Wireless headphone technology is basically on the rise since Apple introduced their Airpods and sealed off their 3.5mm headphone jack with the iPhone 7 and 7 plus.
Trust Apple with the power to influence other brands, today, so many other smartphone brands adopted the trend, sealing off their 3.5mm headphone jack.
That is just a way of telling the wired headphones, goodbye, we don’t need you anymore.
Airpod gave rise to so many other wireless headphones, even Samsung has no choice than to resurrect their icon X wireless headphone and they are now taking it serious, maybe they may even include it in their new Samsung galaxy s8, who knows?
So, how do wireless headphones work? What is the technology behind that blissful music you enjoy that is coming from a system that is not even connected to the music source? That is what this post is all about.
I will try as much as possible to make this post so easy to understand. After all, the technology behind it is just a simple physics related principle you must have learned in school.
Before we start let me point out that there are three types of Technologies available for wireless headphones. The infrared, the Bluetooth or the radio.
This type of Technology use an infrared (IR) beam to transmit the sound from the base unit to the headphone, the principle behind it is the same as that of your remote control for your TV. The working range is limited to about 7m.
To use this wireless technology effectively you need to be in a clear line of sight between the transmitter and headphones without obstruction by walls, chairs, tables and so on, because, Infrared is entirely all about light and light cannot penetrate through solid objects.
Unlike the infrared, this doesn’t require a direct line of sight as it is less directional as compared to infrared. The signals can be received clearly from several angles and positions no matter the distance away from the transmitter. A typical example of radio waves is the Bluetooth we’ve all been hearing about. The Bluetooth is a low power-radio wave. It transmits at a frequency of 2.45 gigahertz. We will talk more about the Bluetooth later.
One of the downsides of radio waves is that if another device that uses radio signals happen to be around the same range as your radio signal, it interferes and becomes a disturbance to the reception of its frequency.
You will ask, why is it that this interference of the radio signal is not affecting your Bluetooth wireless headphone?
It is because the Bluetooth is a weak radio signal and your base band sends out weak signals of about 1 milliwatt. The low power limits the range of Bluetooth to 10m (32ft) cutting the chances of interference between your device and any other interfering device.
What if a device is in the same 10 meters (32ft) radius as yours?
Bluetooth uses a technique called spread-spectrum frequency hopping that makes it rare for more than one device to be transmitting on the same frequency at the same time.
In this technique, the transmitters change frequencies 1,600 times every second, meaning that more devices can make full use of a limited slice of the radio spectrum, making it unlikely that two transmitters will be on the same frequency at the same time.
For a Basic wireless headphone to work, Three components are required:
- The Music Source – In this case your smartphone or any device that is the source of your music.
- The Transmitter or the Base unit
- The headphone – Made up of radio receptors, processors and the left and right speakers.
How Do Wireless headphones Work?
Of the three components required to make a complete wireless headphone technology work, the most important of them is the base unit, it connects to the music source. The base unit can be found either internally or externally, as we are talking about wireless headphone technology for smartphones we should know that majority of the smartphones have their transmitters or base unit embedded inside the smartphone.
The base unit receive sounds from the music source inform of electric impulse which travel though the physical wires that connect the base unit with the source.
Inside the base unit the electric impulse thus received with the help of processors inside are converted to signals which are now sent out as signals to the surrounding environment.
The headphone from its end, with the help of radio receivers built into it captures the signals, the signals are converted to electronic signals which are fed to the processors inside it were noise, frequency interference is stopped out. Then a clean signal is passed to the left and right speakers.
This is the basic working mechanism of any wireless headphone you see out there. But as technology tend to grow and brands come up with new features to add to their latest wireless headphones, you might see an added functionality and features more complex than the one on this post. Like the new W1 chip inside Apple’s Airpods which adds more functionality to the basic functions and mechanism in which the Airpod’s works.