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How to Choose the Best Wireless Headphones

Thanks to wireless Bluetooth headphones, you can free yourself from cables and listen to music directly from your smartphone, computer, or other sources with Bluetooth. But what should you pay attention to when choosing them? About this – and more – you will learn from our article.

For many lovers of good music, a smartphone is the primary source of the sound. This translates into the growing popularity of Bluetooth wireless headphones, which offer freedom from unnecessary wires and are great for listening to music outdoors. Bluetooth headphones are extremely comfortable, and the batteries they contain are becoming more and more efficient. For example, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x model can be used, which can work up to 70 hours on a single charge. What’s more, the sound has already reached a really high level, comparable and sometimes even better than some wired solutions, which will confirm, for example, by users of Bowers & Wilkins wireless headphones.

How Do Wireless Headphones Work

Haven’t you heard of headphones that can be integrated with other devices without using a cable? Are you wondering how exactly such an electronic accessory works? There is no big philosophy here because the whole principle of operation is based on the well-known Bluetooth and WiFi technologies you encounter in your everyday life. With their help, you connect the gadget with a smartphone or PC, and you can enjoy playing sounds wherever you want—instead of a cable, only limited by the range, which is usually really long.

In connection with the described scheme of the presented equipment, several questions arise regarding the purchase of wireless headphones. WiFI or Bluetooth? Do wireless headphones fit every phone? These are just some of the prevalent dilemmas that appear in consumers’ minds, and probably also in yours. In general, you will find models equipped with a Bluetooth module more often in stores. This technology allows for a quick, easy and stable connection, so you do not need to use other options.

There is no problem with compatibility either. Today, virtually every electronic device has an interface with which headphones can connect without any obstacles. It does not matter what smartphone or computer you use because the variants of accessories available on the market will integrate with any model.

What to Look for When Choosing Wireless Headphones

If you want to buy relatively cheap wireless headphones with sound audio signal emission and solid quality, you should consider many aspects. As already mentioned at the beginning of the guide, there are so many options available on the market that it is simply impossible to decide immediately to buy a specific set. First, you should take a closer look at the price because the value of your budget determines the class of the gadget. She will tell you first if you can afford something low, medium, or high.

Usually, consumers opt for an intermediate solution, i.e., attractive wireless headphones up to PLN 150. They do not match professional devices for which you have to spend several times more money, but with a slight burden on the budget, they guarantee a pretty good playback of sounds from a computer or a mobile phone. They are recommended primarily to users who are just starting their adventure with accessories equipped with Bluetooth modules, but for more experienced people, they are also perfect.

After you’ve determined your budget initially, decide what types of wireless headphones you’re interested in. There are several models on the market at the moment that differ in terms of individual parameters.

In recent years, wireless earphones are rapidly gaining popularity. With the advancement of electronic technology, small gadgets for playing music have become much more advanced in operation. In terms of the quality of the audio signal, they are not inferior to their larger counterparts. It is easier to fit practical elements responsible for processing all sounds. The most significant advantage of such headphones is portability – you can take them wherever you want without any problem because they even fit in a trouser pocket.

Another type is over-ear wireless headphones. This type is less mobile due to its size, but it also works better in the vast majority of cases. The large surface of the right and left diaphragms allow for a cleaner and richer tonal sound. The choice of one of the described variants depends on your expectations regarding the accessory.

In addition, pay attention to the range offered by individual models. Do you need wireless headphones for a PC or smartphone with which you will not be able to go more than a few dozen centimeters? The area of ​​operation is one of the most important parameters with which wireless headphones equipped – the long-range turns out to be extremely useful every day, so it pays off to invest in gadgets with a high value of this attribute. Keeping an eye on specific equipment makes sure that it does not have connectivity problems within the radius specified in the technical specifications. Sometimes it happens that some devices lose range, even when you are close enough to the computer.

In addition, carefully check the working time on a single charge provided by the manufacturer of wireless headphones. How much does the battery hold in each variant? Standard at least a few hours, but the best ones can play music continuously for up to 20 hours. It is known – how long the wireless headphones can withstand when fully charged affects the price. The longer they play, the more you have to pay for them.

The Role of Audio Codecs in Wireless Headphones

The technology used in headphones intended for portable solutions is Bluetooth. In constructions with such a module, radio waves using an additional transmitter. These headphones communicate directly with an audio device that supports this standard, sending a wirelessly signal.

The most common codec in Bluetooth wireless headphones is aptX. It allows you to get good quality sound, thanks to the sampling frequency of this codec, which is 48 kHz and 16-bit processing. The total harmonic distortion THD + N is on the level of – (minus) 68.8 dB. The dynamic range with such processing is also relatively large and can be even over 92 dB. The frequency response of the aptX codec is between 10 Hz and 22 kHz, and therefore has no noticeable effect on the quality of the audio material. This type of solution is used, for example, in-car audio equipment and wireless speakers, and mobile devices.

At this point, it is worth noting that for the codec to fulfill its task, it must be supported by both the signal transmitter (smartphone) and the receiver (headphones). Otherwise, the algorithm will automatically adjust the transmission quality to that supported by both devices, i.e., in practice lowering it. Hence, before buying, make sure that the individual elements are compatible with each other. 

As in the case of the Bluetooth version, it must be supported by the headphones and the sound source for the codec to work. Until Bluetooth Audio becomes widespread, SBC is standard for Bluetooth. More advanced alternatives include AAC, the aptX family of codecs, Sony’s LDAC, and some less popular codecs. We advise you to read our detailed analysis of this topic in the article “Sound via Bluetooth: versions and codecs, do they affect the sound quality? ”

And here, we will limit ourselves to a summary: “Wireless technologies should not be the main factor when choosing an audio device. Do not automatically write off headphones with not the latest version of Bluetooth or only with the SBC codec – they may sound better or be more comfortable than their competitors.

Bluetooth version

As a rule, the higher, the better – with the technology development, the data transfer rate increases, the power consumption decreases, and support for more advanced codecs appear. However, the audio source must support the same version to take full advantage of the new Bluetooth wireless headphones. Modern models support Bluetooth version 4 and higher. It is important to note that up to version 5.1; there are no changes in sound. But version 5.2 will bring support for LE Audio with the new LC3 codec to replace the standard SBC and add the ability to send or receive a signal from several devices at once (for example, you can connect several pairs of headphones to one phone). 

Runtime / Battery

At first glance, everything is obvious – the longer the operating time, the less often you need to think about charging the device, and the fewer chances that you will suddenly find yourself without the sound you expected.

Of course, it can accommodate a larger battery in larger models. Thus, full-size wireless headphones today boast a runtime of up to 100 hours without recharging, while wireless in-ear headphones will last an average of 10 hours. In the case of TWS models, the operating time can be only 3-6 hours. However, there are a couple of nuances here that are worth paying attention to:

  • Over-ear and on-ear headphones often come with a cable that can use like regular wired headphones if the battery is low.
  • True Wireless earbuds equipped with exceptional cases are used not only for storage but also for recharging. That is, you will always have a Power Bank for headphones with you. For different models, you can get 2-4 more full charges from the cover. Thus, they can work for several tens of hours, but with short pauses for recharging in the case.

Additional features 

  • Headset. Most wireless headphones can answer calls, but the connection quality may differ from the location and number of microphones and other technologies (noise cancellation).
  • Active noise cancellation system. Due to external microphones dampen environmental noises, which allows you to listen to music at a lower volume in noisy environments. In addition, there is also an inverse mode (“transparent”), which allows external sound to pass through, turning the headphones from closed to open (can be helpful when training in the city, while cycling, etc.). Active “noise control” is modern and convenient, but you will have to pay for its work with the battery charge, which will “last” a few hours less.
  • Control. It can be touch, push-button, or combined – pay attention to its convenience and the functions available for control.
  • Smartphone application includes control and configuration options.
  • Support for voice assistants/voice control (via Google Assistant, Siri, or Alexa).
  • Fast connection to the source. One-touch connection is possible with the support of NFC technology and headphones, and the device. Apple users have received similar functionality from headphones with the Apple W1 chip – at the moment, it is found only in their new models.
  • Sweat / Moisture Resistant – Common in sports models but increasingly common in regular models. Specified in IPXX format. Read our detailed material on this topic: “IP degrees of dust and moisture protection: a detailed guide .”  
  • Internal Memory / MP3 Player – Mostly found in full-size models and compact sports.

Now every manufacturer is trying to surprise with a wireless model; technologies continue to evolve, battery life is growing, the size and weight of models are decreasing, new functions and whole classes of devices appear. Just six years ago, True Wireless headphones did not exist, and today most famous brands have such models.

Of course, in the case of wireless headphones, as with any other, it is of the utmost importance that the sound quality and long-term listening comfort meet your requirements.

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