Before you run out and buy the first sexy Bluetooth Speaker you can find; I urge you to read my Bluetooth speakers buyers guide before you dive in. There are quite a few things you should consider before you make your purchase. This is true even if you are price shopping for the lowest cost model you can find. You may find a cheap Bluetooth speaker, but it is worthless if it doesn’t have the features you need for your listening environment. For instance, if you plan on taking your speaker outside and it can’t handle a few drops of rain, you may be throwing your money down the drain.
My Bluetooth Speakers Buyers Guide is a basic checklist of features and options you must consider before you place your order. Do you want stereo sound? Should it be waterproof? What is the battery life? What is the signal range? Does it have a warranty? What colors are available? Here are a few things you should should ask yourself:
What is the Range?
Most of the newer models of Bluetooth Speakers have a range that is more than adequate for the majority of users. Generally, the signal range is 33 feet or more. Some older designs have a much shorter range which could come into play if you place your speaker on the deck while you are working or relaxing in the backyard 50 feet away.
Is it Stereo or Mono?
I can’t believe the term mono is even used anymore. At least not when it comes to listening to music. As far as I am concerned stereo is the only way to go. While most Bluetooth Speakers provide stereo sound, there are a few low-end speakers that are not stereo. So, unless the manufacturers description states “Stereo” move on to the next option. The exception would be the tiny clip-on models used for hiking. In this case I suppose mono is acceptable.
What is the Output Volume?
It was quite a surprise to me to see just how much volume these little speakers can emit. The question would be, is it loud enough for your environment. For instance, a little 3-watt speaker may be okay on your nightstand, but you will never hear it in a noisy setting like a busy beach, outside on a windy day, or riding your bike down a busy city street. It also takes a robust speaker to fill a large room or to overcome the ambient noise of a small house party.
How is the Sound Quality?
I realize that you can’t determine the sound quality without actually hearing the speaker in use, however there are a few tell-tale signs that can keep you on the right track. The old adage “you get what you pay for” certainly applies to sound quality. It is naïve to think that a $20 Bluetooth Speaker will sound as good as a $100 model. If sound quality is high on your priority list, you should consider a high-end brand such as JBL or BOSE.
What is the Battery Life?
If you only use your Bluetooth Speaker in the Shower for 5 minute every morning, the battery life may not be a huge issue. However, if you plan on cycling 40 or 50 miles, or hiking in the woods for the weekend, or simply spending a full day at the beach, you need to take close look at the battery life of the speaker. Some models are only good for a few hours, while others can last for up to 30 hours on a full charge.
Does it have a USB Port?
If you happen to buy one of the larger Bluetooth Speakers, it more than likely has a USB Port which is a handy feature should you need a quick charge of your iPhone or other portable devices. For outdoor use the USB port must have a sealed, weathertight cover.
Does it have Speakerphone Capability?
Speaking of your iPhone, do you receive a lot of phone calls on your cell phone? If so you should select a Bluetooth Speaker that has a built-in mic and speakerphone functionality. This ensures you won’t miss a call while listening to your tunes.
What is the Waterproof Rating?
This may be the most important question in my Bluetooth Speakers Buyers Guide. If you are planning to take your Bluetooth Speaker outdoors or in the shower you need to consider the waterproof rating of the speaker. I have put this handy waterproof rating guide together so you can better understand the specifics of each rating and decipher the nomenclature. The short story is that the higher the number the greater resistance to water the speaker can withstand. For instance, a rating of IPX1 is not waterproof at all and is best left indoors. While a waterproof rating of IPX6 is pretty much waterproof and suitable for the shower or the beach. You can read more about IPX ratings here.
What is the Size and Shape?
For the most part this is simply a matter of preference and personal taste, however there are a few practical considerations. For instance, if you are hiking in the woods you want something small and light. Perhaps the best bet is a clip on model. For cycling you want something that is long and narrow so it can easily be mounted to the cross bar or handle bars.
What About Color & Style?
Of course, this is just a matter of personal preference, but if you are purchasing a Bluetooth Speaker for one of your kids for Christmas, think about the color. I bought one that matches to color of my boat. Many of the smaller models are available in a wide range of colors. Have a peek at the options, you know your kids better than I do!
How Long is the Warranty?
Not all warranties are created equal. A quality product from a reputable manufacturer will generally have a pretty decent warranty. Some of the low-end models may have little or no warranty at all. If a manufacturer won’t stand behind their product, chances are it’s not very durable. Confirm the warranty before making your purchase and don’t forget to fill out the warranty card and mail it in.
When it comes to buying your first Bluetooth Speaker, everyone has individual wants and needs. Hopefully my Bluetooth Speakers Buyers Guide helped you narrow down your search.