How to buy a Bluetooth speaker in South Africa

From pocket-sized blasters to party-sized boom boxes, follow our guide to make sure you’re striking the right chord.

Want to cut to the chase? Here’s our Top 5 Bluetooth Speakers for South Africans

 

SOUTH AFRICAN BLUETOOTH SPEAKER BUYING GUIDE

BLUETOOTH, PORTS & PLUGS

Virtually all speaker docks connect with Bluetooth, but because this over-the-air streaming process slightly degrades the sound, many serious audio heads prefer using a line-in (or aux) cable. Using an aux cable means you can also connect any devices that don’t have Bluetooth (like old MP3 players). Some portable speakers allow you to connect multiple phones, tablets and PCs at once, so you can share control with all the aspiring DJs among your mates.

CONTROLS

It can be useful having button controls on the speaker. At a minimum, you should be able to skip tracks and adjust volume levels on the dock itself, which saves you having to pat yourself down looking for your phone every time a dud track starts. The best designs have buttons that are easy to use, but don’t stand out enough to be damaged when you slide the speaker into a travel bag. Fewer buttons are better, and using touch sensors instead of tactile buttons can be infuriating when your hands are dirty or wet.

BATTERY

As with most electronics, more battery power is always better, but it adds a lot of weight, so decide if your dock will be packed into picnic baskets and backpacks, or if its just moving from room to room around the house. Most docks will play for several hours on a single charge, which is adequate for most uses. The most versatile travel speakers will also work as a power bank to juice up your phone. Make sure your speaker has a battery size above 1 000 mAh and full-size USB-out port for charging.

TOUGHNESS

Most speakers are splash-proof, so you can keep them poolside or even spill some beer on them, though an increasing number are legitimately waterproof, in case you need to take them swimming or if you need to be dancing in the rain.  Many speakers now have ingress protection (IP) rating such as IP67. The first number indicates dust/sand proofing, while the second number indicates degrees of waterproofing. Look out for rugged, metal-bodied speakers or those with rubberised or reinforced bodies.

AUDIO

Good bass is much harder to build in a small, portable unit than on a full-sized stereo hi-fi, but the best docks use a variety of tricks to pump up their bass performance. However, huge wattage and stomping bass are not nearly as important as clear high-, low- and mid-range (vocal) frequencies. Quality audio always sounds better than a loud, dull sound, so always prioritise quality over power.  Balanced sound is usually more enjoyable than a constant dull thud passing itself off as music.

VOICE

All the speakers on test can be used as a speakerphone for making and taking calls, but if you don’t want your flow interrupted by constant notifications and incoming calls, be sure to turn your notifications off, and disconnect the phone from the speaker in your Bluetooth settings.

 

Want to cut to the chase? Here’s our Top 5 Bluetooth Speakers for South Africans

 

 

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