8 mistakes when choosing a portable speaker

It would seem, what is the difficulty in choosing a Bluetooth speaker? But when you open the catalog, your eyes go to the back of your head from the variety of assortment and the number of useless functions. What is usually criticized in reviews, what mistakes are most often made when choosing a portable speaker, and how to avoid them? More on this below.

Focus only on the battery capacity specified in the specifications

The most common mistake when choosing a portable speaker is over-reliance on battery capacity specifications. If the manufacturer claims that the device will work for 24 hours – here you need to immediately sharpen your attention and find out at what volume it will play for the whole day. Rarely, such information is indicated in the characteristics, so it is best to focus on customer reviews.

If the column is quickly discharged, angry reviews will be at the top. Although someone may just get a defective battery, however, this option is a reason to think. Judging by most reviews about portable speakers, most often the battery lasts for 30% of the declared runtime.

Runtime is always a compromise on sound quality. The more powerful the speaker, the more it emits low frequencies, and the faster the battery is discharged. Of course, powerful speakers sometimes have impressive dimensions and a more capacious battery, but their portability is already starting to raise questions.

The key to a portable speaker is, of course, portability. But in the pursuit of good, loud sound, solid construction and functionality, you can easily forget about it. Those who went on a hike know how every extra can of stewed meat pulls a backpack, especially on hilly terrain. In such conditions, a column weighing a dumbbell will make you regret a thousand times over the greed for volume and power.

Select a column without water protection

If the column will stand on a shelf at home, then protection from water will not be useful to it. But it is worth taking one to a party, or, even worse, on a hike, then her life will be bright, but short.

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Today, a lot of Bluetooth speakers are produced with moisture protection up to IPX7 – they are not afraid of being completely submerged under water by 1 meter for up to half an hour. With such a thing, you can swim in the pool and fish on a boat. However, even a low level of moisture protection will save the column from drinks accidentally spilled on it, drops of rain, condensation, fog and other force majeure circumstances. It will be a shame to be left on the road without music because of an attempt to save money on such an important feature.

Portable speaker JBL Boombox 2 Squad khaki 29 999 *
Don’t pay attention to the sound: stereo or mono?

Half of the portable speakers are in mono, the other half are in stereo, so it’s worth considering. The stereo panorama makes it possible to arrange instruments in space: violins – on the right, double basses – on the left. In modern rock and metal music, guitars are usually written separately for the left channel and separately for the right channel – this creates a massive guitar sound, while leaving room for vocals, bass and kicks in the center. In electronic music, spatial effects are common – reverb, delays and stereo choruses – which won’t impress in mono either.

Compared to stereo speakers, a speaker with one speaker will have a flatter, less spacious sound, some tracks will sound dirty – the instruments will merge into one heap and interfere with each other.

Portable speaker Marshall Acton BT II blackIn stores: in 21 stores
On the other hand, there are not only entry-level speakers without a stereo system. There are also quite decent models with good sound. How do they manage to compete with stereo speakers? The point is this:

The stereo panorama of the speakers is limited by the size of the speaker itself. It is always quite narrow, especially when compared to home stereo systems, where the speakers are usually separated by several meters. Of course, the sound is still clearer and more spacious, but the difference is not that huge.
All tracks mixed at the studio must be checked for mono compatibility. This means that any music from famous performers will sound great even through grandmother’s radio. Actually, even after the appearance of stereo systems, the radio played in mono for a long time, so sound engineers have always paid great attention to how the mix sounds through one speaker, because new tracks were promoted precisely through rotation on the radio.
In mastering studios, the result is always listened to on cheap speakers and headphones in order to achieve perfect clarity and readability of the music on any audio system.

JBL GO 3 portable speaker blackIn stores: in 206 stores
However, independent artists and various underground often record and mix music on their own, and here mono compatibility is not always checked. So any indie rock, death metal and avant-garde IDM will sound better on a stereo speaker, especially if the sound quality is initially poor. It will be even worse on inexpensive speakers, because there is no need to talk about any listening and polishing of sound, as in mastering studios.

Don’t think about bass
Who doesn’t love low fat bass? It is the low frequencies that shake the dance floor, it is in them that the whole quality and energy of the track is in them. But the trouble is – the smaller the speaker in the column, the less bass it can squeeze out of itself.

Ideally, in order to accurately reproduce the sound of a wave, for example, with a frequency of 41.2 Hz (corresponds to the Mi controctave – this is how most basses in rock music are tuned), you will need a speaker with a diameter of 853 mm – this is exactly the length of this wave in the air. Of course, no one will bring a speaker with a meter speaker to the party with them, but the essence is perhaps clear. Professional concert subwoofers can have a speaker with a diameter of up to 18 “, consumer subwoofers – 8-12”, and what’s inside a portable speaker is easy to Google on YouTube.

Of course, manufacturers resort to various tricks to make their device produce more low frequencies. The simplest thing is a bass reflex. In the video above, you can see that there is a lot of free space inside the speaker, and on the sides there are plugs with elastic bands that vibrate due to the energy from the back of the diffuser. Sometimes it can be just a hole of a certain diameter.

This design allows you to get more low frequencies. But what frequencies they will be depends on the diameter of the bass reflex, the volume of the case and the diameter of the speakers. The more inches and centimeters in this trinity, the lower will be the frequency that this whole structure can reproduce. All other tricks – equalizers, bass boosters and the like – can only slightly improve the situation, but physics is difficult to deceive.

A festive mood at a party always asks for something unusual, bright and colorful. Backlit portable speakers not only delight the eye and grab attention, but also create an atmosphere. Many models are able to shine lights to the beat of the music, and some also have an application in which you can adjust colors, brightness and other subtleties. It would seem stylish, fashionable, youthful. But not everything is as rosy as it happens at first glance.

Backlighting has its drawbacks:
It drains the battery. You must always keep in mind that the operating time of the backlit speaker will be reduced by one and a half to two times from the manufacturer’s declared one. It doesn’t matter if there is a socket nearby, but in nature, most likely, you will have to do without light and music. That is, if it can be turned off at all – there are instances in which it is impossible.
Backlighting costs money, which means that you either have to pay extra for it, or it will go to the detriment of power, functionality and sound quality.
In low-power speakers, the backlighting is not so bright as to enliven a spacious room.
If you want to arrange a real disco, then you can buy a separate disco ball or light music – it shines much brighter and more spectacular. There are also powerful discos “all-in-one” – Bluetooth speaker, karaoke, bright light music, etc. True, these weigh 15–20 kg, so it is difficult to call them portable.

A smart speaker is good for the home. Its main advantage is integration with the smart home system. It becomes possible to control household appliances through a voice assistant. Said the vacuum cleaner “vacuum cleaner” – and he went to vacuum. He ordered to find some horror movie for the night – and in a second the movie was already on TV. Thus, smart functions and a voice assistant are a rather specific and highly specialized thing. Besides:

Not all smart speakers are equally smart. In budget models, functionality is usually curtailed. Users complain that sensors start to fail over time, speech is recognized worse.
Some clever features, such as a proximity sensor that adjusts the volume based on the listener’s distance from the speaker, are useless at a party.
On the other hand, at a get-together, a smart speaker can become the center of gravity – at least for a while, it will occupy the crowd with attempts to put on some difficult -to- pronounce track through a voice assistant. Whether it is worth overpaying for such entertainment is up to the buyer.