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Headphones and Earphones Audiophile 101 | Part 5: What's the difference between "wired" and "wireless" headphones?

Headphones and Earphones Audiophile 101 | Part 5: What's the difference between "wired" and "wireless" headphones?

A good pair of headphones will last you years if you take care of them properly, so you want to make sure you invest in the right type. One of the biggest questions people think of when buying a new pair of headphones is whether or not to go with wireless Bluetooth or stick with a wired. 

In fact, market research firm Grand View Research has predicted the global earphones and headphones market is expected to be worth $15.05 billion by 2024. This indicates as new, state-of-the-art headphones become available, the wired earbuds vs. wireless earbuds discussion will get louder.
Let’s face it —  it all comes down to your lifestyle:
  • Are you looking for headphones you can use when you stream music at your computer every day, or do you need headphones that make it simple for you to listen to music when you work out?
  • Do you want to avoid the hassles of dealing with cords, or are you comfortable with wired headphones?
  • And are you searching for inexpensive headphones that might work well for a couple of years, or do you want headphones that will last a lifetime?
Fortunately, we’re here to teach you about the pros and cons of wired and wireless headphones so you can make the right choice. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key factors to consider when you evaluate both wired and wireless headphones.  If you don't have time to read the whole article.

Wired headphones

Wired headphones typically connect to your devices by what's known as 'aux in', also called a 3.5mm headphone socket. Some headphones come with a larger plug, but most will come with a 3.5mm plug too, as it's the most common one for connecting to a wide variety of devices.
Pros: Easy to use: just plug in and play. You won't need to worry about wireless-signal dropouts, and there's much less drain on your smartphone's battery life than with a Bluetooth or other wireless connection. You can connect to older devices that don't support Bluetooth, such as an older hi-fi system, CD player, TV or record player.
Cons: Many of the latest smartphones no longer have a 3.5mm socket, making it more difficult to connect wired headphones. Headphone cables often tangle easily, and the most common source of headphone failure is the joint between the cable and the headphone housing – wireless sets don't have this problem.
Wireless headphones
 
Wireless headphones have existed for some time, basically since Bluetooth as a standard was invented. Though battery-powered and not physically connected to your phone, they have a cord connecting both buds – and sometimes a band around the neck too.
 
Pros: There are no tangled cables, and they can connect to devices that don't have a headphone socket (such as many of the latest smartphones). There's no longer a noticeable hit to sound quality by connecting wirelessly with good wireless headphones.
Cons: You have to remember to charge the battery in your headphones – if it runs out, there’s usually a complete loss of function, except for models with a detachable cord that you can plug in as backup. Wireless headphones can cost more than wired ones, but any cost difference is rapidly diminishing. In rare circumstances, there may be wireless-connection dropouts or interference in some areas, although this would usually be for a fraction of a second. 
Setting up the wireless connection from the headphones to your device for the first time is usually simple. Most wireless headphones will then reconnect automatically thereafter.

 
I will walk you further through the main factors of each to help you make a well-informed decision.

Sound Quality

Wireless headphones generally have inferior audio quality compared to wired headphones, but this can depend on price range.
Most connect via Bluetooth wireless technology. There’s also a 'shortcut' way of connecting via Bluetooth, known as NFC (near-field communication), which makes the process even easier. Other connectivity options do exist as well (see below for details), but for almost everyone, we'd recommend connecting via Bluetooth or NFC.
Technologies such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and NFC are used to transmit audio signals. There are many wireless buds and cans that have excellent audio reproduction. Beats X, V-MODA Crossfade and u-JAYS are some noteworthy examples. While going wireless helps in terms of convenience and mobility, there are some limitations to it. Bluetooth operates at 2.4 GHz. Much wireless radio and other transmissions also operate at this frequency range. There is a chance that during Bluetooth playback, some other device working at same frequency might interfere. Tough chance for something like that happening on a wired connection. 
The main disadvantage of wireless devices is that there may be a loss of quality while high-resolution audio is being transmitted.  Bluetooth headphones generally support a maximum of 768 kbps while standard wired headphones can handle up to 2,304 kbps, depending on the output ratio and the device it is sending the signal through. So, yes, technically, wired supports better quality sound than wireless, but most digital audio files are only 256 kbps, and even the highest quality bitrate files are about 320 to 521 kbps.
Bluetooth 5.0 is widely used for new generations of most wireless earphones or earbuds already,  It is the latest version of the Bluetooth wireless communication standard which means headphone can maintain a super stable wireless connection within 10m range and use with lower power consumption and higher speed. The earbuds make use of Bluetooth 5.0 wireless technology and include support for the likes of aptX and AAC, and this was noticeable in the music we heard, which was crisp and clear. 
The biggest difference in sound quality, on both wired and wireless headphones, is going to depend on the brand and the quality. Different manufacturers design headphones with different equalization (or EQ) levels. For example, Beats come pre-installed with levels that are intentionally EQ'ed for heavy bass, wireless and wired. Blue offers manual EQ-ing directly on its wired and wireless headphone line, so you can make adjustments based on what you're listening to.
Sound quality does differ between wired and wireless headphones, but if you're listening to digital music, chances are, you aren't going to notice the difference, anyway. Listening to music on vinyl... now, that's another story

Battery Life

Wireless headphones are constrained by battery life, which will vary based on price range and the model you purchase. Wired headphones do not have battery life.
Many wired headphones do not require a power supply. This means you can plug them into an audio device and use them at any location, at any time. The trade-off for not requiring batteries, however, is sound quality. In some cases, wired headphones may use batteries that enable you to cancel out sound as you listen to music. These headphones usually require two to four AA or AAA batteries. Furthermore, wired headphones are available that feature rechargeable batteries.
Wireless headphones always require a power source, so you’ll need a battery to use these headphones. You may be able to use AA or AAA batteries to power your wireless headphones, or these headphones may come with a rechargeable battery. Wireless headphones that use a rechargeable battery usually require a mini or micro USB cable and take about 3 hours to recharge.
True wireless earbuds are usually with a built-in lithium battery which could offer several hours playback and Come along with a micro USB or USB Type-C Charging Case offering more hours of juice. Some earbuds offer NFC charging and 15-30minutes charges which are very good to use. 
The battery life of wired and wireless headphones varies. For wired noise-canceling headphones, battery life typically falls between 20 hours and 30 hours. With Bluetooth headphones, the battery life ranges from 8 hours to 12 hours, but some high-end Bluetooth headphones claim to offer up to 40 hours of battery life.
Portability
The main drawback with a wired headphone is that the cable is tangle-prone. Yes, even the ones that are tangle-free (while they don't tangle as easily, at times you will still have sort through the knots). There are also chances of the cable getting caught on things or having the connector being yanked out of your music player while moving about. Additionally, you cannot keep your device in one place and move around while listening to music due to the limited length of the cable.
 
And another wireless headphone is the True wireless earbuds. there aren't any cables between earbuds, so there's no wire or neckband to contend with. Nothing to get tangled in your pocket or caught on your zipper, nothing to whack around your neck in the middle of that cardio class, and also nothing to keep your singular earbuds together.
 
Compatibility
 
Wireless and wired headphones are both very compatible. Make sure your device is compatible before purchasing. Wired headphones usually work with any phone or device with a 3.5mm jack. Wireless headphones are normally compatible with any BlueTooth-enabled device.
 
Price
 
The price of your wired or wireless headphones may range from $1 to $5,000 depending on where you shop for headphones and the model you purchase.
Wireless headphones are normally more expensive than wired headphones, but again, this depends on your price range.
 
Ultimately, the price you pay for wired or wireless headphones depends on the features included in your headphones:
  • If you need the bare essentials, wired headphones may prove the most cost-effective option. These headphones might lack the style and features of various wireless headphones options but will enable you to connect to any audio device.
  • For those searching for the latest and greatest headphones or earbuds, you may be more likely to pay more to get the ones you want. Headphones and earbuds technology continues to evolve, and as new products are released, the prices associated with these devices may fluctuate.
In Conclusion
Every listener has an option to choose based on his need and lifestyle.
If you love having a pair of cans that work with a wider variety of technology, like older devices, turntables, and video game consoles, and will never leave you high and dry by running out of battery life, a wired pair will offer you plenty of enjoyment.
On the flip side, if you like the freedom to move around without cables and cords hanging out of your pockets and bags, and you love the idea of future-proofing, Bluetooth headphones are going to be the choice for you.  Wireless audio, as good as it is, will keep improving with technology. 
There is no disadvantage to using a wired or wireless earphone and headphone as long as the product satisfies the expectation of the user. Music whether natural or digitized always pleases a music lover. So carry on listening and keep on grooving!
Previous article Headphone and Earphones Audiophile 101 | Part 6. What is True Wireless Stereo (TWS)?
Next article Headphones and Earphones Audiophile 101 | Part 4: Noise Cancelling Vs. Noise Isolating (Which is Right for You)

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