Bluetooth headphones are all the rage in today’s day and age. So many people are switching to Bluetooth that some major phone brands don’t even include aux inputs into their devices anymore to try and push consumers to purchase Bluetooth headphones.
But while Bluetooth technology has improved immensely in recent years, many sound experts still claim that aux headphones (plug-in) have better sound quality and are an overall better choice. In this article, I will investigate whether aux or Bluetooth headphones are better and why.
Difference between aux and Bluetooth
The 2 main types of headphone connections are auxiliary (aux) and Bluetooth.
Aux is the “old-school” method of plugging the headphones into a headphone jack and listening via a physical connection. This type of device is simple, and the sound quality is excellent, but the cord can wear out over time, and you may need to replace it.
Bluetooth is a relatively new technology that was introduced in 1998. This technology allows devices to pair wirelessly with computers and phones. So you can Bluetooth pair many of your devices, such as your keyboard, mouse, smartwatch, and speaker, not just headphones. These systems work very similarly to wireless guitar systems. However, wireless guitar systems don’t use Bluetooth to transmit sound.
Bluetooth headphones can be a bit difficult to pair, and they do not come without issues. That said, the technology has improved a ton in the past couple of decades and is expected to improve and expand even more.
Are aux headphones better than Bluetooth?
The big question: which type of headphone connection sounds better?
In short: Aux headphones and speakers have an overall higher sound quality than Bluetooth headphones, but the difference is minuscule and unnoticeable to an untrained ear.
Almost all physical connection aux headphones sound better than Bluetooth headphones, which is why aux headphones are used for most studio or professional applications.
Why does aux sound better than Bluetooth?
Bluetooth transmits signals through radio waves rather than using a physician cable or wires to connect 2 devices. When you listen to music on your Bluetooth headphones, the signal is compressed and decompressed as it is transmitted. So, there is some sound quality loss in the transfer of the signal.
An aux cable is a simple analog connection that wires the sound directly to the output. Conversely, a Bluetooth connection changes the analog signal to a digital signal, and once it reaches your headphones, the signal is changed back to an analog signal. The output is compressed during this process and loses some of the original sound quality.
Still confused? I don’t blame you; read my article on digital vs analog signals for more info.
How much better do aux headphones and speakers sound?
The answer to this question really depends on who you ask. If you are serious about your music and want to get the best quality sound, then aux is definitely the way to go. Music producers, audiophiles, and music enthusiasts will definitely benefit from the higher sound quality of an auxiliary connection. That said, most people won’t notice much of a difference.
In short, there is definitely a loss in sound quality from using Bluetooth, but you won’t be missing out on much unless you are a music professional.
Pros and cons of aux headphones and speakers
Here are some of the biggest benefits and downsides of using aux headphones or speakers.
- Better sound quality: Aux headphones and speakers have the best sound quality.
- Foolproof connection: Just simply plug the device in, and you are good to go.
- Super compatible: Aux inputs are on most devices (except for some newer smartphones), so your device can be used for most purposes.
- No need for batteries: Aux headphones don’t need a power source, as your phone simply transfers the signal to your device. However, aux speakers will need a power source.
- Cable wears out: Aux cables can wear out over time and may need replacing.
- Limited range: There is a limited range from device to speaker or headphones since the device needs to be physically plugged in.
Pros and cons of Bluetooth headphones and speakers
Here are some pros and cons of using a Bluetooth speaker or headphones.
- Convenient: Just turn the device on and pair and start playing music.
- Much longer range: Bluetooth connections can still work at up to 30 feet of distance between devices.
- No wires: You don’t have to deal with a long cable when going on runs or listening to music on the go.
- Sound quality isn’t the best: Bluetooth has a pretty good sound quality, but compared to aux, it is still lacking.
- Pairing can be tricky at times: Pairing your Bluetooth devices sometimes takes multiple tries.
- Batteries: Bluetooth headphones run on batteries, so you’ll need to charge the headphones.
- Not compatible with all devices. This is increasingly becoming less of an issue, but Bluetooth is still yet to be as widely adopted as aux, so your Bluetooth headphones may not work with every device.
So, what type of headphones should you use?
Honestly, I use both. If I’m just casually listening to music out and about, I’ll throw on some Bluetooth headphones. But if I’m recording music or really need to listen to a raw music file, I always use aux. My top recommendation is to use headphones or a speaker that can do both. There are plenty of devices that have Bluetooth capability but can also be plugged into an aux cable.
Aux headphones for studio and professional use
I would never really recommend using Bluetooth headphones in the recording studio. For serious professional uses, you definitely should shoot for the maximum in terms of sound quality.
Bluetooth headphones for personal use and convenience
All this doesn’t mean you can’t use Bluetooth headphones speakers, though! I use my Bluetooth headphones all the time, and even I can barely make out a difference. The difference really is pretty minuscule, so there is nothing wrong with using Bluetooth for casual listening!
Lev’s picks: best aux headphones
Here are my top picks for professional level aux input headphones.
Budget option: Sony MDR7506 Studio Headphones
The Sony MDR7506 are very good quality studio headphones. They are a bit bulky to transport, but they sound great and have a simple aux connection. The cable is also super durable, so you won’t have to worry about replacing it for years.
Music snob option: Sennheiser HD 650 Audiophile
This is one of the best medium-price range headphones, full stop. As the name of the product suggests, these Sennheiser headphones are specifically designed for audiophiles who are willing to shell out some money for the best sound quality possible.
Lev’s picks: best Bluetooth headphones
These are my picks for the best Bluetooth headphones currently on the market.
Best budget option: Anker Soundcore Q30
The Anker Soundcore Q30 are awesome budget Bluetooth headphones with 44 hours of battery life. They are noise canceling and very customizable. You can connect them with the Anker app and customize the sound settings to your liking.
Best overall: Sony WH-1000XM4
These are the best Bluetooth headphones out there. I’ve used mine for the past years, and I don’t plan to switch to another product anytime soon. They have super HD sound quality, especially for a Bluetooth connection. The mic on the headphones is also super clear and great at cutting down background noise.