Picture the speakers you use to play your music or watch TV. Or think about the Alexa or Google Home you talk to every single day. You probably use some kind of portable speaker all the time, but have you ever thought about how it actually makes sound?
Speakers are pretty incredible. They can make it seem like we’re right in the middle of the action in a movie, or cause the soundwaves from our favorite song to seem as though they’re vibrating through our entire bodies.
You don’t have to take a full-blown electronics class to understand the science of wireless speakers. Consider this your crash course!
What is Bluetooth?
Bluetooth is a type of wireless technology that creates a connection between two devices. It uses radio waves to transmit information, kind of like Wi-Fi. The only difference is Bluetooth typically works at shorter distances.
Who Invented Bluetooth?
A Swedish telecommunications company named Ericsson Mobile invented Bluetooth in 1989. A team of engineers at the company was tasked with creating a short-link radio technology that could transmit signals from their personal computers to their wireless headsets. The end result is the Bluetooth technology we all know and rely on today.
“Bluetooth” might seem like a weird name, but it’s actually part of Scandinavian legend. The story goes that a Danish King named Harald “Bluetooth” Gormsson united a bunch of Danish tribes into one super tribe. Bluetooth kind of works the same way. It “unites” all of your devices together into one super device.
Pro Tip: It helps to be familiar with magnets in order to truly understand how a Bluetooth speaker produces sound. Give this article a read before you dive into the science of wireless speakers!
How Do Wireless Bluetooth Speakers Work?
Bluetooth speakers work with a complicated mix of wires, magnets, and cones. These parts all work together to create soundwaves and frequencies that hit your ears.
Your basic wireless Bluetooth speaker is made of four parts:
2) voice coil
Here’s how a wireless speaker works:
A flexible metal wire, known as a voice coil, is attracted to a strong magnet that’s built inside the speaker. As the coil moves, the diaphragm moves alongside it. The strength of this vibration will affect the frequency, also known as the pitch. These soundwaves are then amplified through the cone/surround and into your listening ears.
The sound of the speaker is ultimately affected by the size of the cone/surround. The bigger the cone, the bigger the speaker and the louder the volume. The smaller the cone, the smaller the speaker and the quieter the volume.
What Are Near Field Audio Speakers?
Near Field Audio speakers, also known as induction speakers, are a type of wireless speaker that work due to a process known as electromagnetic induction. They contain a piece called a transducer, which is a device that converts energy into an electrical signal. Your phone rests on top of this electrical signal, and the sound from your device is then amplified.
Compare and contrast Bluetooth with Near Field Audio
by using the helpful chart below!
Like Bluetooth, Near Field Audio (NFA) speakers are totally wireless. The only difference is they use conventional batteries to generate their power instead of radio signals.
Another notable difference is in how these devices work. Your phone has to be paired with a Bluetooth speaker to hear the sound, but for NFA speakers, you have to simply set your phone on the top and you’re good to go!
Did You Know?
All speakers work thanks to physics! In 1831, an English scientist named Michael Faraday developed Faraday’s Law of Induction. This law states that when a magnetic field (the magnet) interacts with an electrical circuit (the voice coil), it will naturally produce an electromotive force, which in this case, is soundwaves.
What is the Difference Between Passive and Active Speakers?
An active speaker requires some kind of battery or power outlet in order to function. It has a built-in amplifier that produces the sound. A passive speaker, on the other hand, is more lightweight and has to be connected to an external amplifier.
Bluetooth speakers and induction speakers are considered active speakers because they produce the sound without needing an additional amplifier. They are their own self-sustaining power source, and usually all it takes is a USB charger to bring them back to life!
What Should You Look for When Buying Wireless Speakers?
You are going to want to choose a wireless speaker that fits your lifestyle, whether you’re an active person who is always on the go or someone who likes to sit at home and listen to podcasts while you cook.
Here’s what you should look for when shopping for wireless speakers:
You don’t want to buy a wireless speaker that won’t work with your cell phone. Look at the speaker’s box or packaging to make sure it will work with your device.
Are you still waiting on that paycheck? Figure out your budget and then invest in your speaker accordingly. When in doubt, it’s best to stick to tried and true brands like Sony, Bose, or LG.
Volume is really why you’re investing in a wireless speaker. Make sure you have clear, crisp sound that reverberates around the entire room. Pay mind to where you live as well. For instance, apartments aren’t the best place to have a bass-thumping sound system!
The joy of having a wireless speaker is being able to bring it along with you everywhere you go. Try to find a speaker that’s lightweight, durable, and ideally water-resistant. It should be able to be set up outside at a backyard barbeque, or at a busy birthday party with a bunch of rambunctious kids.
Your wireless speaker is ultimately going to become part of your home décor. Pick something that fits with your vibe, but also doesn’t take up a ton of room. It probably shouldn’t be the focal point of your living room, kitchen, bathroom, or any other area of your house.
Whether you go with a Bluetooth or Near Field Audio speaker, you really can’t go wrong with having this wireless technology in your life. It helps you listen to a great playlist, stream a podcast, or amplify a YouTube video with ease.
Need inspiration? Try any of these customizable wireless speakers!
The choice is yours! You can get a gigantic Bluetooth speaker and set it up in your living room, or a small NFA speaker that sits on your kitchen island. Explore your options and choose the best speakers for your budget!
Sweetwater. (2020, January 28). Active Speakers vs Passive Speakers. Retrieved from, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpGlz_HpnmY
Triggs, R. (2020, March 12). How Do Speakers Work? Retrieved from, https://www.soundguys.com/how-speakers-work-29860/
Synaptic Sound. How Speakers Work. Retrieved from, https://www.synapticsound.com/how-speakers-work/
Encyclopedia Britannica. Faraday’s Law of Induction. Retrieved from, https://www.britannica.com/science/Faradays-law-of-induction
Martindale, J. (2019, October 11). Why Bluetooth is Named After This Famous King. Retrieved from, https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/what-is-bluetooth/
Nguyen, T. (2019, February 28). Who Invented Bluetooth? Retrieved from, https://www.thoughtco.com/who-invented-bluetooth-4038864
Hifi Chicken. (2019, September 23). How Speakers Work. Retrieved from, https://hifichicken.com/how-speakers-work
Andry, T. (2013, May 30). Near Field Audio Technology Overview. Retrieved from, https://www.audioholics.com/news/near-field-audio-technology