When it comes to wired and wireless headphones, many can’t help but ask which one sounds better.
With both headphones having specific strengths and weaknesses, it’s hard to see which should be the one for you.
The primary consideration would be the sound quality.
Do wired headphones sound better?
What to Know about Wired & Wireless Headphones Sound:
The sound between wired and wireless headphones is pretty similar. However, wired headsets are more likely to have reliable sound because they are directly connected to your music device (phone, PC, or Tablet). Great wireless brands are usually on par with wired headphone reliability.
Which Sound Better, Wired or Bluetooth Headphones?
Wired headphones tend to sound better than Bluetooth headphones, although the improvements in technology try to blur the line between wired and Bluetooth headphones.
One reason wired headphones sound better to many users is analog signals.
An analog signal is a continuous signal running from the headphones to your device.
The direct connection of your cord from the device to the headset is ideal for uninterrupted sound without delay, interference, or static – like you might get with a Bluetooth headset.
Analog signals transmit more information than digital, which undergoes conversion to reach your ears. Analog signals don’t go through much processing so you get the best resolution for audio.
Another thing worth noting with wired headphones is the minimal “latency” or delay in the audio playback.
Bluetooth headphones need a particular codec to ensure that latency is low.
If the codec isn’t compatible, you can expect delays between video and audio, or parts of a song’s intro aren’t played on your headphones.
There’s no need to worry about latency with wired connections, as there is close to none.
Do Sound Professionals Use Wireless Headphones?
Many pro-audio industry experts prefer using wired headphones because of their accuracy and low latency.
For professional use, it’s essential to hear precisely what enters the sound system so that you can tweak the settings of your devices.
If you’re a sound engineer in a live setting, you will go for wired headphones to hear what comes out of the loudspeakers and stage monitors.
For studio engineers and producers, wired headphones become a preference for the same reason.
While wired headphones are a preference in pro-audio, that doesn’t mean there’s no room for wireless or Bluetooth headphones.
Musicians use wireless headphones or earbuds as in-ear monitors to hear the band clearly amidst the loudspeakers and audience.
Studio engineers also use Bluetooth headphones to check their song sounds in different sound systems.
Can You Hear the Difference?
The difference in the sound quality of wired and Bluetooth headphones might not be noticeable to some people.
You may hear the difference if you’re used to cycling through different headphone models.
What will be most noticeable would be the latency.
In some cases, you may hear a song past the two-second mark when using Bluetooth headphones, while wired headphones let you hear the song at the zero mark due to the low latency.
Do Bluetooth Headphones Have a Wired Option?
Not all Bluetooth headphones have a wired option. An excellent example of this would be the AirPods Max.
There are also really good headphones without Bluetooth (and Wi-Fi).
As the newer iPhones have done away with the traditional 3.5mm, jack found on smartphones, Apple decided not to include a 3.5mm jack for the AirPods Max.
Should the lack of a 3.5mm jack be a deal-breaker?
The lack of a wired option may not work for some people, mainly if you use your headphones in editing materials that deal with sound.
The lack of a wired option isn’t a problem for other users since they would view cables as an added encumbrance.
What Bluetooth Headphones Offer the Best Sound Quality?
If you’re looking for a good pair of Bluetooth headphones, here are some recommendations:
Apple AirPods Max:
The Apple AirPods Max is your best option for those in the Apple ecosystem.
These headphones come with active noise canceling and are compatible with spatial audio.
The AirPods Max features a very minimalistic look, and you can use all the features when using an iOS device.
An excellent alternative to the AirPods Max is the Sony XM4 headphones.
Unlike the AirPods Max, you can use these headphones with any smartphone and without limitations. These headphones also have a wired option and are compact when stored.
Active noise canceling and ambient passthrough also let you hear your environment without removing the headphones.
Do The Top Brands Continue to Make Wired Headphones?
Yes, wired headphones are not likely to go out of style unless wireless technology can improve and transmit data without losing quality.
Some of the brands that continue to make wired headphones include Sony, Sennheiser, Audio Technica, and JBL.
While they also make Bluetooth headphones, many wireless models also have a wired mode. You need wired headphones to use them on airplanes.
How Long Do The Batteries Last on Wireless Headphones?
The battery life of any pair of wireless headphones can make or break its success.
As battery plays a crucial role, you need to have a good battery life to make the most of the wireless experience.
The battery on wireless headphones can last anywhere from 20 to 30 hours, depending on how you use it.
If you have active noise canceling engaged, you will use more power:
- The AirPods Max has around 20 hours of battery life with active noise canceling.
- The Sony XM4 has 30 hours of battery life but could be lower if noise canceling is turned on.
You can get more life with it when using a wired connection with noise-canceling engaged.
It’s a different matter for wireless earbuds. Since they have smaller batteries, you’re likely to get anywhere from 12 – 24 hours.
The AirPods Pro, for example, gives you up to 4.5 hours of listening time per charge in its case, which can hold up to 24 hours of charge for these earbuds.
What Are The Advantages and Disadvantages of Wired and Wireless Headphones?
Wired and wireless headphones have their sets of strengths and weaknesses.
To help you gauge which you should get, here are the pros and cons of each:
Wired Headphones Pros & Cons:
Wired headphones are cheaper. You can get a good pair of wired headphones at a fraction of the cost of wireless headphones.
You don’t need to spend a lot, and you’re likely to get good deals. A good example would be the Audio Technica M50X, which costs less than half of what you’d spend for the Sony XM4.
You also don’t need to worry about charging wired headphones. Unless you’re using active noise-canceling headphones, wired headphones don’t need charging after every few days, which means one less thing to maintain.
Wired headphones also have the advantage of using devices such as preamps and more. Even with advancements in technology, more devices use the standard 3.5mm jack.
Lastly, wired headphones have the advantage of better sound quality. Out of the box, analog signals deliver better audio quality than wireless data, often compressed and dependent on codec compatibility.
If you work in pro-audio, you know how vital hearing the most accurate representation of the sound is to your work.
- However, wireless technology costs more to produce, which merits a hefty price.
- Wired headphones are also restricted by a cable.
- This issue shouldn’t be too much of a problem for people tied to their desks, but it can pose a problem for those on the go.
- If you’re exercising or move around a lot, the cables can get caught somewhere or tangled in transit.
Please also check out our article with solutions for headphones not working on Windows 10.
Wireless Headphones Pros & Cons:
Wireless headphones give you freedom from wires. You can move around the house while listening to your favorite songs or even exercising without cables moving.
Another feature worth noting with many modern Bluetooth headphones is their compatibility with smart systems such as Google Assistant and Alexa.
You can use these headphones to activate particular gadgets in your house without reaching them.
Modern Bluetooth headphones today also boast high power capacities; it is still one more thing to think about when checking on the devices you bring.
Furthermore, many of these headphones also come with apps that let you tweak settings further.
Bluetooth headphones also offer better compatibility, as most common items used today come with Bluetooth connectivity.
- Wireless headphones tend to cost more than wired headphones.
- While there are affordable options, they are likely not to have good quality. They may either have low battery capacities or not have enough drivers to give you a good mix of each frequency spectrum.
- Another significant issue with wireless headphones is the need to charge them.
- Batteries tend to wear out with years of use, which would mean replacing the whole headphone instead of the battery.
- Wired and wireless headphones cater to different users, so no one is better than the other.
What Should You Look For in Wireless Headphones?
If you’re decided in buying wireless headphones, consider the following features:
- A wired option, in case your battery runs out, or you want to save on battery.
- Active Noise Cancelling, which you can use even when on a wired connection.
- High battery life so that you don’t have to worry about charging every day.
- Fast charging, since you’d want to get good mileage even on a quick charge.
Wired headphones may sound better than wireless headphones, but remember that other factors contribute to sound quality.
The cable may play a key role in sound quality, but you need to scrutinize the build of each headphone and even test them before you can conclude if a pair sounds better.
Lastly, one pair may sound better than another, but that doesn’t make it the best choice. Remember that you need to consider other factors, such as battery life and how you will use these headphones, to decide which one is better for you.
What may be suitable for one may not be ideal for you.