Do You Lose Sound Quality With Wireless Headphones?


You’re considering buying a new set of headphones. You are thinking about going wireless. However, you might have heard that even the finest wireless headphones can’t compete with wired models in terms of sound quality. You can’t help but think – do you lose sound quality with all wireless headphones? Don’t worry, we have got the answers for you.

Yes, wireless headphones lose sound quality when compared to wired headphones. Wireless headphones result in poor low-end frequency response and sound dynamics. Additionally, wireless headphones also utilize low-quality audio compression, reducing overall sound quality.

Why Do Wired Headphones Sound Better?

We’ve put wired and wireless headphones have been put through their paces. We have found that wired headphones are better than wireless ones. Streaming audio quality was a problem with all of the wireless Bluetooth Codecs we tried. On the contrary, wired headphones produced flawless audio signals. 

Low Interference Equals Better Quality

It’s possible to degrade the sound quality by interference, which can be mitigated with wired headphones. The high-definition audio quality they deliver will make your favorite tunes sound better.

Handling Higher Kbps

Wireless headphones can only support up to 768 kbps, whereas wired headphones can handle up to 2,304 kbps. According to some studies, the output ratio and the device your headphones transmit data through have the greatest impact on sound quality. 

The superior sound quality can be achieved with higher kbps on wired headphones. Most headphones accommodate the human hearing bandwidth of 20 hertz to 20 hertz. It is important to understand the differences between low, mid, and high frequencies if you want to correlate them with sound quality.

Impedance Factor

Impedance is a fundamental specification of all quality headphones and audio sources. The resistance of headphones to the electric current transmitted by the amplifier is known as impedance. Headphones, whether wireless or wired, have varying amounts of impedance. 

To achieve optimum audio levels, many wired headphones only require a small amount of power. A headset with a 25-ohm cable will offer better sound quality when comparing headphones of the same impedance level. Unlike wireless signals, cabled signals encounter no obstructions or barriers and have higher impedance, contributing to higher sound quality.

Overall Audio Quality

You may experience interference from your smart device when you wear wireless headphones. However, it’s a tradeoff for convenience and a wire-free experience. Sound quality can be degraded and interfered with by any device that gives a wireless signal matching the signal used by your headphones. If you keep your smart device nearby, the issue will usually be avoided.

The risk of interference is minimized by using wired headphones. High-definition audio quality is available with wired headphones that will ensure that your favorite songs will sound great when you listen to them on your headphones.

Related article – How To Balance Bass And Treble

Wired Headphones vs Wireless Headphones

Analog Signals vs Digital Signals

Wired headphones use analog signals to deliver sound. In comparison to digital signals like Bluetooth, this approach can handle a greater amount of audio data. The audio quality is delivered to you in its full splendor since they have to undergo so little processing.

Do You Lose Audio Quality With Bluetooth?

Bluetooth was not designed for audio entertainment. Because of its small bandwidth, it is compelled to perform data compression to the audio input it receives. Even though its design is fantastic for phone calls, it’s not the best for playing music. 

Additionally, Bluetooth may be compressing data on top of existing data compression, such as digital audio files or Internet-streamed sources. However, one thing to keep in mind is that a Bluetooth system is under no obligation to apply this extra compression to the signal.

Manufacturers of Bluetooth devices are primarily responsible for using the technology to degrade the audio quality to the least amount possible, if at all. Then there’s the fact that even on a top-of-the-line machine, tiny variances in audio codecs may be challenging to discern. 

The sound quality of an audio device will not be adversely affected by Bluetooth in most cases. However, those unsure about the impact prefer using a wired audio connection to eliminate any uncertainty!

Woman enjoying music from wireless headphones

Can Wireless Headphones Sound As Good As Wired?

Bluetooth headphones cannot compete with wired headphones due to a lack of bandwidth and performance. The reason for this is that Bluetooth headphones are unable to decode higher-quality audio as wired headphones can. 

However, with battery design and Bluetooth technology advancements, this might change in the future. Bluetooth’s next version may bring about a change and make it powerful enough to tackle high bandwidth and produce higher quality sound. 

What Impacts The Sound Quality Of Your Headphones?

Certain factors have a massive impact on the overall sound quality of headphones. Take a look at the most important factors below. 

Drivers

A headphone’s driver is the most critical element. It produces sound by converting an electrical signal into sound pressure. 

Even though there are three distinct drivers, they all have three basic components: voice coils, magnets, and a diaphragm. The diaphragm vibrates due to the components, and the resulting sound waves are what we hear. 

Diaphragm diameter is listed on the headphone label in millimeters under Driver. Larger drivers produce superior sound, especially in the bass range, although this isn’t always the case. When it comes to over-ear headphones, a driver with a diameter of at least 40mm is recommended. 

Many in-ear headphones use a dual-driver setup because of the limited space for a big speaker in these devices. Instead of using a single driver for all frequencies, the subwoofer uses one for bass and the other for the middle and high-range frequencies. 

Sensitivity Level & Sound Pressure

The terms sensitivity and Sound Pressure Level (SPL) are interchangeable on headphone spec sheets since they are linked. This tells you how loud the headphones are going to be while you wear them.

It measures the efficiency with which an electrical signal is processed into an auditory signal. Sensitivity is expressed as a decibel per milliwatt of SPL.  

The SPL per milliwatt ranges from 85 to 120 dB for most headphones. To put things in perspective, commuter traffic is typically approximately 80 decibels (dB), a screaming voice is 105 dB, and a plane taking off is 130 dB. 

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), long-term exposure to sound pressure levels (SPL) more than 85dB can cause permanent hearing loss.

DJ deck with audio dials

Impedance

Electrical resistance is measured by impedance, which is expressed in Ohms. Higher impedance simply indicates greater resistance, which means the headphones require more power to be driven. 

Mobile headphones often feature lower impedance (less than 32 ohms) and hence require less power. Headphones with impedances exceeding 120 ohms, such as those used by the audio industry, need a separate amplifier to drive them. 

Low impedance headphones utilize less voltage but demand more current because of their lower impedance. Vibrations caused by an electric current lead to sound. As a result, headphones with lower impedance may produce detectable hiss in the background. 

Impedance mismatch may also be to blame for these and other problems. When utilizing low impedance headphones with a mobile phone or high-end audio equipment, conflict might arise. It’s critical to use headphones that are compatible with the audio equipment you’re utilizing.

Frequency Response

The frequency response of headphones tells you how well they can reproduce a certain set of audio frequencies. The lowest numbers indicate bass, and the highest numbers represent high treble, quantified in Hertz. The frequency response among most headphones is between 20 and 20,000 Hz, which is in line with human hearing. 

Sound quality cannot be judged only by statistics, but they may be used to determine which headphones are best for a certain kind of music. Take jazz music as an example, you will need headphones that handle a low bass frequency.

Editing music on a Mac and piano

Total Harmonic Distortion

The level of sound distortion at a high volume is presented by total harmonic distortion (THD). 

As previously mentioned, headphones use a vibrating diaphragm in the driver to create sound. Diaphragm failure can lead to distortion when played at high levels because of low diaphragm vibration speed. Generally speaking, lower THD values are preferable. In general, THD in headphones is less than 1%, with high-end models being much lower.

Conclusion 

Headphones, whether wireless or wired, offer distinct advantages and disadvantages. If you’re looking for the best quality sound, then go for wired headphones. The brand of headphones also plays a pivotal role. As with most things, you get what you pay for!

Jayden Smith

Hi, I am Jayden. I have a strong interest in the latest hearing electronics including headphones, earbuds, headsets and speakers. I love to research and write information about them on a part-time basis sharing some tips for beginners looking for the perfect device.

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