Getting the most out of your wireless speaker
Wireless tech explained
The most used wireless transmission methods tend to be the following: aptx Bluetooth, regular Bluetooth, Apple Airplay and Kleer (used by Arcam).
Airplay is Apple’s proprietary solution and works only with Apple devices. Bluetooth, and its higher-quality aptx variant, will work with any Bluetoothcompatible device, while Kleer requires a dongle.
If it were our money, we would opt for one of the Bluetooth variants – it’s versatile and the quality is fine, albeit lower than with a wired connection.
How much should you spend?
This all depends on what you want your dock to do.
If you fancy something to take to the park for picnics, then you’d want to consider a unit that has a good battery life. If you’re replacing a micro or mini system, then something like the B&W Zeppelin Wireless will do a commendable job. As ever, try before you buy, especially if you’re heading towards the premium range.
A good tip is to take your library with you to the dealer/retailer and play some of the greatest hits straight from your portable.
Choose the right file type
Whichever one you go for, and especially if you’re connecting your device, it’s important to supply the dock with a high enough quality file.
We find that 320kbps is as low as we’d go with MP3 files, with Apple Lossless, FLAC or uncompressed WAV far more preferable.
If you use an Apple device, and use WAV files on your computer but don’t have space for them on your portable, itunes has a handy option to sync slightly lower-quality versions of your tracks to your device.
Instant multi-room music
If you’re looking to build a multi-room system, you’re in luck. (See p36 of this issue.)
Some docks won’t be able to play music on more than one device at a time (unless you have more than one which can stream to each other), but it does mean you can simply select each device on your portable as you move between rooms and have your music instantly switch between docks.
Alternatively, you could fork out for a Sonos system – but that isn’t really the point. Wireless docks mean minimal set-up – always a bonus.