Wireless audio explained: Bluetooth vs 2.4GHz

With how technology now offers so much flexibility in how we listen to music, it’s hard to believe we ever plugged bulky headphones into a record player while stuck in one place.

Sounds crazy these days, right?

It can be a bit overwhelming to find that perfect match for your ears. With all these technical terms complicating wireless audio devices, how do you know when you’re making the right choice?

By understanding the difference between 2.4GHz wireless and Bluetooth audio, you will never doubt your purchase decision again.

What is 2.4GHz Wireless Audio?

In its purest form, wireless audio is sent from your audio device to compatible headphones over a 2.4 GHz wireless signal. The sound is sent over radio waves with a similar signal to your internet Wi-Fi router or cordless phones (when many of us still had landlines). The big advantage of 2.4GHz wireless is that it can go through walls and extend quite a distance (150 feet / 45 meters) inside your home (or 300 feet / 92 meters outdoors).

The downside of listening to near-perfect audio is that the size of the audio file can take up about ten times the space compared to the average Spotify or Apple Music single. In addition, this wireless signal can be very sensitive (due to similar radio waves nearby interfering).

If you’re going for higher-quality audio, you’ll also want high-quality audio equipment to make sure it sounds as good as possible.

What is Bluetooth audio?

Bluetooth audio is an energy-efficient way to send audio from your device to your earbuds (or earphones). This is accomplished by compressing (or compressing) audio into a concentrated wireless audio path from your device to your ears.

The range of Bluetooth audio is up to about 30 feet (10 meters) to be received in its best form. In most cases, you’ll find this method of transmitting audio between your smartphone and nearby car stereo, earbuds, or game console.

Since Bluetooth audio technology favors efficiency over high audio quality, you’ll find that the audio (especially music) is slightly better than good enough (in most cases). When you are gaming and having disagreements chatting with your crew, you will notice that the sound quality will drop significantly to make room for the gaming audio and the audio communication with your friends.

For more information on Bluetooth audio, see our guide to how Bluetooth audio codecs work.

2.4GHz vs Bluetooth Audio: Is There a Difference?

While 2.4GHz wireless audio and Bluetooth audio both send sounds from your device to your ears in (roughly) the same wireless frequency, you’ll notice a huge difference in audio quality between the two choices.

Listening to audio via Bluetooth is effortless thanks to the included modern audio devices without the need for additional technology. However, with 2.4GHz wireless audio, you usually need a USB dongle to help your audio device send high-quality sounds to your ears.

Because Bluetooth technology sends audio over such a narrow path, you can sit next to someone on public transport without worrying about audio interruption. On the other hand, 2.4GHz wireless audio may experience interruptions while listening, although the requirement for a specific USB dongle to connect usually ensures a smooth connection.

What’s best for you?

If your favorite track for testing your audio equipment is Aja by Steeley Dan, then you’re most likely willing to spend time planning the perfect listening room for your 2.4GHz wireless audio listening experience.

If you are the type of person who prefers convenience and availability, use standard audio devices that support modern Bluetooth technology.

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