Trying (and trying) Bluetooth headphones, they're a no-go for me

I realise that this might be a controversial opinion in the current climate, with Apple and others moving phones away from 'ye olde' 3.5mm headphone jacks and towards increasing use of wireless solutions (e.g. AirPods, Pixel Buds), but I'm still not convinced about Bluetooth audio when on the move.

In my tests, I've tried several different makes of Bluetooth headphone (most recently these and these) with a variety of phones running Android and Windows 10 Mobile. And have been left unimpressed.

And, contrary to what you might expect, the issue isn't audio quality - though, by definition, there's usually some loss in the recompression of just-decompressed music just to traverse the few feet to your ears. No, my problem are the occasional tiny cut outs.

Now, this might just be me being hyper-sensitive, but every few minutes (at random) there's a tiny cut out in the audio stream - you wouldn't notice it for speech, but for music it's very distracting. And these cut outs are common to every Bluetooth audio solution I've tried. Some only do it once a day (bearable), some do it several times a minute.

Curiously, I have no such cutouts when streaming to Bluetooth speakers around the home, meaning that it's something to do with either:
  • the physical movement of my ears relative to my phone while I walk/run and the moving layers of fabric and my limbs getting in the way of the signal
  • interference from surrounding Bluetooth gadgets and Wi-fi networks as I pass each house on my way
I'm honestly not sure which of these factors is to blame, but it's a genuine phenomenon, and not one that's tied to any headset or phone OS/device.

Which means I'm back to good old fashioned wired headphones into a 3.5mm. Nothing to recharge, no loss of quality (assuming a good DAC in the phone, which is usually the case), no cut outs, no hassles.

I don't think I'm an old curmudgeon. Well, not completely. But I do have standards!

PS. The observant will notice that the dropping of the 3.5mm jack from phones doesn't totally preclude the use of wired headphones. Dongles, Type C or Lightning headphones, etc. But come on, let's just stick to the standard the world uses, eh?


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