Stereo headphones let listeners enjoy their music privately without disturbing others. Wireless stereo headphones offer the same privacy without the inconvenience of being attached to the stereo. This convenient listening tool provides wireless access to many audio sources, such as a home stereo, mp3 player, DVD player, computer, radio or television.
Wireless stereo headphones link to an audio device through a base station, which must be attached to the device. The base unit plugs into a stereo or other audio source with a designated plug and then transmits sound to the headset using an infrared, radio or Bluetooth® signal. Sound quality and range can vary depending on the type of frequency used for a wireless headset.
Infrared signals travel from the base unit to the wireless headphones in the same way as a remote control for the TV or stereo, via line-of-sight. Wireless stereo headphones that use an infrared signal generally offer the best strength within 30 feet (about 9 meters) of the base unit. Infrared frequencies require line-of-sight between devices, so the signal must be visible from the base station in order to work. Infrared wireless headphones are best for use within one room when the user will be near the audio source.
Radio signals work similar to a cordless phone. This type of signal has no line-of-sight requirements and can pass through walls and floors. Wireless stereo headphones using a radio frequency can operate within a range of up to 300 feet (about 91 meters). The signal strength may vary depending on distance and other interference. Bluetooth® wireless headphones are designed to work with compatible audio sources.
Different brands of wireless headphones offer different features, and quality may depend on brand, design and cost. Good sound quality is one of the most important characteristics of a stereo headset, along with signal strength and clarity. Poor sound is one of the biggest problems associated with wireless stereo headphones.
Wireless headphones come in a variety of styles, which can influence comfort and fit. Stereo headsets are designed to completely cover the ears, fit around the ears, hook onto the ear or be inserted into the ear. Weight, bulk and materials may affect the feel and comfort of the headphones, and preference varies by individual.
Most wireless stereo headphones are battery operated. Some headsets work with AA or AAA batteries, while others may have built-in rechargeable batteries similar to a cell phone. Battery life for a wireless headset can vary but is typically two or three hours.
Wire-free listening devices are sophisticated audio technology, which tends to be expensive. As is common with wireless equipment, sound quality can be spotty, and a relatively short battery life can be a drawback for wireless headphones. Although a wireless headset does offer the freedom of disconnecting from an audio device, it is not completely portable because of the need for a base station to transmit the signal.