An Overview of Bluetooth Wireless Audio


There are two main technologies for wireless home audio: wifi and Bluetooth. Wifi is popular because you’re using the same technology you already use for your wireless internet connection. However, Bluetooth audio is a valid rival, though it has its pros and cons.

The Pros of Bluetooth Audio

One of the problems with wifi is how many other devices are running on the same network. Your internet connection, wireless controller for your gaming system and other wireless devices could interfere with the wifi wireless music connection. Any interruptions and interference are akin to static bursting into a radio broadcast. Bluetooth audio eliminates this problem barring the rare competing devices using the same frequency and technology. And Bluetooth sound quality won’t be killed because someone turned on a microwave.

Setting up a wifi system can be hard and securing it from hackers is challenged. This is less of an issue with Bluetooth. This makes Bluetooth easier to use. That’s why Bluetooth headsets were the killer app/hardware for Bluetooth technology. Bluetooth headsets were so popular that people sometimes call all wireless headsets a Bluetooth. Bluetooth is ubiquitous and connects with almost everything. Only Bluetooth speakers and headphones are equally likely to work with your phone, computer, information appliance, and car infotainment center. Bluetooth capability is built into nearly every phone, laptop and tablet, too, though you may have to turn it on

The Cons of Bluetooth Audio

Bluetooth can stream CD-quality music. This is better than the radio, but it isn’t as good as a high def concert played through wifi speakers. Wifi uses a lossless codec that prevents the loss of audio fidelity as signals travel through the wifi network, including through a wifi booster.

Digital to analog converters in your low-quality headphones and speakers receiving Bluetooth signals can’t be compensated for by codecs. Unfortunately, there are many poor-quality Bluetooth devices out there that guarantee a low audio quality if you use them. While Wifi may or may not have a better range than Bluetooth, it is easier to locate a wifi router in the center of the house and have total coverage. It can pass through and around walls more easily than Bluetooth.

Observations about Bluetooth Audio

The original sound quality for Bluetooth audio was horrible. However, it has improved dramatically over the years. All Bluetooth devices support Low Complexity Subband Coding. Needless to say, that is the bare minimum. You have to have aptX HD codec running on both the sending and receiving device to get the best quality sound. Codecs like SBC and AAC aren’t as good but will suffice if you just want to hear the beats. If you don’t match the codecs used, the sound quality suffers because both devices default to the low complexity universal coding

There are different versions of Bluetooth. Bluetooth wireless audio explained by a pro will give you a shortlist of the generations of Bluetooth and how they build on each other. Bluetooth devices often have a better range than wifi. Class 1 Bluetooth devices have a range of up to 300 feet but generally, stop working at 60 feet. Class 2 devices have a shorter range, generally dying at 30 feet. Indoor routers running wifi have a range of 150 feet at most.

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