Is Wireless Audio Right for Your Organization?
When you plan a new audio setup, you must make some choices – and the first one is usually which type of connection to use. Both wired and wireless connections are widely used, so which one will be better for your business?
Let’s find out.
Wireless Audio Pros
Of course, wireless audio’s first and most obvious benefit is that it does not require wires. That is a benefit in that it means much less AV engineering and design is involved in creating a wireless setup.
Cable management can become daunting – imagine how much easier it is to mount a speaker on a wall without worrying about cable channels. However, remember that even wireless speakers need power – which means you may still need to add electric outlets close to their positions.
Another essential upside is flexibility. You can move your wireless speakers anywhere, depending on your needs – as long as they stay in the coverage zone, you will get great results without any hassle.
Scalability is also an important factor. Adding a new device to your setup is as easy as pressing a couple of buttons.
So why in the world you may not want to use wireless audio? Well, there actually are quite a few factors that can affect your decision. But before diving into them, let’s talk about how wireless audio works.
Types of Wireless Audio Connections
There are three main ways to connect audio devices wirelessly.
This technology is booming right now. New Bluetooth versions appear regularly, offering higher sound quality and longer signal transmission distances. However, the usage of Bluetooth audio in a business environment is still very limited today.
The maximum number of speakers you can simultaneously connect to a Bluetooth 5 transmitting device (the latest version) is only 7. It may be enough for a small meeting room or store, but you cannot cover a larger space with a Bluetooth sound setup.
Another limiting factor is the transmission range. Bluetooth 5 has a declared connection range of up to 800 feet – but in real-life scenarios, the sound quality may start degrading if you put a Bluetooth device farther than 100 feet away from the source – and any obstacle, such as a wall will further reduce the effective range.
Wi-Fi speakers connect to your local wireless network and use it to exchange data. They are considered an ideal solution for a business wireless audio setup, and rightfully so. You can build an extensive network of speakers and enjoy high-quality sound in a church, business, event space or any other any environment.
However, you must ensure that your Wi-Fi network is stable and has enough bandwidth to stream data smoothly. To mitigate the risks, you will probably need to create a separate network for sound streaming purposes only.
Another potential downside is the need for regular maintenance of Wi-Fi speakers. Every so often, you will probably need to install firmware updates for each speaker individually.
RF stands for Radio Frequency. You may be familiar with the acronym RFID. This is related to that. Such devices use a specific frequency to connect with each other. It is considered an outdated technology, and there is not much new in terms of hardware on the market.
In a typical RF audio setup, a transmitter is connected to the audio output device, and speakers or headphones have built-in receivers. A radio signal from a transmitter can spread to relatively long distances (up to 300 feet) and supports a virtually unlimited number of receiving devices.
The main downside of RF technology is its proneness to interference from other wireless devices, which leads to a poor listening experience.
600MHz Frequency Mics
In addition to these speaker options, you have options when it comes to wireless microphones. Instead of discussing which types do well (there are many), we want to warn you against the types that do not do well.
600MHz Frequency Microphones were quite common in the past. But guess what? They are illegal now because of problems with interference. That frequency range was repurposed for LTE and other broadband services. You can read more about it in this article from the FCC.
When to Choose Wireless Audio
A wireless sound setup may be the best solution for relatively small spaces where sound quality is not the main factor. For instance…
- Wi-Fi speakers are ideal for playing background music at lower volumes in a shop or restaurant.
- An office meeting room will benefit from Bluetooth speakers and wireless microphones.
- RF headphones are still widely used in museums for guided tours.
However, if you need clear and powerful sound or aim to build an audio setup for a large venue, an “old-fashioned” wired system will still be the best option.
Not sure which audio setup to choose for your business? We are here to help! Call us today, and let’s talk.