Wireless headsets are quite the hype recently. Understandably so, we all like to be free to move while communicating. Some are still sticking to wired headsets though. The concern is with the lag that comes with wireless headsets. Let’s clear things up, do wireless headsets have a delay?
All wireless headsets, headphones, and earbuds have a delay. The delay depends on the performance of the Bluetooth circuit and codec. Better, expansive models have a shorter delay. The delay can vary from 34 ms to 300 ms.
Don’t worry though, with good wireless headsets the delay isn’t that noticeable. Let’s see why that is.
Why Do Wireless Headsets Have A Delay
Basically, all headsets have a delay. With wired ones, the lag is so small, it’s not even noticeable. Wired headsets have a delay of 7 ms. The problem is with Bluetooth headsets. Sometimes, the lag will be obvious but in most cases, it’s barely noticeable.
All Bluetooth headsets have a circuit that determines the quality of the signal. Bluetooth headsets work by sharing audio data which is compressed and decompressed. That is crucial for the delay time. Better compression means less latency.
Bluetooth Signal Strength
It goes without saying that the headset and the device you’re using it with should have a strong connection. If something is interfering with the signal, the latency can become noticeable.
High-quality headsets have a good Bluetooth chip. They provide a stable connection and are harder to interfere with. Usually, the delay happens when the signal is really bad. In those cases, most devices will alert you of a bad connection.
So, you shouldn’t worry about having a bad connection and not noticing. The important thing is to make sure there isn’t another Bluetooth device turned on. Wi-Fi devices can interfere too, only when too close to the headset though.
When it comes to wireless headset delay, the codec is what you have to worry about. A codec is a program that codes and decodes data. That’s essentially what the delay is. Before the data becomes audible, it needs to be processed by the program.
The device you’re using the headset with compresses the audio output data. Then, the headset decompresses that data. Conversely, the headset compresses audio input(microphone) data which is decompressed by the device.
This whole process happens in mere milliseconds but the delay can still be noticed. So it comes down to how well the Bluetooth headset codes and decodes the data. With bad headsets, the codec can take up to half a second, it is quite annoying.
Now, headsets with the latest Bluetooth version don’t have as much latency. No matter the codec program, Bluetooth 5.0 has made some improvements in terms of delay time. However, it still has a problem with live audio.
It’s not that significant but it still makes a change. I would still recommend looking for headsets with aptX LL and LDAC.
Seeing as how the codec program determines the delay, you would want to know about the best codec.
Best Bluetooth Codec
There are two codec programs that are competing for the best, Sony’s LDAC, and aptX. Apple’s codec shouldn’t be thrown out of the window but it’s only compatible with Apple products.
If you’re looking at a high-quality, expensive Bluetooth headset, chances are, it has one of these codecs. You can still look for something better but most likely, the delay won’t be noticeable.
Now, you can find two variables of the aptX codec; aptX HD, and aptX Low Latency. The aptX HD doesn’t make much of a difference in delay, the accent is on the sound quality. Specifically made for audio files compressed in Free Lossless Audio Codec(FLAC files).
The aptX Low Latency makes a huge difference in delay. Although the sound quality isn’t as good as with aptX HD, the delay is cut to 40 ms. I guess this is the codec you want if you’re looking for low latency Bluetooth headset.
Sony’s LDAC comes close to aptX LL but aptX still has a shorter delay. LDAC like the aptX HD also focuses on high-quality audio. Customers praise LDAC because it provides lossless audio but still manages to cut the delay. Unfortunately, we can’t find the specific delay for LDAC.
You won’t be able to get the benefit of these codecs if your device doesn’t support it. Keep in mind, that not every smartphone or device supports these programs. So, it would be a good idea to make sure everything is compatible before buying.
Top Wireless Headsets With Low Latency
Let me suggest two wireless headsets that have aptX LL. Both of these products are highly praised, and I personally recommend them.
Avantree Aria Pro
The Aria Pro is a good low latency headset. It has the atxP LL, atxP HD, and Bluetooth 5.0. Great quality audio for FLAC, and short delay. Reasonable price for a low latency headset.
Sennheiser HD 450BT
This is a more expansive option than the one above. The 450BT has the same codec support; atxP LL, and atxP HD. It is also one of the best noise-canceling headphones with a built-in mic.
Related Questions And FAQs
Can You Get Rid Of Delay On A Wireless Headset
Entirely getting rid of latency on a wireless headset is impossible. All headsets have a delay. The only problem is when it’s noticable. If the source of the delay is software related with the device you’re using, then you can try to fix it.
Is It Okay To Have Delay On A Wired Headset
Experiencing high latency on a wired headset is not normal. Wired headsets have a delay of only 7 ms. You can try troubleshooting the issue. Check the cable, and check for software issues.
So, wireless headsets have a delay, it’s a problem we can’t get rid off. But there’s a justified hope in the technology. There’s still space for improvment, and low latency headsets with codecs like atxP LL are proof enough.
In the meanwhile, if you are willing to pay, you know what to do. Look for wireless headsets with codec support: atxP Low Latency, and LDAC.