Short answer: Yes, bluetooth headphones do work with binaural beats, with some frequency loss. However, we're sure you'd like a slightly more comprehensive response. Allow us to place this for you, we'll explore a few ideas together, and hopefully by the end of this you'll understand the subject back to front.
You want to use headphones for listening to your binaural beats. However, cords can be annoying. You don't want to be worried about tripping over things when you're trying to immerse yourself in your practice. The idea of having no cumbersome cords runs parallel with your transcendental activity of meditation and relaxation.
Obvious solution to most? Bluetooth headphones.
How Bluetooth Headphones Work
To understand how Bluetooth technology works in conjunction with binaural beats, we need to look at how both of these things work in transmitting frequencies.
Bluetooth devices work by transmitting signals from your playing device (such as smartphone, speaker, TV, computer, etc) to your headphones. They connect and exchange data over very small distances using low-frequency radio transmissions. There is a tiny chip in your playing device that contains the radio transmitter. This sends the radio signals to the headphones. Your headphones can connect to multiple devices in this fashion.
Binaural beats work in a similar capacity of sending/receiving frequencies. The most common purpose of this is to work your brain at a lower wave of frequency. This allows you to enter the state for your meditative practice. This “brainwave entrainment” can shift your brain into different and positive states of consciousness when utilised correctly.
A rhythmic pulse of frequencies are sent at a specific rate. Two different frequencies (measured in Hertz) are sent to left and right ear respectively. The brain gauges the difference in hertz between these two frequencies, and this difference becomes the hertz your brain has interpreted. So thus: Left ear hears 210Hz, Right ear hears 205Hz, Brain translates as 5Hz.
For both frequencies to be received by your brain at the same time, you need headphones to transmit the frequencies to left and right ears simultaneously, in order to create the ‘Frequency Following Response' effect.
So there's a couple of frequencies being thrown around…
Would there be issue with a Bluetooth device sending signals to your headphones, and then your headphones sending the frequencies again to your brain? We have a couple of channels the frequencies are being sent through, which could theoretically affect the Hertz of the frequencies.
Well, there always has to be a medium to send frequencies from device to headphones. Wires also have their more direct technology of sending data through them. However, as explained earlier on with Bluetooth devices, we have a medium that sends binaural beats as a low-frequency transmission.
Could this translation of frequency affect the precise hertz of each frequency for your ear? After the science we explained before, we can see that two differently affected hertz being received by each ear could affect the single hertz pattern translated by your brain. This in turn could affect your whole binaural beats practice. So this is why we need to be an audiophile on this subject.
Is There Frequency Loss with Bluetooth Headphones?
Yes, there is, depending on the frequency range of the device and headphones. A lot of the frequency response and loss is the fault of the device sending the signal, but this is coupled with the quality of your headphones. In order to get the most out of our practice utilising binaural beats, we need to understand where the audio industry is at in terms of the overall product of wireless headphones.
Some headphones are more accurate than others at translating low radio frequencies into their original hertz. Some lose frequency response to relative degrees, depending on their quality.
At this early point of the tech game, Bluetooth headphone technology is running thin on the ground. Devices are still in prototypical stage for what they could be. Bluetooth headphones have a limited response range, more so than any other kind of headphones.
One of the main culprits with discrepancy of frequency translation between devices is range. There can be drop-out in frequency dependent on distance between device and headphones.
At this point in time Bluetooth transmission has notoriously low frequency. This may change in the near-future, as Apple has announced they are using wireless headphone technology for their latest iPhone versions, thus increasing interest in the medium. This in turn will create more competition and industry for Bluetooth headphones as a product.
Exact numbers of Hz loss in frequency between devices were too hard to come by with our research. Companies are generally close-mouthed with this stuff as they are trying to sell their product rather than keeping you informed. Hopefully more enthusiasts will conduct their own tests, so keep an eye on internet forums for more current information.
Can Frequency Loss Affect Brainwave Entrainment?
While Hz are more or less precise in the science of brainwave entrainment, individual response is always different. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses in the muscle that is the brain. Most of us have well-enough developed brains to be able to shift and guide the couple of Hz discrepancy, and maintain the integrity of your binaural beats heard through Bluetooth headphones.
If you still have issues, you might wish to regard ambient noise in your equation. Ambient noises are the sounds of your environment, which can also affect heard frequencies. If you find brands that advertise noise reduction, you have some solid information there you can use in your informed purchase.
What Current Bluetooth Models Can Reduce Frequency Loss?
As a consumer, you want to be aware that wireless technologies are relatively young. For intensive purposes, you may wish for newer models of wireless headphones to emerge and for prices to drop.
There's not a lot of information available on frequency drop-out range, unfortunately. It's best to stick with companies that specialise in headphone manufacture and quality sound/parts.
A good pro-tip to remember is that the device's frequency response and your headphones' frequency response are different, and both will limit output.
For example: If you have a device that has a Hz range between 15-22,000Hz, and your headphones are 19-19,000Hz, the range will be governed by the headphones, as they have the lower range. This is why the discrepancy really is with Bluetooth headphones.
If you are extra-keen to get your Bluetooth headphones now, here's a couple of the best models going…
- Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 – This company specialise in headphones, and are passionate about what they do. They're comfortable and contained, so as to reduce invasive ambient sound. It's safe to assume they're doing their best to tackle frequency loss. The battery life of 22 hours is amazing considering the effective and subtle noise cancellation technology sucking up power. Price is a turn-off at $499 though and have been untested for frequency response balance.
- V-Moda Crossfade Wireless – These are made for binaural beats. Their 50mm drivers w/ dual diaphragms have a notable frequency response balance between 5-30Hz. They are closed but do not rely on noise cancellation tech, so ambient noise and 12 hour battery power are issues. They are affordable at $300, and for this particular subject of frequency loss are the perfect choice.
- Harman Kardon Soho – Reasonably priced at $249, these headphones come into our list with a frequency range of 20Hz-20KHz. However, there's too much artificial equalising between mid and low tones on part of the headphones to really measure up to V-Moda, and they will be quickly superseded by other superior models of available Bluetooth headphones, what with the approaching iPhone 7 rushing the market and forcing more competition.
We didn't include earbuds here, as when it comes to bluetooth they always have ambient sound issues that affect the binaural process notably and the essential low frequencies are nearly always tampered with.
Other good brands of Bluetooth headphones to check out are Bose, Parrot Zik, and Bowers & Wilkens. You might also be surprised by more generic companies like Sony and LG, except the lower priced range products tend to manipulate the frequency integrity of the original sounds.
To Finish Up
I would personally measure the difference of my tech's effect on my binaural meditation practice, between the hindrance of headphone cords and of the state of Bluetooth headphone technology, which, with Bluetooth 4, is very stable now. This way you can make the most informed decision to suit your needs.
We hope that we've helped you better understand Bluetooth technology, and that this information will help you ignore useless peripheral marketing information designed to sell you headphones and assist you in making a more informed purchase decision.
In the meantime, the search continues for both companies and music enthusiasts for the perfect sound.
By Kristian Hatton – in-house audiophile.