BlueTooth technology is unequivocally the industry standard for wirelessly connecting devices. Everything from keyboards to in ear monitors comes with integrated BlueTooth technology. For the most part, it’s wonderful. The range is adequate, connectivity is uninterrupted, and it couldn’t be easier to use.
However, BlueTooth has its limits. For serious audiophiles, BlueTooth just won’t provide the rich, crisp details in audio tracks that we crave. If you are looking for ways to avoid tinny or unsubstantial playback through BlueTooth, fear not. Here are four alternatives that are going to be music to your ears, literally.
Wired Bookshelf Speakers
Most obviously, a set of wired speakers is the opposite of wireless BlueTooth connected speakers. Simply put, it is far easier sending high fidelity electrical signals through wires than through BlueTooth. This means that wired speakers are going to best represent the music you have queued up, especially if it is a high bit-rate lossless file format. Most audioheads would agree that improved quality is the biggest difference in the wired/wireless debate. But what about control? Wired speakers and stereo systems allow for an excellent level of customization through amp and digital analog converter selection (more below). With wireless speakers, those components have been decided for you. They are built in and non-negotiable.
Home Audio Amplifiers
Instead of committing to going wireless, commit to quality. A well built, well designed amplifier will lower distortion and noise, and may even surprise with the level of sound reproduction it is capable of. In general, the amplifier is the most critical piece of technology, as everything flows into it, and everything flows out of it. It is the keystone of your whole home audio setup, so investing in a decent one is important. High end amps are great for those who are interested in surround sound systems and on the eternal quest to make recorded music sound like a live performance. Music files like the common mp3 format don’t sound great coming out of huge, high quality speakers by itself. An amplifier boosts that electronic signal to match the power of the speakers. It is a worthwhile -even necessary- investment for any music junkie looking to build a home entertainment system.
Digital Analog Converters
The other piece of the puzzle is the digital analog converter or DAC. This hardware transforms digital signals (0s and 1s) into the soundwaves that your ear recognizes as music. It is truly elegant technology, and it is important to invest in the right one. A proper DAC will richen and deepen your music, uncovering detail and warmth that is the reason you fell in love with music in the first place. Wireless speakers make your DAC decision for you by housing one in the speaker itself. But when building your own set up with wired speakers, you are in the driver’s seat. There are an incredible range of DACs that have been designed for all situations and set ups. The Chord Qutest DAC provides best-in-show quality conversion in a sleek package. If you are buying your first DAC to see what all the fuss is about, the Fiio K1 will only cost you $40 and is so small and portable, it is actually recommended to use with phones and mp3 players.
Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too? Roon is a music software developed for people who have their music in different locations. It understands and plays well with Apple Music, TIDAL, Spotify, and other streaming services. It accesses your digital music library, hard drives, flash drives, and even CDs.
The Roon Nucleus is a piece of hardware designed with a proprietary Linux OS custom built and dedicated just to playing music through Roon’s software. The best part about the Nucleus is it is designed to work with high end wireless speakers and improve the sound quality coming out of them. That’s right, if you just love the sleek, no-hassle design of wireless speakers too much that you can’t switch back, invest in Roon and incorporate it into your home set up.
The Nucleus is designed with audiophiles in mind. It is engineered with no fans or loud cooling units stay completely silent. It has no visible buttons or controls which seems daunting, but the Nucleus is fully integrated into the Roon app, and your smartphone or tablet becomes the controls (by the way, Roon teamed up with intel to beef up the processing power of the Nucleus so it will be super responsive and fast when interacting with the app). If you are looking for a one stop fix all that will provide you with top quality sound and a lightning fast, easy to use interface, Roon fits the bill.
What devices are you currently using in your home audio setup? Are you happy with them or are you thinking to upgrade in the near future? Leave a comment and let us know what products you love, and what products you do not prefer.