I consider myself an old-school user, so when I am purchasing a new gadget for my home or personal use, I tend to go old-school. So, if you asked me a couple of months ago, I would probably go with the good old classic models. I used to be like your old grandma who is afraid of her VCR. Lately, though, I have decided to catch up with the advancements in this field as my family and friends started to point out the convenience of cordless gadgets.
If you are a runner, a gamer or just a plain smartphone user, chances are you are using headphones on a daily basis. Because of this, there is a variety of models on offer in every store that makes your head spin. I know mine does. Imagine my surprise when I learned that there are differences between wireless and Bluetooth headphones. In order to make the best purchase, I had to do my homework on the topic.
The cordless headphone is a common name for any headphones that use wireless technology. It is important to say that all Bluetooth headsets are wireless but not all wireless headsets are Bluetooth. In this day and age, the popularity of the cordless models is growing, and they become a part of a fashion statement and an image urban youth presents.
Gamers, sportspeople, call center agents (but not only them) use cordless headphones every day. They offer freedom of movement and they are tangle free, as there are no cords to get entangled. We all know how frustrating it can be trying to untie that knot on our earbuds cord that appeared as if magically. While choosing perfect cordless headphones for myself, I have come across an issue that is the difference between Bluetooth and wireless headphones.
1. Wireless vs. Bluetooth
The difference between wireless and Bluetooth headphones is confusing because Bluetooth is a subtype of wireless (in addition, they are often called wireless Bluetooth headphones''). Confused? I certainly was.
Both models are in tune with today’s active lifestyle requirements as they give you the ability to move freely without worrying about the cord. They give you the opportunity to multitask, as some Bluetooth headphones allow you to receive and make calls while listening to music. There are some main differences between them.
The first thing that came as a point of difference is the technologies they are using. Bluetooth headphones use radio waves to transmit information. They operate at 2.4 to 2.8GHz which is a common frequency for other gadgets. This may result in the interference of those gadgets with your own.
On the other hand, wireless headphones use infrared (IR) or radio waves to send and receive information. The IR technology (found in older versions of devices and gadgets) shows some performance problems when there are walls or even larger furniture (like cabinets) as they are blocking the signal from the source device o the headphones. Can you use your TV remote to turn on your TV through the closed door, ar through a wall from a different room? Probably not, as they are also using the IR technology.
Another thing to consider is the range of the signal, i.e. how far you can move away from the source device in order to hear the music. With wireless headphones, the range is around 90 meters (around 300 feet), while the ones that are Bluetooth powered have a considerably smaller range- about 7 to 9 meters (up to 30 feet). The wireless headphones range varies a little due to the environment.
With the advancement of science in this field, the newer versions of Bluetooth, such as Bluetooth 5, have broadened their range to approximately 200meters.
Which ones you choose considering this aspect is closely related to your needs. If you need them for exercising freely, you will do good with the Bluetooth version, as you can have your phone in your pocket or really near you. On the other hand, if you want to enjoy your favorite tunes while, for example, mowing the lawn you should maybe go with the wireless model as it has a bigger range.
4. Audio Quality
It is widely considered that both Bluetooth and wifi headphones have considerably lower sound quality than all of the wired versions. This is because the audio signal is compressed in order to travel to the headset, which takes out of the fullness of the sound, rendering it flat.
In order to overcome this issue, and maybe the only disadvantage in comparison to the wired ones, the headphone manufacturers created headphone codecs. They are a part of Bluetooth headphones that transform that compressed sound into a sound that is of highest possible quality at the moment. Chances are that the wireless technologies are going to advance very quickly in the nearest future, and thus give you the best possible audio experience.
Some of those codecs are SBC, AAC, LDAC, and any of the aptX versions. To learn more about what those abbreviations mean, and if you need to closely consider them when you are purchasing your next headphones, check here.
Another thing that is worth mentioning is that Bluetooth headphones are not suitable for watching videos due to something called latency. Imagine the situation: you are about to watch an episode of your favorite series, it is late and you do not wish to bother your roommate or your spouse, you are comfortably reclining in your chair but the audio is late! Annoying, right? This happens as a consequence of the time that is required for the sound to get to your headphones.
5. Connectivity, Compatibility, and Pairing
When we are talking about compatibility of the devices, the Bluetooth models have a great upper hand as they are compatible with almost all devices that are Bluetooth enabled, regardless of the headphone’s or the device's brand. In opposition, the wireless headsets often connect only to the devices of the same brand, as the manufacturers make them to be compatible only with their own brand…
In regard to pairing, Bluetooth headsets connect easily to various mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets or laptops. The wireless headsets connect to more devices- gaming consoles, TVs, personal computers, and other electrical devices. They are mostly designed for gaming as they usually come with a full headset, while Bluetooth models often came in form of earbuds since they are designed mostly for active people who like to exercise while listening to music.
Another thing that is important to mention is that Bluetooth headsets are a little bit user-friendlier as they come with a built-in chip with Bluetooth technology which facilitates easy connection with all Bluetooth enabled devices. In contrast, wireless headphones require a USB device that serves as an adapter and makes it possible for the connection between the two devices to happen. This creates a problem of taking care of that small part while you are not using the headset, especially if you tend to lose small things as I do. And for all of you laptop users, you know how valuable the USB ports are since they are scarce on a laptop, and you might want to use it for something other than your headphones.
Issues encountered with both Bluetooth and wireless headphones
One of the things I was worried about when I was considering buying a cordless headphone model is battery life. I am already living connected to the electrical outlet charging my phone as it is. Unless your phone is brand new, you can probably relate. So Do I need another gadget that needs "constant care"?
As it turns out, both Bluetooth and wireless headphones have similar and pretty decent battery life (some wifi models use standard batteries that you can easily replace). Even when they should be charged, it takes them about 20 minutes, which is not such a nuisance after all.
Take your time to decide what kind of product you want to buy. If you think you should stick to the old-school, that is okay, at least until the sound quality in cordless models reaches the quality of the standard, wired models and especially if you don’t have to move while wearing them.
What is important is to do your homework, and decide which of the variety of headphones agrees with your needs and your lifestyle. Consider all these aspects before you go online or to the nearest store. Otherwise, you could end up with a pair of headphones that are not suitable for you just because you thought they "looked good" or because the store manager said they are "the best out there".
You are the one who can best decide what headphones fit your needs. I hope this article helps you in making that choice.
Maybe the most important functional difference is in the range, others are just a matter of preference as both models help you to have a more active life and enjoy some musical entertainment while you are on the move.