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4 Reasons you need a Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker

Normally a speaker being waterproof only matters if its mounted outside for one or more seasons, and is exposed directly to rain or snow. Since the majority of Bluetooth speakers are of the portable type, why would they need to be waterproof?

(Shown on left, UE Roll 360. Not only is is waterproof, it has 360 degree sound and decent bass)

When to consider a waterproof Bluetooth speaker?

  1. The bathroom. Portable Bluetooth speakers can often end up in the bathroom for the morning preparations, shower, teeth brushing and so forth. The obvious problem here is that even if the speaker in not in direct contact with water it will be exposed to a daily dose of very high humidity, unless you always take a cold shower. (too bad for you). Another serious challenge is that these things sometimes "dance". Even my small Jambox has a tendency to move when music is played beyond a certain volume. So working it's way from a shelf to the toilet is well, certainly possible. 
  2. Poolside. OK, this is another obvious one. Even if you're not having a rowdy party the accidental Opps can happen and you find your speaker at the bottom of the pool. 
  3. The Kitchen. Similar problem to the bathroom though somewhat less dangerous. 
  4. The Beach. Though we'd highly recommend you do not take any speaker, waterproof or not near or in the ocean, saltwater is highly corrosive, bumps, spills and other mishaps around that much water certainly increase with proximity. 
So now that we've covered why you might want a waterproof Bluetooth speaker, what should you look for when buying on?

What to look for in a waterproof speaker

Gaskets and poly cones of course are the first level of necessity. If you want true waterproof only consider speakers with Beyond that consider where it will be used. If it's in the bathroom does it have a way to hang it in the shower? Near the pool does it have Omni directional sound? (the sound goes in all directions) Does it have a material that will repel water or simply dry quickly. These are some of the things to consider. 

Waterproof does NOT mean you can leave it in the water! Not only is this a bad idea, unless the speaker is designed to do this but it will usually sound terrible. Consider splashproof speakers as well. These are designed to resist damage due to an occasional "dunk"

Here are some of our favorites.

Best Wireless Bluetooth Speakers

For those of you paying attention, yes, I do realize that by their nature, all Bluetooth speaker are wireless. But I'll bet there are many who don't realize that not all wireless speakers are Bluetooth. 

Scroll down to see the list of Best Wireless Bluetooth as well as multi-room speakers.

What is the difference between Bluetooth speakers and Wireless speakers?

As noted, all Bluetooth speakers are wireless and have specific characteristics.

  1. They have a general range of about 30 feet, or less
  2. Are generally smallish though there are some bigger Bluetooth speaker 
  3. Compress the signal causing degradation in sound quality. 
  4. Usually offer greater portability via batteries that can last up to 20 hours in some cases.
Wireless speakers come in a variety of types. Some use older 2.4Mhz technology which is glitchy and often is interfered with while other technology. Other technology like WiSA, offer devices for any powered speaker to operate in the relatively unused 5.2 to 5.8 GHz UNII radio frequency spectrum. Some like Sonos use Mesh technology over WiFi to deliver sound over an even greater distance. We'll be writing about these different technologies later in the near future so sign up for our news letter (upper right of our page) to receive it in your inbox. 

Advantages and disadvantages of radio and WiFi Wireless speakers. 

Radio signals can more easily go through walls that Bluetooth but since they are not usually paired to a device like Bluetooth they are susceptible to interference from other items in your home or neighborhood. Mesh networks like Sonos and others are excellent choices for multi-room music systems and offer greater distance as long as each device in the network is a reasonable distance from one another. 

More to come on these technologies in the coming weeks with plenty of time for your holiday shopping. For now here are our pics for both Bluetooth, Wireless and Mesh Network speakers.

Our Choices for each wireless speaker category

Bluetooth Speakers The Bose Mini is the best sounding but beats its sister product, the Bose color, it has less bass, only by a small margin. the two JBL's also sound great and the Clip is an exceptional buy and extremely portable.   Mesh Network Wireless Speakers Sonos is the king of multi-room wireless music but LG may be hot on their heels. 5.8 GHz Wireless Technology is a mix of products that let you use your own speakers to create a wireless network of speakers. Best suited for a home theater setup. For multi-room setups you're better off with a Mesh network solution.

2 Reasons Audiophiles Will Want the New Google Chromecast

What is the Google Chromecast Audio?

Chromecast Audio is a new Chromecast device from Google that allows you to send audio from the internet directly into either an amplifier or a set of powered speakers. The Chromecast itself is not sending the audio signal, it's simply directing the signal from the internet to go to the device which then feeds it to your amp or powered speakers. Since we've been streaming audio to speakers now for years, why is this an improvement over our current method?

Reason 1 - Why is Chromecast Audio Better Than Bluetooth?

First, the signal is coming directly from the Internet giving you the best audio signal your music service provides. Bluetooth compresses the signal to before sending it to a speaker, This further degrades the music beyond what the streaming music service may, or may not have already compressed it. Chromecast also offers the ability to send the signal via a supplied cable, RCA plugs, or an Optical cable. The optical cable should give you the best sound but all will be better than Bluetooth.
Your phone or tablet using a Chrome enabled app sends a signal to the Chromecast Audio to go to the internet and start playing whatever the phone is asking for. The signal comes from the internet to the Chromecast directly. The chromecast send the signal to the receiver/powered speaker via a cable.

This means you'll get better sound. Even if the newer bluetooth specs are doing a better job with audio, they are, they are still adding another point of transmission Chromecast skips.

Reason 2 - Choose Your Own Speakers

Possibly the biggest benefit to the new Chromecast is that it gives you the freedom to choose from a larger pool of seriously better speakers than your average Bluetooth speaker

Now you can choose to either 
  1. Hook it up directly to your home audio system
  2. Use a pair of bookshelf speakers you have lying around with an external amp
  3. Use a pair of powered speakers
And, you can now more easily hook up a subwoofer which is almost impossible with a traditional bluetooth setup. 

Why Powered Speakers are a Good Choice

An advantage of powered speaker is that the manufacturer is pairing an amp directly with the speaker. In theory, if done correctly, this should give you better sound quality than simply pairing any amp with a random set of speakers. Again, this is not a hard and fast rule, but should hold true for good quality powered speakers.

Here are some really nice powered bookshelf speakers you could use with your new Chromecast. 

If you already have a pair of speakers and want to get a small amp to work with them, click here for some options.

Though other TV based streaming sticks and pucks do offer streaming audio, Chromecast offers the ability to bypass your TV screen and control it directly from your mobile device. 

Other resources

Bluetooth audio is getting better

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Speaker in a Smart Light Bulb

Is this a speaker in a light or a light around a speaker? Either way for a 60 watt smart bulb it better be a darn good sounding speaker for $129 now and $199 after launch. For ONE bulb/speaker?

The idea has been around for a while but this group claims the same audio technology as BOSE and Bang & Olufsen. Not sure what that actually means though.

The self adjusting light is great and kudos for these guys to finally figure out how to get consumers to purchase new speakers every 15 years (when the light burns out) but this really needs to be close to $99 or less to be attractive to the general market. Also with support only for AirPlay... missing a bunch of market opportunity. 

Want to find out more? Visit their site

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