WiFi vs Bluetooth Speakers: What's the Difference?

WiFi vs Bluetooth Speakers: What's the Difference?

Posted by House of Marley on May 21st 2024

A hundred years ago, if you wanted to listen to music, you had to sit by the gramophone and spin a shellac record. Forty years ago, you could move around while listening to your Walkman—but you still had to connect the audio source (a cassette) and your headphones to the device.

Today, we’re in an era of mobile music. Cords are a thing of the past, and wireless has taken over; you can now listen to your favorite tunes on wireless speakers.

If you’re considering buying wireless speakers, your choice is between Bluetooth and WiFi.

Which should you choose? Well, it depends. Join us as we dive into the ultimate battle in wireless audio: WiFi vs Bluetooth speakers.

What Are Bluetooth Speakers?

Bluetooth speakers connect to your device (your smartphone, laptop, or other music streaming device) using Bluetooth technology. Bluetooth is a wireless connectivity solution invented in 1996 to solve the problem of short-range connectivity.[1]

With that said, how do Bluetooth speakers work? Bluetooth speakers work by pairing your device directly with your speakers. When you’re connected, any audio that plays from your phone or laptop will play from the Bluetooth speaker instead.

What Are WiFi Speakers?

WiFi speakers connect to each other and your music device via your home WiFi network. Because they require a WiFi connection, most WiFi speakers are designed for home or office use.

Interestingly, some WiFi speaker systems also have Bluetooth capabilities. For example, you might be able to use WiFi to connect multiple speakers, and then use Bluetooth to connect your phone to those speakers.

WiFi speakers work by connecting to your device with WiFi. Think of your WiFi router as the go-between for your device and your speakers—you pick a song on your favorite streaming service, that signal gets sent to the router, and then the router passes that information to your speakers.

Key Differences Between WiFi and Bluetooth Speakers

Both WiFi and Bluetooth speakers let you listen to your favorite tunes without wires. However, that’s where most of the similarities end.

How do the two compare when it comes to features that matter? Let’s place them head to head.

Connectivity Range

One of the limitations of wireless audio in general is range. Even without cords, you can only stray so far from your speakers. The source of the audio—your phone or laptop—needs to stay relatively close.

Bluetooth’s range usually tops out at about 33 feet; WiFi speakers, meanwhile, can support distances of up to 100–200 feet.[2]

While there’s a big difference between the two, these limitations aren’t that noticeable during day-to-day use. As long as you keep your device near the speaker, you shouldn’t have any issues with either option.

Sound Quality

Naturally, the sound of a speaker depends on many factors, including:

  • Size
  • Materials
  • Design
  • Price

While we can’t account for all these variables, we can compare the sound difference between Bluetooth and WiFi.

In a nutshell, WiFi allows for a better audio quality than Bluetooth. That’s because WiFi has a greater bandwidth than Bluetooth.[1]

When you stream a song, you’re passing data from one point to another. A larger bandwidth allows more data to pass through at higher rates, meaning you can listen to higher-quality audio.

Ultimately, if you’re a fan of hi-resolution or lossless audio, WiFi may be the best bet for you. However, if you’re a casual listener, you probably won’t notice the slight dip in quality caused by Bluetooth technology.

Power Usage

The way each option consumes power is also worth exploring.

WiFi speakers are often not truly wireless. In many cases, WiFi speakers draw power from the wall with a power cord. That means you don’t have to worry about battery life—but it also means they can't act as truly portable speakers.

Bluetooth speakers, on the other hand, tend to offer a “true” wireless experience. Instead of an AC cord, Bluetooth speakers either use disposable batteries or, more likely, a rechargeable battery pack. Charge your speakers, and you’ll have hours of listening time (for example, the Get Together Solo Speaker lasts for 25 hours of continuous listening).

Compatibility and Connectivity

One of the best parts of Bluetooth connection is that it’s backward- and forward-compatible, meaning almost anything can pair with it. Connecting your phone, computer, gaming console, or other smart device is as easy as hitting a button.

On the other hand, WiFi speakers require a WiFi connection. Plus, you’ll generally need to download and set up a smartphone app to use a WiFi speaker.

Multi-Room Audio Support

There’s one last difference to look at: The ability to listen from multiple rooms.

Bluetooth speakers are usually standalone devices, meaning you can’t connect more than one. If you want to listen in different rooms, you have to bring your lightweight speaker with you.

With WiFi, you can chain multiple speakers together and listen to the same song in the kitchen, the living room, and the bedroom.


Pros and Cons of Bluetooth Speakers

Now that we’ve looked at some of the features of WiFi vs. Bluetooth speakers, let’s see how they stack up against each other—starting with Bluetooth.

The Pros

Bluetooth speakers are an ideal choice for several reasons, including:

  • Portability – Bluetooth speakers are 100% wireless and typically small, so bringing them anywhere is a cinch. It’s easy to throw yours in a backpack for on-the-go music.
  • Ease of connectivity – Connecting to a Bluetooth speaker is as effortless as opening your device settings and selecting your speaker. From there, you’re a tap or click away from playing music.
  • Affordability – Although prices vary, Bluetooth speakers are often more accessible than expensive WiFi setups.

If you’re looking to dig deeper into their unique benefits, learn more today by reading our full article about all of the main benefits of Bluetooth speakers.

The Cons

While there’s a lot to love about Bluetooth speakers, they’re not perfect. Some of the drawbacks include:

  • Limited range – The 33-foot limit on Bluetooth devices can lead to connectivity issues; move too far away, and you’ll hear patchy audio. Most people keep their phone or laptop next to the speaker when they’re not using them, ensuring a crystal-clear connection.
  • Less emphasis on sound quality – Most Bluetooth speakers are designed to be lightweight and portable. As such, sound quality can sometimes take a backseat. Of course, some Bluetooth speakers are built with portability and quality in mind, so this isn’t always an issue.

Pros and Cons of WiFi Speakers

But what about WiFi speakers? Here are some of the advantages and downsides of taking the WiFi path.

The Pros

Depending on what you’re looking for, you may prefer a WiFi speaker. WiFi speakers often have:

  • Better sound quality – Because WiFi speakers are designed to stay put, they’re usually bigger—and more expensive. These factors, along with the increased bandwidth of a WiFi connection, translate to better sound.
  • Longer range – As mentioned, WiFi speakers can be 100–200 feet away from the audio source, giving you more freedom to move around your home. This range makes WiFi speakers ideal for a multi-room setup since they can all connect together from nearly anywhere in your house.

The Cons

As with everything in life, there are downsides as well as benefits to WiFi speakers. These are:

  • Higher cost – Due to their size and the technology within, WiFi speakers tend to be far more expensive than their Bluetooth counterparts. Costs can climb even higher when you consider that WiFi setups often have more than two speakers.
  • Dependency on a WiFi network – Because they can’t function without a network connection, WiFi speakers are inside-only options. They’re terrific for a home theater setup or gaming room, but they won’t be joining you at the beach or on a hike anytime soon.
  • Bandwidth limitations – Although WiFi has a larger bandwidth than Bluetooth, WiFi speakers have a different problem: Competition with other users. Every WiFi device in your home—from your phone and computer to the TV and fridge—uses the same network as your speakers. So, if your internet usage spikes, you could run into audio playback issues.

Choosing the Right Speakers

Sometimes, choosing between two similar yet unique options is impossible. Luckily, the choice between WiFi and Bluetooth speakers is mostly clear-cut, as they cater to different people.

WiFi speakers may be right for you if:

  • You listen to your music mostly at home
  • You want a multi-room sound system
  • You’re a lover of hi-res or lossless audio
  • You’re tech-savvy

However, Bluetooth may be a better choice if:

  • You like to listen on the go
  • You want the flexibility to play music inside or outside
  • You stream music with your friends
  • You like your technology to be user-friendly

Ultimately, if you’re a music fan, you’ll be happy with either choice—as long as you buy high-quality speakers.

Discover Portable Bluetooth Speakers from House of Marley Today

Speaking of quality speakers, House of Marley is an excellent place to start your search. If you’ve decided Bluetooth is right for you, we have the highly portable, sustainable speakers you’re looking for. If you’ve decided that Bluetooth is the right option for your audio needs, make sure you know how to pick the best one. Learn more in our guide on how to choose a Bluetooth speaker for your needs.

Kick your at-home sound system up a notch with our Get Together Duo Bluetooth® Bookshelf Speakers, or listen on the move with our Bag of Riddim 2 Bluetooth® Speaker.

Whatever you choose, don’t forget to complete your cord-free setup with wireless turntables, headphones, and more.


Bluetooth. Origin of the Bluetooth Name. https://www.bluetooth.com/about-us/bluetooth-origin/

Consumer Reports. Choosing the Best Wireless and Bluetooth Speaker. https://www.consumerreports.org/electronics-computers/wireless-bluetooth-speakers/buying-guide/

How-To Geek. Bluetooth vs. Wi-Fi Music: Which Has Better Audio Quality? https://www.howtogeek.com/878574/bluetooth-vs-wi-fi-music-which-has-better-audio-quality/