How to Pick Out Good Wireless Speakers

by David Lipscomb

Wireless speakers untether your sound from speaker wires, giving you flexible placement options. The hallmarks of good wireless speakers include sound quality, wireless range and other options like weather resistance. Choosing wireless speakers with good performance and longevity ensures that you'll be happy with your investment years down the road.

Sound Quality

Any speaker you choose must sound good, first above all other considerations. Many wireless speakers are designed to function as surround-sound speakers or stereo speakers in a second room or zone. Listen for solid bass without a hollow or "boomy" sound. High frequencies should be clean and crisp without a harsh tone. Vocals must be intelligible, especially if you listen to the radio or podcasts with any frequency. Bring audio material you are familiar with on an iPod or CD so you know what to listen for.

Power

Wireless speakers rely on their own amplification, so power handling is generally not a significant factor, as the amplifiers are matched to the speakers. However, power output and overall speaker size are indicators of how well the audio will fill your space. This is significant in determining how many speakers you will require as well as suitable mounting locations. Larger rooms with soft furnishings and carpeting require more power than rooms with multiple hard surfaces.

Weather Resistance

If you want sound on a deck or patio but it's not practical to run wires to these locations, wireless speakers might be your only choice. Check the weather-resistance ratings of the speakers you are considering. Companies that make weather-resistant speakers often subject their products to extensive salt-water testing. This testing places the speakers under more stress than the average household installation and ensures years of performance. Some speakers have extra protection in the form of screens over vents and ports to prevent infiltration by insects.

Range

Check the specifications of the wireless speakers you are considering and compare against the installation environment. If you will be transmitting wireless signals through plaster and lathe walls or concrete, performance will suffer. Appliances such as water heaters and microwaves also interfere with radio frequencies. A home with multiple wireless devices, such as baby monitors and wireless Internet routers, may cause intermittent performance from your speakers. Certain products offer adaptive technology that "hops" around competing wireless frequencies for constant, solid performance. Look for speakers offering at least 50 feet of range, keeping in mind that a wall or other obstruction in the signal path can block signal to varying degrees.

Not Completely Wireless

Every "wireless" speaker system involves some wiring, at the very least leading from the receiver or amplifier to the sending hardware. Many also require speaker wire from a receiving box to the actual speaker. The sending and receiving hardware on some systems requires the presence of an AC outlet near the point of installation. The exception to this is where the speakers run on rechargeable batteries and only need power for the sending component mounted near your receiver. Consider these issues when comparing speaker packages for your particular space.

About the Author

David Lipscomb is a professional writer and public relations practitioner. Lipscomb brings more than a decade of experience in the consumer electronics and advertising industries. Lipscomb holds a degree in public relations from Webster University.

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