Wireless headphones – are they worth having?

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Wireless in-ear headphones – the latest cry of technological fashion. Every headphone manufacturer is rushing to add a pair to the market, and those manufacturers that don’t have a finished product to sell are buying generic models and adding their brands to make sure they don’t miss out on the opportunity. They are definitely more convenient than the cabled version, however, what else should you know before buying?

In-ear headphones are things we use every day on the way to work or while exercising, so it’s worth getting a really good pair if you like listening to music or audiobooks.

Cost

There are some cheap wireless in-ear headphones on the market, but almost without exception they are worth avoiding. Good wireless on-ear headphones are not available at bargain prices. For starters, they need a good quality Bluetooth chip such as Qualcomm, and they need to have decent batteries to last more than an hour between charges. Good quality usually doesn’t come cheap, so be prepared to pay enough to get something decent.

Codecs

Try to find out which codecs your preferred wireless in-ear headphones support. The most basic models will only work with SBC, a codec that doesn’t support higher resolution music and often sounds a bit flat due to the limited bit rate used by the codec. If you’re an Apple user, check to see if your in-ear headphones support AAC. Apple devices only support SBC and higher quality AAC, so buying a pair of headphones that only support SBC, aptX or LDAC is a waste of time. If you’re an Android user, the market is wide open for you. The latest versions of Android support most Bluetooth audio codecs, including Hi-Res aptX HD, which sounds spectacular.

Ear cups

This is one of the most important parts of in-ear headphones. Silicone caps that are too small or too shallow will not fit well in your ear canal and you will never get good sound quality, plus you will be distracted by external noises, interfering with your music. Unfortunately, since most wireless earbuds must be stored in a charging case (such as an airpods pack ) when not in use, fitting aftermarket tips is usually not possible because an exact fit in the cavity where the earbuds are located means that you simply won’t close the lid with another model. So it’s important to make sure your headphones come with dedicated caps

Battery life

Most wireless headphone manufacturers claim a playback time of three to five hours. In practice, you can count on knocking down about 20% of the stated value. Once you’ve used up the power, you need to put the product back into the charging case to recharge their battery. The charging case has a battery that can hold enough charge to charge the headphones three to four times before the charging case needs to be recharged. Note that some manufacturers may list the total playback time of the three or four charges available in the charging case, rather than listing the playback time. If you see a listed figure of 12-15 hours of playback time, this does not mean continuous listening on a single charge

Noise cancellation

Some wireless in-ear headphones offer noise cancellation, which can help reduce the whirring of engines or the rattling of train tracks. Noise-canceling circuits consume batteries, so keep in mind that you probably won’t get by with long listening time, and the headphones can be quite bulky to accommodate the larger batteries required by the circuits. Noise-canceling on-ear headphones usually include a “Hear-Thru” feature so you can adjust the noise reduction to a level that’s comfortable or safe when, say, you’re running or pressing a button to mute your music and hear what someone is saying without having to take your headphones out.

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