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How to Choose the Best Bluetooth Headphones

Choosing the best bluetooth headphones from the thousands available online can be confusing and time consuming process. There are so many options and features to consider. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were one place that consolidated information on all the available headphones from all the vendor in an easy to compare format? That is the goal of this website. We will help you make the best, most informed, headphone decision in the least amount of time.

We will do this by helping you determine the features you need, and then letting you compare models from different manufactures to find the headphones that meet your specific needs using our Ultimate Comparison Chart. Hopefully you will leave this site after having found the best bluetooth headphones for you!Quick Fun Fact Where did the name “Bluetooth” come from? According to Wikipedia, it’s named after the 10th century Danish King and Viking raider Harald Bluetooth! Apparently he liked blue berries and always had blue teeth. The Bluetooth logo is a merging of his initials H & B (though not using our modern Latin alphabet).Stereo/Mono (music vs phone/podcasts)

What will you do with your headphones? If the answer is mostly music listening you will want stereo headphones. If the the answer is mostly talking on the phone or listening to podcasts, you might consider a mono single ear headset. This site is geared toward the user who will mostly listen to music and so we will only consider stereo headphones.Environment (office/home, gym/jogging etc)

The next thing to consider is where you will be using your headphones. Will you listen around the house, in the office, outside, at the gym, or while jogging? The answer to this question will help you choose from the many available physical configurations. Here are the three popular styles:Band over the head This is the traditional style. It is comfortable, but difficult/impossible to wear with a hat.

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Band behind the head

This configuration is popular with exercise headphones. It may work better with a hat, but might be difficult with long hair. It also dose not work well in bed when laying on the back.No-Band (wires to a dongle)

This configuration has a few advantages. It may work better than the previous two styles with a hat or helmet. It also could be more comfortable as there is no weight supported by your head or ears. The dongle could also hold larger batteries than other styles of headphones. The disadvantage may be the wires especially if the reason you are looking to bluetooth is to escape from them!Battery Life (talk time, listen time, standby time)

Everyone would like infinite battery life on every batter powered gadget. In real life this is not possible so we must compromise and weigh the trade-offs between battery life, weight, size, and cost. Generally more battery life equates to larger, heavier more costly batteries. Headphone manufactures specify battery life in several ways.Play Time – This the maximum continuous music listening timeTalk Time – This is the maximum continuous phone conversation time

Standby Time- This is how long the batteries will last when the headphones are not in use

Play Times range from 4 to 20 hours. Standby Times range from 24 to 600 hours.

Bluetooth Profiles

What are these things called “Bluetooth Profiles”?

The bluetooth standard describes lots of features that bluetooth devices can implement. It’s not practical or even useful for every bluetooth device to implement all possible bluetooth features. So the feature set is broken into smaller sets called “Profiles”. There are now more than 30 profiles defined. You can read about them in detail on Wikipedia here. Most bluetooth headphones will only implement a hand full of these profiles. Here are the profiles most relevant to bluetooth headphones:

  • HSP – Headset Profile
  • This profile allows your headphones to answer phone calls, adjust volume, and hangup the call when done.
  • HFP – Hands-Free Profile
  • Normally used in Hands-Free car Bluetooth products, this adds a few use full things missing from HSP such as call-waiting, last-number redial, and voice dialing.
  • A2DP – Advanced Audio Distribution Profile
  • This profile allows your headphones to play music and other non-phone, stereo audio. Without this profile, your headphones would not be able to listen to music or podcasts or hear sound from videos.
  • AVRCP – Audio/Video Remote Control Profile
  • This allows your headphones to play, pause/stop, skip forward, skip backward your music/video/podcast.
  • For bluetooth headphones, any version from 2.0 or later will generally work well.
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Bluetooth Class

Occasionally a manufacturer will declare in their specs that their headphones are a “Class II” Bluetooth device. What does this mean? Well, there are three “Classes” labeled 1, 2, and 3. Each class has a different allowed maximum power output for its Bluetooth radio. So Class I devices can use 100mW power, Class II 2.5 mW, and Class I 1.0mW. This results in typical useful ranges for the three classes of 100 meters, 10 meters, and 1 meter. All Bluetooth headphones are Class II so this is not a meaningful spec for comparison purposes.

NFC Pairing

A new bluetooth device cannot be used until paired with a phone/tablet/computer. The pairing process usually involves putting the device into pairing mode, then discovering the device on your phone, then typing in a pairing code (usually 0000 or 1234). NFC Pairing simplifies this process. If both the bluetooth device and the phone/tablet/PC support NFC, the process is to simply bring the two devices close together (a few inches away). Then they are paired! This is a great feature, but you need to consider how often you will use it. Once you pair a device, the pairing lasts forever. You may only pair your device to your phone once. However, if you use many devices and pair very often, this feature may be worth it.

Multipoint

Do you use you headphones with multiple phones? Multipoint lets you connect your headphones to two phones at once. If either phone rings, you can answer it with your headphones.

Codec

What is a “codec” and why do I care? Codec is short for “EnCoder/Decoder”. For music listening it works like this. On your phone, the music goes through the “coder”. The encoded music then is transmitted via bluetooth to your headphones where a “decoder” decodes it before it is played into your ears. Why is this done? Several reasons. One is that the encoded music is probably compressed meaning there is less of it to transmit. The encoded music may also add redundancy and error checking to it to make it easier to recover from errors in the transmission due to radio interference. Your phone and your headphones must both use the same codec.

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Luckily the bluetooth standard requires all A2DP devices to support the SBC coded. It does a fine job, but there is room for improvement. Some devises also support the AptX codec. This is a much more sophisticated codec much more suited to the faithful reproduction of music. The short answer about codecs is: look for AptX if you need the highest quality audio. Active Noise Cancelation (ANC) Some headphones include a feature called Active Noise Cancelation (ANC). This technology attempts to eliminate unwanted sound by creating additional out-of-phase sounds that will cancel the unwanted sounds. This technology is probably most useful for users listening in noisy environments like airplanes or cars.

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