How Do Wireless Headphones Work

Just how do wireless headphones work? Wireless technology frees us from the binding constraint of ever-tangling cords and allows us to enjoy our favorite music without the fear of the headphones being yanked unexpectedly from our ears if we catch the cord on something else. But how does the sound reach our ears without a cord, and which wireless headphone technology is best?

The Base Unit
Regular headphones work when electric impulses are sent from an electronic device, such as an MP3 player, to the headphones through the wire. Wireless headphones circumvent this connection by sending a signal through the air to the headphones. However, they need a base unit which is plugged directly into the audio device to transmit the signal.

Radio, Infrared And Bluetooth Signals
Once the base unit is plugged into a device like an MP3 player, it sends a signal to the headphones. This signal comes in 3 different forms: radio, infrared or Bluetooth. Radio transmitters work just like any radio works. The headphones receive the radio waves through an antenna and covert them into sound. Infrared headphones work more like a TV remote. The sound is carried through an optical signal and converted into sound. Bluetooth headphones work much like radio transmitters, but they use a low frequency to encode digital data that is then converted to sound.

Pros And Cons
Each form comes with its own downsides. In order for infrared to be effective, you must maintain a clear line of sight between the transmitter and the wireless headphones. This limitation is not really useful to the wanderer, but infrared does work well for TV headsets. Radio and Bluetooth don't require a clear line of sight. However, radio can sometimes pick up interference from other devices. Usually radio headphones come with a few channels to avoid this. Lastly, Bluetooth has a more limited range than radio, but it offers less interference.

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