Characteristics and Properties of Wireless Portable Speakers

the comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about wireless portable speakers

If you’re curious to know about wireless portable speakers, this article goes into great depth on every aspect of these devices from construction, materials, acoustic properties and more.  Boombotix has been building wireless portable speakers for over three years now, so we figured we’d share some of our knowledge for your reference.  If you are looking to build your own wireless portable speakers, you may also want to reference this article on hardware product design.  You may learn a lot from our product design and use it as a starting point for your personal wireless speaker project.  If you have any questions, feel free to comment and we will see if we can be of assistance.  Let’s get right into it.

1. Wireless Portable Speaker Overview
1.1 Primary Parts and Funtions of a Wireless Portable Speaker
1.2 Why most wireless portable speakers use Bluetooth
1.3 Bluetooth Signals and Protocols
1.4 Other wireless audio protocols
2. Parts and Characteristics of Wireless Portable Speakers in Detail
2.1 Speaker Diaphragm
2.2 Speaker Magnets/Audio Transducer
2.3 Impedance Rating
2.4 Weatherproofing/Ingress Protection Rating
3. Portable Wireless Speaker Electronics
3.1 Class-D Amplifier
3.2 Bluetooth Module with Built On MCU
3.2 Lithium Polymer Batteries
4.Mechanics of Wireless Portable Speakers
4.1 Wireless Portable Speaker Acoustics
4.2 Portable Speaker Connectors
5. Firmware Programming on Wireless Portable Speakers
6. Where to buy Wireless Portable Speakers
7. Conclusion

1  Wireless Portable Speaker Overview

This is an exploded view of the Boombot REX2 wireless speaker.  This rendering shows you all of the primary mechanical components typically found in a wireless portable speaker.

This is an exploded view of the Boombot REX wireless speaker. This rendering shows you all of the primary mechanical components typically found in a wireless portable speaker.

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Infographic Essentials to Electronic Hardware Design

A lot of people have ideas of things they want to build but sometimes it can be daunting to get started.  Electronic hardware design in particular is something that scares most people.  Naturally, not everyone has every skill set required to make electronics, so most people dismiss it as the impossible.  They concede that only large companies with deep engineering resources can make electronics.  Fortunately, the rules have changed.  Technology has leveled the playing field and ODMs have opened their doors for business to entrepreneurs with a smaller wallet.

When we started building Boombots, we were working out of a garage (like most startups).  With less than $12k invested, we managed to get a finished production quality prototype and a completed injection mold.  Get in business gentlemen.

Jaybird versus Outdoor Technologies

Is there a better one or are they the same effing thing?

Jaybird and Outdoor Technologies bluetooth headphones

Lately I’ve spent a little time just checking out Bluetooth headphones.  The space is certainly interesting because obviously going wireless seems to be a natural progression from our traditional wired headphones.  Many audiophiles still prefer to use a wire just because it produces the most minimal loss.  However, Bluetooth has come a long way in bandwidth, cost, and signal stability since the Bluetooth 1.0 first came out.  The bit-rate has evolved in 2.0 and 2.1 to allow for pretty darn good audio transmission.  Some of the new standards allow for splitting of right and left channels as well so now you can have some pretty thumping stereo headphones while also having direct phone interfacing.  There is still some work to be done as most of these Bluetooth headphones are still just a tad bit lower in fidelity than a line-in connection, but no doubt there are hoards of engineers working on it.

Jaybird bluetooth headphones

So that catches us up on Bluetooth so lets look at a couple products that I recently came across.  Jaybird makes a sleek over-ear headphone with a sleek control interface on the earpiece and a flexible sport band over the top.  At $99, these come in a plethora of colors and according to Engadget:

these also ship with apt-X onboard, which is said to “clean up” your jams while adding depth, bass and treble, and if your BT device has apt-X (or if you use an apt-X enabling BT adapter), these guys can kick it up a notch further with “CD quality output.”

 

Outdoor technologies  bluetooth headphones

While that sounds all good and dandy, why don’t we take a look at Outdoor Technologies DJ Slim headphone retailing at $69.95.  I’d seen these headphones at a glance but after closer inspection, I realized that they are EXACTLY the same model as the Jaybird SB1s.  The only visible difference is that the buttons are SLIGHTLY different with a bit of a subtle diamond shape on them and the ear pads are a little bigger with sharper edges.  The Outdoor Technology model does not boast the apt-X CSR technology which may be a factor in the lower cost, but not confirmed.  We are going to look into this tech a little bit deeper to figure out which modules have it and which do not.  CSR makes a variety of bluetooth modules with varying costs, but Chinese manufacturers can easily swap out for cheaper modules with poor audio compression capabilities, shorter range, and buggy firmware.

Looking at this a bit deeper

OK so these headphones are basically the same thing… no big deal.  It is what it is.  When the X-Mini speakers came out, it was not long before a number of companies came out with Tweakerz, Rockerz, Chill Pills, Bass Balls and a bunch of other speakers that were pretty much the same.  iHome audio even copied the same design.  X-Mini still KILLS it because they have been recognized for being pretty consistent with quality while their copycats have mostly fallen into a price war.  They’re not the coolest brand in the game but they do sell a metric fuck-ton of speakers.

My next move…I look at some of the other products in the Jaybird and Outdoor Technologies portfolio.  They both have some Bluetooth earbuds called the Freedom and the Tag.  Low and behold, THOSE are the same too!!  WHAT?!

bluetooth earbuds Jaybird Freedom and Outdoor Technology Tag

Outdoor Technology Tag (left) and Jaybird Freedom (right)

I kind of felt betrayed because at first glance, I saw Outdoor Technologies doing something very similar to what Boombotix is doing as far as engineering products for active lifestyles and really tapping into the alternative community.  Their “about” section says:

OUR DEVELOPMENT OF WIRELESS AUDIO HAS BEEN SHAPED BY THIS CONSTANT PUSH AND PULL, TO STAY CONNECTED BUT NOT TETHERED

Well let’s be real here… they did not really develop anything.  They slapped their brand name on an OEM design.

Why not rebrand oem products?

I’m not sure who was first to market or who was behind the design, but it raised a couple of questions in my mind.  My first thought was that these are just some OEM headphone that both companies slapped their brand on OR one company designed them and the other bought the same design through the backdoor of a Chinese factory and rebranded them.  This stuff happens all the time and many brands are guilty of doing it.  Why not?  It is an easy way to take a product to market with minimal effort in design.  New CE products can take well over a year to develop which is a lot of engineering and R&D expense.

Now let’s address the moral dilemma.  Every brand has different value propositions and this tends to drive the product portfolio.  The strongest brands typically offer a product or service that addresses a specific market need.  This is where brands showcase innovation to differentiate their product/service on the market.  When you pick up an iPhone or Macbook Air, you appreciate the attention to detail in engineering and design (well most of us do).  This drives a number of us to invest in Apple products at a premium price because we support WHY Apple does what they do; Engineer/design beautiful products with an intuitive interface.  As Simon Sinek says, “people don’t by WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.”  Inherently, you want Apple to keep delivery amazing products, so you continually upgrade to the next model over time.  You build a relationship with the brand and establish authentic brand loyalty that lasts.

Every time that you invest in a product that is a copied product, you are taking valuable dollars away from companies that are innovating and breaking new ground.

As the founder of a speaker company, I take a great deal of pride in the innovation my team brings to the table.  Sure, we slap our logo on dog tags and make stickers for swag, but we will NEVER just slap our logo on an OEM product and call it our own.  If we didn’t do something to improve what mankind has already laid out before us, then we probably shouldn’t bother trying to sell it.  If we had to sell toothpicks, you better believe we would find a way to innovate that toothpick for increased strength, more eco-friendly material selection, or some euphoric flavor that makes your toes curl.  Boombotix designs and engineers every one of our products from the ground up to adapt audio to life in motion.  That is our WHY.

 

Packaging Design that makes you CRAVE

Aiaiai headphone package design

Anytime you buy a great product, there are a lot of influences that sway you to make an investment.  At any given time, you have a wide selection of products to choose from, and without having had the experience to try out every single one, you are naturally going to be initially drawn towards superficial elements like product packaging.  Price and specifications are going to be secondary, but the thing that will make a consumer pick a product up off the shelf is going to be the package.  In this article, we are going to focus on the TMA-1 Headphone package by a Denmark based firm called Aiaiai.
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BBTX Headphone and Earbud Concepts Unveiled

headphone and earphone design

As of right now, we are a speaker company, but this is not to say that we cannot apply the creativity and core values of our brand into other products.  Initially, Boombotix was formed to provide an alternative to headphones.  We have always prided ourselves in making products catered to a mobile lifestyle so durability, quality, and style have always been core values.  As we look to the future, we realized that we could apply these values to headphone and earbud design too, so this is our first stab at the concept.

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