Wired vs wireless headphones: Which one is better?

For audiophiles, a good pair of comfortable headphones is the highest level of joy they can have. A reliable pair of headphones, if bought with proper considerations from a good brand can last you years on end even for heavy usage.

But, for this, questions like what your budget is, do you want a wireless or wired pair and what specific features you want are important and relevant to the purchase. In this article, we specifically address the wired vs. wireless debate. What are they and which one is better?

Wireless headphones and other devices have gained a lot of popularity in today’s time and age. Before we compare the two, let us delve deeper into the meanings of these terms.

What are Wireless headphones?

Wireless devices connect to source devices like laptops, computers, smartphones, and other devices wirelessly and require charging or the internet in doing so. There are three ways a device can connect wirelessly and they are – Bluetooth, Radio Frequency (RF), and Infrared Frequency (IF).

RF uses electromagnetic signals to send out audio signals and IF uses line-of-sight technology to do so. Wireless devices are perfect for people who move around a lot but they might not have the best sound quality and 3D soundstage quality that some wired headphones can bring to you.

Let us now delve deeper into the specifics of wireless headphones.

Sound quality

The sound quality of a pair of wireless headphones varies from brand to brand due to the different drivers and the range of technology that manufacturers use in their devices. However, the overall quality of wireless devices is good enough due to advancements in technology.

Sometimes the sound quality also depends on the kind of environment you are in and how much background noises affect your listening experience. Wireless connections work better when your source device is in range and the signal is seamless, strong, and high.

More distance can cause lags, distortions, and interruptions as wireless devices use digital signals to process sound to make it crisp, crystal, and clear sounding.

Portability

Wireless devices offer the best kind of portability there is out there and are great for travelers and people on the go. Some people feel that wireless devices weigh you down while you do activities like running, jogging, and other intense movements for a long period of time.

However, this is rarely the case. Not only are these devices lightweight but also have a very small chance of falling out. Moreover, you do not have to worry about wires and cords which can get very annoying to manage if they tangle or break.

A light and versatile device with a waterproof design is enough for you to enjoy any music in any weather and condition. Most wireless headphones provide a range of 30 feet from your device and also come with a wired option if you prefer it under certain conditions.

Battery life

Since wireless devices do not operate on their own, you need a power source to charge your device on. The technology these devices use is Bluetooth which can offer a battery life that ranges from 8 to 12 hours. Cheaper models of even in-ear headphones come with a battery life of 4-5 hours.

Some wireless headphones have managed to acquire a battery life of as much as 20 hours so that charging is the least of your concerns. High-end wireless headphones have the capability of working for 30 to 40 hours in one charging!

Usually, these devices take some time to charge even if they come with a fast charge option. But there is nothing to worry about as the charging time is never more than 4 hours which is a pretty good deal for long playback time.

Compatibility

Compatibility is one of the key concerns of people who buy wireless headphones. This is because your headphones are as good as trash if they are not compatible with the device you want to play your songs from. A good model should be compatible with all devices.

Most wireless headphones have great compatibility with all devices today as they use the latest Bluetooth technology. It is always recommended to choose the Bluetooth version according to your device so that the connectivity is perfect.

Pros

  • Freedom of movement
  • Wide range of compatibility
  • Highly portable
  • No hassles caused by wires
  • Highly versatile

Cons

  • Repairing could be pricey
  • Limited playback time because of charging requirements

What are wired headphones?

Wired headphones connect a device using wires which transmit audio signals via it. The wires conduct the audio in the form of electrical signals which is converted to sound energy before it reaches your ear. These devices take their power from the device they are connected to like your PC, phone, laptop, etc.

Wired headphones usually come with a 3.5 mm audio jack to connect with these devices. The plug size may vary but the greatest advantage for these are that the signal does not cut or fall out and these devices will continue playing till they break as long as they are connected through the audio jack to the power source.

Wired headphones work like speakers do. These are basically a smaller version of speakers and are the best for personal listening. Using analog data signals, these headphones can carry more data than digital data for single users like Bluetooth headphones.

Sound quality

When it comes to sound quality, there is not much of a difference between wired and wireless listening devices but many audiophiles would vouch for wired ones. Believe that their sound is more authentic and realistic as there are no connectivity signals involved.

Moreover, it is a fact that due to the absence of any connection signals like Bluetooth, there is also no chance of interruptions or lags, something that is highly appreciated by professional gamers. Technically, wired headphones would provide better sound quality at the highest bit rate too.

As there are minimal interruptions and disturbances with wired headphones, they can sound better for 8D audio, HD audio, and other digital forms of high-quality audio. However, in the end, the quality of sound and reliability lies with the brand you shop from since they all manufacture differently.

Portability

In terms of portability, wired and wireless devices stand almost at par with each other. However, there is one small exception. This is when it comes to wires, in-ear headphones, and other listening devices that involve a lot of wires. They might get tangled when you do not take proper care of them.

This makes them a little less reliable for people who are always on the go and store their devices in cramped-up places for portability. For example, your wired earphones will get tangled in your pocket and the wire might even break off if it is fragile enough.

For specific use and in fixed positions, wired devices are a boon but in terms of portability, they do not perform very well. However, if you can store them in a separate box or use a tying cord to keep the wires detangled, then it would not be a hassle for you.

Battery life

Wired headphones and earphones do not use any kind of batteries to work and mostly operate on direct plug and play use. However, noise-canceling earphones and headphones can use batteries to cancel out background and ambient noises when they are using active noise cancellation.

For this purpose, they can use batteries with a battery life of up to 20 hours to 30 hours. You also would not face any battery issues with wired headphones as they are in the jack of the device.

Compatibility

The compatibility for wired headphones and earphones is almost always too high because they use an audio jack instead of Bluetooth connectivity of different versions. Connectivity issues too cannot arise when your device is directly connected to your earphones or headphones.

Thus they can be connected to any device using the 3.5 mm audio jack specially designed for these devices which is universal and lets you connect your headphones or earphones to your source device. Wired ones are more flexible when it comes to compatibility and sound quality.

Pros

  • Better sound quality by manufacturers
  • Inexpensive maintenance and repair
  • Easy to use and value for money
  • Unlimited playtime

Cons

  • Can restrict movement
  • Wires can be fragile and prone to damage

Who are wireless headphones for?

  1. Athletes and sportsmen
  2. People who multitask
  3. Travellers and people who stay on the go
  4. Users who prefer more freedom of movement

Who are wired headphones for?

  1. Office workers
  2. Musicians and audiophiles
  3. People on a budget
  4. Gamers who do not want lags
  5. Plug and play enthusiasts

So, which type is better for you?

Wireless devices are perfect for people on the go like travelers, athletes, and other people who want to listen to things while multitasking. Wired ones are great for people operating from fixed positions like office workers, professional gamers, etc.

Both types of headphones can come with active or passive noise canceling features and in designs you want so there is not a major difference in these fields. Some wireless headphones also come with a wire for when you want to experience wired connectivity.

Ultimately, it zeroes down on what kind of headphones you want, for what purpose, and under what budget. Now that you know the difference between wireless headphones and wired headphones, we hope you can make a better and more informed decision as to which type is the best for you. Good luck shopping!

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Mayank Patel Author At Gadgetrates

About Mayank Patel

Mayank is a tech product expert at GadgetsRates. He is frequently written about computers, laptops, smartphones, and other gadgets.

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