How Bluetooth Speakers Work
Over the last few years, the popularity of wireless speakers has grown dramatically. In the US alone sales have skyrocketed to over 1 billion dollars each year since 2015.
Bluetooth speakers are a perfect accessory for parties, camping, home use and in your car, but how do they actually work?
Bluetooth is a Wireless Technology
Unlike regular speakers, Bluetooth speakers don’t need a physical wired connection to play audio. This means that you don’t need to be plugged in to play music and be located next to the speaker.
You might not notice it at first, but our society, has been using wireless communication for ages. Some of the most notable examples include radio transmissions, TV channels, cordless telephones, and WiFi all use different versions of wireless communications in order to function.
It may feel at first that Bluetooth is something completely else, but in reality, it is no different. Bluetooth is radio-wave technology, but unlike radio transmissions, it’s designed for communicating over short distances of up to 30 feet (or 10 metres). Each new version of Bluetooth pushes or extends the range, but with the latest Bluetooth 5.0 the long range with no obstacles in between takes it up to 100 meters.
In other words, by using a Bluetooth connection through a speaker you are using wireless communication. It allows you to play your audio devices/speakers from across the room without having to interconnect your portable device and the speaker with physical cables.
How Does Wireless Technology Work?
To gain a better understanding of how Bluetooth speakers work we need to look at how wireless technology works. For Bluetooth to function, both devices need to have Bluetooth connectivity, which requires hardware and software components.
On the hardware side of things, both devices need a chip that has an antenna to send and receive signals. Bluetooth uses 79 different frequencies that is centered on 2.45 GHz. This band is specifically set apart from radio, television, and cellphones so that it only can be used by industrial, scientific, and medical gadgets. Since Bluetooth waves are so short they don’t interfere with other connections that could reside within the 2.45 GHz range.
The software then interprets these signals that are being sent from one device to another so that they can be understood and read.
To pair the devices, one of the devices needs to be set to a discovery mode while the other device needs to search for Bluetooth devices waiting to be connected. Once the device that is discover mode is found by the other device, it shows up in a list of Bluetooth devices that you can connect to. Now, let’s try to relate this to Bluetooth speakers.
Bluetooth in Speakers
If you have a wireless speaker with Bluetooth connectivity, any other device that also has Bluetooth connectivity will know how to send audio to the speaker. The speaker can then interpret those signals to allow for the audio to be played. Not only will the speaker be able to play audio, but it can also recognize more complex controls, such as track volume and controls that allow you to skip songs.
In case of a Bluetooth speaker, when doing the pairing, the speaker is set to the discovery mode and should come up in a list of compatible Bluetooth devices on your phone or other portable device you are using as your music source. The speaker then sends out a signal with a tiny bit of information to alert other nearby devices that it is active. You can then instruct your phone to connect to it, and the two devices form a personal area network.
Now that the two devices are connected, no matter what other signals are on that wavelength, the devices won’t be affected by them. They will always read, detect and send the correct signals. A great thing about Bluetooth is that the signals have a limited range, which prevents conflicting data interrupting communication.
Why Bluetooth is So Great for Wireless Speakers
Due to the low signal range and energy that it uses, Bluetooth has become the main choice for portable devices including portable speakers. Since Bluetooth is included with the majority of smartphones and numerous other products, including it in wireless speakers is a smart way to make sure that new speakers are compatible with media devices that are already available on the market.
Bluetooth VS WiFi Speakers
While both Bluetooth and WiFi speakers are great, they serve different purposes. WiFi speakers are less portable than Bluetooth Speakers as they need to be connected to the local wireless network to work.
Listening to music over a Bluetooth speaker will compress the audio more than it would over a WiFi speaker, but if you have High Definition Bluetooth speaker than you won’t have a quality loss problem.
For those who are looking to purchase a wireless speaker but are struggling to choose between WiFI and Bluetooth, think about this: how portable do you want your speaker to be? If the answer is as portable as possible, Bluetooth should be your choice.
Alternatively, if you are planning to use your speakers at home, WiFi speakers represent a better option.