Party speaker

With so many different types of audio products, it can be tough to decide which one to choose. For example, if you could only pick one, should you get a portable Bluetooth speaker or a smart speaker? Like most things in life, it all depends. If you’re faced with this question, I’m here to help. Let’s break down what you need to know to make the right decision between a Bluetooth speaker vs a smart speaker.

Amazon Echo Dot with Clock speaker

Bluetooth speaker vs a smart speaker

There are a few things to take into consideration when you’re choosing between a Bluetooth speaker vs a smart speaker. You’ll want to figure out where you’ll use it, how you’ll use it, and if you need to, whether you’ll use it for more than just listening to music.

Listening to your speaker at home 

If you plan to use a speaker at home, you’ll probably want to consider a smart speaker. First, they need to be plugged into a wall and connect to your Wi-Fi network. With electrical outlets around a home, you can connect a smart speaker in any or every room. Second, they are voice-activated with built-in assistants. This allows you hands-free control and access to the Internet. You can use it in the kitchen while cooking or in the bedroom as a secondary alarm clock. 

Lastly, you can group smart speakers together in the home for multi-room audio. That means they’re perfect for hosting parties or getting ready in the morning. For example, you can set up a smart speaker in the bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen. They can all connect together so you can listen to a podcast in the shower and then move to your bedroom as you get ready. Finally, you can finish the podcast as you make breakfast. With grouped smart speakers, audio is simultaneously played everywhere. 

Sony Bluetooth speaker

Listening to your speaker on-the-go

If portable audio is what you’re after, you may want to lean toward a Bluetooth speaker. This allows you to play music wirelessly, streaming it from a mobile device to the Bluetooth speaker. It works like this – once you pair a mobile device to a Bluetooth speaker, whatever you play on that device will play on the speaker. Essentially, the Bluetooth speaker becomes an extension of the mobile device. You can use it to play music or watch videos from a tablet or laptop. If you pair it to a smartphone, even the notification sounds will come through the Bluetooth speaker.

Choosing between different types of Bluetooth speakers

There are lots of different Bluetooth speakers to choose from. They come in various sizes, and price points. The biggest consideration is deciding where you plan to use it most. If it’s near water, consider a waterproof portable Bluetooth speaker. These can be fully submerged in water without getting damaged. It’s perfect for the beach or beside a pool. 

Others may want a portable Bluetooth speaker for hosting events and gatherings. In that case, choose a party speaker. As the name suggests, these speakers are made for group listening. They often come with deep bass, long battery life, and LED light effects. Some models have input jacks for microphones. You can use it as a PA system for weddings, other celebrations, or late-night karaoke sessions.  

Sony speakers

Both types of speakers play music off multiple devices

Bluetooth speakers and smart speakers can play music off multiple devices. However, they do so in different ways. With smart speakers, music is cast from a device to the speaker. If speakers are grouped together, music will be cast to all the speakers at the same time. 

Bluetooth speakers transfer data through Bluetooth connections between a speaker and a mobile device. Some Bluetooth speakers feature dual Bluetooth pairing. This allows two devices to connect to a Bluetooth speaker at the same time. A good use for this type of speaker is during parties. It lets two people share DJ duties from their smartphones. 

Some Bluetooth speakers can be grouped together as a stereo pair or more. Like smart speakers, this allows for the same music to play on multiple speakers. The difference is portability. Bluetooth speakers are battery-powered, so you can set up a wireless multi-speaker system virtually anywhere. The only caveat is the speakers need to all be within range to share the Bluetooth signal. 

Use your speaker to take handsfree calls

Today’s speakers do more than just play music. You can use them to take and make calls with friends and family. With smart speakers, you have to sync your phone’s contact to the respective app. Once you grant permission, a user can make calls through the voice assistant. The benefit of this is hand-free control. Imagine cleaning your kitchen while catching up with your sibling. The days of holding a phone to the ear are coming to an end. 

Not all Bluetooth speakers feature a speakerphone. However, many do so it’s important to look out for this feature. It’s a great way to take calls hands-free and it sounds much louder than the built-in speakerphone on smartphones. It’s also perfect for group calls with more than one person or during road trips. You can stream music on a Bluetooth speaker in the car. If someone calls, you can take it hands-free with the click of a button. 

Amazon Echo Studio

For the home, choose a smart speaker

If you’re looking for an audio solution for the home, choose a smart speaker. It’s a good choice for people who listen to Internet radio or podcasts. With a single sentence, you can play virtually any type of audio content. Plus you can use it to take calls and play music on multiple smart speakers at the same time. It’s great for hosting parties or listening to podcasts while cleaning the house. For the home, you can’t go wrong with a smart speaker. 

Sony Bluetooth Speaker

If you’re on the go, choose a Bluetooth speaker

If you’re always on the go and need portability, you should choose a Bluetooth speaker. It literally becomes an extension of your mobile devices. There are also many different types to choose from. Some Bluetooth speakers are small and clip to a backpack or belt. This is great for hikes and long walks. You can entertain yourself and others by listening to podcasts and audiobooks.

Conversely, there is a wide assortment of speaker sizes to choose from. Some larger speakers are perfect for camping and other weekend activities. The large battery ensures you have hours of use on a single charge. Plus many feature USB ports to charge mobile devices on the go. Basically, it’s a battery pack and a speaker in one. 

Choosing between a Bluetooth speaker vs a smart speaker

There are a lot of speakers to choose from. Some are smart while others are portable. In a perfect world, you won’t need to choose between a Bluetooth speaker vs a smart speaker. you can hedge your bets by getting both. Otherwise, think about how and where you will use a speaker. This will help guide your decision. Be sure to check out this smart displays and smart speaker buying guide for all the best speakers available at Best Buy. 

Andy Baryer aka “Handy Andy” is a technology journalist, gadget reviewer, and DIY/how-to content creator. Known as the handyman of tech, Andy enjoys fixing poor wireless networks, building smart homes, and cooking with the latest kitchen gadgets. He’s a competitive whistler, a budding woodworker, and loves gardening in his home-built smart garden.


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