With Sound Quality & Battery Run-time Optimized, BT 5.0 Helps to Establish a Wireless Eco-system for Mobile Phones
With more and more smartphone manufacturers starting to remove the 3.5mm headphone jack, the wireless headphones bring not only convenience to consumers but also a good opportunity for the wireless industry. Among the numerous transmission standards for wireless headphones, Bluetooth has been updated to Bluetooth 5.0, which has the inherent advantages in audio transmission of a longer range, lower power consumption and lower bandwidth. Against this backdrop, can Bluetooth 5.0 help wireless headphones come into vogue? To answer this question, Huaqiang Electronics invited several experts in this industry to discuss the future of wireless headphones.
With headphone jacks removed from smartphones, wireless headphones embrace a promising future
Lately there has been a growing trend for smartphone manufacturers to remove the 3.5mm headphone jack and replace it with other data interfaces such as the commonly used Mirco USB, USB Type-C and Apple’s Lightning. For the headset manufacturers, the co-existence of so many interfaces means that they may have to develop new production lines and produce earphones of different interfaces to keep up with the design trends and meet the market demands. In the meantime, many consumers now own audio devices with different incompatible interfaces. If they want to use only one headphone that supports all the devices, a standard Bluetooth wireless headset is a good choice apart from buying various adapters.
Mr. Chen Mingjiao, General Manager of Buildwin International (Zhuhai) Limited & Bluetooth Product Manager
When it came to how the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jacks from smartphones would impact the wireless industry, Mr. Chen Mingjiao, the General Manager of Buildwin International (Zhuhai) Limited and its Bluetooth Product Manager, told reporters that it would certainly stimulate the wireless headphone industry and expedite the evolution of smartphones into the "wireless ecosystem". He also gave an example to further explain his opinion: iPhone is quite popular among buyers but its Lightning interface cannot transmit analog signals. Since the headphones and speakers nowadays only process analog signals, the digital analogy signals transmitted by the Lightning must be converted by DAC before they can be recognized by the earphones and speakers. To this end, Apple added a DAC into its Lightning headphones, which undoubtedly increased the user experience cost. What’s worse, the Lightning headphones only support the products of Apple and are not widely used in the market.
Mr. Tan Lintao, General Manager of Alinket Technology
Mr. Tan Lintao, General Manager of Alinket Technology, also added that smartphones that use USB Type-C or Lightning to connect headphones will bring people a lot of trouble. For example, many people like listening to songs while charging up their phones (though it is not recommended to do so). In this case, the Bluetooth headsets will work since they are not connected to the smartphones through an interface. It will be easy for users to have their phones charged up while listening to music no matter what the interface their phones have. In his opinion, whether the headphone jacks are removed or not, people do want to get rid of the trouble of earphone wires. Now the excellent wireless technologies, especially the Bluetooth 5.0, have been launched and are likely to replace the 3.5mm jack soon.
Anthony Murray, Senior Vice President & General Manager of Qualcomm’s Voice & Music Business
Anthony Murray, Senior Vice President & General Manager of Qualcomm’s Voice & Music Business told the reporter that great changes are taking place in the audio industry since consumers have quickly accepted the wireless devices and streaming media as their top choice when listening to music and hope that the audio devices are smaller and more portable. He said that as the high-quality audio will be integrated with advanced technologies in the future, such as biosensors, speech recognition and cloud ecosystem, wireless earphones will embrace a promising future. He also noted that Qualcomm plans to release a new series of low-power Bluetooth audio SoCs in the first quarter of 2018. These SoCs will be highly optimized and compared to the existing product portfolios, their power consumption for voice calls and music streaming are reduced by 50%.
Meanwhile, Bluetooth is not the only choice for wireless earphones. According to the reporter, there are other technologies like infrared and 27MHz RF. Why did the Bluetooth technology other than others become the smartphones’ standard configuration? In this regard, Mr. Tan Lintao pointed out that infrared is generally used in home appliances because of its directivity. With a short effective range and high power consumption, it cannot support multi-directional transmission and is easily jammed. The 27MHz RF also has a short range, low transmission rate and poor anti-jamming ability. It can only be used for one-way signal transmission and is prone to signal interrupts and mutual interference between different wireless frequencies. In contrast, the Bluetooth technology applies FM to wireless transmission and has absolute advantage in range, data rate and anti-jamming ability. Since there are more and more audio standards like A2DP, it is also very convenient in terminal adaptation and product design. Mr. Chen Mingjiao added that although there are many wireless transmission methods, the wireless Bluetooth headphones are the most cost-effective solution in terms of transmission distance, data rate, power consumption and costs.
Technically, the Bluetooth technology has remarkable comprehensive advantages and a vast development space, but it cost-effective performance needs improving so that it can be more widely used. According to Mr. Chen Mingjiao, wireless headphones were very expensive in the past. But after Buildwin produced the Bluetooth + audio IC, the cost of wireless audio IC has been reduced and wireless headphones are popularized, winning unanimous praise from the market. With the 3.5mm headphone jack removed from more smartphones, the market for wireless Bluetooth headsets will be further expanded. More companies will join in this industry, and the competition will be fiercer. In this way, the solutions will better and more affordable, which is good for consumers. Mr. Tan Lintao said since the technical advantages of Bluetooth 5.0 are beyond doubt. It won’t take a long time and may be realized in the next two years.
In addition to the removal of the headset jacks, an increasing number of smart devices will also benefit the wireless headphones. With the smart devices becoming popular and wide support for the Bluetooth standards, more and more voice-controlled smart devices can be used in collocation with wireless Bluetooth headsets. Furthermore, the wireless ecosystem will take shape soon thanks to the hard efforts of Apple, Qualcomm, Amazon, Google and other giant tech companies, and the wireless headphones will be an important part of the ecosystem.
(Reprinted from http://www.hqew.com/)