Bluetooth Speakers – How the Heck Do They Work?
Just a decade or so ago, you wouldn’t believe it when somebody told you that one day you could play songs from your phone to an external speaker without using any wires. These days, wireless technology has evolved so much that almost everything electronic that you own can be connected wirelessly. What once was a dream, Bluetooth speakers are now almost as commonplace as the smartphone. With these tiny little gadgets, you can share your music with others without having to bother with messy cables.
Wireless connectivity might be all the rage these days, but what most people don’t know is that there have been wireless technology for decades already. Take a look at your TV’s remote control, that thing connects to your TV using infra-red signals, and this technology has been largely unchanged since the late 80s when IR remote controls first started to appear. If you were born in the late eighties or early nineties, then you probably used a cordless landline phone at home back when you were a kid. These phones use radio waves to transfer the analog signals from the base station to the handset.
The reason why IR wireless connections did not really take off is that it has a very small range, and the two devices (the receiver and transmitter) needs a clear line of sight between them to connect. It’s like when you cannot change the channel of your television because something or someone is blocking the IR receiver of the television.
Bluetooth uses a similar form of radio-wave, albeit it can only maintain connection within 10m or so (although, there are class 1 Bluetooth devices whose connectivity can stretch up to 100m). This is the reason why your Bluetooth speakers lose connection when you take your phone too far away, but it would reconnect automatically once you are within range.
Why is It Called Bluetooth?
The technology got its name from Harald Bluetooth, the second Viking ruler of Denmark. King Harald was famed for uniting the warring tribes of Denmark and certain parts of Norway under his rule. This is what Bluetooth technology aims to do; unite all your electronics so you can control them using a singular device. In fact, the Bluetooth logo is kind of a monogram of Harald Bluetooth; it is a combination of the runic symbols for “H” and “B”.
Another reason for the using the name of an ancient Scandinavian king is also a nod to the Scandinavian countries that played a major role in the development of cellular and wireless technologies, namely Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland.
How Does Sound Travel from Your Phone to Your Bluetooth Speaker?
Now that you got a bit of an introduction to Bluetooth technology, it is time that you learn how it actually works. It is time you learn how sounds from your phone reaches your Bluetooth speakers. If you have been wondering how Bluetooth in general works, you will be receiving a simple explanation on how this seemingly magical tech does its job.
Basically, a Bluetooth speaker is just a regular, battery-powered speaker, but instead of using a cable to connect to your phone’s headphone jack to get analog audio signals, it has a Bluetooth adapter. The adapter is like an antenna that allows the speaker to connect to the narrow radio frequencies that Bluetooth devices use. Your phone and laptop also have Bluetooth adapters built-in, but unlike the one in your computer, they can both send and receive signals.
To play music from your phone to your Bluetooth speaker, you must first pair them together. Pairing is like sharing a unique password between the two devices. When your phone is paired with the Bluetooth speaker, and it is currently connected, no other phone can use the speaker.
The way this works is that both the phone and Bluetooth enabled device sends out weak signals. This allows both devices to be discoverable (in the case of the smartphone, it is both discoverable by other devices and is also actively looking for Bluetooth signals). Once your phone discovers the Bluetooth signal of the speakers, you can connect to it and start the pairing process.
Benefits of Using Bluetooth Speakers
When the phone and the speaker is connected via Bluetooth, it’s like they’re connected via a very long USB cable. The great thing about Bluetooth is that unlike the other earlier wireless connections, like infrared, it can transfer huge amounts of data at one time. This is why your Bluetooth speakers don’t miss a beat when you play a song from your phone.
Once your phone and your Bluetooth speaker are paired together, the speakers on your phone will stop working. All of the sounds that your phone produces will come out of the Bluetooth speakers; this means when someone calls you on your phone, your conversation will be played on the speakers as well, which is why you would want to turn off the Bluetooth when you want to have a private conversation.
Another great thing about Bluetooth is once two devices are paired, they will automatically connect with each other whenever they are within range of each other. For instance, when you come home from work and you turn on your Bluetooth enabled speakers at home, they will automatically connect to your phone. You don’t have to go through the whole pairing process again.
Another reason why Bluetooth is such a great way to connect devices is that it uses up very little power. You can play music using your speakers through your smartphone for hours, and the battery drain will relatively stay the same if you just use it normally. In fact, it will actually save more battery power if you use Bluetooth speakers rather than the built-in speakers on your phone.
This is just a simple explanation of how your Bluetooth speakers work. Hopefully, this article demystified Bluetooth technology for you and made you want to learn more about this incredible piece of tech.