|Wireless headphones allow you to experience total freedom of movement by eliminating cumbersome cords or wires while you listen to your favorite audio source. This could be music from your stereo, or audio from a movie on TV. Furthermore you can turn up the sound and experience a theater like sound system without disturbing people close by.
There are two main different types of wireless headphone technologies. These are IF (Infrared) wireless headphones and RF (Radio Frequency) wireless headphones.
Both types of wireless technology incorporate a transmitter and receiver system. The wireless headphone transmitter is what connects to your audio source (stereo, TV, etc.), while the receiver is actually built in to the headphones. So what is the best wireless headphones technology?
RF Wireless Headphones
Radio Frequency (RF) wireless tv headphones typically operate in the 800-900 MHz band although they may soon follow cordless phone technology and move on to higher frequencies like 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz. RF technology has the ability to penetrate through walls and obstacles which gives the added benefit of actually being able to receive wireless audio in several rooms of a house from a single source in one room. With RF wireless headphone transmission the two strereo channels (lefty and right) are modulated into a single frequency for transmission and then demodulated at the receiving side back into left and right channels.
Keep in mind that wireless technology is always susceptible to intereference and/or signal loss. Intereference is caused by other RF wireless devices transmitting within a certain rage of your receiver. In certain circumstances a signal from another device (cordless phone, wireless network, or wireless video tranmsitter) can create static (or noise) in the reception of your headphones. This is especially true when the other device is operating at the same or similar frequency.
Signal loss on the other hand is caused by a weak or lost transmission. This too results in static, poor audio quality, or loss of sound alltogether. Signal loss is due to one of two factors. Either the distance from the transmitter to the receiver is too far for a clear strong signal to be receievd by the headphones, or the signal is being "blocked" in some manner by obstacles. Some of the most troublesome obtacles for RF wireless headphones are metal and water. Metal objects could be a firewall built within a wall, furniture, shelving, fencing (when using outdoors) or extensive plumbing/duct work. RF signal cannot penetrate metal well resulting in a weakening of the signal. Water is not commonly found in your living room so its not usually a problem factor but since the human body contains mostly water it can be an obstacle. For this reason it is helpful to keep the transmitter above head level if at all possible especially in circumstances where there may be obstacles (human or other) between the headphone wearer and the transmitter.
Infrared wireless tv headphones operate by sending their signal in the form of a beam of light typically in the 2-4 MHz band. Due to this fact they are primarily a line of sight device. Meaning you must be able to visually see from the transmitter to the receiver to successfully receive your signal. Most infrared systems are limited to about a 30 foot range with clear open line of sight. With Infrared wireless headphones you get true stereo (left and right channel) separation. This results in excellent stereo sound quality. Infrared transmission is less prone to interference in that it is a line of sight technology. Meaning you can have a similar transmission device in the room right next door without having any negative impact on your reception as long as the signal does not make its way into your room.
RF Versus Infrared Wireless Headphones Comparison
In summary there are advantages and drawbacks to both types of wireless headphone technologies. The advantages of Radio Frequency (RF) Headphones center on its greater range (up to 150 feet in the open...less through walls),and ability to penetrate walls or furniture. For example you may wish to keep your headphone transmitter in your home theater entertainment center . You could do this and still receive your audio through a closed cabinet door (if so equipped). Or you may wish to roam freely throughout your whole home while listening to audio from your living room. You could use RF headphones in both of these examples while Infrared headphones would probably not work for you.
However as described above RF wireless headphones are more susceptible to interference issues then Infrared headphones. This is the main advantage of Infrared Wireless Technology. If you are intending to primarily listen to your audio in the same room as where the transmitter will be located you can benefit from a clear interference free signal as well as infrared headphone's true stereo separation. What are the best wireless headphones? Please review the information below for Sony and Sennheiser wireless home audio and tv headphone systems.
Sony Wireless Headphone Models
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