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We've recently released our Test Bench 1.6 update for Headphones! Read the Latency R&D Article to learn more.

Test Bench 1.6
Changelog

Updated

See the previous 1.5 changelog.

What's Changed?

One of the biggest changes we've made in this update is how we measure latency, whether that's via a wired connection, Bluetooth, or dongle. We've improved our latency methodology so that our results are more consistent and are a valid representation of what you'll experience when using these headphones. However, if you want all the nitty-gritty details, check out our R&D article, which explains our research and development process more in-depth.

Conversely, this page will give you an overview of what's been updated, so that you can find the right headphones for your needs. The following test groups have changed:

Test Group

Description

Wired Connection (previously called Wired)

  • We've separated analog and USB latency. We've also added a recorded latency file so you can hear the latency yourself.

Bluetooth Connection (previously called Bluetooth)

  • We've updated quick pairing support. We also added new codec latencies and a recorded latency file.

Wireless Connection (Dongle) (previously called Non-Bluetooth Wireless)

  • We added a recorded latency file here, allowing you to listen to latency.

New Tests

WIRED CONNECTION

We've added a couple more new tests (in bold).

  • Analog Audio

  • USB Audio

  • Detachable

  • Length

  • Connector

  • Latency - Analog

  • Latency - USB

  • Recorded Latency

  • Recorded Latency Connection

Latency – Analog

While we previously had a latency measurement for this test group, it could be unclear whether this value was obtained via analog or USB. As a result, we've split up our measurements. You'll be able to clearly see the amount of latency you'll encounter when using an analog connection. Keep in mind that analog usually has extremely low to imperceptible latency. Good analog latency falls below five ms.

Latency – USB

Some headphones support USB audio; this is particularly common with gaming headsets and headphones with a built-in DAC (Digital Audio Converter). As a result, you'll want to know how much latency this connection has. We consider latency values under 50 ms good, but latency can be noticeable with 30 ms or more delay, depending on your sensitivity.

Recorded Latency

This is a file that allows you to hear latency for yourself. The reference audio track is played alongside the delayed headphones output.

The Focal Bathys Wireless have high latency via analog (35.5 ms).

The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x have low latency via analog (0.2 ms).

Recorded Latency Connection

This lets you know which connection we've used to measure recorded latency.

 Overview of the wired box on TB 1.5.

 Overview of wired test box using TB 1.6.

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless' Wired test results on TB. 1.5.

The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless' Wired Connection test results on TB 1.6.

Score Component Weights

In addition to these changes, Wired Connection's scoring component weight has also been modified due to the separation of Analog/USB Audio Latency into Latency – Analog and Latency - USB:

 Score components of wired on TB 1.5

 Score components of wired on TB 1.6

The Steel Series Arctis Nova Pro Wireless' Wired Connection breakdown on TB 1.5.

The Steel Series Arctis Nova Pro Wireless' Wired Connection breakdown on TB 1.6.

Bluetooth Connection

We've added the following tests:

  • Quick Pair (Android)

  • Quick Pair (iOS)

  • Line of Sight Range

  • Latency - aptX Adaptive (High Quality)

  • Latency - aptX Adaptive (Low Latency)

  • Latency - LDAC

  • Recorded Latency

  • Recorded Latency Codec

  • AAC

We've removed aptX HD Latency, aptX-LL Latency, and NFC Pairing. The rise of aptX Adaptive resulted in the phasing out of aptX-LL. aptX HD has also become less common in favor of Adaptive. Similarly, while NFC chips were common a couple of years ago, this technology Is being implemented less and less. We'll still report if a pair of headphones supports these features.

We've also removed iOS Latency and Android Latency. Our methodology was different for these tests compared to the rest of our latency tests, which meant that these results weren't directly comparable. Measurements could also be specific to the phone model or to an OS version or app version, which means our results may not be valid for other devices.

Quick Pair (Android)

This test shows whether you can quickly pair the headphones with an Android device using a feature like Swift Pair or Google Fast Pair.

Quick Pair (iOS)

Like Quick Pair (Android), this test shows if the headphones can be quickly paired with iOS devices. This can be in the form of an H1/H2 or W1/W2 chip that's commonly found in Apple headphones (and some Beats products).

Latency – LDAC

LDAC is a proprietary codec owned by Sony. While not all headphones support it, you may want this codec if you want to stream audio in higher quality over Bluetooth. However, by its nature, it tends to have high latency, so it's best suited for audio listening, rather than video or gaming.

Recorded Latency 

This is an audio file that represents the highest amount of latency of the connections. This allows you to hear the headphones' latency via Bluetooth.

The Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless have high latency (241 ms) via SBC codec.

The Razer Barracuda Pro Wireless have a better latency via SBC codec (113 ms). 

Recorded Latency Codec

This test tells you which codec was used for our recorded latency test.

AAC Support

AAC (advanced Audio Coding) is the default standard audio format for iOS devices among apps and devices like YouTube Music. It's a standard for lossy digital audio compression, and many regard it as a better alternative to the default SBC codec. Unfortunately, when investigating AAC, we measured a wide difference between operating systems, and aren't currently able to measure its latency well. You can read our investigation into this audio format here. As a result, this test only checks whether the headphones support AAC with a 'Yes/No' result.

 Sennheiser Momentum 4's Bluetooth overview on TB 1.5.

 Sennheiser Momentum 4's Bluetooth overview on TB 1.6.

The Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless' Bluetooth test results on TB 1.5.

The Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless' Bluetooth Connection test results on TB 1.6.

Score Component Weights

Bluetooth Connection's score component weighting has also changed. This is to better reflect the value of each of the codecs. You can see the breakdown below:

 Bluetooth score breakdown for TB 1.5.

 Breakdown of Bluetooth scoring on TB 1.6.

The Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless' Bluetooth Connection breakdown on TB 1.5.

The Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless' Bluetooth Connection breakdown results on TB 1.6.

Wireless Connection Dongle

This test replaces the Non-Bluetooth Wireless test, adding a recorded latency file.

The Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 True Wireless have bad latency via their wireless transmitter carrying case (266 ms).

The Audeze Maxwell Wireless have good latency via their dongle (23 ms).

 

 Overview of Non-Bluetooth Wireless on TB 1.5.

 Overview of Wireless Connection on TB 1.6.

The Audeze Maxwell Wireless' Non-Bluetooth Wireless test results on TB 1.5.

The Audeze Maxwell Wireless' Wireless Connection (Dongle) test results on TB 1.6.

It's important to note that unlike 'Wired Connection' or 'Bluetooth Connection', the score breakdown for this test hasn't changed.

Let Us Know What You Think!

We're always looking to improve our work; if there's something you'd like us to add or investigate, please let us know in the forums. Your feedback helps us create better tests and data!

86 Headphones Updated

We have retested popular models. The test results for the following models have been converted to the new testing methodology. However, the text might be inconsistent with the new results.