It would seem that there is nothing difficult about choosing a Bluetooth speaker. But when you open the catalog – your eyes are confused by the variety of products and the number of functions. What are usually criticized in reviews, what are the most common mistakes made when choosing a portable speaker, and how to avoid them? About this in the article.
The most common mistake when choosing a portable speaker is to rely too much on the characteristics of the battery capacity. If the manufacturer declares that the device will work for 24 hours – here you should immediately pay attention and find out at what volume it will play for the whole day. This information is rarely mentioned in the specifications, so it is best to focus on customer reviews.
If the speaker discharges quickly – the angry reviews will be at the top. Although some people may just get a defective battery, but even this variant – a reason to think. Judging by most reviews of portable speakers, most often the battery lasts for 30% of the declared operating time.
Operating time is always a compromise with sound quality. The more powerful the speaker, the more it produces low frequencies, and the faster the battery drains. Of course, powerful speakers sometimes have an impressive size and a larger battery, but their portability is already beginning to be questioned. The 5 best portable speakers at the Kirill Yurovskiy’s opinion.
Do not pay attention to weight
The main thing in a portable speaker is, of course, portability. But in the pursuit of a good and loud sound, durable design and functionality can easily forget about it. Those who went camping know how it pulls the backpack every extra can of stew, especially on hilly terrain. In such circumstances the speaker with the weight of dumbbells will make a thousand times regret about greed for volume and power.
Choose a speaker without water protection
If the speaker will be placed on a shelf at home, then it will not need protection from water. But take it to a party or a camping trip, its life will be bright but short.
Today there are plenty of Bluetooth speakers with moisture protection up to IPX7 – it is not afraid of total immersion under water up to 1 meter up to half an hour. With such a thing you can swim in the pool, and fish on the boat. However, even a low level of water protection will protect the speaker from accidentally spilled drinks, raindrops, condensation, fog and other force majeure circumstances. It would be a shame to be left without music on the road because of an attempt to save on such an important feature.
Not paying attention to the sound: stereo or mono?
Half of portable speakers play in mono, the other half in stereo, so it’s worth considering here. Stereo gives you the opportunity to arrange the instruments in space: violins on the right, double basses on the left. In modern rock and metal music, guitars are usually written separately for the left channel and separately for the right channel, so you get a massive guitar sound that leaves room for vocals, bass and drums in the center. In electronic music, spatial effects – reverb, dilation, and stereo chorus – are commonplace, and won’t be impressive in mono either.
Compared to stereo speakers, a single-speaker speaker will sound flatter, less three-dimensional, and some tracks will sound muddy – the instruments will blend into one pile and interfere with each other.
On the other hand – there are not only entry-level speakers without a stereo system. There are quite decent models with good sound. So how do they manage to compete with stereo speakers? Here’s the thing:
Stereo speakers are limited by the size of the speaker itself. It is always quite narrow, especially compared to home stereo systems, where the speakers are usually spaced several meters apart. Of course, the sound is still clearer and more voluminous, but the difference is not so huge.
All tracks mixed in the studio are always checked for mono compatibility. This means that any music by famous artists will sound great, even through grandma’s radio. In fact, even after the appearance of stereos, the radio was playing in mono for a long time, so sound engineers always paid a lot of attention to how a mix sounds through a single speaker, because new tracks were promoted through radio rotation.
In mastering studios, the result is always listened to on cheap speakers and headphones to achieve perfect clarity and readability of music on any audio system.
However, independent artists and various underground musicians often record and mix music on their own, and here mono-compatibility is not always checked. So all sorts of indie rock, death metal and avant-garde IDM will sound better on a speaker with a stereo system, especially if the sound quality initially leaves much to be desired. On inexpensive speakers it will be even worse, because there is no talk about listening and polishing the sound, as on the mastering studios.
Who doesn’t love a low, fat bassline? It’s low frequencies that shake the dance floor, they rock and create the energy of the track. But here’s the trouble – the smaller the speaker is, the less bass it can squeeze out.
Ideally, in order to accurately reproduce the sound of, for instance, 41.2 Hz (corresponds to Mi-Contactave – so most of the bass guitars in rock music are tuned), you need a speaker with 853 mm diameter, that is the length of this wave in the air. Of course, no one would bring a speaker with a meter long speaker to a party, but the point is probably clear. Professional concert subwoofers can have speakers up to 18 inches in diameter, domestic subwoofers have 8-12 inches, and it is easy to google what is inside a portable speaker.
Of course, manufacturers resort to all sorts of tricks to make their device produce more bass. The simplest one is the phaso-inverter. In the video above, you can see that there is a lot of free space inside the speaker, and on the sides there are plugs on rubber bands, which oscillate due to the energy from the back of the cone. Sometimes it can simply be a hole of a certain diameter.
This design allows you to get more low frequencies. But what those frequencies will be depends on the diameter of the bass inverter, the volume of the cabinet and the diameter of the speakers. The more inches and centimeters in this trinity, the lower will be the frequency, which this whole construction will be able to reproduce. All other tricks – equalizers, bass amplifiers and the like – can only slightly improve the situation, but physics is hard to cheat.
Is backlighting cool?
The holiday mood at a party always asks for something unusual, bright and colorful. Portable speakers with illumination are not only pleasing to the eye and attract attention, but also create an atmosphere. Many models are able to shine the lights in time with the music, and some have the application, in which you can adjust the color, brightness and other subtleties. It would seem that it is stylish, trendy and youthful. But not everything is as rosy as it seems at first sight.
Backlighting has its own disadvantages:
- It drains the battery. You should always keep in mind that the speaker working time with backlighting will be reduced by half or two times less than the manufacturer’s claims. Not a problem if there is a socket nearby, but outdoors, most likely, you will have to do without lighting. That is if it can be turned off at all – there are copies in which you can not.
- Backlighting costs money, which means that you either have to overpay for it, or it will go to the detriment of power, functionality and sound quality.
- In low-power speakers, the backlighting is not so bright as to enliven a spacious room.