Portable Bluetooth speakers and connected speakers are ideal for easily listening to music from a smartphone or a wired source. Increasingly efficient thanks to the latest streaming technologies, these speakers sometimes lack presence in the lows due to a restricted cabinet volume and small drivers. The bass delivered by a small portable speaker isn’t going to be as loud as that offered by a pair of speakers. So, how can you improve the bass of a Bluetooth or connected speaker?
Why does my smart speaker lack bass?
The vast majority of portable Bluetooth speakers and wireless speakers have a compact format for ease of transport and space saving. To achieve this compactness, manufacturers use drivers that often measure less than 4″. However, a small driver, whose cone moves little, is more suited to the reproduction of highs or mids. The reproduction of the lows and infra-bass often requires a large diameter driver measuring at least 6.5 inches. In addition, a large enclosure volume is necessary to optimize the power of the bass. This is notably why a floorstanding speaker offers more depth in the bass than a bookshelf speaker, even when they have identical drivers.
To compensate for this lack of bass on Bluetooth and connected speakers, some manufacturers opt for drivers that are exclusively dedicated to bass reproduction. Larger in diameter, they are often long-throw models to maximize air movement. An example is the Elipson W35+ speaker, which features two 6.5″ long-throw woofers. Typically, these woofers are paired with DSP systems to boost the bass level without distortion. The French manufacturer Devialet is a master in this field. Thanks to proprietary technologies, it is able to reproduce an excellent bass level with small speakers such as the Devialet Phantom II 95 dB. But, how can you enjoy the same advantages on a smaller speaker without these technologies?
Some portable Bluetooth speakers allow daisy-chaining with one or more wireless speakers. A simple stereo pairing with a second speaker not only allows you to enjoy real musical reproduction with an extended soundstage, but also increases the volume and, at the same time, the bass level. Sony offers this possibility with the Party Connect feature that allows the pairing of up to 100 compatible Sony Bluetooth speakers: the Sony SRS-XB33, Sony SRS-XB23, Sony SRS-XB43 and Sony SRS-XG500.
With a wireless speaker, you can take advantage of multi-room compatibility to connect it to more speakers. Several wireless speakers connected to the local network and compatible with the multi-room function can be associated with each other. Each manufacturer uses its own transmission system to stream music simultaneously to each wireless speaker connected to the wifi or ethernet network. The only exceptions are multi-room wireless speakers that use DTS Play-Fi, FireConnect, Chromecast or AirPlay 2 technology, which can communicate with speakers from different brands.
How to add a subwoofer
The best way to extend the bass response is to pair your speakers with a subwoofer. To do this, some connected speakers such as the Audio Pro Addon BT C5 and JBL L75ms provide a wired subwoofer output. All you have to do is use a subwoofer cable like the Oehlbach NF SUB to connect the LFE input of a compatible subwoofer such as the Yamaha NS-SW050 or the Jamo S 810 SUB and enjoy better bass reproduction.
Some Bluetooth and wireless speakers that don’t have a subwoofer output can still be paired with a wireless subwoofer. This is the case for the SONOS Roam SL, SONOS Roam, SONOS Move, SONOS One and Sonos Five speakers which can work in tandem with the Sonos Sub (gen 3) wireless subwoofer. Thanks to this wireless communication, the subwoofer can be easily hidden in the room, allowing you to enjoy powerful bass while maintaining the minimalist appearance of the wireless speakers. The result is often “magical” because many will think that the bass is reproduced by the visible speakers…
Increase the bass level from the speaker
Some Bluetooth speakers do not have a subwoofer output or a dedicated wireless subwoofer. Even when it’s possible to connect a subwoofer, it only optimizes the bass levels of music at home. Consequently, there is always a lack of bass when a single speaker is used on the go. In this configuration, some Bluetooth speakers offer equalization to enhance the bass level. For example, the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Explore speaker allows you to adjust the bass level from its mobile app. Other speakers allow you to improve the bass directly in their control interface. An example is the Marshall Kilburn 2 speaker, which incorporates a potentiometer to adjust the bass on a level from 0 to 10.
Some Bluetooth or connected speakers do not allow you to manually adjust the bass level, but integrate different DSP systems to optimize it. Sony excels in this area thanks to its exclusive Extra Bass technology which reinforces the low frequencies in a very convincing way. Therefore, even its compact models such as the Sony SRS-XB13, Sony SRS-XB23, Sony SRS-XB33 and Sony SRS-XB43 manage to provide much more powerful bass than competing models of the same size.
Improve speaker placement
The placement of a Bluetooth or wireless speaker also has a major impact on the reproduction of the low frequencies. Indoors, you can easily boost the bass by placing the speaker up against a wall or, even better, in a corner. The wall will reflect and artificially amplify the low frequencies. Outdoors, you can use this same amplification principle by placing the speaker against a low wall, for example.
Boost the bass level from a phone
If your speaker does not have a subwoofer output or equalization, you can optimize the bass reproduction as much as possible from the settings of the smartphone or associated source. The source will apply a DSP to the music to give the impression that the speaker is delivering louder bass. On an Android device, you can manually boost the level of the bass, the treble, instruments and vocals from the “sound quality and effects” menu in the “settings” tab. It is also possible to choose a predefined setting for different musical styles: classical, jazz, rock, etc. In general, the pop setting provides a more pronounced bass emphasis than the other preset EQ modes.
For an iOS device (iPhone or iPad), you can improve the bass by going to the settings, then to the “Music > Equalizer” tab. Unlike Android, you won’t be able to define your own adjustments and only presets for several musical styles are available. To optimize the bass of your speaker, you can activate the “bass boost” option or use the “pop” and “deep” DSPs.
Increase the bass level from a computer
As with a smartphone or tablet, you also have the option of adjusting the bass level in the computer’s settings. On Windows, this option is generally available in the sound settings, accessible via the control panel. From the “manage audio devices” option, you can select your speaker to adjust the bass reproduction. By default, the bass is set to flat, but you can change it to the preset option that best suits your preferences. Equalization is performed in real time, making it easy to compare different settings.
On Mac, you can access the sound menu from the computer’s system settings to enable various presets such as pop or bass mode. If you’re using the Music app to stream tracks, you also have the option of fine-tuning using a band equalizer.
Which speaker is best to enjoy powerful bass?
There are different solutions to improve the bass of a connected Bluetooth speaker, either directly from the speaker settings or from the associated source. However, the best solution remains to opt for a speaker that is designed to offer a good level of bass. Examples are the Soundcast VG7, Sonos Move, JBL Boombox 2, Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level, Escape P9 and Sony SRS-XG500 speakers. . To enjoy even more powerful bass in large rooms and outdoors, you can also opt for party speakers such as the 450-watt Eltax Voyager BT 15 or the 240-watt JBL PartyBox 310.