Today, wireless connectivity has become the standard for audio. Speakers are increasingly compact, sometimes portable and allow you to listen to music in all circumstances at home. The two most popular technologies are Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, but what are the differences? Is there a technology to favor? We explain everything to you in this article.
Appearing in the 1990s, Bluetooth technology has taken an important place in our daily lives. A true social phenomenon, it is today the most widespread wireless system in the world . This broadcast protocol simply allows electronic devices to communicate with each other. Extremely easy to use, you just need to connect your smartphone to your speaker to be able to stream music without a password or complex procedure. It is therefore a method of distribution accessible to everyone , even for the least informed people.
In addition to its ease of use, it is an energy-efficient protocol. It is for this reason that Bluetooth speakers generally have a longer lifespan than Wi-Fi speakers and that they can be powered most of the time by batteries, thus offering great portability and trouble-free use. electrical outlet constraints.
Bluetooth, on the other hand, has its limits . Its biggest constraint is its sound reproduction which is greatly limited. Indeed, the Bluetooth protocol causes sound compression when broadcasting, particularly music, which affects the listening quality of your tracks. Today, it cannot recover the entire sound signal from the source device to your ears. In any case, via the SBC codec which is the most widely used and which is present on every smartphone, PC, or even headphones and speakers. Even if today we see the emergence of more efficient codecs such as aptX, aptx HD, LDAC, or even AAC , you will still experience compression .
Audio file without compression
Audio file with Bluetooth compression
Another limitation of Bluetooth is its range, which is greatly limited . It is rare to be able to broadcast beyond 15 meters, especially in closed and closed spaces such as a house for example. The connection may therefore be interrupted if the devices are too far apart and if elements prevent the proper diffusion of the signal (furniture, walls, etc.)
An additional limitation of Bluetooth is that it monopolizes the smartphone's speaker, restricting the ability to make calls while listening to music. During a call, the music on the speaker is automatically paused to allow voice transmission.
With a growing market, Wi-Fi speakers have also found their place in our homes. Today, it is a more than interesting alternative to Bluetooth speakers, with products that often go further in terms of functionality. This time, the sound passes through the Internet network and not from one device to another . Far from being trivial, this difference allows much more flexibility and offers numerous advantages.
The first big advantage of Wi-Fi broadcasting is its ability to transmit a much higher data rate than Bluetooth. Therefore, you will be able to stream large files without any sound compression . You are then offered high-fidelity streaming with Hi-Res files (24 bits / 192 kHz) and streaming music.
But that's not all. Using Wi-Fi opens the doors to many other proprietary features, such as Spotify Connect, Tidal Connect or even AirPlay2 which allow and facilitate broadcasting between your source and your speaker.
Where Wi-Fi streaming becomes particularly interesting is when you sync multiple connected speakers to the same device. In fact, you can now modulate your listening by obtaining stereo sound when you combine two speakers together. If the idea is to extend your sound experience to multiple rooms, you can even go even further by going multiroom . You can then play the same music or different music in each of your rooms.
You will no longer experience range issues because you can stream your music as long as your Wi-Fi connection is available in a room. You will enjoy your music continuously and without interruption, as long as you stay within the coverage area of your Wi-Fi network.
Unlike Bluetooth, Wi-Fi speakers do not monopolize the smartphone speaker. This will allow you to make calls and watch multimedia content while still playing your music.
Even if these two broadcast technologies serve the same purpose: broadcasting music, they are two completely different approaches. Some will favor Bluetooth for its practicality and its compatibility with many devices, audiophiles and experienced musicians will favor the audio quality of Wi-Fi and its greater freedom. All Octavio products have these two broadcast protocols, our Octavio Stream network player, our Octavio Amp connected amplifier as well as our Octavio Maestro all-in-one speaker.
We will always recommend the use of our products over Wi-Fi, to make the most of their potential.