Speaker
Last updated: July 1, 2020

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Speakers are complex and versatile products that will satisfy DJ lovers, audiophiles, cinephiles, and gamers alike. If you’re here, we’re ready to bet that you’re looking for the best speakers currently on the market, and we can’t blame you. Whether you want to listen to music, enjoy movies or video games, or deafen passers-by in your car, we’ve got everything you need!

The world of speakers is an incredibly vast one, and it is easy to get lost among the options available to you if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. In the following article, you will learn everything you need to know about these products to make the right purchase. From its different variants to its main features, the speaker will hold no secrets for you.

Key Facts

  • Portable speakers are an excellent option when you’re traveling with friends or relaxing with them in the pool. And don’t worry about damaging them; they’re very affordable and tend to be waterproof with a shock-resistant design.
  • If you want to avoid purchasing a product that’s too bulky or if you simply don’t have space, leave aside excessive home theaters (and opt for soundbars), speakers that require a separate amplifier (and invest in powered speakers), or wired speakers (and prefer Bluetooth options).
  • Search for brands specialized in audio products rather than those dedicated to technology in general. Don’t think that the latter do not offer quality products. However, those who put the emphasis on audio often offer options that are just as good – or better – for a more affordable price.

Our Selection: The Best Speakers on the U.S. Market

The great news is that the world of affordable to mid-high range speakers brims with possibilities, which is why picking the very best products can be a hard task. In our selection below, we have chosen models with distinct characteristics and features so that you can find the type that best suits your needs.

Best Budget-Friendly Speaker

With thousands of positive reviews from past customers, this compact little speaker is a fantastic option if you want to invest in quality without spending big money. This Amazon’s Choice can be connected via Bluetooth and offers a playtime of up to 12 hours, which should be enough for even the wildest parties. The SoundBox wireless speaker is elegant, too, and features easy-to-use touch buttons to manage your music.

Best Smart Speaker

The Echo Dot is Amazon’s very own smart speaker for your home. Not only can it play music and stream from your favorite apps such as Spotify or Apple Music, but it can also manage your smart home in combination with Alexa while allowing to receive your phone calls. Its wireless connectivity and portability make it an ideal speaker to have around your home. The Echo Dot is available in 4 colors.

Best Portable Speaker

You may be familiar with Beats headphones, but the brand’s Pill line of speakers is just as powerful and offers very high quality. Whether you’re heading to the beach or having a picnic with friends, the compact Pill+ packs a punch that you can easily take everywhere with you. The LED lights allow you to see how much of the 12 hours of battery you have left.

Best Bookshelf Speaker

Last but not least, the Edifier R1280T powered speakers will be a fantastic addition to any room in your home, as they provide truly studio-worthy sound quality. Consisting of two speakers – one active and one passive, this set features a vintage look and dials to help you adjust the treble, bass, and volume just the way you like. Delivered with a practical remote control, this product comes with a 2-year warranty.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Speakers

Whether you want the best portable model for your holidays or a powered speaker for your record player, this device is complex and influenced by countless factors. You can find whole articles dedicated to different speaker variants at The Good Estate, which is why we will focus on answering more general questions in the following section.z

young man using speakers

If you want a Bluetooth speaker, make sure it features a quality codec that can reproduce audio in optimal conditions.
(Source: Mark Bowden: 79574219/ 123rf.com)

What are the different uses of a speaker?

If you think you can enjoy Jimi Hendrix solos with a portable speaker, you’re not doing very well. Nor if you’re planning to take bookshelf speakers to the pool – not only because of their size and manageability but also because they tend to be delicate models. This is why each speaker presents specific features. Use your good judgment to make the most of them:

  • Speakers for audiophiles: In reality, any speaker with a high enough quality can fit into this category. However, options such as portable models or mid-low range soundbars rarely do. This is because these speakers are designed to meet other needs. Most audiophile speakers use wired technology, although you can now find high-quality Bluetooth alternatives that are ideal for listening to music.
  • Bluetooth speakers: Speakers with Bluetooth connection can be used in various situations: listening to music, watching movies, or gaming, among others. While the codecs that manage the sound are getting better and better, certain users or professionals continue to see them as inferior to classic wired speakers. Their main advantages are comfort and portability.
  • Portable speakers: Although these speakers are not the best to enjoy the multiple layers of a Beatles album, it doesn’t mean that they are a bad choice. That being said, they do tailor to very specific needs. Are you going to a beach house to spend a week with friends? Portable speakers give you the opportunity to enjoy music at all times. In addition, many of them are now waterproof and specially designed to withstand shocks and other accidents.
  • Powered speakers: Once again, any speaker can fall into this category. However, we have chosen to classify them separately because many people are directly looking for powered speakers. These models feature a built-in amplifier, with their main advantage being comfort – since they consist of two elements instead of three. While they have their naysayers, medium-high range speakers (such as Edifier) have nothing to envy of classic models with a separate amplifier.
  • Gaming speakers: Just about any speaker can also be considered for gaming. Without specifically focusing on this, some of the best models currently sold on the market are excellent options for those looking for a stereo sound while they play their favorite video games. What’s their main feature, you ask? They emit a surround sound that helps you dive right into virtual worlds.
  • Car speakers: There’s little to say about this type specifically designed for your car. They are the ideal investment when your vehicle’s standard speakers simply aren’t enough. This is a very common issue if you’re looking for quality sound since cars are not meant to be nightclubs. If you want to party on the road, consider buying a car speaker!
  • Soundbars and home theater systems: This type of speaker has a very specific function: enhancing your movies and series experience. If you’re something of a dissolute person, you can even use them for video games or even music. Soundbars are the cheaper option but they are also less powerful. Home theater systems, on the other hand, can consist of up to ten speakers. They are ideal if you’re looking for a detail-rich, deep, and surrounding sound!
foco

Did you know that not everyone can hear the first, second, and last octave of the hearing range?

What are woofers exactly?

We’re sure you’ve read the terms woofers and tweeters If you’re looking to purchase the best budget-friendly or high-end speaker on the market. Related to subwoofers – additional speakers designed to play bass in home theater sound systems, the woofer is nothing more than the cone embedded in the speaker to manage low frequencies.

As such, it generally reproduces from 20-40 to over 1,000 hertz. Interestingly enough, the etymology of the word comes from the onomatopoeia for a dog barking (woof). Its antagonist is the tweeter, which focuses on the reproduction of high frequencies. Note that this doesn’t mean that woofers cannot emit this type of frequencies.

What is a tweeter?

As we just mentioned, tweeters are the opposite of woofers. They can be built into the speaker or be standalone elements and dedicate themselves to emitting high frequencies (from 3,000 to 20 000 hertz). From a technical point of view, they are speakers capable of reproducing the last three octaves out of the eleven found on the hearing range.

Oddly enough, only young, healthy ears can fully enjoy this type of component – or at least those that cover the full hearing range mentioned above. We lose our ability to perceive high frequencies as we age, which is why you may not be able to appreciate the last half or the full final octave.

wooden speakers

Speakers with equalization modes let you set up the audio for specific situations – watching a movie or listening to music.
(Source: Coward_lion: 10618726/ 123rf.com)

What is the frequency response of a speaker?

This term refers to the ability of a speaker to reproduce frequencies (bass, mid-range, and treble) and is directly linked to woofers and tweeters. The human ear can generally perceive between 20 Hz and 20 kHz. As we explained earlier, we unfortunately lose some of this capacity over time.

The better your speaker is, the wider its frequency range value will be. Don’t let yourself be fooled by the price: not all cheap speakers have a limited range. On the contrary, certain so-called high-range models aren’t able to reproduce the whole hearing range, so make sure you check before purchasing a speaker.

What are Bluetooth speaker codecs?

As we explained in our article on PC speakers, Bluetooth speakers use a specific system that allows you to encode and decode information before reproducing it as sound. In the world of computers, this is called a codec. Bluetooth codecs originally offered fairly poor performance; however, they have significantly improved in recent times:

  • SBC: Typical of MP3 or AAC formats, it has a high bitrate (320 kbps). Bluetooth speakers that use this type of system are ideal for streaming music, but they must offer high enough quality for this.
  • AAC: Apple iTunes’s codec has a sound usually superior to the SBC, but it can be difficult to find in headphones. This is why this codec is particularly interesting when discussing speakers.
  • aptX: It tends to offer greater efficacy. Various alternatives such as aptX LL and aptX HD are also available. This codec is typical of high-end Bluetooth speakers and headphones. It is ideal for making the most of your favorite songs, but also to improve the sound in video games, series or movies.

Buyer’s Guide

As you can see, the universe of speakers is very broad. We hope that you now have a much better idea of the type of speaker you need. However, there are still some key factors that you should be familiar with in order to pick the right model. We’ve detailed these criteria in the section below:

Purpose

Throughout this article, we have shown you that speakers can be very different from one model to the next. While many speakers will work just fine in various situations, you should try and buy the one that best meets your real needs rather than anticipate potential others. Remember that a $20 portable speaker might not be enough if you’re a progressive rock lover.

If you want to: You should buy:
Enjoy the music to the fullest and with all its details. A medium-high range speaker (Bluetooth or wired).
Put some music with your friends at the pool, beach or on any of your trips. A portable speaker or a standard but manageable Bluetooth model.
Watch movies and series in your living room or bedroom. A home theater system or a quality soundbar.
Enjoy the radio or music while driving. A car speaker compatible with your vehicle.

Connectivity

Connectivity is key, and many options are available when it comes to wired models. While the most commonly found connection is the RCA, it isn’t the only option. For this reason, you should check what kind of inputs the device you want to connect your speaker to offers. Otherwise, you can opt for a Bluetooth model as long as it is compatible with your device.

Wood speakers

Portable speakers are ideal for trips with friends or evenings in the pool thanks to their manageability and waterproofness.
(Source: Izmargad: 20731528/ 123rf.com)

Brand

When it comes to speakers, the manufacturer matters. This doesn’t mean that you should only purchase from prestigious companies like Sony or LG, as you may find yourself paying for the brand more than for the product itself. While these manufacturers offer options of exceptional quality, other lesser-known companies are experts in the field – like Edifier or Pioneer.

Equalizer Modes

These different modes are extremely important if you want to configure your speakers for specific situations. You can even adapt the audio and its quality to your liking – not all discs are recorded the same way. We’re sure that you will find this option very useful for your speakers.

Summary

Speakers are the real life of the party, but also subtle items that can truly bring out the best in your favorite songs. This is why you need to choose the model that most suits your personal needs. Remember that you won’t have to invest in a high-end or professional speaker if you simply want to dance on the beach with your friends.

Throughout our article, we’ve given you the information you need to make an informed decision. Keep in mind that you should evaluate certain characteristics – whether you’re looking for affordable or high-end speakers. Do you want a wireless or wired model? Or one with a remote control? Think about this before making your purchase!

This is the coda of our article! If you found it helpful, feel free to share it on your social media. You can also leave us a comment in the section below!

(Source of featured image: Andrei Kuzmik: 22001736/ 123rf.com)

Why you can trust me?

Brett Holmes Technology Geek
Brett is a keen observer of the latest technology trends and knows his way around the industry because he runs an electronics store. He writes about it in his spare time and wants to help others learn more about the technology industry.