Wireless vs. Bluetooth Headphones: What Is The Difference?

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I often get asked if wireless and Bluetooth headphones are the same, so in this post, I will discuss the key differences between wireless and Bluetooth headphones.

In general, not all wireless devices are Bluetooth devices, but all Bluetooth headphones can be referred to as wireless devices. While a wireless device requires an adaptor, a Bluetooth headphone usually doesn’t. There are differences in connectivity, range, latency, and more.

Read on for a more detailed answer to this question.

Are Wireless And Bluetooth Headphones The Same
Photo by Brandon Green

Wireless vs. Bluetooth Headphones: What’s the Difference?

There are major differences between wireless and Bluetooth headphones. They include the following, among others:

1. Signal Transmission

Wireless headphones use either radiofrequency waves or infrared waves to communicate with a transmitter, while Bluetooth headphones use low-energy radio waves.

While Bluetooth headphones are directly connected with your cellphone or other Bluetooth-enabled devices, wireless headphones receive signals from an adapter that is connected to a device such as a TV, computer, console, or speaker.

READ MORE! What is the Difference Between Infrared and Bluetooth?

2. Range

Wireless headphones can have a range of up to 100 feet, while Bluetooth headphones have a range of about 30 feet. For this reason, wireless headphones might be better when watching TV from a longer range, and Bluetooth headphones are the better choice to use with a mobile device.

3. Technology

The technology used in making wireless and Bluetooth headphones differ in a number of ways. For example, Bluetooth headphones use a technology called codec that helps to reduce latency and determine the transfer rate, like AptX. Newer codecs can transfer more data and hence higher audio quality.

Also, wireless headphones are capable of streaming in HD, while Bluetooth headphones cannot.

4. Sound Quality and Latency

Since wireless headphones don’t need to transfer data through a set codec, they have better sound quality since they can transfer more data faster.

Bluetooth headphones, on the other hand, can experience latency, which is a delay in the sound from what you see on the screen to what you hear. If you are a gamer this can be annoying and basically ruin the game.

READ MORE! Does Bluetooth Version Affect Sound Quality?

5. Adaptor

As I mentioned earlier, wireless headphones often require an external adaptor, while Bluetooth headphones do not. Bluetooth headphones have built-in circuitry that allows them to communicate with other devices.

6. Compatibility with other devices

Wireless headphones are not always compatible with other devices, while Bluetooth headphones are. This is because wireless headphones rely on a specific frequency to work, and if that frequency isn’t available, they can’t be used. Bluetooth headphones are always compatible with any device that is Bluetooth-enabled.

7. Battery life

While the battery life of both devices differs from model to model, in general, wireless headphones have a longer battery life than Bluetooth headphones.

Wireless vs. Bluetooth Headphones: Which Ones Do I Need?

Choosing between these two types of headphones depends on a raft of factors. They include the following among others:

1. What are you going to use them for?

What you are going to use your headphones for is a key factor in deciding between wireless and Bluetooth headphones. If you want to use them while watching TV, then go for wireless. If you want to use them with your mobile device on the go, then choose Bluetooth headphones.

2. How far do you need to be able to roam?

If you are someone who likes to move around a lot while listening to music, then you’ll need wireless headphones. However, if you only plan to use your headphones a few feet away from where they are connected, then Bluetooth is okay.

3. How important is the sound quality?

If having the best possible sound quality without any latency or interference is most important for you, then wireless headphones will be your top choice. If getting better bass and treble sounds is more important than sound quality, then Bluetooth headphones will be a better option.


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4. Do you need an adaptor?

If your device doesn’t have a headphone jack, or if you just want the best possible audio experience, then wireless headphones are for you. Keep in mind that not all wireless headphones come with an adaptor, though, so you may need to purchase one separately.

5. Do you want extra features?

Wireless headphones sometimes have extra features such as noise cancellation and auto-shutoff, but Bluetooth ones do not always have these. If you are looking for headphones with more features, then go for a wireless pair.

6. Do you have any devices that are Bluetooth enabled?

If you have an iPhone or an iPad, for example, then you will need Bluetooth headphones in order to use them with those devices.

7. What is your budget?

Typically speaking, wireless headphones cost more than Bluetooth ones. This is because they require a bit of technology to communicate between the headphone and the transmitter, while Bluetooth headphones don’t need any additional pieces to work.

So, if you are looking to save some money, Bluetooth headphones may be the better option for you.

In the end, it’s up to you which type of headphones you want. Both have their pros and cons, so it really depends on what is most important to you.

READ MORE! Best Bluetooth Headphones with Noise Cancelling

Wireless vs. Bluetooth Headphones: Sound Quality Comparison

I mentioned earlier that wireless headphones have a higher sound quality than Bluetooth ones.

While that is true, it doesn’t mean that you should automatically go for wireless headphones if having the best possible sound quality is your top priority.

Not all wireless models are made equally when it comes to their audio performance. In fact, some of them actually produce poorer sound quality than their Bluetooth counterparts.

So, if sound quality is your number one concern, you’ll need to do a bit of research before making your purchase and make sure that the wireless headphones you choose are known for having great-sounding audio.

Bluetooth headphones, on the other hand, sometimes have inferior sound quality when compared to wireless ones. However, the difference isn’t very noticeable to most people unless they are using high-end headphones in both cases.

It is important to note that Bluetooth headphone manufacturers are nowadays upping their games to give consumers the best sound quality possible. Most are now using headphone codecs such as AAC and LDAC, which offer better sound quality than the old SBC codec.

So while wireless headphones may win the head-to-head sound quality battle, Bluetooth ones are now more than capable of offering the same great audio experience.

Which is More Convenient: Wireless or Bluetooth Headphones?

When it comes to convenience, it all depends on what you need your headphones for. Note that most wireless headphones are bulky and not very comfortable. Some can be bulky and heavy, which makes wearing them for hours at a time quite uncomfortable.

On the other hand, Bluetooth headphones are much smaller than their wireless counterparts.

Factors such as the range over which you will use your headphones, the size of your device, and how often you plan on using them determine whether or not either product is going to be convenient for you.

For example, if you want headphones to wear while you’re working out and don’t need a huge range, then Bluetooth headphones would be the way to go. But if you plan on using your headphones over a wide range, then wireless headphones will be more convenient for you.


Are Bluetooth and wireless headphones similar?

No, they are not. Bluetooth and wireless headphones have some similarities, but they also both have unique features that set them apart from each other.

What are the differences between wireless and Bluetooth headphones?

The main difference between wireless and Bluetooth headphones is that wireless headphones require a transmitter in order to work, while Bluetooth headphones do not. Wireless headphones also have a higher sound quality than Bluetooth ones.

However, Bluetooth headphones are much smaller than their wireless counterparts.

Do wireless headphones use WiFi?

Not all wireless headphones need a WiFi connection. For example, many Bluetooth headphones do not need a WiFi connection to work and can be used independently from any other device as long as they are within the range of that device.

Do wireless headphones work with TVs?

Some wireless headphones come with a transmitter that can be plugged into your TV. This will allow you to hear the audio from your TV through your headphones without having to wear them.

However, if your TV does not have an aux port, then you will need Bluetooth headphones in order to listen to your TV without wearing them.

Which headphones are better for gaming: wireless or Bluetooth headphones?

While both types of headphones can be used for gaming, most gamers use wireless headphones because they offer a higher sound quality than Bluetooth ones.

Additionally, wireless headphones do not require any type of connection to the device you are gaming on, which makes them more convenient for use.

Can I use my wireless headphones with my phone?

Yes, wireless headphones can be used with any device that has Bluetooth capabilities. This includes phones, laptops, and tablets.

Do wireless headphones need batteries?

Most wireless headphones come with a rechargeable battery. However, there are also some wireless headphones that come with disposable batteries.

Final Thoughts

Wireless and Bluetooth headphones are not the same. They have differences in technology, range, and sound quality. I hope this article has been informative and has helped you decide which type of headphones is best for you.

If you have any further questions, feel free to leave a comment below or contact us directly. Thanks for reading.

Espen is the Director of ProPairing


Espen is the Director of ProPairing and has written extensively about Bluetooth devices for years. He is a consumer product expert and has personally tested Bluetooth devices for the last decade.

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