It’s a common question: should you use wired or wireless headphones in general? What type of headphones should you use with the new HUSO On The Go Wireless Wearables and App? We’ll take a look at the differences between wired and wireless headphones, along with some interesting facts to consider for both. Then we’ll let you judge which one is better.
Lossy vs Lossless Audio
Before diving into the answer of what type of headphones you should use, it’s necessary to talk about lossy vs. lossless sound. Understanding the differences will also help you understand whether wired or wireless headphones will be a better fit for you.
Lossless sound files are not digitally compressed; they are files that preserve all audio information and retain all the nuanced sound features in a given soundtrack.
With the HUSO home unit, for example, the tones have not been digitally compressed. These unique tones contain subtle frequency ranges that deliver corresponding health benefits that would be lost if digitally compressed. With HUSO On The Go, some digital compression is necessary due to the requirements of playback on mobile devices. However, due to the nature of our patented technology and the types of frequencies contained in our tones, we know you’ll still benefit greatly from the experience on a mobile device.
With lossless files, however, due to their very large file size and memory requirements, they are usually not easily dispersed through streaming services. Some companies have started to offer lossless sound listening experiences but it has taken decades to even arrive at being able to attempt to deliver sound and music in such a way.
Lossy sounds have been digitally compressed to allow for easier transmission of files across the Internet, with most compression happening in such a way that many people aren’t likely to perceive any sound difference. We’d argue that audiophiles can often spot the difference in sound quality, especially at higher volumes. With the removal of some audio information, there is actual data loss, and the sound quality just won’t be as good as that of a lossless file.
The sound quality in a lossy audio file is heavily dependent on how it is encoded (changing digital audio from one format to another), its bitrate quality (amount of information being transferred in a given timeframe, often measured per second), how it is digitally remastered (the process of removing flaws from an original music file), the dynamic range (ratio of the loudest wave peak in an audio file to the quietest), and file format (a larger WAV file vs a smaller MP3 file, for example). Having so many variables for sound output can dramatically affect the quality of a soundtrack that you listen to in general.
Streaming services have gotten much better at delivering lossy audio through higher bitrate encoding in the past decade. But still: information is fundamentally missing from the sound files. And right now, most streaming services have no option for delivering lossless audio to you. Think about that when you’re listening to the ever-popular binaural beats on a YouTube channel.
Take a look at the difference at the same song, but one file is lossless (not digitally compressed), the other lossy (compressed to mp3):
You can actually see the difference, right? It can be harder to detect in the ear, especially if you’re listening at a lower volume through wired headphones, but the difference is still there.
Wired vs Wireless Headphones
With an understanding of lossless vs. lossy sound, now we can talk about the different types of headphones and the sound they can deliver.
Wired headphones pretty much work the same as a regular speaker: they are tiny speakers intended for personal listening. They use headphone jacks to transmit sound from a device to the headphones. These jacks might be 3.5 mm, RS, TRRS, TRRRS, or USB.
Despite the popularity of wireless headphones these days, many people still prefer wired over wireless. Why is that?
Sound Quality and Delivery
Let’s first talk in terms of the sound wired headphones can deliver. They can do the following better than wireless headphones:
- transmit more data, especially the greater data requirements of lossless files; no compression needs to occur
- there is no processing required - they play directly from your device without having to be relayed anywhere
- there’s no risk of outside interference due to frequency interference from other devices
- the layers and textures within a sound recording are more easily heard, and more lifelike and dimensional
- wired headphones are capable of relaying sound at a higher dynamic range
- because there’s no sound to compress, there isn’t any delay (latency) in sound delivery
Other Considerations with Wired Headphones
Wired headphones have other benefits when it comes to their use and other practical considerations. They are better for the environment because they last longer, are more easily repaired, and have no internal batteries to speak of. Thus, they contribute less to e-waste.
Wired headphones are generally less expensive, unless you get high-end types, which still save you money as they can last a lifetime. They are relatively lightweight because they don’t have to house the components wireless headphones do, which leads to less ear fatigue.
They are more user-friendly: you can just plug them in and they’ll work with any device with a jack (sometimes with an adapter). There’s no “pairing” involved. Another user-friendly perk is that you don’t have to charge them, ever. Even though the wires can deteriorate some with wear and tear, as a general rule, wired headphones handle more “abuse” such as being dropped or thrown. And should you find yourself with faulty wired headphones, you can find them just about anywhere - even at gas stations (though we can’t say a whole lot about the quality you might find in such places).
One interesting thing to note about wired headphones is that you’ll notice that audiophiles and sound professionals (recording artists, recording studios, etc.) all use wired headphones for the reasons stated above.
What would be the drawbacks?
For all the good reasons to use wired headphones, there are some drawbacks. First, it’s not always easy to deal with wires. How many times have you yanked your wire-connected earbud out of your ear when messing around with your phone? Not only that, all that tugging can warp the wires.
And what if you work on multiple devices? It’s not always easy to switch from a computer to a tablet or a phone without having to constantly unplug and plug them into the different devices. That contributes to wear and tear. Plus, if you work at home with cats, the struggle with wired headphones and your cat attacking them, is real.
Finally, late-model phones have all but done away with the standard phone jack. You may find yourself relying more on adapters just to get a “normal” listening experience.
But for all the perks and drawbacks of wired headphones, what about wireless?
Wireless headphones are devices that use some kind of compression, as well as radio transmission technology to deliver sound.
In this article we’ll focus on Bluetooth technology (which many wireless headphones use) in which a device encodes the audio data into a compressed form, and this data is then sent to the headphones via radio waves. After the device receives these radio waves, the headphone device decodes that data and converts it into an audio signal using Bluetooth codecs (codecs are bits of software that reduce file size and encode for transmission).
Sound Quality and Delivery
With all the converting and use of codecs, what kind of sound do we really get from wireless headphones? If you’re not an audiophile, you won’t necessarily notice a huge difference in sound quality. In other words, the sounds can be good enough for everyday listening without experiencing too much sound degradation. Wireless headphones deliver a lossy experience. Despite that, the sound quality of these devices is constantly improving.
But that’s about it as far as sound quality is concerned.
Other Considerations with Wired Headphones
There are other benefits to owning a pair of wireless headphones, though. For one thing, you don’t have to deal with accidentally pulling wires out of your ears. You can walk from room to room without having to worry about your conversation dropping or interrupting your podcast. Some wireless headphones have a range of 100ft (about 30.5 meters), giving you all the freedom of movement you need.
Wireless headphones are typically quite compatible with the latest devices, they’re known for their portability and usually pair pretty easily with whatever device you’re working on.
One added benefit of wireless headphones over wired is that you can play a sound on your headphones to locate them if lost (but certain conditions have to be met, such as the headphones being out of their case and still having some battery power to produce the sound).
To be sure, it’s a lot easier to put some wireless headphones on your beloved pet. We know. We have (and very much love!) our pets.
The Drawbacks of Wireless headphones
As we’ve talked about the advantages and drawbacks of wired headphones, you can probably guess at what the drawbacks might be for wireless headphones.
If wired headphones are better for the environment, wireless headphones are not. They have tiny batteries inside that regularly need a recharge. But there’s a double whammy here: wireless headphones also drain the battery of the device they’re connected to at a faster rate due to the sound conversions and relaying of signals. Suddenly there’s more to recharge and more electricity to make that happen. Then there are those pesky batteries that have toxic chemicals in them: you can’t just throw away a pair of wireless headphones. You have to dispose of them responsibly, by taking them to an authorized e-recycling center or by inquiring with the retailer or manufacturer where you originally bought the devices.
Wireless headphones just cannot take the same kind of throwing and careless handling that wired headphones can. But also, they just don’t last as long. There are only a certain number of times a battery can be charged. It’s also not that unlikely that you’ll lose one or both headphones, and losing just one renders them pretty much useless.
Because wireless headphones contain the parts for batteries and other related components, they are generally heavier to wear. This not only can lead to fatigue after a while, but your brain also has more to contend with: dealing with possible latency issues, and the extra processing required to compensate for any sound quality issues.
That leads us to the topic of sound quality. By their very nature, wireless headphones can only deliver lossy audio files. In time, that may change. But for now, even the highest quality wireless headphones will still only be able to deliver a compressed sound file. Additionally, many wireless headphones are tuned for more upbeat music listening, and if you’re not listening to that kind of music, your sound quality for different audio tracks will not be as good.
Wireless headphones also have one other important drawback. Though wireless headphones emit less exposure to electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs) than cell phones, and can actually limit your exposure to mobile devices because you are farther away from your device when you use the wireless headphones, they still do emit EMFs. For those who are sensitive, this can be a concern.
What’s the verdict?
You probably see where this is going. Take a wild guess as to which type of headphone we prefer.
If you guessed “wired”, you’d be correct. Knowing what you know now about lossy vs lossless sound, without a doubt, wired headphones can deliver a better sound experience every time.
We are audiophiles here at HUSO, and sound quality is very, very important to us. With wired headphones, you get the maximum auditory information possible from our programs. Contained in each tone are many frequencies that have healing qualities and we want you to experience healing and the benefits of sound healing in all the ways possible. For maximum benefit from all frequencies, wired headphones are the way to go for listening to any HUSO program. You will get the full dynamic range of sound, uncompressed, from a home unit, and you will get a listening experience that has the least amount of compression possible with HUSO On The Go. If you are looking for healing using sound frequencies, especially vocally sourced sound, we enthusiastically advocate using wired headphones.
However, there are times - gasp! - when wireless headphones are necessary. There’s not a real one-size-fits-all approach. Let’s say you’re working in home construction and you need ear protection as well as noise canceling headphones. If it’s a matter of safety, then by all means, you have to do what makes sense: use those wireless headphones!
Here’s a little chart to help you determine when wired vs wireless headphones might make more sense (though you know which ones we prefer!):
All in all, wired headphones have greater advantages over wireless headphones. People need and want convenience and wireless headphones can offer that. However, if you’re looking for the best sound quality and the full range of sound that is possible, go with wired headphones. Your brain, ears, and body will appreciate it.