The Age of Wireless Headphones

In today’s society we are use to seeing phenomenal technology but never diving deeper into it. People are more likely to use wireless headphones today then headphones that connect by a wire. Did you ever wonder how do wireless headphones work? There’s a lot of science and engineering that goes inside of your wireless headphones to make them work effortlessly.

Here we will break down the technology and terminology in a way that is easy to understand. Lets begin.

How Do Wireless Headphones Work

First type of Wireless Headphone

To get us started, we have to understand the difference between the types of wireless headphones. Today, there are two main kinds of wireless headphones. These two types of headphones might work the same way, but there are still fairly different.

The first kind are radio frequency wireless headphones, sometimes abbreviated as RF wireless headphones. These headphones pass a signal between a frequency of 3kHz to 300 GHz, through the air to a receiver connected to a TV or stereo. These can extend for over 100ft, but are restrained by solid materials and other wireless devices interfering with the signal. Headphones like these use frequencies, similar to radio, to communicate with the receiver.

Some examples include the Sennheiser RS 185 RF Wireless Headphone System, or the Power Acoustik HP902R Wireless Headphones. Both come with a base stand that can connect two pairs of headphones. Headphones like these are perfect for your home theater, since you can easily set them up and use the base stand to charge your headphones.

Second type of Wireless Headphone

The second type of wireless headphones rely on Bluetooth technology. These headphones work better with a shorter distance and less interference. All you need is a Bluetooth device that is capable of connecting to your headphones via the Bluetooth settings. Practically all consoles, streaming platforms, and smartphones use Bluetooth. Bluetooth is designed to be safe, power-efficient, and simple to use.

We’ve reviewed a number of Bluetooth headphones in the past. Wireless headphones like the Skullcandy Grind Bluetooth Wireless On-Ear Headphones, or the Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless In-Ear Headphones are great examples. The first features a traditional headphone design, while the Powerbeats 3 showcase the new trend in wireless earphones that have them connected by a cinch.

For more information on how Bluetooth works, visit the official website here.

The Main Differences Between Wireless and Wired Headphones

Now that you know the technology behind wireless headphones, you may wonder what is the difference between wireless and wired headphones? In this section, we’ll discuss some common misconceptions and highlight the biggest changes.

Wired/ Wireless

Obviously, the biggest difference is one pair uses cords and the other does not. Wireless headphones work by being cordless and typically only needing a cord to charge the battery.  This makes certain activities, such as running or watching TV, more convenient without any concern for tangles or cord lengths. Wireless headphones connect either with a base receiver, or more popular now, a Bluetooth signal. The latter only requires Bluetooth capable devices in order to connect.

In the most recent version of Bluetooth, devices can connect immediately if they are within a certain range. A good example are the BeatsX Wireless In-Ear Headphones, or the Apple AirPods. These wireless headphones connect automatically and as easily as if you had plugged it in yourself.

Sound Quality and Latency

In earlier versions of Bluetooth, the greatest concern was that of the quality of sound. The concern was whether there was any lag between the transmission and the audio. Since its introduction however, numerous developments have been made and a majority of headphones on the market. Today they offer high-quality audio (328kbit/s), or Bluetooth aptX. The more advanced wireless headphones you use, the better sound quality you will get.

For a full list of aptX-supported headphones from Audio-Technica, AKG, Sony, and Sennheiser, check out this page from the aptX website.

Battery Life

If there’s one potential challenge to owning wireless headphones, it’s the hours of battery life. Even the entry-level lines offer up to 8 hours of battery life, with power-saving features when not in used or out of range. At higher price points, you can find even longer lasting headphones. With the latest Bluetooth technology, you can charge your headphones for just 15 minutes to get at least an hour of charge. Not bad for people who tend to forget things last minute.

Looking for wireless headphones with hours of battery life? Look into the Plantronics BackBeat PRO Wireless Noise-Canceling Hi-Fi Headphones which last 24 hours, or the BÖHM B66 Bluetooth Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones, which last 18 hours.

Remote Control and Additional Features

Some of the more modern headphones have playback buttons. This button allows you to pause, play, skip, and adjust the volume to your songs. Declining or answering phones calls are simple with wireless headphones since you can just press a button.

Some headphones released in 2017 offer the ability to measure your data. This data includes your heart rate, speed in which you’re moving, or whether you’re listening to music. This can be desirable to athletes or people trying to get in shape. The data helps show what you’re doing and when you’re doing it.

Both the Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless Bluetooth Headset and the Bose SoundSport Pulse Wireless Headphones have a built-in heart rate monitor. They connect to your smartphone with an app. This can allow you to track and be coached your training. Combined with waterproof material, these headphones are perfect for anyone who is into sports. 

Additional Resources

Wireless headphones will continue to grow in popularity as technology improves. We can continue to learn how wireless headphones work. With technology changing every day we can see wireless headphones becoming more efficient. With the announcement of Bluetooth 5, we can expect to see upgrades. These upgrades include headphones with longer lasting battery, further range, faster data transfer and connectivity.

Now that you know how wireless headphones work, stay tuned for other developments in the wireless headphone market with our blog.