You’ve decided to trade in your old standard wired headphones for a pair of wireless Bluetooth ones. It helps to know from the beginning that there are no “best headsets”. You need to work out what’s best for your needs. We’ll fill you in with what to look out for and how they work.

How Do They Work?

Bluetooth headphones connect with the devices you want to access via a radio signal. Bluetooth uses cost-effective, low power transmitters and receivers. The devices detect and contact each other automatically. This makes communication between the devices simple and user-friendly.


Perhaps, for example, you want to connect to a telephone, laptop or smartphone. This technology does away with the need for cumbersome wires that used to be necessary to connect the headphones to the device. Using a Bluetooth headset will mean that you will be able to talk and listen through the earpiece while still keeping your hands free.


Bluetooth headphones, once connected, become part of a local wireless network. The way a Bluetooth network is configured only allows for a limited number (seven) of peripherals to connect, although not at the same time. The headset both transmits and receives radio signals. The actual signals are slightly different from other wireless signals. They’re made up of radio waves that have been specially configured for clear transmitting and receiving between the headset and connected device, such as your smartphone. This allows for very clear sounds to be transmitted back and forth.


Is It Safe?

Bluetooth technology has been around since 1998 and has been used without any problems being experienced by users. They may, in fact, reduce the potential risks associated with other technology. Because of the short range required, they emit a thousand times less radiation than your average cell phone, making them safer to use than your phone itself.


How Do I Connect the Devices?

The process of connecting the devices is known as “pairing”. The headset needs to be paired with the handset for information to be communicated. The Bluetooth pairing on both devices needs to be enabled and both should be in discoverable mode. A PIN number from the headset needs to be entered into the handset for the pairing to be activated. The smartphone can then authorize a connection to be created.


How is it Powered?

Because of the short-range use, Bluetooth needs only small amounts of power to function. This means that the battery required to power them is relatively small. It is for this reason that the range is a maximum of about one hundred meters. One of the disadvantages is that the device has to be recharged before use and the battery power may run low mid-use when they are needed.


Remember that using the Bluetooth headset will also drain the power of the connected device such as your smartphone, so charge this too before heading out. If you don’t want to have to worry about running out of battery power, get headphones that can be used as both wired and wireless. Some models do offer both options.


What About Sound Quality?

For those who demand great sound quality, wired headsets are the way to go. The small microphones and earpieces involved in a Bluetooth set-up have limitations that can compromise the sound quality. The headsets are manufactured with noise-cancelling technology to try to counteract this. Most are fine for phone use, but serious music lovers may not find the quality up to par.


How About Wireless Earbuds?

Earbuds that fit directly into the ear canal are extremely lightweight and take up very little space. The downside is that they offer poorer sound quality than over-the-ear headsets and cannot block out as much exterior noise. Over-the-ear headsets also tend to have bigger and better tech. However, they are heavier and take up more space. You need to weigh up the pros and cons between the two and decide if sound quality means more to you than increased mobility and compactness.


Consider Your Use

If you are going to be mainly listening to music, then over-the-ear Bluetooth headsets will give you better sound quality than wireless earbuds. Most Bluetooth headsets for talking on the phone are worn over one ear. If you want to use them for music, then you’ll need one that fits over both ears and can transmit the audio in stereo sound (A2DP technology). If you want to listen to music while exercising, Bluetooth earbuds are a good option.


If you want to talk on the phone, then you’ll need Bluetooth headphones with a microphone. These are great if you need to be on the telephone while in the car. They have longer battery life than most other types too. If most of your phone time is outside, then you will need a headset with noise cancellation technology. This is achieved by using two or more mics, one to cancel background noise and one to pick up your voice.


Gamers are divided on the issue of using Bluetooth headsets. While some enjoy them, especially those with a microphone for chat, others still prefer the wired option for better sound quality.


Before You Buy

Ensure that your device, such as your phone, is going to be compatible. Most smartphones are compatible. In fact, it’s becoming more and more difficult to find a phone now with a headphone jack. It’s worth checking for compatibility though, just on case.

Be aware that using Bluetooth at home can influence other devices. They can cause interference with your cordless telephone or your router.


As with most things, it’s always worth spending a little more to get better quality. This is especially so if you’ll be using them a lot. To get the equivalent sound quality in Bluetooth as you have for your wired headset, you’re going to have to pay more. However, paying more won’t necessarily get you better battery life. Whether you like the idea or not, headphone jacks seem to be on their way out fast, and Bluetooth headphones are the future.