Differences Between WiFi and Bluetooth Speakers
There are several critical differences in performance between WiFi and Bluetooth speakers.
The main areas of interest are sound quality, range simplicity, portability, and price.
Learn more: Is Bluetooth better than 2.4 GHz?
Most hardcore audiophiles care about one thing above all, sound quality.
They want their music files and live streams to be reproduced as faithfully as possible.
Achieving these ends over a wireless transmission medium requires wide signal bandwidth.
WiFi has a much wider bandwidth range and can transmit considerably faster than Bluetooth.
The wider bandwidth allows WiFi to transmit music files with little to no compression.
To fit an audio transmission through the more narrow bandwidth of Bluetooth transmission, a transmitter has to compress a music file.
The compression reduces the range between the quiet and loud sounds, effectively making the file smaller.
As a result, Bluetooth speakers produce a less dynamic and less faithful sound reproduction.
You might also want to know: Are Wired Headphones Louder Than Wireless? 5 Facts Revealed
Bluetooth and WiFi are intended to work over two different distance ranges. The difference in ranges will be elaborated on below.
Bluetooth is usually intended to transmit data between devices within a few meters of each other.
As a result, Bluetooth speakers usually have to be in the same room or car as the music source.
WiFi-based systems can often transmit music to speakers in every room of a typical American house.
Depending on the strength of your home WiFi network, the range of a WiFi speaker system is measured in hundreds of feet (30.48 m).
From this point forward, Bluetooth speakers pull ahead of WiFi speakers.
Most people prefer simple plug-and-play audio equipment.
They want to pair their speaker or headphones to their smartphone or computer once and make the connection automatically for all future uses.
Bluetooth delivers this simplicity.
Bluetooth connections require no additional equipment other than the music source and the speaker.
Once the source device and the speaker are paired, they remember each other.
Future connections are made automatically when the speaker is turned on.
WiFi speakers require a WiFi internet connection to receive music. You must connect both devices to use them together.
This reliance on an existing WiFi network can also be a liability for the sound quality of WiFi speakers.
The WiFi network limits the connection speed between the music source and the speaker it’s connected through.
A slow network speed will produce a slow or
In short, a WiFi speaker is only as good as your home’s internet access.
The sound quality of a Bluetooth speaker may be comparably mediocre, but it’ll be consistently mediocre.
But if we’re honest, a casual listener probably won’t notice the difference at all.
Bluetooth speakers are considerably more portable than WiFi speakers. Most WiFi speakers are not portable at all.
To be considered portable, a speaker has to be more or less self-contained. It shouldn’t require any additional equipment other than a music source.
Bluetooth transmitters require considerably less power than WiFi transmitters.
Bluetooth speakers are run on the power provided by modern lithium-ion batteries for hours to days.
WiFi speakers require much more power than Bluetooth speakers and commonly don’t include batteries at all.
Instead, they run on AC power from an outlet.
Some WiFi speakers, typically smart speakers like the Amazon Alexa, do have huge batteries built-in.
Another portability shortfall of WiFi speakers is their reliance on established WiFi networks.
Unless you live in a city that provides public WiFi, you’ll probably not be able to use a WiFi speaker on the go.
A portable WiFi hotspot could provide a way around this shortfall.
Lastly, WiFi speakers are usually much larger and heavier than Bluetooth speakers. A typical Bluetooth speaker can easily fit in pants or coat pockets.
A WiFi speaker will require a large purse or a backpack to move it around.
In a country where most of the population doesn’t have the luxury of disposable income, price matters.
A casual user may not notice the difference in sound quality.
But they’ll notice the numbers on their credit card bill.
Bluetooth speakers have been on the market longer. Manufacturers have found a balance between quality and price.
And they generally cost less than WiFi speakers.
A possible extra expense after buying a wiki speaker system is the need to upgrade your WiFi router or ISP plan.
If you want to use your WiFi speaker on the go, you’ll also need a mobile hotspot and a mobile data plan for it.
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3 Sound Quality Comparisons: Wifi vs Bluetooth Speakers
To illustrate the performance differences between WiFi and Bluetooth speakers, we considered low, average, and high price points:
We will first compare speakers at the “under $25” price range.
Full disclosure, in this price range, the “WiFi speakers” typically also feature Bluetooth connectivity.
Representing Bluetooth speakers is the Koleer IPX7 Waterproof Bluetooth 5.0 Stereo Speaker.
The IPX7 features a 30-hour battery life, 66-foot range, true wireless stereo (TWS) pairing, and built-in FM radio.
The Amazon list price was at the time of this writing was $24.99
The average customer review for the IPX7 is 4.5 stars.
Reviewers praise the speaker for its solid design, ease of operation, and surprisingly good sound quality for a Bluetooth speaker.
Representing WiFi speakers at this price range is the Fivoice IP56 Waterproof Multiroom Speaker.
The IP56 (in WIFi mode) features a 360-foot range, a claimed five-hour battery life, multi-room capability, Amazon Alexa compatibility, and access to a WiFi cloud library.
The Amazon list price for the IP56 was $19.99
Reviews for the IP56 are not great, averaging 3 out of 5 stars.
Reviewers mention low volume (a common complaint in reviews of WiFi speakers) and poor functionality of Alexa.
Reviews also question the manufacturer’s claimed battery life.
$25 To $50
Representing Bluetooth speakers in the $25 to $50 range is the Vanzon X5 Pro Waterproof Speaker.
The X5 features a 66-foot range, “excellent battery life,” “enhanced stereo sound,” and a true flash (TF) card reader. The list price of the X5 is $49.99.
For some reason, the X5 is often sold with a dog toy.
The average customer review for the Vanzon X5 is 4.5 out of 5 stars. Positive reviews cite the X5 Pro’s waterproof and solid construction.
That said, other reviews indicate that the sound quality “is not great.”
Representing WiFi Speakers in this price range is the Hitachi W50 WiFi Smart Speaker.
The W50 features a ten or 12-watt power output, Bluetooth 4.0 capability, near field communication (NFC) support, and a free app.
The list price for the W50 was $49.98, although Walmart listed it at over $60.
The W50 does not have an internal battery. It is not at all portable.
The average review of the W50 is 3.5 out of five stars.
Reviewers say the user interface (top-mounted buttons) is confusing, but its sound quality is excellent.
Hitachi is a surprisingly well-diversified company, making everything from excavators to marital aids.
$50 To $100
The last price range we will examine is the $50 to $100 range.
Above this is the domain of prestige “status symbol” electronics, which the members of the proletariat should not waste our money on.
Representing Bluetooth speakers is the SUPNIU Double Subwoofer 60W Portable Speaker.
The Sunni features an included remote control, four-driver speakers, and every input method from the last 15 years except WiFi.
The Amazon list price was $76.98.
The average customer review for the Supniu was 4.3 stars out of 5 last time we checked.
Reviewers mention its solid construction, built-in clock, and LOUD HIGH-QUALITY SOUND!
Negative reviews say it has glitchy controls and occasionally poor wiring.
Representing WiFi speakers in the $50 to $100 range is the iHome IAV14 Bedside Clock Speaker System With Built-In Amazon Alexa.
The IA14 features native Amazon Alexa support, voice activation, iHome smart home compatibility, and no internal battery. The list price was $59.99.
The average customer review for the IAV14 was 3.9 out of 5 stars when we wrote this article.
Reviewers praise it for its alarm clock functionality. Other reviews highlight the poor reliability of the Amazon Alexa features.
WiFi vs Bluetooth
Both WiFi and Bluetooth are types of wireless communication technology utilizing radio waves.
They can transmit digital data at high speeds without a physical connection.
The difference is in how the transmitters and receivers are programmed and how much power they use.
Bluetooth was invented by Danish engineering students in the 90s and named after the king who forced Christianity on their people.
It operates between 2.402 gigahertz and 2.48 gigahertz on the electromagnetic spectrum.
Bluetooth transceivers are typically limited to a signal power of 2.5 milliwatts.
The Bluetooth industry-standard IEEE 802.15.1 is managed by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group.
Bluetooth is designed to be used over a close range of no more than a few meters. Ideally, the range would be less than 1 meter (3.28 ft).
However, newer versions can transmit over distances up to 10 meters (32.81 ft).
WiFi was initially invented in 1992 based on the theories of WW2-era actress and polymath Hedy Lamarr.
The industry standard, IEEE 802.11, was established in 1997 and managed by the WiFi Alliance trade association.
Interestingly, the name “WiFi” has no meaning and was selected from a list of suggestions provided by a consultant firm.
WiFi operates on radio wave frequencies between 2.4 gigahertz and five gigahertz. It’s designed to network multiple devices over a wide area.
A single WiFi antenna can broadcast over a radius of up to 100 meters (328.08 ft), but networks can be extended to cover entire cities.
Bluetooth is typically a much more secure transmission medium, while WiFi provides higher bandwidth.
Ultimately, which type of wireless speaker to buy depends on what you intend to do with it.
WiFi speakers are best used as successors to the large wired speakers used in home theaters.
Bluetooth speakers are better for listening to music on the go. If sound quality is all you care about, WiFi speakers are better.