Which type of speaker—wired or wireless—should you pick?
All the standalone speakers we evaluate today are wireless, which means they can connect wirelessly to your devices like your smartphone. We work out the technicalities if you’re used to connecting your speakers with wires or want to learn more about the best ways to set up your speakers.
The phrase “wireless” speakers can be misleading because it does not imply that the speaker is completely wire-free. Most portable models currently require you to plug in a cable to charge them when their built-in rechargeable batteries are low, and all home wireless speakers will have a wire connecting the speaker to the mains for power.
Additionally, many wireless speakers come with a “line in” or “aux in” connector that enables you to, if you so want, connect your wireless speaker to your audio source via a cable. This is very helpful for connecting older non-wireless gadgets to your new wireless speakers, such as your old record player or CD player.
You won’t need to decide between buying a wired or wireless speaker since if you choose one of these models, it will feature an aux-in, which is typical even in many affordable wireless speakers.
A wireless speaker is merely one that can connect to your devices wirelessly; this does not mean that this is the only method it can do so. Therefore, you have a lot of versions where you may choose whether to connect wirelessly.
The absence of tangled cords and the need to figure out which cable goes in which slot are advantages. By using good wireless speakers and a wireless connection, the sound quality is no longer noticeably diminished.
While setting up a wireless connection is typically easy, mastering the process the first time around is necessary (most speakers will reconnect on their own after that). Wireless connections can drain the battery life of connected portable devices, such as your smartphone.
Which connection should you use to get the best audio quality?
It used to be commonly known that speaker connections that were wired produced better audio. This was due to the fact that sending electrical audio data in big quantities over a cable was far simpler than sending it wirelessly. Higher sound quality is a result of more data, hence high fidelity, or wired “hi-fi” systems, were created.
Wireless technology now essentially matches wired connections in the great majority of use scenarios, unless you’re spending several hundreds of pounds on the highest-end audio systems money can buy (these speakers will be obviously geared towards audiophiles or music industry pros).
Even to trained hearing, any remaining difference has shrunk to the point that it is now very difficult to distinguish it. In Which? Reviews, we test wireless speakers via Wi-Fi wherever possible so that we can rate them on the best quality they can create. This is especially true with Wi-Fi connections, which can carry a significant quantity of electrical audio data.
The most recent Bluetooth standards, such as Bluetooth 5.0 and above, can now also handle a significant amount of data. The gap between wireless connections and cable connections has significantly shrunk as a result of improved wireless speaker design.
Today, even those looking for high-end speakers that are favorable to audiophiles will likely find the sound coming through wireless connections to be satisfactory.