Put the clock back a few years. If you wanted to listen to your favourite album, you would have to source and buy the cassette tape, put it into your tape-player (which must be connected to your speakers) and root the whole entangled sound system in one spot for the duration. Since those days, there's been a fundamental change in where and when we listen to music, and the devices we use to do so. I now expect to be able to stream my music wirelessly from my smartphone while still being able to update my status, message friends and talk on the phone. I want to be able to lift my speaker from the kitchen to the garden when I have friends over for a barbeque, without compromising on audio quality. Perhaps surprisingly, Bluetooth technology is the key to making this vision of a seamless audio experience a reality.
In the past few years, the demand from consumers to go wireless has increased rapidly, driven in part by the convergence of mobile devices and the increasingly demanding, tech-savvy users who have connected devices at their fingertips in their smartphones and tablets. Bluetooth stereo audio products have been on the market for years now, but it's only over the past 12 months that we've seen some of the world's leading brands embrace the technology. Traditionally Bluetooth has suffered from a somewhat lukewarm reputation for audio quality. Bluetooth was originally designed as a low bandwidth, low-power solution, but compression issues meant that it failed to meet the standard that users had come to expect when listening to a CD.
The perceived 'so-so' sound quality was one of the main reasons many of the higher end audio companies were reluctant to dabble in Bluetooth stereo, they didn't want to damage their audiophile reputations by producing products that would deliver poor listening experiences for end-users. That is, until now. So what has changed? A new generation of Bluetooth Stereo audio products is using a technology called aptX®, which allows the transmission of CD-quality audio over the wireless link. Recent high profile brands to embrace wireless and launch Bluetooth Stereo audio products include Beats by Dr. Dre and Harman Kardon. Here's a pick of some of the best new wireless audio solutions on the market:
• Beats Pill by Dr. Dre
The Pill is the latest speaker system to emerge from Beats. With wireless audio, tap-to-pair NFC functionality and an 8-hour battery life - it's just what the Dr. ordered
• Harman Kardon BT headphones
As over-ear cans go, you could do much worse than the wireless BTs. Harmon Kardon have all bases covered, even including a built-in microphone and playback buttons for use with your smartphone
• Braven Six Series Speakers
Although it appears to be recycled from the 2012 Olympic torch, the Braven 650 takes gold for having a 20-hour playtime and wireless capability from up to 33 feet away
• Monster Clarity HD Micro
You'll be surprised by the monstrous sound that comes out of this miniature speaker. The Micro even has voice functionality, letting users pause, skip, and answer calls while listening, all wirelessly and with great audio quality
• Logitech UE 900
Should you ever need to spend some quality time with your music, the wireless UE 9000 offers intuitive controls so you can change tracks, turn up the volume, or take a call and get back to the music without missing a beat