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Bluetooth powers wireless headphones and portable speakers and enable the wireless connection of a stereo system or soundbar to a smartphone and its numerous streaming services. Despite Bluetooth's widespread adoption, it remains the most misunderstood audio technology. Numerous audio firms provide numerous Bluetooth versions or codecs, and some claim that a particular codec will increase Bluetooth sound quality. However, these distinctions are difficult to quantify and discern. If you're uncertain about how (or if) different Bluetooth codecs should influence your choice of headphones or speakers, continue reading.

Bluetooth Headphones technology has a significantly lower impact on sound quality than the device's design. If you use several wireless headphones or speakers, you will notice distinct changes in sound quality. If you experiment with several Bluetooth codecs, the change will be negligible and potentially inaudible. (You can test your Bluetooth blindness using my online test.)

In other words, you should buy Bluetooth headphones or speakers based on their core sound quality — as indicated in reviews or as you determine for yourself — and not on the Bluetooth audio technology they support. The codecs make little difference.

Bluetooth audio codecs clarification
The primary difference in Bluetooth implementation for audio devices is the audio codec used. A codec (short for "compression/decompression") is a complicated algorithm that compresses audio data to make it easier to transmit over the Internet or wirelessly from a phone to headphones. Among the most popular codecs in use, today are likely SBC, AAC, aptX, and MP3. The less data Bluetooth needs to communicate, the more solid the connection, and the less likely it is that your headphones will lose the signal in the middle of "Bad Guy" by Billie Eilish.

These codecs are termed "lossy" because the majority of audio data is discarded. Typically, they limit the data rate of CD-quality audio from 1,411 kilobits per second to approximately 300 kbps. The data that is eliminated is audio that the human ear is less likely to perceive, such as a faint sound amid a similar but louder sound. Some codecs permit larger data rates, necessitating less compression and allowing the possibility of superior sound quality.

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