Audio Quality in a Wireless World: How to Keep the "Hi" in Wireless Hi-Fi

Audio Quality in a Wireless World: How to Keep the "Hi" in Wireless Hi-Fi

Wireless speakers offer an unmatched level of convenience in today's fast-paced world, but we've traded significant amounts of audio quality in exchange for that convenience.

However, there are ways to retain that convenience and still hear top-notch sound. Here are five tips for retaining audio quality without going wired.

1. Stream over Wi-Fi, not Bluetooth. When you send digital audio signals over Bluetooth, the data is compressed in order to make the signal easier to stream. The result is a loss in audio quality. Wi-Fi, on the other hand, can send and receive digital audio signals without any compression needed. This ensures that the signal that arrives to the speaker contains the exact information as the original file, and the result is a lossless transmission.

2. If you must use Bluetooth, make sure your transmitter and receiver support the aptX codec. AptX is a form of Bluetooth that is able to lower the bit-rate of the digital information it sends without drastically affecting the quality of the information. This means it that it doesn't have to compress data as harshly as a conventional Bluetooth connection, and the result is significantly better-sounding audio. AptX is available on many of the best wireless speakers. It's also integrated into most new smartphones (although not on the iPhone 5s), as well as many tablets and laptops.

3. Play high-quality audio files. If you buy a song from iTunes, the song is encoded at a bitrate of 256 Kbps. In contrast, a CD is encoded at a bitrate of 1,411 Kbps. There is a noticeable difference in sound quality and definition between these two resolutions. Some websites allow legal purchase of high-definition songs at bitrates that are even better than a CD's bitrate. These lossless files will take up more room on your device, but this is a surefire way to improve your listening experience. 

4. Download the Audio Xciter App, by Aphex. This simple audio-enhancement app works with Apple and Android smartphones and tablets. It syncs with your music library and works as a standalone music playing app. After you select an artist and song, you click the Xcite button. You can choose to set the enhancement level at high, medium, or low, and you can also customize the app using several sliders. In our testing, the app added depth and clarity to almost every track we tried it on, and you can easily toggle the enhancement on and off to hear the difference.

5. Get better speakers. It may seem obvious, but honestly, the biggest improvement you'll hear in your wireless sound system is to have better equipment. The JBL Authentics L8, the Korus V600 and the Marshall Stanmore are three exceptional wireless speakers that will dramatically enhance your sonic experience.

High-quality audio is one those things that is hard to understand until you experience it, but once you do, it's almost impossible to go back to $10 ear-buds and highly compressed MP3s. Give a couple of these suggestions a try, and you'll hear aspects of your favorite songs that you didn't know existed.

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