After looking at almost every option around, I decided to use the Logitech UE Mini Boom to play music around my house and outside. It’s compact, has a long battery life, works as a speakerphone and delivers exceptional sound for under $100.
Why a Bluetooth Portable Speaker?
If you’re going to be sharing your music on the go…you’ll want something that sounds better than your phone’s screechy speakerphone.
If you’re going to be sharing your music on the go with other people, you’ll want something that sounds better than your phone’s screechy speakerphone. The dock-based speaker is dead, especially since Apple replaced the 30-pin with the Lightning connection on the iPhone 5. Wired speakers are also becoming harder to find. Basically, wireless is your only option. But devices that use Sonos or Airplay are prohibitively expensive for most people whereas Bluetooth comes baked into virtually every modern tablet, phone, and computer. Unlike other wireless standards, Bluetooth is not platform-specific. It’s also easy to pair and is a hard connection to inadvertently break. Basically, it’s everything you need from a wireless streaming protocol. Unfortunately, it may lack some of the features you want.
Sound quality is Bluetooth’s Achilles’ heel. Make no mistake, you will lose some of the fidelity that would otherwise be preserved if you connected via AirPlay or a 3.5mm headphone jack. But that probably won’t matter in most cases for a couple of reasons. First of which is the speaker itself. A portable speaker needs to be, well, portable. Otherwise what’s the point? However, size matters when it comes to sound. You’re simply not going to be able to get as much bass out of a 1-inch driver as you would from an 8-inch sub–or even a 3 inch driver for that matter. So even in the best case scenario, you’re going to lose a chunk of sound quality. The second reason has to do with the source material. Streaming services are quickly becoming the preferred method of listening to music but truth be told, often times their quality can’t even match what you buy on iTunes, let alone CDs or vinyl. For example, you won’t notice any drop in quality if you’re listening to music using Spotify’s “Normal” and recommended streaming rate of 96 kbit/s. It’s also worth noting that some new music is deliberately mixed to be cruddy so it’ll sound acceptable on cheap headphones. The third reason is that your phone belongs on your person, not on a tabletop with a speaker on it, too far to check your messages.
Basically, lossy songs played through small speakers can only sound so good, and you’ll hit the limitations of the source and speaker well before you notice the drawbacks of Bluetooth.