Radio Frequency Headphones
Pros: RF signals are not blocked by walls or ceilings so you can use your RF TV headphones in a different room from the audio source. The RF transmitter in a wireless headphone connects to any sound device that has an RCA audio output or a headphone socket. This makes it a great choice if your TV doesn’t support Bluetooth. RF headphones only require an analog audio output to connect to any audio device.
Cons: This interference can originate from any device within the area that produces electromagnetic signals, like radios, phones, radio transmission towers, and even microwave ovens. Compared to other wireless headphone categories, like Bluetooth, there are fewer RF headphone designs. You can find over-ear or on-ear RF headsets, but you will hardly come across RF earphones. Of course, we’re only analyzing headphones here, but it’s still good to know.
Pros: Infra-red headphones are not affected by other radio transmissions so there is no interference or static during use. Infra-red headphones, especially higher-end ones, are capable of producing sound that can match the one produced by high-quality wired headsets. Infra-red TV headphones afford more privacy since it creates a single connection, so you don’t have to worry about your housemates or neighbors tuning into the same band on their own wireless headsets, especially if you are watching something you don’t want anyone else to watch.
Cons: For a connection to exist, your IF wireless headphones must be in an unobstructed line of sight with the IF transmitter on your TV. With an approximate range of only 10 meters, you will need to sit close to the TV if you want to use your IF headphones.
Pros: BT headphones are safe to use since they typically utilize radio signals that are 1000 times weaker than standard wireless technologies. BT connections are quite secure and only transmit data with paired devices at the time. No-one can listen in once a connection has been made. Plus, it doesn’t depend on a clear line of sight, unlike IF headphones. It’s quite easy to configure your BT headphones even if your TV didn’t originally come with a built-in Bluetooth transmitter. It’s quite easy to configure your BT headphones even if your TV didn’t originally come with a built-in Bluetooth transmitter. BT headphones, especially those with the most recent version of the technology (BT 5.0) have been quite successful in minimizing interference.
Cons: As a digital technology, the Bluetooth transmitter in your TV needs to convert the audio from analog to digital before transmitting to your BT headphones. This delay in conversion is known as latency and can cause a lip-sync discrepancy in which there is a delay between the person talking on the screen and what you hear. Latency can be quite annoying, especially if there are several people having a conversation onscreen and you’re finding it hard to follow who’s saying what. Unless your BT headphone is equipped with BT 5.0, the range of your connection will only be limited to around 160 feet (~50 m) or even less if your device uses a much older BT version. BT headphones consume less power, but for some reason, the battery life isn’t quite as strong as you would expect so you’ll need to recharge the battery after just a few hours of use.
Conclusion: At the end of the day, the ultimate headphones showdown between Bluetooth vs RF vs IF for your TV will ultimately come down to your preferences. Each comes with its own key advantages and disadvantages, but ultimately, they allow you to watch TV late at night without disturbing your housemates and neighbors and keeps out the noise from your surroundings.