Wireless range refers to how far wireless headphones can carry a stable audio signal without cutting out or decreasing in sound quality. Wireless headphones use radio frequencies to transmit and receive data, either via the Bluetooth standard, a proprietary wireless protocol, or an unstandardized technology. It’s difficult to tell in advance how well a pair of headphones will perform in the wireless range test, but we found in our tests that most headphones tend to achieve between 30 to 50 feet of obstructed range, no matter what wireless technology they use.
Wireless headphones offer a lot of range from the audio source. This means you can listen to your music or movie while having the freedom to move around in your environment and even continue listening in another room. They also free you from the hassle of cable management, preventing the headphones from being yanked off your head because the audio cable got hooked or tangled on something.
Our wireless range tests determine the direct line of sight and obstructed range of wireless headphones. We measure the range in feet (ft) and score headphones based on how many feet of wireless range they obtain.
Playing audio over a wireless network frees the listener from cable length restrictions. Most Bluetooth headphones have enough range so you can jog on the treadmill with your smartphone resting in the accessory tray without a problem. If your headphones have even better wireless range, you could leave your phone charging at your desk and still listen to your music or take calls while walking about in your home or office. Wireless range is especially important if you use your headphones with a source that's difficult to move, like a desktop PC or the TV in your living room.
We measure the range that the wireless headphones are capable of, when in direct line of sight and when the Bluetooth source is obstructed.
Our wireless range tests are performed with a Bluetooth 4.2-enabled smartphone or the dedicated wireless transmitter that comes with the headphones.
This is the headphones' range when the Bluetooth source is placed in a separate room obstructed by walls. We test for this by connecting the headphones to a Bluetooth 4.2 enabled phone or to their own wireless transmitter and placing the phone or transmitter in the furthest of the four rooms we currently have in our office. We then evaluate the distance with a measuring wheel, going from room to room, until the wireless connection is too weak to reliably transmit audio without any drops or issues in quality. This measurement is done three times and then averaged to obtain the obstructed range.
Although the results are consistent in our office, it may vary depending on how many walls or obstructions the Bluetooth source will have to go through in your home or office layout.
This is the headphones' range when in direct line of sight with the Bluetooth source. We test for this by connecting the headphones to the same Bluetooth 4.2 enabled phone or transmitter in a large open area such as a parking garage. We then evaluate the distance with the measuring wheel until the wireless connection is too weak to reliably transmit audio without any drops or issues in quality. This distance is also measured three times and then averaged to obtain the line of sight range.
Unless you are often in a large and open environment, line-of-sight range won't be as relevant for you and is therefore attributed a much lower percentage of the wireless score than obstructed range.
There are a couple of elements that we don't test for explicitly. These elements include:
If you feel there is an item missing that should be included, please let us know in the Discussions below.
Our wireless range tests measure the reach of headphones' wireless connection. Wireless headphones typically transmit data via Bluetooth or other radio frequencies to provide a cable-free listening experience that gives listeners more freedom and mobility. This means you can listen to your music, movies, or podcasts without needing to move the audio source or be in the same room. We test the wireless range when in direct line of sight and when the Bluetooth source is obstructed. However, depending on your listening habits and headphone choice, wireless range may not be that important to you.