Comparing Bluetooth Speakers for AAC Use

*This article was written and distributed by Speak for Yourself. We just wanted to share the information with everyone!

“In the beginning of this school year, I purchased some iON Clipster portable Bluetooth speakers. Over the months, I’ve left them with students who do not have amplified cases. When you’re working so hard to learn to use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), your voice has to be loud enough to be heard, even in noisy environments.

I test volume informally at conferences in the exhibit halls. The exhibit halls are generally a big, open warehouse with 10 foot by 10 foot cubicles and thousands of people talking at any given time. The unamplified iPad may as well be on mute in that environment. It’s inaudible. We generally use the AMDi iAdapters, but I’ve been using the mini as well at conferences with an iON Clipster for amplification. It’s passed my “exhibit hall test:” people can hear and understand it in an exhibit hall.

When I loaned my last “spare” speaker out, I asked for portable blue tooth speaker suggestions in the Speak for Yourself Users Group. Based on the feedback there, I ordered another iON Clipster, the JBL clip, and the Merit Shock.

In September, Dana Nieder did a Bluetooth speaker volume comparison on the Uncommon Sense Blog. For consistency, I used the same app to measure the intensity and followed her methods with the exception of duplicating the “experiment” two nights in a row and I only tested with the Speak for Yourself app. Based on that vague description, it may be redundant to state that this was not a truly scientific experiment. Nonetheless, I have conclusions.

Here are the results:

Chart comparing average intensity levels of Bluetooth speakers with the Speak for Yourself app.

Overall impressions:

Merit Shock:

Merit Shock Bluetooth speaker next to the Speak for Yourself app on an iPad mini.

Smallest in size, but the heaviest.
Poorest sound quality of the three tested. Static was audible.
Least amplification
It came with a bike mount that could possibly attach to a wheelchair. It also came with a little carrying bag and a cord that could attach to the headphones port if for some reason, you didn’t want to use Bluetooth.

JBL Clip:

JBL Clip Bluetooth speaker next to the Speak for Yourself app on an iPad mini.

Most expensive
Lightest in weight
Good sound quality
It also came with a cord that could attach to the headphones port if, for some reason, you didn’t want to use bluetooth.
Personally, it didn’t impress or disappoint. In my opinion, it wasn’t worth the extra cost.

iON Clipster:

iON Clipster Bluetooth speaker next to the Speak for Yourself app on an iPad mini.

Least expensive
Most amplification
Good sound quality
No extra accessories
In my opinion, this continues to be my portable Bluetooth speaker of choice…for now.

If you have any other Bluetooth speaker recommendations or experience with the ones I’ve mentioned, please comment. It would be especially helpful if you have durability concerns or endorsements.

* I don’t have any affiliation or financial relationship with Bluetooth speaker companies. Also, I accept no liability if you buy something and don’t like it. This is for informational purposes only.”