There are a few options when it comes to listening to music.
Most people will probably be aware of FM & DAB radio, Wi-Fi streaming is becoming more and more common thanks to the likes of Sonos and Bluetooth is now supported on almost every device out there.
This means you have plenty of options!
Hopefully everyone is familiar with FM radios! This is the most common feature and allows you to listen to FM radio channels, favourite stations can be set and recalled from the memory for quick access to your top stations. These are often the cheapest systems as it's the oldest and most common. Usually controlled via a wall panel or a remote control you can be listening to an FM radio station in seconds.
DAB is a higher quality version of FM radio. With a good aerial connection you'll receive a much higher quality sound from your favourite radio stations. Most commonly in our wall mounted radios and some of the ceiling mounted radios. Again it's pretty easy and quick to get listening, hit a pre-set button and your favourite station will begin playing.
We highly recommend using a proper roof or loft mounted aerial with DAB systems as gaining a good signal from the standard aerials can be a bit hit and miss.
This is fast becoming the most popular and most requested feature of all speakers, portable and installed. Bluetooth is a way of connecting your smartphone, tablet or PC to the amplifier and allows you to stream content from your device in high quality.
Bluetooth is quick, easy and very reliable. It doesn't require any special apps, any audio content from your phone, from any app, can be streamed to the music system. It's also not dependent on manufacturer, so any bluetooth device be it Apple, Samsung, HTC, iPod, you name it.. if it has bluetooth it will work.
The only limitation with bluetooth is the range. Typically about 10m but if you stray further than this you may lose your connection which will stop the music playing. However for the majority of home installations i.e kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms the chances of being more than 10m away whilst listening is rare.
Since the introduction of Sonos Wi-Fi streaming has become hugely popular. Wi-Fi streaming requires a streaming box such as Sonos, Musaic, Denon (and many more) which allows you to choose internet radio stations and music streaming services from their bespoke app.
Wi-Fi streaming is not affected by range as the music is played from the streaming box, not the smartphone/tablet. Having a Wi-Fi streaming box also gives some other advantages such as alarm clock functionality and often you can turn the system on, adjust volume etc from the smart phone app without having to set any inputs on an amplifier.
There are numerous systems available now, the most common being Sonos & Denon Heos. There are also multiple Wi-Fi streaming adapters like Chromecast Audio, iEast Audio, Musaic and many more. It's fast becoming more affordable and more common with more and more systems supporting Wi-Fi streaming.
The main, and biggest benefit of Wi-FI streaming over Bluetooth is the ability to create a multi-room audio system. You can listen to a radio station in the kitchen whilst someone else listens to their music collection in the bedroom. And with a simple button press all rooms can be playing the same music, at the same time.
Airplay & Chromecast
These are essentially Wi-Fi streaming devices, however there are a few differences.
AirPlay is an Apple solution and works with iOS devices including phones, tablets and computers. You simply install an Airport Express Wi-Fi box and connect the audio output to your speakers. Then from any iOS device connected to your Wi-FI network you'll gain the ability to stream music to the speakers.
You can even install multiple AirPlay receivers, give them all unique names and stream to different rooms of the house.
Chromecast is very much the same, however it's more Android based. There is also a great app for iOS so it works with both platforms. It works in much the same as iOS but offers a bit more flexibility with the ability to create multiple zones and link them together to create a multi-room audio system.
Auxiliary inputs are the oldest and most simplest connectivity technology. Simply plug in an audio device!
These are for physical wired connections to devices such as televisions, iPod's and CD players. If you prefer to physically plug in your device then look for a system with an auxiliary input on the front panel.
Some systems have an auxiliary input on the rear of the amplifier, this is great for connecting televisions, CD players and other wired devices without any visible cables.
We often have customers connecting a Wi-Fi streaming box to their kitchen radio systems to give them access to internet radio and other services.