Speakers as Portable as You Are

Have you discovered portable wireless speakers? They're wonderful! If you want to know why, read on.

If you're like me you love having audio that's as free to move around as you are. The portable audio player is one of my favourite 21st century innovations and my podcast player is the most used app on my cellphone. I listen while I'm on transit, out for a walk, or puttering in the apartment. But there's a problem with that portability. Earbuds or headphones aren't always the best listening option, especially in the apartment. My answer is wireless speakers!

Logitech UE Boombox
My wireless speakers on top of the fridge, with mug for size reference

These speakers are commonly referred to as Bluetooth speakers. Bluetooth is the technology used for the wireless connection. The Bluetooth portable speakers are small, battery operated, and -- in spite of their size -- have great sound quality and volume. And they can go almost anywhere your audio device can! Mine are rechargeable via USB and have an audio input jack so I can also plug them into a headphone jack.

My Bluetooth speakers are most often used when I'm cooking or cleaning. They sit, out of harms way on the top of my fridge, dresser, or shelves. Having the speakers in the same rooms means better sound clarity and not having to crank the volume on stereo speakers in another room. It's especially nice not having an earbud cable that catches on drawer handles and counter edges.

An added advantage is my smart watch can control the podcast player on my cellphone. It's nice having a remote control on my wrist if I need to adjust volume or skip an ad. Unfortunately, this is still not an option during food prep when my hands are covered in stuff! Sticky fingers don't work so well on touch displays.

I wasn't always a fan of Bluetooth speakers. When I bought my speakers they worked but there were issues. They didn't work well with my 2009ish MacBook Pro or Android phone. It wasn't until I got my new MacBook Pro and phone that I realized the issue was on the computer/phone side, not the speaker side. I've since been told some of the early Bluetooth chip sets weren't great. If you've had a bad experience in the past you may find things have changed for the better.

The speakers I'm using now aren't available anymore. I picked them based on the reviews at the Wirecutter website. You can check out their current recommendations here: Wirecutter - The Best Portable Bluetooth Speaker. Prices range from $30 to $400.

Portable wireless speakers will never replace stereo speakers or $100 headphones. They do provide an excellent listening option when you don't want to use headphones or earbuds, or the stereo system is too far away or not available.

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