Today, we listen to music almost all the time from smartphones and other mobile devices, the speakers of which are far from perfect. And it is most pleasant to listen to your favorite tracks in good quality, for which a good loud speaker is of fundamental importance.
Portable speakers are convenient because you can take them with you anywhere, unlike large-sized stereo systems. At home, they can be placed anywhere and used with a smartphone, laptop or smart watch. We will help you choose the most suitable column.
Speaker size and weight
To begin with, it is worth deciding where you plan to listen to music and how large a speaker you need. Thus, you can choose either a stationary speaker for your home, or a miniature one that you can take with you anytime and anywhere.
For example, the Urbanears Baggen speaker system weighs 6.6 kg and is designed for home use, despite the fact that it works without wires.
But the JBL Clip 3 is a typical small portable speaker that weighs 220g and has a loud sound. At the same time, even by the design of the device, it is clear how the speaker is designed to be carried with you: there is a special mount on the case in order to hook the speaker to a bag or sports equipment.
Therefore, before choosing a speaker, you need to understand exactly where and how you are going to listen to music: on the road, at home, on trips or on walks.
Sound quality and volume
There is nothing surprising in the fact that you want to buy not just a column, but a speaker with high-quality sound, without rattling and with a wide range. However, you will not always have the opportunity to check the speaker before buying.
That is why it is worth paying attention to several parameters in the characteristics. There are four main parameters in total: output power, frequency range, acoustic type and impedance. Let’s consider each in order.
Output power is measured in watts and refers to the number of watts a speaker puts out, which in turn exerts pressure, the same one measured in decibels, that creates loudness. Most small speakers cannot produce enough power, hence the volume is lower. A power of 15–20 W will be enough to provide a volume of 80 dB. And this volume is quite enough to listen to music on the street. At the same time, it is better if this is not the maximum power of the speaker, since sound distortion appears at maximum volume.
A good example is the Marshall Stanmore speaker, which has a power of 80W. In turn, this provides a volume of 100 dB. It is suitable for listening to music outside.
But the Xiaomi Mi Portable Roundbox speaker with a volume of 53 dB is more suitable for rooms, since the power is 2W. It is also worth noting the ratio with the dimensions, Marshall weighs about 5 kg, and xiaomi — 58 g.
The frequency range displays the frequencies that the speaker is capable of reproducing. And here it is necessary to pay attention to the fact that the human ear perceives the range from 20 Hz to 20000 Hz. At the same time, with age, the range is reduced, so it is not at all necessary to chase frequencies that we will not hear.
But for high-quality reproduction, which is important, for example, for orchestral compositions, soundtracks and complex multi-instrumental music, range certainly matters. Marshall Woburn is capable of reproducing a range of 35 — 22000 Hz, which, although 15 Hz less than the hearing range, is still the closest to normal sound. That is, with such a column, you will have almost no lost frequencies either at the bottom or at the top.
The acoustic type shows us how many channels the system consists of. Channels are a familiar concept to many, they are what we are talking about when we talk about the 5.1, 2.1 system, etc. In the first case, these are 5 speakers and one subwoofer, in the second case, 2 speakers, etc.
For cheaper models, manufacturers choose mono sound, which of course is inferior in quality to the rest. But still, most mid-range Bluetooth speakers use either stereo or 2.1. These speakers do not replace a full-fledged audio system, but still provide excellent playback quality. Divoom VoomBox — two-channel sound is just used. With a power of 15W and a range of 100–20000Hz, it is able to provide quite loud and surround sound.
The last parameter, of course, is the impedance. It is an analogue of electrical resistance, it refers again to the power of sound. All you need to know about this concept: the higher the resistance, the lower the power. That is, the best sound is usually accompanied by a low impedance.
Battery life and charging speed
Since we are dealing with portable equipment, it is also fundamentally important to know how long the speaker can work without mains power. Most speakers, of course, can play music and charge at the same time, but still, if you take the device with you, then you don’t want to charge it all the time. Batteries vary, and typical battery life is between 5 and 14 hours, depending on the model and wattage of the device. The average duration is 6 hours.
JBL Flip 4 with its compact size and inexpensive cost allows you to listen to music for 12 hours without recharging.
There are more than enough additional functions for various columns. For example, the Dreamwave Genie model is specially equipped with a button for using the voice assistant on a smartphone. At the same time, the presence of a microphone allows you to answer calls and talk to the speaker no matter how far you are from your smartphone.
In principle, almost all modern portable speakers are equipped with a microphone, which allows them to act in some sense as an analogue of a smart speaker. They will be able to recognize commands and allow you to answer and sometimes even make calls.
Some speakers, such as the Soul Storm, are designed for hiking, commuting, and listening to music outdoors. It is for this that the column has a special case with a convenient fastening and a rubberized surface. Thanks to this, it can not only lie on a hard surface, but also be on the water, while not stopping work. So it’s perfect for summer holidays.
The portable speaker Divoom Timebox is equipped with a screen that displays the time and a radio receiver, so it can also be used as a radio alarm clock. In addition, this device has its own base of relaxing melodies, which are designed to help the user fall asleep.
Some speakers are designed both for transportation and to complement the interior. The Nyne Edge speaker has an interesting design — modern and even a little futuristic. Due to its large size, the column is not very suitable for use on walks, but in the house it copes with its tasks perfectly well.
Hull and control
Most compact speakers only have a power button, so all volume and playback order control is done from the playback device. But speakers such as Xiaomi Mi Bluetooth Loudspeaker offer the ability to adjust the sound directly from the speaker.
Marshall speakers provide volume, bass and frequency control, all right on the cabinet.
So in most cases, you still get the opportunity to control the listening process, albeit not completely.
Ultimately, before finally making a choice, pay attention to the list of the most important characteristics for you, depending on them, make a decision.