An eternal debate that is only becoming more and more heated in the modern age is that of wired vs wireless. Since the times of Edison and Tesla, the idea of transmitting energy and data has been both widely sought after and debated. Unlike in the 19th century, however, the idea of wireless appliances is common and accepted, and slowly starting to become the norm. With device chargers, keyboards, and game controllers all becoming prevalent in their wireless forms, the discussion of whether the utility of wirelessness can overcome any of the downsides associated with it is larger than ever. In some products, the lack of wires is only a boon with minimal downsides, but the headphone industry is one that has been historically marred with problems. Although both sides of the fence include top audiophile headphones that are good value, it’s worth having a look at the ups and downs of these two headphone formats to see which is better for those interested in sound.
Quality vs Convenience
One of the main issues with wireless headphones is latency. Sending data wirelessly takes considerably longer than sending it through a wire, as there are yet to be perfect solutions to high speed, high volume wireless data transfer that can rival the literal speed-of-light quickness of a trusty metal wire.
This can lead to out of sync audio when watching something while using wireless headphones, or even lag, skipping, or just generally lowered audio quality due to some headphones compressing audio in order to make the wireless connection more stable. Luckily, in more recent years, the Bluetooth codec, along with various proprietary wireless systems have come an extremely long way, to the point where audio can be sent wirelessly while maintaining full audio quality and with a low enough level of latency that even the keenest ear won’t be able to notice.
Another issue that is often brought up is that of battery life. Nothing worse than the idea that any listening session could be interrupted by a dead battery! Modern technology has quickly sought to solve this problem, and headphones often come with upwards of 20 hours battery life and fast charging to back you up if you are caught unawares by a dead battery. Luckily, this means that in the modern-day, you can enjoy the freedom of high-quality audio without being tied down by the standard pitfalls many still associate with wireless headphones.
But Which is Better?
With audio technology coming so far in just the last few years, it is getting harder and harder to find substantial differences in the actual quality of the audio found in wireless and wired headphones. Taking away the limitations of wireless headphones has cracked down on a lot of the huge quality gaps, with most manufacturers now releasing a wireless version of their flagship headphones alongside the main attraction, for a nominal fee. This is where the last main issue now comes in to play.
With wireless headphones joining the top ranks in quality, it’s the substantial price difference that will split opinion. The technology that goes into optimizing wireless technology is not only new and quickly expanding, but very expensive, especially when it’s at the high end like what is required of good quality wireless headphones. It is also still not perfect, and serious audiophiles can pick up minor imperfections in transmitted songs, but it is close enough and will only get closer with time.
But in the end, if you are looking for objectively the best sound quality, wired is always the way to go. But if you are willing to compromise a little, you can find an incredible amount of utility in wireless headphones without losing much of that delicious sound.