Bluetooth vs. AirPlay: Which Is Better?
Bluetooth and AirPlay are competing wireless audio technologies that each have their own strengths and weaknesses. Which one do you prefer?
Is Bluetooth vs. AirPlay the audio version of DVD vs. Blu-ray or plasma vs. LCD? Some think so.
These two competing wireless technologies for transmitting audio in a single-room application are both gaining steam in the market with no signs of slowing down. It doesn’t appear as though one technology has a decided edge over the other either. In a recent CE Pro webinar on wireless technologies, a poll of the readers was split about 50/50.
From an overly simplistic view, here are several pros and cons for each technology.
- Is more common. It works with more devices including both Android and Apple devices.
- Requires direct range for transmission. Reviewers say 20 feet is a good distance, even though some tout as much as 33 feet.
- Is improving its reputation. When people initially think “Bluetooth” they think of telephone earpieces. But its reputation for poor quality is going away. The new aptX codec has a lot to do with that. Besides, can your clients really hear the difference in the audio compression?
- Is more portable because it works without a Wi-Fi network in place.
- Is less expensive primarily because the speaker manufacturer is not required to pay the per-product Apple licensing fee.
- Does an excellent job of tracking metadata for an improved user experience.
- Works over Wi-Fi networks, which are ubiquitous in many households today. It also means it has a much broader distribution range in the home than Bluetooth.
- Uses high-quality audio compression with AAC files.
- Only works with Apple iDevices and computers.
- Allows you to set volume levels for individual speakers via iTunes.
- Is more expensive speakers because the speaker manufacturers is required to pay the aforementioned per-product Apple licensing fee. One audio review website estimates AirPlay licensing adds $100 to the price of a speaker.
Which one do you use and why?
Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990. He joined EH Publishing in 2000, and before that served as publisher and editor of Security Sales, a leading magazine for the security industry. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He is currently a member of the CEDIA Education Action Team for Electronic Systems Business. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at [email protected]
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