Bluetooth vs RF Headphones

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Updated June 27, 2022

If you are new to the world of wireless headphones, you may look to compare RF headphones vs Bluetooth headphones. Many of the best headphones, after all, are wireless using one of these two technologies. So which is better and what are the key differences? Keep reading to find out.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • RF and Bluetooth headphones each use unique wireless transmission technologies to deliver an audio signal.
  • RF headphones offer an increased signal range up to 100 feet but do not do well with competing radio waves or a competing wireless headset.
  • Bluetooth headphones are cheaper when it comes to wireless technology, and much easier to set up and use than their RF counterparts.

Differences Between Bluetooth Headphones and RF Headphones

The primary difference is the method of wireless communication, and this is true even when comparing over-ear vs on-ear headphones. Bluetooth headphones use, well, Bluetooth technology whereas RF headphones use radio frequency waves. There is talk that radiation in Bluetooth vs wired headphones is concerning for health reasons, but it’s not damaging to the body unless in large amounts. This basic contrast leads to all kinds of other differences, explained below.

Insider Tip

Bluetooth can drain the battery from your audio source, so keep an eye on your smartphone or tablet.

Transmission Range

RF headphones are the clear winner here. Not only do they allow for a wireless transmission range of up to 100 feet away from the source, which is much higher than Bluetooth, but RF technology also is not interrupted by walls and other obstacles. Bluetooth waves, on the other hand, get really tripped up by walls and other hurdles. This transmission range disparity holds true with all types of headphones if you are comparing studio vs audiophile headphones.

Cost

Though cost varies according to make and model, Bluetooth is a tried-and-true technology that is relatively cheap to mass manufacture. This translates to Bluetooth headphones, on average, being slightly cheaper than RF headphones. This will not hold true, of course, for Bluetooth headphones and fine Samsung earbuds to be equipped with all kinds of bells and whistles like smart assistant integration and robust battery packs.

Ease-of-Use

Bluetooth headphones have a clear edge here. Installation and use typically require pairing two devices, but this happens with a long press of a button or two. After that, the devices stay paired until you shut the Bluetooth off. RF headphones, on the other hand, require complicated transmitters that will have to be connected to your audio source, though the receivers are typically embedded in the headphones themselves.

Interference

While RF headphones perform well with solid obstacles, easily passing through walls, they do not do quite as well with signal wave interference. Other devices using the standard 2.4GHz frequency, like microwaves and baby monitors, will contaminate the signal of your chosen audio source, leading to static and buzz as you listen to the headphones. Bluetooth headphones, on the other hand, experience no such interference as each device pairs uniquely and does not cross with any other Bluetooth signals.

F.A.Q.S

What are wireless TV headphones?

Wireless TV headphones, as opposed to traditional headphones, are headphones that are used to watch TV. These headphones typically feature an RF audio signal to deliver decent sound quality.


Is using RF safe?

RF is considered to be as safe as other types of wireless headphones, though studies are still being conducted when compared to wired headphones and other wireless devices.


What are wireless headphones?

Wireless headphones use radio transmissions or proprietary technologies to deliver audio signals. They tend to feature a robust battery life, good sound quality, and a stable wireless connection.


STAT: Bluetooth is engineered for very small distances; the idea is that Bluetooth is personal. This technology is good within 50 meters or so. (source)

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