For about six months now, I've been using two wireless speakers with Wi-Fi support, so today I want to share my thoughts on whether there is any sense in speakers with such a wireless module.
By the way, the idea to buy a speaker with Wi-Fi came to me at the moment when I set myself a budget of 10 thousand rubles to buy a home audio device. His job was to let me listen to music and podcasts anywhere in the apartment without being tied to a power outlet. Why, then, would I need Wi-Fi? To be honest, I didn't know myself, I just thought that Wi-Fi is cooler and more functional Bluetooth, besides, two wireless modules are better than one. Thanks to Twitter, my choice fell on the gadgets of the Chinese company GGMM – one of the few who produces speakers with Wi-Fi and AirPlay and at the same time does not raise the price to the skies. The GGMM E5 model cost me about 7 thousand rubles, which I considered quite an acceptable price for a functional audio device, and for delivery I bought a compact GGMM E2 speaker at the price of a JBL Go.
However, now let's get to the main point, does such a device need Wi-Fi? Here are 8 of my observations in this regard.
Sound. In theory, one of the main tasks of Wi-Fi in a wireless speaker should be better sound reproduction, since compared to Bluetooth this technology has a much higher data transfer rate. Да, если говорить про дорогие устройства вроде Sonos, B&O и Marshall, то вполне вероятно, что разницу в звуке вы заметите. But with the GGMM E5 and even more so the E2, the difference is not felt. I think this will be true for any other speakers without Hi-Fi claims.
Delay. If you can listen to audio on such a speaker via Wi-Fi without any problems, then it is absolutely impossible to watch a video by transmitting sound via AirPlay, since the audio delay, according to my subjective impressions, is in the region of a whole second. Unfortunately, I had no experience using HomePod and other expensive speakers, so write in the comments if this claim is not relevant for them.
Switch-on time. I recently noticed that even for listening to music, I began to almost constantly use Bluetooth. And all because in this mode the column turns on in a few seconds, and in the Wi-Fi connection mode it takes at least 40 seconds to fully turn on. The fact is that in order to start Wi-Fi capabilities, the column needs to launch its internal Linux -like OS so that the device can connect to the home network and launch all the necessary components for network operation. In the Bluetooth mode, such measures are not required, so the column starts almost instantly.
Content transfer technologies. If you use a Wi-Fi speaker with AirPlay support in conjunction with Apple – devices, then no problems arise. The device is turned on and connected to the home network in the sound sources at the system level – you just select it, and the sound from any application starts to go to the speaker.
There are no such technologies out of the box in Android, so you will have to use third-party applications that allow you to transfer audio content using the DLNA protocol. However, streaming tracks from Google Music and any other streaming service won't work that way. The only more or less working option is to connect the speaker to your Spotify account so that it works as a standalone music device. But given that this service is not yet available in Russia, then the meaning of a Wi-Fi speaker for Android – a smartphone tends to zero. Too complicated and, in fact, not necessary.
Autonomous work without a smartphone. In the last paragraph, we touched on the work of the speaker in offline mode, that is, playing music not from a smartphone, but directly from the Internet. Unfortunately, GGMM devices only support Spotify in this form. But if we talk about Wi-Fi speakers in general, then there is no universality in the approach of manufacturers. Some models work with Spotify, since the service openly provides manufacturers with the appropriate tools, while other speakers like Yandex Stations and HomePod work only with native streaming services. If you decide to buy a Wi-Fi speaker and want it to play music without a smartphone, then be sure to study this moment.
Voice assistants. Wireless audio devices with Wi-Fi are often called 'smart' speakers, as they almost always have support for some kind of voice assistants. GGMM supports Alexa, Yandex Station supports Alice, and HomePod supports Siri. But personally, I do not need such an opportunity, since I do not use robotic assistants in principle.
Battery operation. Wi-Fi is quite energy efficient. And if in the case of stationary speakers this is irrelevant due to the lack of batteries, then for portable GGMM speakers the difference is significant. In the mode Bluetooth without an outlet, they work up to 15 hours, and with a Wi-Fi connection – 3 times less.
Multiroom. In my opinion, multi-room is the main advantage of Wi-Fi-enabled speakers, since you can play music on multiple devices at once, adjusting the volume on each separately. So, for example, you can use two GGMM speakers in stereo by dividing left and right channels for each speaker. Or two or more speakers can reproduce the same thing at different volumes, being in different rooms. However, not everyone will find this opportunity useful. For example, I played with multiroom only a couple of times, and the rest of the time I use them separately from each other.
So is Wi-Fi necessary in a wireless speaker? It all depends on what opportunities you plan to use. If you use the speaker solely for transmitting sound from a smartphone, then there is no point in network capabilities – Bluetooth is more than enough. But if you are interested in talking with voice assistants, playing music directly from the network without using a smartphone and using several devices at once in different rooms in multi-room mode, then Wi-Fi will come in handy for this.
What do you think about this?