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Wi-Fi vs. Bluetooth for Wireless Music Streaming

By Audio Visual Revolution P/L 20 March 2017 87 Views
Wi-Fi vs. Bluetooth for Wireless Music Streaming

Bluetooth wireless streaming

Bluetooth streamers are incredibly popular and have long been the standard for wireless music streaming based purely on the fact that Bluetooth is present in so many devices, including most smartphones, laptops and tablets. However, as Bluetooth streaming has been available for some time, you may find that sound quality may be compromised as there are plenty of devices that use older Bluetooth technologies, so knowing which Bluetooth technology to invest in is quite important. If you wish to achieve CD quality sound, then you will want to choose a device that offer “apt-X” technology.

The good:

  • Bluetooth is available across almost all modern devices.
  • It’s generally very easy and quick to pair new devices.
  • The transmitter typically needs to be within sight of the receiver.
  • Most modern Bluetooth hardware can provide excellent sound quality.
  • Bluetooth can provide a range of about 9-10 metres, making it ideal for single rooms and smaller homes.

The bad:

  • Walls and other objects can decrease the range, as can devices such as cordless phones or microwave ovens.
  • There’s a risk that different wireless systems may be incompatible in their data formatting.
  • Walls and other objects can decrease the range, as can devices such as cordless phones or microwave ovens.
  • Setup of Wi-Fi systems can sometimes be trickier than with Bluetooth and require a security password. A WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) feature will enable a connection without a password.
  • Some Bluetooth technology may not be equipped for the transmission of stereo audio: Look for A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile) for hardware that can stream in stereo.
  • In order to stream stereo audio, Bluetooth devices use data compression, which can affect sound quality.

The solution:

Wharfedale produce extremely high quality Bluetooth streamers, as do Quad and Audiolab. The QED uPlay Plus is a cost-effective BlueCore 5TM solution that easily connects to your devices with good sound fidelity. All of the above devices offer apt-X technology for CD quality streaming.

Wi-Fi wireless streaming

As with Bluetooth, most smartphones, laptops and tablets will have a Wi-Fi option. While sound quality is excellent with Wi-Fi streamers, there can be some setup hiccups.

The good:

  • Wi-Fi devices have a greater range than Bluetooth alternatives (up to 35 metres inside a home), making them more effective for larger homes. A Wi-Fi bridge can also be used to extend this range.
  • Wi-Fi streaming uses a lossless codec thanks to its wider bandwidth, meaning no degradation of audio quality. What your wireless device sends out is exactly what your receiver picks up.
  • You can set up multiple audio zones throughout your home, sending different audio to different speakers or listening at different volumes depending on the room you’re in.

The bad:

The solution:

Look for Wi-Fi streamers that are compatible with your choice of brands and devices. The QED uPlay Stream is compatible with super quality files up to 24bit/96kHz files and lets you create up to 8 separate streams across different zones.

At the end of the day Bluetooth streaming offers convenience, while Wi-Fi streaming offers more flexibility. The right option for you will ultimately depend on your home, your audio objectives and your personal choices – and remember that some devices actually offer both options! As always, we’d recommend speaking to an audio specialist before making your final decision.