As our computers and tablets shrink, our phones get thinner, and we’re finding ways to shrink our technology for the better, Bluetooth portable speakers are becoming very popular.
For many, the allure of small speakers you can move, reposition or relocate on a whim is that they’re just far more versatile than giant floor models that require a mover and an electrician to assist with.
While I’m exaggerating a bit here, the truth is, with everything we have on our phones, it just makes sense that our music devices are just as portable as the songs. That’s why it’s becoming more common to set up mini home stereo systems using two or more connected Bluetooth speakers.
Why pairing Bluetooth speakers is cool
There are a few reasons you might want to create a pocket sized home theatre:
1. You’re in a temporary home, dorm, or you move a lot
2. You don’t have a lot of space for a receiver, large speakers and other stereo equipment
3. You want a simple, easy set up
4. You’re looking for better sound than you can find in a single portable Bluetooth speaker
5. You want stereo sound
Pairing two or more Bluetooth speakers can give you a more room-filling sound than just a single speaker, providing a richer overall sound experience. It’s worth noting, however, that if you don’t choose a quality speaker to begin with, you probably won’t have the amazing soundscape you’re looking for, since one cruddy-sounding Bluetooth speaker, will just have it’s cruddy sound amplified by two.
Which speaker brands are pairable
Several manufacturers are creating Bluetooth speakers that can be paired, allowing you to add two speakers, or in some cases more, to your set up.
JBL uses similar connection technology and its built-in Bluetooth allows you to link multiple compatible speakers to amplify your listening experience.
JBL Flip3 is also a splash proof option that it makes it great for a party indoors or out.
If you’re looking for something a bit bigger and more powerful, the JBL Extreme is another good pick. With this unit you’ve got the option to build your own ecosystem with JBL Connect which will allow you to connect multiple JBL speakers together. This system also allows up to three smartphones or tablets to control the system, meaning you can share DJ duties with friends and family.
How to pair multiple Bluetooth speakers together
For starters, there is one golden rule; you will almost exclusively need two speakers of the same model or brand. While I’ve seen hacks online for getting different speakers to work together, it depends on the speakers, the OS your phone, computer or tablet is using, and how much work you really want to put into this endeavour. (If you want to share you audio Bluetooth hacking genius, please post it in comments below, but for this article’s purposes, we’ll stick with what’s simple and straight forward.)
For the most part, pairing Bluetooth speakers is simple;
1. Turn the speakers on
2. Press a ‘pairing’ button somewhere on the device, and wait for it to connect to your phone.
Some systems require you to connect via an app, but others, like JBL will emit an audible tone when two speakers are connected to your device or to each other. With the JBL Flip, for example you can pair them both at once, and don’t need to wait for each speaker to pair before starting with the other.
Use them together, or create stereo sound
Some speakers, like the JBL Flip and Sony’s excellent SRS-XB2 wireless Bluetooth speaker also allow you to choose between turning your pair of speakers into a stereo set, by splitting the left and right channels, or keeping them both playing the same thing. The choice is up to you; you’ll just want to check that the speaker you’ve got (or are getting) does have the stereo option if that’s an important feature.
As an aside, I reviewed the Sony SRS-XB2 system (at left) this summer and really loved it. The sound is excellent and the bass is really good too. While I only had one test unit, and couldn’t try the stereo feature, I really enjoyed the product; read the full review here.
It’s also good to note that sometimes, with some brands, the pairing process needs to be repeated each time you use them, but since it’s as simple as pressing a button, it’s not a huge pain.
Other speakers that are Pairable
While here we’ve been talking about small portable Bluetooth speakers working in tandem, if you’re looking for improved sound quality, with only slightly less portability, you can check out two other systems; SONOS and the Bose SoundTouch line.
I could write a whole other article on these systems, but suffice to say SONOS has several speakers in its PLAY series, as well as a soundbar and all can be linked together. Bose SoundTouch also has a set of three speakers (the 10, 20 or 30) that can play in concert or separately. I reviewed the Bose SoundTouch line and found connectivity issues with the speakers getting in sync, so it’s worth a read of that blog if you’re thinking going this route.
There are far too many pairable speakers to list in this one article, but if you’re looking for this kind of set up, the brands I mentioned (JBL, Sony, UE, and there’s also Polk’s Swimmer) each have several different models.
The bottom line is if you’re looking for a set of pairable wireless Bluetooth speakers, you’ve got plenty of options.