1. Bluetooth Audio Receivers
Assuming you currently have some stereo to play music, even if it’s from the 90’s, we can make the device smart. Starting around $20, Bluetooth audio receivers have a 3.5mm output that can plug into most stereos dating back to the Clinton administration. Pair your phone or tablet with the Bluetooth audio receiver, switch your stereo to the correct input and play music from your device or favorite streaming service. It’s an inexpensive way to get started. Just remember that you’ll hear every notification from your device on your stereo, too.
2. WiFi Audio Receivers
The WiFi audio receiver works much like the Bluetooth audio receiver above by connecting to a 3.5mm input of your existing audio device. These devices have a higher price point, starting at $35, and bring with it additional perks. WiFi audio has a greater range than its Bluetooth counterpart and streams audio at a higher quality. Some options even offer multi-room audio, a feature that lets you play the same music in different rooms on different stereos at the same time.
3. Bluetooth Speakers
Bluetooth speakers can vary in size, weight and price depending on the amount of air you want to move when listening to music. The smallest are travel sized and can be purchased for about $25, while higher end versions can run up to the hundreds of dollars. These Bluetooth speakers benefit from quick set up and playback, but still suffer from the same issues as the Bluetooth audio receivers above. Some of these issues include notifications playing during music playback and limited range, which is typically around 30 feet. But, the major difference is that you do not need an existing stereo system for these powered speakers.
4. Dedicated Wireless HiFi System
If you’re starting from scratch and you have some extra…ahem, scratch, a dedicated wireless HiFi system is a powerful option. Starting around $199, audio companies have manufactured systems that you can purchase a speaker at a time to expand your system over time. These systems will have their own apps that integrate numerous streaming services into one location. Setup is usually very easy. Plug in the speaker, follow the app’s step-by-step set up and be playing music from either your device or a streaming service in minutes. These speakers are not usually portable, though, so you’ll need another set if you’d like to have music on the go. Later, add more speakers in the rooms where you want to enjoy your favorite smooth jazz. This set up can also allow for different audio inputs in each room at varying volumes.
5. Wireless speakers using Play-Fi, DLNA, AirPlay standards
Wireless speakers not employing Bluetooth are more convoluted to describe. Different brands have chosen WiFi as the basis for these speakers but achieve the connection in different ways. Play-Fi, DLNA, and AirPlay are some of the most popular standards that manufacturers have used to send audio to wireless speakers. Prices start around $59 and go up to thousands of dollars. These speakers can sometimes use a dedicated app and other times just add a button to the music app on your device to tell it to send the audio to the speakers. The benefits of using these standards over Bluetooth are the sophistication of adding speakers in multiple rooms wirelessly, avoiding the annoyances of notifications coming through during your favorite sing-a-long, extended range of audio coverage and higher quality audio. Frequently, but not always, these speakers require a constant power supply rather than running off batteries and maintaining a connection to your WiFi network. Similar to the Dedicated Wireless HiFi System above, a separate travel speaker may be needed if you’d like to tote your music with you to the park or beach.
Considering audio options and how persnickety your needs are, you can begin playing music with as little as $25, all the way up to a multi-thousand dollar setup covering every room of your home. Each option carries with it the benefit of having a wonderful audio backdrop for entertaining guests, with the remaining details being your chosen playlist and if you should cook steaks or breakfast for dinner.
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