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How Much Delay Do Bluetooth Headphones Have? (Answered!)


Assume you’re listening to a music video on YouTube with your favorite Bluetooth headphones. However, as you watched the drummer bang on the cymbals, you noticed something was off: ‘Why is the sound out of sync with the movements in the video?’

That scene leads to the question “How much delay do Bluetooth headphones have?”

How Much Delay Do Bluetooth Headphones Have?
How Much Delay Do Bluetooth Headphones Have?

You examine it more closely, slowing down the video speed slightly to confirm the sound delay. And you were correct. Lip movements, guitar strumming, and all other sound effects in the music video are out of sync.

After a few minutes, a quick Google search reveals that what you’ve been experiencing is due to Bluetooth audio lag. Before you get too concerned, know that you’ve arrived at the right place!

WHY DO MY BLUETOOTH HEADPHONES HAVE A DELAY?

To understand what causes Bluetooth audio delay and how to fix it, you must first understand audio latency. The time it takes for audio data to travel from its source (computer, smartphone, mp3 player) to your headphones or speakers is referred to as audio latency.

These are the milliseconds (ms) required to process digital data and convert it to an audio signal that can be streamed to your headphones via a wired or wireless connection.

The typical audio latency in a wired connection is 5-10 ms; in a wireless connection, Bluetooth latency can range from an ideal 34 ms (aptX LL) up to 100-300 ms for truly wireless earbuds and headphones.

Why Do Wireless Headphones Have Higher Audio Latency Than Wired?

To provide some context, a Bluetooth audio chain consists of a transmitter and a receiver. The audio signal is sent to the receiver by the transmitter. This audio signal “travels” from source to destination using a specific bandwidth.

The larger the file size of an audio signal (higher quality equates to larger audio files), the more bandwidth it requires to reach the receiver. Consider bandwidth to be the width of the road, and audio file size to be the volume of traffic.

If the volume of traffic exceeds the capacity of the road, traffic jams will occur, slowing movement to a crawl (more time required to complete the transmission).

If there isn’t enough bandwidth to support a particularly large audio file transmission (e.g., you’re listening to a lossless audio file), the transfer will be slower and jerky, resulting in audio stuttering and lag.

While wired connections are better in terms of audio latency, using Bluetooth headphones does not always mean you’ll hear noticeable sound delay. As you’ll see in a moment, several factors come into play when determining whether you’ll have near-imperceptible audio latency or some noticeable delay.

FACTORS THAT AFFECT THE QUALITY OF BLUETOOTH AUDIO

There are 4 important elements that will affect your listening experience when using Bluetooth headphones:

  • Bluetooth Codec
  • Interference
  • Distance between source and receiver
  • Bluetooth version
Factors That Contribute To Headphones Delay
Factors That Contribute To Headphones Delay

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1. Bluetooth Codec

A Bluetooth codec is a digital audio data compression, encoding, and decoding algorithm. It reduces the file size of the audio data (so it doesn’t consume too much bandwidth) and encodes it in a specific format for transmission during the compression stage.

The compressed data is then decoded so that it can be converted into an audible audio signal. There are several Bluetooth audio codecs available, each with its own proprietary method for compressing and transmitting audio data.

The most important thing to remember is that some codecs are superior to others when it comes to streaming music over Bluetooth, and those are the ones that you should ideally have your source and Bluetooth headphones support to ensure a more enjoyable listening experience.

However, you should be aware that the Bluetooth codec of your headphones should correspond to the codec of your audio source. If not, they will simply fall back to the lowest audio codec, SBC, which is also prone to audio delays.

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2. Interference

Unwanted frequency signals that hijack and disrupt the clean signal between your source and Bluetooth headphones are referred to as interference.

Your wireless mouse, WiFi connection, television, and other similar appliances and gadgets that emit some form of radio frequency may have an adverse effect on the signal flow to your Bluetooth headphones.

If you believe this is the case, please read our comprehensive guide on Bluetooth Interference for more information on how to identify and resolve this issue.

3. Distance Between Source And Receiver

There is a limit to how far you can move away from the audio source before losing connection and experiencing choppiness in what you’re listening to. And it’s not just about the range of your headphones.

While most Bluetooth headphones can now go as far as 10m on average, walls and other forms of physical obstruction can prevent you from enjoying the full range of the headphones. Bring the headphones and audio source closer together to see if anything changes.

4. Bluetooth version

Bluetooth versions, like Bluetooth audio codecs, are not created equal. Bluetooth technology has evolved significantly over time. Bluetooth 5.0, the most recent standard, can process audio data faster than previous versions, resulting in shorter latency times and better sound quality.

However, just as with Bluetooth audio codecs, having headphones with the most recent Bluetooth versions does not always ensure smooth playback. The Bluetooth versions of your headphones and audio sources must be compatible.

Otherwise, you will only be able to use the features of the lowest Bluetooth version. For example, if your headphones support Bluetooth 5.1 but your audio source only supports Bluetooth 4.2, you will only be able to use Bluetooth 4.2 features.

As previously stated, the entire process of encoding, transmitting, and decoding audio data wirelessly will always take longer than a wired connection. While there is no way to completely eliminate Bluetooth audio delay (at least not right now), there are several things you can do to make it less noticeable.

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Alternative Video: How Much Delay Do Bluetooth Headphones Have?

HOW TO FIX BLUETOOTH AUDIO ISSUES IN WINDOWS?

If you’re using a Windows computer, there are several ways you can optimize your Bluetooth connection.

Option 1: Reconnect your Bluetooth Device

Sometimes the most obvious solution is the most effective. After a few seconds, try reconnecting your Bluetooth headphones and speakers to your computer again.

Hopefully, it will reset the sluggish connection and improve audio sync. All previously paired devices are removed when you reset your headphones. This is a one-stop-shop for most Bluetooth headphones and pairing issues.

Option 2: Download and Install the Latest Bluetooth Driver

When you connect your Bluetooth headphones for the first time, Windows installs the necessary driver. It will not, however, update to the most recent drivers unless you do so manually.

Audio lag in Bluetooth headphones can be caused by out-of-date software drivers in some cases. The following are the steps for updating the Bluetooth headphones’ drivers to the most recent version:

  1. Right-click on the Start button (Windows logo), then select “Device Manager” from the list.
  2. Open the Bluetooth dropdown menu by clicking the arrow pointing to the right beside “Bluetooth”.
  3. You’ll see a list of all Bluetooth devices that currently work with your computer. Look for the name of your Bluetooth headphones then right-click on it.
  4. Select “Update Driver” then follow the on-screen instructions steps.

Option 3: Via Windows Audio Playback Troubleshooter

Windows 10 includes a built-in troubleshooting feature that provides solutions to common computer problems. Follow these steps to use this feature to try to fix a sluggish Bluetooth connection:

  1. Right-click on the speaker icon in the lower-right corner of your taskbar and select Properties. Select “Troubleshoot Sound Issues.”
  2. A pop-up window with a list of your audio devices will appear. Select your Bluetooth headphones and then press the “Next” button.
  3. The next steps are determined by the problem identified by the Troubleshooter. To troubleshoot the device, follow the on-screen prompts.
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Option 4: Reboot the Windows Audio Service

The last option is to restart the Windows Audio Service which is a background task that runs all the time to manage all audio playback and output on your computer. To restart it, follow these steps:

  1. To open the “Run” dialog box, hold down the Windows key (on your keyboard) and press R.
  2. Enter services.MSc into the search box.
  3. Scroll down to the bottom of the new window and look for “Windows Audio.”
  4. Right-click it and select “Properties.”
  5. Select “Automatic” for the Start-Up type on the “General” tab.
  6. Navigate to the “Recovery” tab.
  7. Select “Restart the Service” from the First Failure and Second Failure drop-down menus. Click the OK button.
  8. Repeat the process for the Windows Audio Endpoint Builder.
  9. Restart your computer before reconnecting your Bluetooth headphones.

HOW TO FIX BLUETOOTH AUDIO ISSUES IN MAC?

The following are tips for making sure the Bluetooth connection in your Apple computer is in tip-top condition.

Option 1: Delete Old Bluetooth Files

System errors caused by corrupted files are a possible reason why your Bluetooth connection acts up. Removing them all from your computer could improve your Bluetooth headphones’ wireless connection.

  1. Start Finder. Click “Go” on the Menu bar and then select “Go to Folder.”
  1. In the window that appears, type /Library/Preferences and then press Go.
  1. A new window will be opened. Look for “com.apple.Bluetooth.plist” and “com.apple.Bluetooth.xxxxxxxxx,” then right-click and select “Move to Trash.” It’s worth noting that the “xxxxxxxx” part represents a unique combination of numbers and letters that varies from computer to computer.
  1. Restart your computer and reconnect your Bluetooth headphones once more.

Option 2: Mac Bluetooth Module Reset

  1. Hold down the Shift and Option keys on your keyboard at the same time. The Bluetooth menu will be revealed by the appearance of your Menu Bar.
  2. Choose “Debug,” then “Remove all devices.” All Bluetooth devices will be disconnected from your computer as a result of this action.
  3. Rep all steps, but this time choose “Debug” and then “Reset Bluetooth Module.”
  4. Reconnect your Bluetooth headphones as well as your other wireless devices.
How To Fix Audio Issues On Bluetooth Headphones?
How To Fix Audio Issues On Bluetooth Headphones?

HOW TO FIX BLUETOOTH AUDIO DELAY IN ANDROID AND IOS?

Using Bluetooth headphones with mobile devices is the top choice for people who are on the go. But it’s not always a smooth ride. Here are some things you can try to fix the audio delay when using your headphones on Android and iOS:

Option 1: Disable Power Saver

Power-saving settings optimize your mobile devices to keep them running longer than usual. This setting, however, limits the performance and speed of your devices and background apps.

While the effects aren’t always dramatic, they can frequently cause audio lags when watching movies, listening to music, or playing video games. Here’s a quick guide to turning off the power saving mode on Android or iOS:

For Android users:

The steps may differ slightly depending on the model and brand of your phone.

  1. Go to your phone Settings and scroll down to Battery and device care.
  2. Before going to the power saving settings, click Optimize now to cover all bases.
  3. Then, click on Battery and toggle the Power saving mode off. You can also tap on Power saving mode and customize the additional limits based on your preferences by toggling the options.

For iOS:

  1. Pull down the Control Center by swiping down the screen.
  2. Tap on the Battery icon to turn the ‘Low Power Mode’ off.
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Option 2: Restart the device

Turning the devices on and off again is a tired solution for a reason: it sometimes works. In the case of mobile devices, restarting them clears the RAM and terminates any background processes that may have been interfering with audio performance.

  1. Simply press and hold your device’s power button for a few seconds, then click restart.

HOW DO I FIX THE SOUND DELAY ON MY BLUETOOTH HEADPHONES?

If none of the solutions above worked for you, the issue could be with the headphones themselves. Unfortunately, features such as the Bluetooth audio codec are typically not changeable or upgradeable.

If this is the case, the simplest solution is to simply purchase a new pair of headphones. Here are some things to think about if you don’t want to go through this again:

1. Picking the right audio codec

Let us begin with the codec. It is critical to use the appropriate codec for Bluetooth streaming and to match it with the audio source. For example, if your headphones support the AAC codec, which is Apple’s preferred codec, you’ll have the best wireless listening experience for iOS.

For Android, the best options are aptX LL and aptX HD. Some codecs are vendor-specific, such as Sony’s LDAC and Samsung’s Scalable Codec.

If you have one of these smartphones, check your Android settings to see if it is enabled, and get a pair of Bluetooth headphones that support them.

But as a general rule, try to look for Bluetooth headphones that support the following codecs: aptX, aptX HD, aptX LL, LDAC (Sony only), LC3, and Samsung Scalable Codec (Samsung only). These are superior to the old and universal codec, SBC, which was introduced in 2003.

2. Match the source and headphones’ Bluetooth audio profile

As previously stated, using Bluetooth 5.0 for both your source and receiver should significantly improve audio latency, so try to use devices that support this most recent standard. However, matching the Bluetooth audio profile of the source and the headphones is required.

For example, if both your source and the receiver use Bluetooth 5.0, the connection will use Bluetooth 5.0 standards. However, if one of the sources or receivers is Bluetooth 4.1 and the other is Bluetooth 5.0, the default connection will be Bluetooth 4.1.

To take advantage of the improved bandwidth and features of Bluetooth 5.0, try to obtain support for both the source and receiving device.

CONCLUSION

Will future BT technology advancements completely eliminate sound delay? Time will tell. But, in reality, you don’t have to wait for that.

Using the information and tips you’ve learned here, you should have significantly less sound delay when watching a video and listening to music with your Bluetooth headphones. Finally, you can use your Bluetooth headphones to watch your favorite show without getting frustrated!

What do you think of the guide as a whole? Did it assist you in resolving some of your Bluetooth lag issues? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Fix Sound Delay On Bluetooth Headphones
Fix Sound Delay On Bluetooth Headphones

FAQs About Bluetooth Headphone Delay

Does Bluetooth 5.0 have low latency?

Bluetooth 5.0 has a significant advantage over Bluetooth 4.2 in terms of latency. You may be wondering why latency occurs in the first place. The reason for this is that Bluetooth audio is compressed for transmission ease. This means that the signal being sent is not raw audio.

Bluetooth has how much audio delay?

Overall, Android system latency for wireless audio can be in the 100ms range, with another 100ms or more for Bluetooth data transfer and only 2ms for audio conversion.

Do all Bluetooth headphones have a delay?

The typical audio latency in a wired connection is 5-10 ms; in a wireless connection, Bluetooth latency can range from an ideal 34 ms (aptX LL) up to 100-300 ms for truly wireless earbuds and headphones.

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