Wireless vs Wired Speakers – Which Type Should You Choose?

In this post, we thoroughly compare every aspect of wireless and wired speakers, from the ease of installation and the quality of sound to the price tag.
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Last updatedLast updated: May 04, 2021
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There are always two types of speakers generally. Whether we’re talking about portable speakers, PC speakers, home theater or surround systems, speakers come wired or wireless. Usually, the wired ones are the bigger types. Size apart, wired speakers, according to experts, produce the highest-fidelity sound than speakers with wireless connectivity.  Wired speakers see lower interference and therefore produce better sound. But wireless speakers are more expensive.

You may then be wondering why wireless speakers exist then and why many prefer them even though they produce lower quality music than others. Well, the main advantages of wireless models are their decorative value, portability, their autonomous operation even without electricity, and their high-tech features.

In this wireless vs wired speaker comparison article, we will see other ways both types differ from each other as well as their advantages and disadvantages. We will also offer some installation and placement tips for the most common types of speakers.

Wired speakers: What you should know about them

Wireless vs Wired Speakers – Which Type Should You Choose?

Many discerning audiophiles prefer a speaker with a wired connection. This is because it allows the reproduction of a more faithful sound. The sound of your TV can be enhanced with a wired speaker. It can increase the volume of your TV by 4 to 10 times. But it just doesn’t depend on the volume. The speakers are of high quality and thus offer you a richer and cleaner sound.

A wired speaker with an external subwoofer delivers a fuller and more room-filling bass and thus has more oomph. And since the bass is distributed throughout the room, you can place the device anywhere. So it’s perfect if you want to hide the subwoofer and its cables behind your television.

Also, you skip the pairing steps. Just plug everything in and play.

Moreover, most of the time, wired models are cheaper. What could hold you back is the bulkiness and the too-short length of the wires. This can get in the way for some who want a neat workspace. And if the cables are too long, they become a problem.

For easy, intuitive operation, you can look for a wired speaker with Bluetooth or NFC function. This allows you to play the music from your smartphone directly through the speaker.

Edifier remains one of the most popular names in the industry. Their Edifier R1280T 2.0 Stereo Active Speakers are some of the best models on the market if you’re looking for powered bookshelf speakers.

How they work

Wired speakers have their amplifiers built into the speaker, so they don’t need another receiver/amplifier to output the sound.

All you have to do is plug them into the nearest power outlet, turn on the system and you are ready to go! To be able to connect your new soundbar to the TV without any problems, you should check whether you need an HDMI cable or an optical cable.

Connecting external wired speakers to a TV can be done with audio, digital, or digital coaxial cable. You must connect each end of the cable to the corresponding sockets on both devices. After plugging in, turn on the TV. Remember to set the sound of the TV. Then turn on the speakers (if necessary).

To power a loudspeaker, you have various options: alternating current via an AC outlet or connection to the source device.

For this reason, they are especially great for those who are just looking to dip their feet into a great sound experience without having to know all the nuances to establish an ideal sound system.

They’re also excellent for budding vinyl collectors, who need the full and rich sound of their records but aren’t quite prepared to cover all the whistles and bells.

Wireless vs Wired Speakers – Which Type Should You Choose?

Advantages and downsides of wired speakers

You are probably already able to guess some of the benefits without having to look too hard. The most obvious is without a doubt the fact that you don’t have to move it from one place to another. There is also no need to recharge batteries to make them work like the wireless types have.

The wired speakers do the same function of sound amplification just as the wireless speaker types. But the wired ones have more advantages than the wireless speakers.

They are also less vulnerable to interference than wireless speakers. This is particularly evident when you are using Bluetooth. It can become a problem when you have a lot of metal or a large space. Different Bluetooth standards also have different ranges which may influence your choice.

The wired system is ideal if you want to have more than one speaker. You can thus have a stereo sound that encompasses much more of the space you are in and avoids having to increase the volume. Your guests (and neighbors) will thank you.

When your wired sound system is up and running, you don’t have to do anything except connect to it and enjoy it. They’re generally much better protected from the elements than small speakers, and you don’t have to worry about leaving them outside.

But all is not perfect either. It is of course much more complex to install since you will have to run wires all over your living room or wherever you wish to install them. For people who don’t like cables appearing all over the place, that’s when it can become a real headache.

Their biggest advantage is also their biggest disadvantage since you will only be able to use your wired speakers when you are at home.

The cables are sometimes long, bulky, and require special passages in the walls or through conduits. It would be inelegant and dangerous to leave cables scattered around the room between one speaker and another or between them and the television.

Summarized below are the main advantages and disadvantages of a wired speaker.

Pros

  • Today, most wired speakers have wireless connectivity
  • Better sound fidelity
  • Not as expensive as wireless models

Cons

  • Not portable or suitable for on-the-go use
  • Many don’t have wireless connectivity, WiFi especially
  • Installation may be complex

Wireless speakers: What you should know about them

Wireless vs Wired Speakers – Which Type Should You Choose?

Technology has made great strides and over time has significantly reduced the quality gap between wired and wireless speakers.

There are wireless products that come very close to systems with physical connections. And to find the differences, sometimes just a close ear is not enough.

The biggest benefit of wireless speakers, above all, is more flexibility. In contrast to wired systems, you can just put these speakers anywhere and don’t have to worry about whether the cables are long enough.

Wireless loudspeakers are used in 5.1 or 7.1 systems as well as in normal stereo systems or multi-room systems. Wireless only means that there is no cable between the central control unit and the box. So there is at least one power cable that has to be connected to the nearest socket.

Four of the technologies for wireless signal transmission have established themselves in the loudspeaker sector. There are WiFi speakers and Bluetooth speakers, and then there are Apple Airplay speakers. Ultimately, they can all be used wirelessly but the former two are the most popular.

The differences in fidelity increase as the product rises in level. In the high range, the gap is perceived more, while with cheaper and medium-low level products, you will often not notice the acoustic differences, as long as you choose a good product without wires.

Despite the benefits that wired models offer, when it comes to listening to and amplifying music, many consumers are turning to wireless audio systems. Why? Usually, this is because of the convenience and immediacy.

With a wireless audio system, you get into the house or the car and can listen to streaming music directly from your smartphone. You no longer have to handle physical media (CDs, vinyls, cassettes) and you still have control over what is playing at your fingertips.

How they work

Wireless speakers need a transmitter Trusted Source The Truth About Wireless Speakers for Home Theaters Home theater systems with wireless speakers might be attractive as a way to get rid of unsightly wires, but they might not be as wireless as you think. www.lifewire.com to work. Here, you have the choice between Bluetooth and WLAN for radio connectivity. Both types of connections send the audio data to the speakers, but they are different from each other.

With Bluetooth, the sending device, such as a smartphone, transmits the information directly to the loudspeaker. To do this, you have to connect the mobile phone via Bluetooth: Search for the box with the transmitter via the Bluetooth function and select it. You may need to enter a code. The devices are then connected.

The great advantage of this form of transmission is direct communication. You can use your speaker anywhere – even if there is no router nearby. Bluetooth speakers are usually also suitable for outdoor use, as they’re splash-proof and insensitive to shocks.

When transmitting via WiFi, communication between sender and receiver takes place via an intermediate step: the WiFi router. A smartphone or tablet first sends the audio data to the router, which then forwards the data to the loudspeaker.

This limits the signal radius to the router’s catchment area, but WLAN speakers are usually more unwieldy than Bluetooth boxes and are therefore less suitable for on-the-go. The advantage of this type of transmission, however, is that a WLAN connection is significantly faster than Bluetooth – so more data can be sent without delay. This means that no compression of the files is necessary when playing music, which of course makes for a much better sound.

Advantages and drawbacks of wireless speakers

You usually pair wireless speakers with another device via Bluetooth or WiFi. In the WiFi, this takes place via the network; in the case of Bluetooth, for example, a smartphone and the music box are connected directly. Note the respective ranges. The transfer via WiFi works wherever the network is available; via Bluetooth, the maximum is reached at a distance of around 10 meters.

Probably the most obvious advantage of wireless speakers is that they don’t need any annoying cables. So you can easily arrange several speakers over a large area and don’t have to worry about tangled cables when using it on the go.

The connection of portable devices is also extremely easy thanks to the wireless connection. If you mainly listen to music via a smartphone or tablet, wireless speakers will be easier to use and control than wired ones. Thanks to the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi transmission technologies used, the sound can be sent to the speakers easily and without a cable connection.

But it usually doesn’t work entirely without cables: Because larger wireless speakers are usually active speakers, i.e. speakers with built-in amplifiers, power cables are required for their operation. Only smaller, battery-operated Bluetooth wireless speakers can do without cables and are therefore perfect for mobile use.

Generally, on their biggest downside, the sound transmitted via wireless technology is qualitatively lower than that which runs in the cables.

This is because the Bluetooth connection performs compression of the format often comparing it to an MP3. That is, audio conveyed wirelessly lacks various data that is not lost when the audio is transmitted via cable.

In summary, the pros and cons of wireless speakers are highlighted below:

Pros

  • No annoying cables across the apartment
  • Easy connection to mobile devices
  • Practical mobile use of Bluetooth speakers

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Loss of sound quality
  • Range depends on the thickness of the walls

Wi-Fi vs Bluetooth

Wireless vs Wired Speakers – Which Type Should You Choose?

In the very vast universe of wireless speakers, two types of the connection face each other: on one side, Bluetooth and on the other, WiFi. What is the preferred connection? It depends a lot on your needs and desires.

While Bluetooth has long been the most reliable method of connecting wirelessly to an audio receiver or speakers, traditional Wi-Fi has also become a popular method of transmitting an audio signal in recent years.

But what are the differences between these two methods of transmission? Is one option better than the other? Below, we will tell you the advantages of both so that you can know which of these two technologies you should bet on to fully enjoy your music.

With the plethora of wireless speakers on the market, you are spoiled for choice! While most speakers currently on the market have a Bluetooth connection, WiFi is sometimes offered as an extra (or alone at Sonos for example), which can increase the price. So, is it worth the investment for a model equipped with these two connections or is Bluetooth sufficient?

To answer this question, one must clearly understand the difference between the two and indeed identify the advantages. We help you see more clearly.

Bluetooth, the friend of the smartphone

Bluetooth connectivity offers a proximate wireless connection. It allows the speaker to be paired with a smartphone which is located within a perimeter of approximately 10 meters.

It operates using UHF radio waves on a 2.4 GHz frequency band. The exchange is bidirectional. This explains why it is possible, with certain speakers equipped with a microphone, to make hands-free calls when connected via Bluetooth.

Bluetooth is a local connection, which requires immediate proximity to the speaker to operate.

Features of speakers with Bluetooth connectivity

  • Universal and portable

The standards are shared between all smartphones, tablets, and even some laptops. It is for this reason that this connection is integrated into most Bluetooth speakers found on the market: it can be used by anyone, anytime and anywhere. Bluetooth is widely used on portable speakers that are intended to be transported… like a smartphone! One of the best selling portable wireless speakers is the SoundLink Color II by Bose. It is a portable Bluetooth speaker with a microphone.

  • No internet connection

Also, Bluetooth does not require an Internet connection to work. If you have music tracks downloaded to your smartphone, you can listen to them on your speaker, even without any network available.

The downside is that a Bluetooth speaker necessarily needs to be connected to a mobile terminal to be useful, it is dependent on it.

Features of a WiFi speaker

  • Internet and network connection

Whoever chooses models with WiFi technology must have an Internet connection: it is immutable. This means that a speaker with a WiFi connection will have to be configured on a wireless Internet network to be used.

When connected via WiFi to a network, the wireless speaker becomes a part of this network. It is recognized by all compatible devices that are also connected to it. This means that, in theory, it is possible to play files from a computer, smartphone, or tablet connected to the same WiFi network on the speaker.

While Bluetooth enjoys an average range of 10 meters, that of WiFi can go up to 140 meters, or even beyond if your installation complies with the most recent WiFi N standard.

However, the thickness of the walls, which can reduce the span, must be taken into account. But, in any case, this is much more important than Bluetooth.

  • Wi-Fi and music streaming

In practice, a WiFi speaker is especially useful in two situations: first, if you are subscribed to a music service that allows you to play songs on devices connected via WiFi. This is particularly the case of Spotify Connect, Deezer Premium, Quobuz, or even Google Play Music. For example, you can play music from your computer, located in your office on the first floor, and decide to play it on the connected speaker in the living room, located on the ground floor.

  • Wi-Fi and multi-room

Wireless vs Wired Speakers – Which Type Should You Choose?

Secondly, the WiFi connection of a speaker makes it possible, in the case of a multi-room installation, to synchronize it with another compatible speaker, even if it is not located in the same room.

Brands like Sonos, Bose, Bang & Olufsen, Samsung, LG, Yamaha, and more, offer speaker ranges suitable for multi-room. The objective is to create a synchronized music system at home, to enjoy stereo or more sophisticated sound, to be able to listen to synchronized music from one room to another and to enjoy better sound immersion. Such a method is only possible in WiFi.

  • Voice assistant

WiFi is also essential for the operation of smart speakers equipped with a voice assistant such as Google Assistant or Alexa: the latter necessarily needs the Internet to function.

Audio signal transmission: the differences between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi speakers

Bluetooth works by transmitting data directly between the source and the receiver by radio waves. Playing a song on a Bluetooth speaker, therefore, involves taking the audio file on your mobile device, subjecting it to significant compression, then sending it to your speaker through narrowband.

On the other hand, Wi-Fi systems depend on your home wireless network since they connect to your router to transmit the audio signal from your source to your speakers via a special protocol (AirPlay is a good example of a Wi-Fi protocol).

Is your priority sound quality? Choose a Wi-Fi speaker!

For many audiophiles looking for a wireless speaker for the home, there is one thing that matters above all: the quality of the sound. In this regard, Wi-Fi speakers are ahead of Bluetooth speakers.

Bluetooth transmission compresses audio files (which are often already compressed) a lot due to the narrowness of the bandwidth available. Although Bluetooth has a high definition (HD) version, only certain devices support this new technology.

Wi-Fi has a much wider bandwidth than Bluetooth, which gives it the ability to stream lossless audio streams. This means that all information leaving the audio source is received by the speaker.

This allows the Wi-Fi speakers to play high-resolution files. This is particularly the case for the loudspeakers of Sonos brands and Bluesound who rely on this technology.

Looking for portability? Bluetooth speakers have the advantage!

Wireless vs Wired Speakers – Which Type Should You Choose?

Even though the mode of transmission on portable Bluetooth speakers affects the quality of their sound reproduction, it makes them easier to use in all circumstances.

This is because even though many Wi-Fi speakers are as compact as their Bluetooth counterparts, they need a wireless network to be able to connect to a mobile device.

This means that if you are an outdoor enthusiast and want to listen to music in a place that is not served by a Wi-Fi network, you will have to bet on a Bluetooth speaker.

Want to create a multi-room system? Choose a Wi-Fi system!

Originally, Bluetooth was a point-to-point system, that is, one source at a time, per speaker. For many products, this is still the case.

Some advances have been made, but these generally relate to specific products and involve the use of additional applications.

With Wi-Fi, the number of speakers or sources connected to a network is limited only by the number of available IP addresses. The multi-room wireless Wi-Fi systems can play different songs in different rooms or all play the same music. You can control the volume or music selection from anywhere in your home.

Conclusion: Bluetooth vs Wi-Fi speaker

In short, if you are looking for a portable wireless speaker, Bluetooth is great for you. It allows you to keep close control over the speaker, and it does not consume much battery power. But if you want to use your speaker at home with advanced music services, opting for a speaker with a WiFi connection certainly gives you more possibilities.

On most speakers, Bluetooth is required, and WiFi is a complement, more or less useful according to your needs.

Wired vs wireless speakers: Sound quality comparison

As explained previously, the audio quality in a system equipped with cables is undoubtedly better. Logically, the quality of the cables chosen also counts a lot. But the cables used in speakers ensure the fidelity of the sound is retained.

If you want to have a powerful sound system, we highly recommend that you opt for wired speakers. Wireless has its share of advantages, but we must admit that it is quite rare to have a very powerful wireless system. The few models with good sound quality that you can find on the market are so expensive that you wonder if they are really worth the money.

Wired vs wireless speakers for a home theater system

Wired surround speakers are the best for a home theater system. These types of speakers have an overall better quality sound than the wireless models. Wired speakers are usually very large. They are not just powerful and sophisticated, they will provide aesthetics to your home theater. Also, the non-portable design of wired speakers makes them a good fit for use in fixed locations like the home theater or living room.

Wired vs wireless speakers: Price comparison

The question relating to the price is complex and not easy to deal with as a lot depends on what you intend to buy.

The wireless system can be very expensive since each speaker can undoubtedly bind to another, effectively building an almost infinite network.

Otherwise, a wired audio system in this respect has certain limits and could be cheaper.

A high-level wireless system has a cost that could be higher than one of the same quality equipped with cables. This is because the first includes elements that must make up for shortcomings.

It is therefore difficult to establish with certainty that one is more or less expensive than the other. This is because there are too many variables that come into play and that depend exclusively on the subjectivity of the consumer’s choice.

Where to place speakers

Wireless vs Wired Speakers – Which Type Should You Choose?

The placement of the speakers in the room and the choice of the right listening position are extremely important for high-quality music reproduction.

It is not easy to research the correct placement and setup of loudspeakers: We are talking about correct distances, optimal alignment, and even complicated calculations.

How to place stereo speakers for the best sound

Luckily, setting up a stereo system is still very easy. It consists of only a few components: the sound is generated by two speakers on the left and right.

This sound system is particularly suitable for listening to music. This method is also called the 2.0 system (because there is no subwoofer in the system).

Tip: To get more depth, you can support your system with a subwoofer. This is then referred to as the 2.1 system.

Setup in a stereo triangle: loudspeaker, couch, loudspeaker

To set up your stereo system, we recommend the stereo triangle in this case. How exactly does that work?

First, think about where you would most like to listen to music. For many users, this is the couch.

Then place the speakers so that they form an equilateral triangle with your listening position.

Important: Bookshelf or tower speakers are suitable for this purpose. The smaller shelf speakers are suitable for small to medium-sized rooms, while floor standing speakers provide sufficient sound even in very large living rooms.

Setting up loudspeakers in the stereo system: What do you have to consider?

When setting up a stereo sound system, apart from the setup in the triangle, you should know the following:

  • Separate speakers: If the speakers are too close together, the sounds merge. If they are too far apart, there will be a gap in stereo imaging. Therefore, make sure you set up bookshelf speakers at a distance of approx. 120 cm and even 240 cm for floor standing speakers.
  • Loudspeaker height: It is best to place your loudspeakers so that the tweeters can come at ear level. Incidentally, these are the small drivers on the loudspeaker. These are responsible for the high-frequency area.
  • Wall distance: The distance to the wall behind the loudspeaker should be between 60 and 90 cm. In this way, you minimize sound reflections, which have a negative impact on playback.
  • Speaker angle: Align the speakers so that they point towards the listener.

Home theater systems: setting up the speakers for the television correctly

With a real home cinema system, you can bring the cinema experience straight to your home – but in any case, the sound will not be the same. For the best results, it is important to work with space.

Wireless vs Wired Speakers – Which Type Should You Choose?

Components of a home theater system

Most home theater systems today consist of several components:

  • Loudspeakers left and right: In addition to the reproduction of the music, these also play a large part in the sound effects in movies being watched – for example in dialogues.
  • Center loudspeaker: A center loudspeaker is primarily responsible for the dialogues in the film. Therefore it should be placed correctly (in the middle)!
  • Subwoofer: The bass box is responsible for the low frequencies. Fortunately, these are not directional. That’s why it’s not so easy to tell where the sound is coming from. You can’t go wrong with the placement here.
  • Surround or rear speakers: These small boxes are supposed to create a feeling of ambient sound. They are mainly responsible for the ambient noise.

Surround sound experience: 5.1 sound system

From here on it becomes really fun with the home theater sound. The 5.1 system is the standard set-up for home theater. Almost all DVDs and Blu-rays today offer 5.1 surround sound.

There are a total of 6 speakers: left, right, center, subwoofer, and two surround boxes left and right. Alternatively, soundbars with 5.1 technology are already available today.

Biggest advantage: The sound surrounds you. So you can completely immerse yourself in the film.

How should a 5.1 system be set up?

The speakers on the left and right should be placed at the same distance from the television. The angle is about 22 and 30 degrees.

A center speaker should be below or above the TV and therefore directly in front of your couch. The subwoofer is usually located next to the TV shelf.

The surround speakers should ideally be located either behind you or on the side next to your seating position. Dolby recommends an angle between 90 to 110 degrees. If that is not possible, you should place the speakers right next to the couch. Also, make sure that these are a little higher.

7.1 Sound system – the full feeling of space & first-class sound

The 7.1 system is very similar to the others – but there are two extra boxes. These are located on the back, which is why they are also called rear boxes. The goal is to get even more control over the feeling of space.

Important: Make sure that your AV receiver, which you use to operate all speakers, has sufficient output channels.

The biggest advantage is that the sound experience with the 7.1 system is first class!

A big problem, however, is that many films do not yet offer 7.1 soundtracks. Some receivers have digital audio processing to fill the additional boxes if only 5.1 sound is available – at least that gives the illusion of more sound.

How should a 7.1 system be set up?

With the 7.1 sound system, you should also set up the speakers on the left and right at the same distance. In the best case, the angle is between 22 and 30 degrees.

  • Place the center speaker right in front of you. Preferably above or below the TV.
  • The subwoofer is at most next to the TV shelf. Be careful not to put it in a corner.
  • In this case, you attach surround speakers next to your seating position. Many recommend an angle of 90 to 110 degrees. These boxes should be placed a little higher.
  • The additional rear boxes must be installed behind the listening position at approx. 135 to 150 degrees. To do this, you need a lot of space in your apartment.
Tips: These are just rough guidelines. Depending on the size and shape of the room, it is not always possible to set up the loudspeakers at the right angle.

Basic installation tips

Putting up speakers is not a science, even if many hi-fi enthusiasts claim otherwise. Here are a few points that must be observed in any case:

  • Do not put anything in front of the speakers! That should actually be clear – but again and again, you see pictures that prove something else. Things placed in front of the speaker distort the sound and ruin the listening experience. Frequently encountered here are DVD stand or plants.
  • Note which category the loudspeaker belongs to! Depending on whether the box is a bookshelf, stand or surround loudspeaker, it should be set up differently. Many boxes sound best at ear level.
  • Keep a distance between the wall and the speaker! If a box is too close to the wall, it won’t sound the way it should sound. Maintaining a sufficient distance improves the mids and basses noticeably.
  • Pay attention to the underground! As with turntables and the like, speakers should ideally be placed on a vibration-absorbing surface. This isolates the sounds you want to hear from those you don’t want to hear.
Note: Every room is different. It may be particularly annoying: the acoustics are different in every room! To make matters worse, the living room is often not made to deliver the best audio quality. There are many pieces of furniture, reflective surfaces and other disruptive factors.

Therefore, in many cases, you will only get the best result by trying it out (unless you are an expert). But don’t worry, our tips will make it a little easier.

Getting the best sound from your speakers takes a lot of trial and error. But if you stick to our basics, you’re a big step further.

Final thoughts

Do the wired speakers offer better sound quality? Well, the answer is obvious!

Speakers equipped with cable transmit better sound and the reason is neither subjective nor of any other personal nature, but physical and objective.

The more data is transmitted in a unit of time, the more information is retained and the more faithful the sound is. It is easier to pass more data through a cable rather than through frequency waves. In this second case, more sound losses occur.

So if you are looking for quality, as we’ve emphasized in the wireless vs wired speaker comparison sections, the theory that the wired speaker is the best is 100% valid. But it still depends on your needs. If you need a portable speaker for use away from home, you have to choose a wireless speaker. If you’re choosing a wireless speaker because of its radio connectivity, know that there are now wired models with Bluetooth and even WiFi connectivity.

References

1.
The Truth About Wireless Speakers for Home Theaters
Home theater systems with wireless speakers might be attractive as a way to get rid of unsightly wires, but they might not be as wireless as you think.
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