I have been using headphones with my phones since the early 2000s, when wired earphones were the standard. Wireless earphones have since arrived and are now going mainstream. And I have used a handful of Bluetooth wireless headphones till date. If you are thinking of making the transition from wired to wireless headphones, here are a few things you should know.
The most attractive proposition of wireless headphones is the freedom that comes with discarding of the cable. Cables are messy, get entangled, and get damaged. Being able to plug in without cables is super convenient, and I am yet to meet anyone who disagrees. But it isn’t the only factor. What are the others?
Wired vs wireless headphones: the differences
Audio Quality: if you are into high quality audio, Bluetooth technology is limited in the amount of data it can deliver. This means, at the upper end of sound quality, wired headphones do a better job than wireless headphones. If you are just the average Joe wanting to enjoy your favourite music, though, don’t worry about it: a good quality Bluetooth headphones is good enough.
Price: Wireless earphones and earbuds are generally more expensive than wired headphones, so be ready to spend more, especially if you want a set with more advanced features and better quality. The prices of wireless earbuds can go up as high as $1,000. Of course, you will find plenty for $50, $20, and even $10.
Listening time & charging convenience: With wired headphones, you plug in your set and have no worries about running out of battery. This is not the case with Bluetooth wireless headphones. They require a power source and so have built-in batteries. That means the listening time of your Bluetooth headset is limited. You will run out of power at some point in time.
When going out for extended periods, you will need to carry a charging cable and/or a charging case for your wireless headphone. That is the only way to guarantee that you do not end up with dead headphones. A wireless headphone is one more item to carry along with you. Not so convenient, if I may speak for myself. I dislike having to carry items along with me.
Wireless headsets sometimes need a reset: What is that? Oh sure, wired headphones just work till they die. Not so with wireless headphones, which sometimes act up and stop working, stop connecting, or stop playing sound for no apparent reason. For this reason, manufacturers include a means to reset them. Usually it is a button.
When you buy a wireless headset, make it a point of duty to know how to reset it. You never know when your headphones will act up, and you will need to reset them urgently.
Ubiquity: Once upon a time, 3.5 mm audio jacks were ubiquitous. You knew that regardless of the smartphone, tablet, or other gadget you purchased, there’d be a 3.5 mm audio port for your wired headphone. This is no longer the case. More and more smartphone manufacturers are excluding this feature from their products.
As such, there is no guarantee that the shiny new smartphone model you are waiting for will work with a wired headphone. On the other hand, every one of them is Bluetooth-enabled. How the tables are turned. If you want a future-proof experience, consider getting wireless headphones.
The above are some important things you should bear in mind when deciding whether to get wired or wireless headphones. At least, for now. As far as the extended future is concerned, that choice will eventually cease to exist when all headphones and earphones become wireless.
Some of my Bluetooth headset reviews: