Wired vs. Wireless vs. True Wireless Headphones

Wired vs. Wireless vs. True Wireless Headphones

It can be difficult to choose between wired and wireless headphones. Which of the two is superior? The argument over this topic is and will always be prevalent, especially as technology advances. Wireless technology has grown in popularity over the years and will most likely become the norm in the future. True wireless technology, which is still in its infancy, has come a long way in just a few years.

Should you abandon your wired headphones in favour of cordless or true wireless headphones? All of these solutions, however, offer their own set of benefits and drawbacks. You may choose the perfect pair for you by considering your lifestyle, how you want to use the headphones, and your tastes.

In this article, I’ll go through each of these possibilities in detail so you can make an informed decision. I’ll also do a comparison of the audio quality and other features to assist you decide which alternative to choose.

Enjoy.

  • Headphones with a Wire
  • Headphones with no wires
  • Headphones that are truly wireless
  • Headphones: Wired vs. Wireless

Headphones with a Wire

Headphones with a Wire

Sennheiser HD 600, Samson SR850, Audio Technica ATH-M50x, Takstar Pro 82 are some examples.

Since the introduction of the first wired headphone, they have been and continue to be a reliable option in the audio world. An ‘AUX in’ connector connects a wired headphone to a gadget. The 3.5mm headphone connector is used by the majority of wired headphones, but others utilise the less common 6.3mm or 2.5mm.

Because they were the first in the headphone industry, wired headphones have a number of advantages over wireless headphones. First, the sound quality is far superior to that of wireless headphones since they do not suffer from the interference and lag difficulties that are prevalent with wireless headphones, particularly those that are inexpensive.

You won’t have to bother about connecting and pairing them, or charging them every time you use them, thanks to the simple plug and play system. You only need a playback device with a headphone output port to get started. Even your grandfather’s Walkman will work with a pair of wired headphones!

However, wired headphones have drawbacks, and one of the most significant is the cable. You won’t have any problems if you spend the most of your time stationary. The wire, on the other hand, is a disadvantage for those who are continuously moving around because it is prone to twisting and tangling, but don’t worry because we have some advice on how to keep headphones from twisting and tangling. Another issue with wired headphones is the distance between your device and you. Every time you use your headphones, you’ll need to have your smartphone or DAP (Digital Audio Player) with you.

Pros
  • It’s plug-and-play. Battery life is conserved, and you can connect to devices that don’t support Bluetooth or other wireless protocols.
Cons
  • Newer smartphones do not have a 3.5mm jack, and headphone cords are prone to tangling.

Headphones with no wires

Headphones with no Wire

Sennheiser HD 4.4BT, Bose QuietComfort 35 II, Sony WH-1000Xm3, Audio Technica ATH-M50XBT are just a few examples.

The term “wireless headphones” is often used interchangeably with the term “Bluetooth headphones.” This is due to the fact that they are the most affordable and readily available wireless headphones. Wireless headphones, on the other hand, are not confined to Bluetooth exclusively. Wi-Fi, Infrared (IR), Radio Frequency (RF), and Kleer, commonly known as KleerNet, are among them.

Connecting to a network is how Wi-Fi headphones operate. It enables for a longer connection distance depending on your Wi-Fi protocol version and communication system antennas. Wi-Fi is also more quicker than Bluetooth, with speeds of up to 250 Mbps compared to 25 Mbps for Bluetooth. You may also use Wi-Fi headphones to listen to music from services like Spotify, Amazon Music, or SoundCloud. Wifi headphones, on the other hand, have drawbacks. To begin with, WiFi uses a lot of energy when compared to Bluetooth. When you combine this with a difficult setup and a slew of other drawbacks, Wifi headphones become a chore. The VINCI Smart Headphones are an example of a wifi headphone.

Infrared headphones (IR) utilise a similar technology to your television remote. IR headphones transfer sound to a receiver embedded into the headphone through a transmitter connected to the audio source via audio wires. The range of IR headphones is less than 10 metres, and a clear line of sight between the transmitter and receiver is required. This implies that objects will block the sound signal, and you won’t be able to walk around your house with infrared headphones on. IR headphones have the advantage of not being impacted by radio waves like RF counterparts and providing greater sound quality. Sony MDR-IF245RK and BOSS Audio Systems HP12 are good examples of infrared headphones.

Radio Frequency (RF) headphones, like infrared (IR) headphones, come have a docking station as well. Frequency modulation (FM) is used by RF headphones to send sound from the audio source to the headphones. This is the same type of signal that an FM radio uses. The major advantage of RF headphones is that they have a wider range (about 100 metres) and can be utilised all throughout a room without being hindered by barriers like walls. Another advantage is that you can connect an unlimited number of headphones to a single transmitter, making them ideal for group music. RF headphones have the disadvantage of being more susceptible to interference from any equipment that creates electromagnetic signals. Sennheiser RS 120, Sony RF995RK, and Sennheiser RS 175 are some good examples of RF headphones.

In terms of sound quality, Kleer wireless technology is without a doubt the greatest in wireless transmission. Kleer technology produces digital stereo audio that is uncompressed, lossless, and of CD quality. Low battery consumption is another advantage of Kleer. When compared to Bluetooth, Kleer consumes less power and can last up to 3-4 times longer. Why is Kleer so unpopular, with all of these advantages? First and foremost, it necessitates the use of dedicated hardware on both ends of the transmission. Second, from its beginning in 2006, Kleer has struggled to gain traction in the industry due to low market penetration. A nice example of a headphone that uses Kleer wireless technology is the Sennheiser HDR 160 Headphone.

Bluetooth is the most widely used wireless technology, allowing two devices to connect and pair across a short distance of up to ten metres. Bluetooth is simple to set up, and most gadgets, including smartphones, headphones, and other electrical devices, support it. Bluetooth has the advantage of being widely used in a variety of items. It also uses less power, may be used for speech and data transmission, and Bluetooth devices are inexpensive. The disadvantages are that it only permits short-range communication, that it can lose connection in certain circumstances, and that it can be hacked. Other wireless headphones, such as the JBL T450BT that we reviewed on this site, are also available at a low price.

Pros
  • No tangled cords, portable, and can connect to devices without a headphone jack.
Cons
  • It must be charged. Signal dropouts or interference in some regions, can be more expensive than wired.

Headphones that are truly wireless

Headphones that are truly wireless

Enacfire E18, Sony WF-1000XM3, Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless, and Apple Airpods Pro are other examples.

Earbuds and IEMs are commonly associated with true wireless headphones. There is no wireless between the two earphones with real wireless earbuds. The lack of cords connecting the two earphones or wires from the audio source distinguishes it. Bluetooth is used to transmit data in true wireless earbuds.

To function, one earbud, often known as the’master earbud,’ links to the playback device through Bluetooth. The audio signal is then transmitted by the’master earbud’ connecting to the other earpiece. Everything is incorporated into the earbud due to the lack of wires. Controls, microphone, and battery are all included.

The primary issue with truly wireless technology when it initially came out was the battery size. The majority of the devices lacked insufficient battery capacity. True wireless earbuds, on the other hand, have increased their battery capacity as time and technology has progressed. Almost all models now include a portable charging case that stores extra power to keep the earbuds charged while on the go.

The primary disadvantage of truly wireless earphones is the possibility of losing one of them. Apart from that, because they transmit data via Bluetooth, they will inherit the majority, if not all, of the problems associated with Bluetooth headphones.

Pros
  • It’s a completely wireless experience, and it’s extremely portable.
Cons
  • In some regions, signal dropouts or interference may occur; it is also costly.

Headphones: Wired vs. Wireless

Headphones: Wired vs. Wireless

Wireless headphones use a variety of technologies, including Bluetooth, Infrared, Radiofrequency, Wi-Fi, and Kleer, as seen above. I’ll consider Bluetooth wireless technology in the debate between wired and wireless headphones. This is due to the fact that it is the most frequently used, least priced, and most widely used wireless technology.

  1. Sound Quality
  2. Features
  3. Battery Life
  4. Portability
  5. Compatibility

1. Sound Quality

Wireless headphones are often thought to have lower audio quality than tethered headphones. However, over time, the distinctions in sound quality have faded to the point where most people can’t hear the difference. This is undoubtedly one of the most contentious issues among audiophiles and die-hard music fans.

Wireless technology reduces the resolution of music by transmitting a compressed version of the audio and also encoding and decoding the audio data. This gives the impression that the music is digital or synthetic. With wired headphones, however, the signal is not converted. This results in good sound quality without having to spend a lot of money on the headphones.

Audio signal interference is also a problem with wireless headphones. The audio quality suffers as a result of these interferences, which diminishes the sound. This is exacerbated by the presence of an extra Bluetooth transmission in fully wireless earbuds, which allows for even more interference.

Even with advancements in Bluetooth technology, wired headphones still outperform wireless headphones in terms of sound quality. Though the differences may be minor in the future, the greatest wireless headphones will struggle to compete in terms of audio quality with the best tethered headphones.

2. Features

If you’re looking for a lot of features, wireless headphones are the way to go. Active noise cancellation (ANC), sweat/water resistance, app connectivity, virtual assistant connection, and many other features are included. One of the nicest features to enjoy with wireless headphones is active noise cancellation. However, not all of them will support ANC, so read the specifications carefully before purchasing.

3. Battery Life

You don’t need a power supply with wired headphones. To work, wireless headphones will need to be connected to a power source. Most wireless headphones have a built-in rechargeable battery that can be charged with a micro USB cord that is normally included with the headphone. A wired headphone’s battery life is usually determined by its characteristics and usage. The majority of them have a battery life of 8-20 hours, however some can go up to 40 hours.

4. Portability

Wireless headphones may prove to be better than corded headphones, despite the fact that both are portable. Wired headphones run the risk of becoming tangled, but depending on the application, they may be ideal. When working exercise, for example, wireless headphones are preferable to tethered headphones.

5. Compatibility

Most wired headphones link to other devices through a 3.5mm headphone jack, although others have a separate socket for the headphone and mic (see also how to use headphone speaker and mic in one port). In addition, most audio equipment have a 3.5mm jack. You can connect to any audio source using laptops, PCs, walkmans, and other devices. However, contemporary devices, such as the iPhone (see also where is the microphone on iPhone 11 or iPhone 12), may be a blow to wired headphones by removing the audio connector. It may become more difficult to obtain a smartphone that supports the 3.5mm headphone connection in the future. Even new iPad models without a headphone port are no longer available. If you listen to music mostly through your phone, wireless headphones could be a wise buy. Users with wired headphones, on the other hand, have a variety of choices for resolving this issue, like purchasing lighting headphones or investing in adaptors.

Final Thoughts


As I previously stated, the decision between wired and wireless headphones should be impacted by your lifestyle, preferences, and what you intend to do with the headphones. Which type of headphones, wired or wireless, do you prefer? Let’s continue the discourse by leaving a comment below.

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Sara Khan

About the Author: Sara Khan

For almost 5 years, I've been passionately blogging about headphones and audio technologies. Hundreds of headphones were tested and tried. Always on the lookout for the "best-value-for-money" headphones. Today, I'm more concerned with back-end content creation and technical concerns.

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