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Wireless Bluetooth® headphones buying guide

Enjoy great sound without the tether to your device

By

David Brown

David Brown is a member of Crutchfield's Home A/V writing team. He studied writing and politics at Ithaca College in upstate New York, where he grew up. He spent 12 years in Washington, D.C., where he earned a Masters degree in journalism and wrote an award-winning humor column. David relocated to Charlottesville, VA, in 2012. He enjoys listening to music, playing the guitar and piano, and hiking with his wife and children.

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If you’ve ever been annoyed by a wire dangling between your headphones and your smartphone, you may want to try a pair of wireless Bluetoooth headphones. They allow you to enjoy high-quality sound without being tethered to your device. Once you experience the freedom of wireless headphones, you may find it hard to go back to wired listening.

Wireless Bluetooth headphones

Crutchfield Advisor Enrique pairs his smartphone to a set of Bluetooth headphones, and listens cable-free.

Why Bluetooth?

Bluetooth is a wireless protocol found in virtually every smartphone and tablet on the market, as well as many computers. Bluetooth headphones connect wirelessly to your phone, tablet, or computer. Then you can listen from a range of up to 33 feet away.

Benefits:

  • Easy wireless connection between headphones and a smartphone or tablet
  • Earcup buttons offer control of music playback, volume, and phone calls

Who are they for?

  • Mobile listeners who don’t want to deal with dangling wires
  • Tablet users who watch video but don’t want to be tethered to their device
Bluetooth wireless headphones

Most Bluetooth headphones offer controls on the earcups for taking calls, adjusting volume, and controlling music playback.

Instant pairing with your device

Pairing Bluetooth headphones with a smartphone is as easy as pressing a button on each device, then choosing the headphones from your device’s Bluetooth settings menu. If you have an Android® device with Near Field Communication (NFC) compatibility, you can pair your smartphone by simply touching it to a pair of NFC-compatible headphones.

Better sound from Bluetooth headphones

If you want Bluetooth headphones with enhanced sound quality, look for aptX® technology. Found in some Android devices, aptX is a high-quality wireless streaming codec which offers improved sound quality over standard Bluetooth transmission.

Shop for wireless Bluetooth headphones

Wireless TV headphones with separate transmitters

Another way to listen wirelessly is with transmitter-based headphone systems. These wireless headphone systems are often used to watch TV, but are great for listening to music, too. They offer listening ranges of over 100 feet and can delivery CD-quality sound. A separate transmitter connects to your home stereo or TV, then sends audio wirelessly to a set of battery-powered headphones.

Shop for wireless TV headphones

Sennheiser HDR 175 headphones

Sennheiser's RS series headphones use a wireless transmitter and over-ear headset (RS 175 pictured).

Last updated February 12, 2016
  • G. Freedman

    Posted on 5/27/2015 12:36:26 PM

    Can wireless headphones be connected to cable boxes provided by cable companies?

  • David Brown from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/28/2015 11:55:35 AM

    Yes, most wireless headphones that work over RF with a separate transmitter, such as the Sennheiser RS line of headphones, can be connected to a cable box. Most cable boxes have stereo RCA outputs that can output audio simultaneously with the HDMI output for audio and video. With these cable boxes, you could connect the headphone transmitter to these RCA outputs and listen wirelessly to cable programming using the headphones.
    This would allow you to listen either with headphones or with your TV's built-in speakers or an external audio system such as a sound bar or home theater system - or both at the same time.
    To find out how wireless headphones will work with your specific gear, call, chat, or email us.