Soundbars are increasingly used to listen to music as much as they get used for listening to visual or TV content. They are certainly being used in condos or smaller houses to replace the built-in speakers of flat-screen televisions and work as standalone speakers. While quite a few features of modern soundbars are superfluous, Wi-Fi functionality is anything but gimmicky.
Soundbars have Wi-Fi because that helps connect the soundbar to all wireless music systems using your home Wi-Fi network. If you want to connect and synchronize all your audio speakers and manage them from a single source simultaneously, they must be Wi-Fi-enabled.
Keep reading to learn how Wi-Fi soundbars work and why they exist in Bluetooth soundbars and speakers.
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How Do Wi-Fi Soundbars Work?
If you’re not a fan of wired soundbars, you can always go for wireless soundbars that work either using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Since the topic of discussion here is soundbars with Wi-Fi capability, here is a brief, step-by-step explanation on how Wi-Fi soundbars work:
- A wireless soundbar operates by receiving data bits called packets through radio waves (Bluetooth or Wi-Fi).
- The soundbar then returns the packet confirming receipt and creates a request for another packet. This packet transmission works seamlessly and instantaneously. Several thousand packets move back and forth per second during the process.
- The soundbar converts these packets into audio signals and directs them to its integrated speakers.
Generally, radio waves move between a transmitter and a receiver. In the case of Wi-Fi-enabled soundbars, the soundbar works as the receiver, and the audio content is your transmitter. The audio could be music, movies, television shows, etc.
To ensure the signal the receiver receives is correct, the receiver and the transmitter should operate in the same frequency. This ensures the soundbar doesn’t play audio content from multiple sources, or not more than one signal is being received simultaneously.
Upon connecting the soundbar with the audio source, this frequency pairing happens automatically. Therefore, you need not worry about multiple files getting all mixed up or cross-connected.
How to Stream to a Soundbar Using Wi-Fi
Compared to connecting a soundbar with a Bluetooth-enabled device, using Wi-Fi to stream to a soundbar could be a tad trickier because creating a Wi-Fi connection is not standard across soundbars. You may connect the soundbar in your smart home app or use the soundbar’s proprietary application. Based on the soundbar brand or make, the procedure to set up a Wi-Fi connection could vary.
Vizio soundbars use the SmartCast app. To get rolling:
- Download the app on your audio source device, such as smartphones, TV, etc.
- Create an account following the prompts that show up.
- From there, you would find the Vizio device(s) you may send audio to.
- Choose your Vizio soundbar to get started.
Bose employs its Bose Music app to control its soundbars via Wi-Fi.
- Download the app onto your device with the audio files and go ahead with the setup using the instructions that show up.
- Add your soundbar by tapping on the (+) sign on your My Bose screen.
- While connecting, your Bose soundbar will start pulsating light. Once connected, the glowing solid white light will fade away.
Here is a video explaining how the Bose Music app connects to wireless Bose soundbars and other Bose smart products:
Yamaha soundbars with Wi-Fi capability use the MusicCast app. To get rolling:
- Press and hold your Yamaha soundbar’s connect button for a few seconds. This should cause the device to emit a Wi-Fi hotspot signal.
- Connect your audio source device to the hotspot network by typing in your home Wi-Fi network user ID name and password.
- Once done, reconnect your audio device to your regular home network. Your soundbar shall now show up in MusicCast.
Sonos’ PlayBar uses the Sonos app to stream over Wi-Fi. However, the streaming sources are limited, and all audio coming from your source device will not be broadcasted. You may not be able to play Google Music content, for instance.
Wireless Soundbar: Advantages of Wi-Fi Over Bluetooth
Wi-Fi or Bluetooth makes it extremely easy to stream music or audio from your smartphone or tablet wirelessly. If you use iTunes to listen to music on your computer or like to Spotify on your smartphone, a wireless soundbar lets you play your favorite music from all these different audio sources.
Bluetooth Is Quite the Standard
Bluetooth is a common wireless technology standard found in most devices, including soundbars. Bluetooth works with any and every Bluetooth-enabled device. Moreover, it’s platform-agnostic.
It can play audio files from your Mac computer and even your Android phone. Pretty much all Android, Windows, iOS, and macOS devices have Bluetooth built-in. Similarly, almost every wireless soundbar has Bluetooth.
If you own a wired soundbar and don’t have the budget nor the inclination to upgrade to a wireless model – perhaps due to the existing soundbar’s excellent set of speakers – consider buying something like the 1Mii B06 Plus Bluetooth Audio Adapter to convert your wired soundbar to a wireless one.
Wi-Fi Facilitates Multi-Room Wireless Speaker Setup
Wi-Fi offers multiple upgrades over Bluetooth, which includes letting you listen to audio in multiple rooms simultaneously and control audio using AI technologies such as Alexa or Google Assistant. There are multiple open standards such as AirPlay, Play-Fi, Chromecast, and proprietary standards that make playing music this way even easier.
If you are planning to have multiple wireless soundbars in different rooms of your house and would like to blast music out of them all at the same time, you need Wi-Fi soundbars. And if you have Wi-Fi speakers in the house or considering buying a few, you could even add them to the Wi-Fi network mesh you created.
Wi-Fi Supports Hi-Res Audio Files
Both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth soundbars compress audio files to play music through the speaker, but they do so differently. Typically, sound from Wi-Fi soundbars is better than Bluetooth speaker audio. This is because the Wi-Fi soundbar signal is larger, the quality of sound is better, and also there are no interruptions.
Though Bluetooth comes with an HD (high definition) version, not all Bluetooth devices support the technology, including several Bluetooth soundbars. Also, Wi-Fi enables quicker data transmission, which also helps with playing high-definition music a lot more efficiently.
Kindly note these differences in sound quality may not be discernible by regular music listeners or non-audiophiles. This is particularly the case if the source file is highly compressed and/or the soundbar doesn’t pack in the best speakers.
Wi-Fi Offers Better Wireless Range
A Wi-Fi range is also bigger compared to a Bluetooth signal range, thanks to the increased range created by your Wi-Fi router. Bluetooth was devised to send small signals over short ranges. Bluetooth signal ranges are usually advertised to be approximately 30 feet. In real-world usage, however, the range is usually half of what’s being touted.
Unlike Wi-Fi, Bluetooth doesn’t require an internet connection. But since a Bluetooth soundbar and the audio device must be close to each other, you may feel virtually enchained working with Bluetooth.
Kindly note the objective here is not to project Bluetooth as the two’s inferior wireless technology standard. Both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth have their respective places and strong points. But when it comes to wireless soundbars, Wi-Fi does offer a lot more flexibility and versatility.
Compared to Bluetooth-enabled soundbars, Wi-Fi soundbars are not as widespread. The adoption of the technology, however, is on the rise.
More people are steering clear of wired soundbars and are also coming to learn that a Bluetooth soundbar isn’t the only wireless soundbar option available. Though setting up a Wi-Fi soundbar system could be a bit complex, it’s the ideal setup if you have multiple Wi-Fi devices in the house.