Wireless headsets are convenient, easy to set up, and overall less of a hassle than wired versions because you have less chance that cords can get tangled. You also have more freedom to move around because you do not have to keep them plugged in your device to hear. But, do these headsets interfere with the Wi-Fi signal in your home or workplace?
Wireless headphones do interfere with Wi-Fi because a Wi-Fi router and Bluetooth headphones transmit signals to devices using the same 2.4 GHz frequency. Because of this, the signals being sent by both devices overlap and cause sound to stop playing.
This article will cover why interference happens and what causes it, offer advice on what to do in case interference occurs, and help you understand Bluetooth and Wi-Fi interference overall so that you can manage it on your own.
Wireless Headset Interference
Bluetooth interference is one of the most common problems users experience with wireless headphones, as they are made to sync with your audio through a Bluetooth connection. Bluetooth interference happens when anything interrupts the audio connection of wireless headphones.
Some signs of Bluetooth Interference include:
- Hearing static through the headphones instead of sound or music
- Sound delays or lag
- Disconnection from the paired device
There are many explanations for the occurrence of interference and the onset of these connection nuisances. Let’s go over each of the causes in the next section below.
What Causes Wireless Headset Interference?
Several tangible or invisible things can cause an interruption in your wireless headphones’ Bluetooth connection. They are as follows:
- Wi-Fi: a typical Wi-Fi router uses 2.4 GHz frequencies to connect with other devices on the same network, and Bluetooth uses the same frequency. If too many devices are connected on the same network, there will be interference due to overlapping signals.
- Microwaves and fluorescent lights: these objects send out waves of electromagnetic energy that disrupt the 2.4 GHz frequency from the Bluetooth headphones and cause the connection to be lost.
- Physical obstructions: these are objects and materials that physically block the Bluetooth frequency from transmitting by absorption or reflection. Examples include wood, bricks, plaster, and metal. Objects can have low, medium, or high amounts of interference.
- Range: some Bluetooth devices have a shorter range of broadcast, meaning that if your chosen device to connect to is too far out of this range, the Bluetooth connection will not go through, and you will have to move closer to the device.
- Outdated device hardware: make sure the device you are connecting to has the latest Bluetooth connectivity updates to prevent spotty connection or susceptibility to software bugs that have been patched.
Each of these causes is a logical reason behind Bluetooth interference. Whether the headphones themselves need the latest hardware or a metal object nearby is distorting sound, they are reminders that sound is fragile and can easily be lost.
The next section further explains why Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections frequently compete with each other.
Wireless Headphones and Wi-Fi Interference
Although Bluetooth and Wi-Fi use the same frequency, they run on different channels because they are different connections. Channels can be viewed like driving lanes. The more people that are in the lane, the slower they can drive and vice versa.
Even though the lanes are different, the more people using the road, the more difficult it is for cars to get through. The same happens with Wi-Fi networks, where it is harder for connection signals to come through if too many devices are using up the bandwidth.
Now that you know why Bluetooth interference occurs and what causes it, let’s look in the next section at some things you can do to resolve it or prevent it from occurring. This way, you can get more out of your wireless headphones even with the possibility of interference.
How to Prevent Interference Between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
Since Bluetooth interference is a commonplace occurrence, there are many solutions available so that you can overcome Bluetooth interference and continue using your devices as normal. To make it easy for you to know all your options, they will be categorized by router-based fixes and other solutions.
Based on the channel discussion above, there are a couple of interference solutions that can be achieved just by modifying settings on your router. They are as follows:
- Changing the channel on your Wi-Fi router: Wi-Fi routers automatically connect themselves to channels, and sometimes the channel they choose is the most crowded one. If this is the case, you can update to a less crowded channel to avoid interference. There are apps available to help you monitor channel crowdedness.
- Changing Wi-Fi channel width: having a wider channel width will allow signals to reach your Bluetooth-connected device more easily and reduce the likelihood of Wi-Fi interference.
- Change the Wi-Fi frequency to 5 GHz: if your router supports this, adjusting the Wi-Fi frequency in this way will completely stop Wi-Fi and Bluetooth from interfering with each other because they require 2.4 GHz each.
The more you know about how routers work and what to tweak, the quicker you can address connectivity and interference inconveniences and get back to your movie watching, jam sessions, or crisp-sounding Zoom meetings.
There are also some non-router options you can do to fix interference. If your router is in working order but an interference problem still exists, maybe one of these workarounds will help you:
- Turn off other devices: other wireless devices like baby monitors and speakers can interfere with your Bluetooth headphones’ ability to connect, especially if they require the same wavelength.
- Make sure you’re within the range limit: typical Bluetooth headphones have a range of 33 feet. If you are farther away from the connected device than this, the connection will be poor.
- Stay away from physical obstructions: they can reflect or absorb the connection signal and stop it from transmitting. Do your best to keep a clear path between the audio source you want and your headphones.
- Reset the headphones: sometimes, their cache of connections can be full, which causes sound lag; clearing the cache every few months will limit connection issues.
- Swap out your headset: If none of the above solutions seem to fix the problem, the issue could be with your actual headset. Try switching to another headset under the same conditions to see if you experience similar interference. If not, it could just be time to invest in a new pair of Bluetooth headphones.
Interference can be pesky, but all of these solutions make it easy to manage. Being proactive and using one or many of these solutions to deal with it can help you get the most out of your Bluetooth headset for as long as possible.
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi interference is a very common phenomenon. It is characterized by static, sound delays, and disconnection from the audio source you are listening to caused by microwaves, physical obstructions, being out of range, outdated Bluetooth hardware, or a combination of any of these.
You can prevent Bluetooth interference by adjusting various settings on your router, turning off other devices to allow the best possible connection, staying within connection range, distancing yourself from obstructions, and resetting your headphones daily to clear the cache and allow clearer transmission. Although dealing with interference can be frustrating, there are many ways to overcome it and enjoy the sound experience and convenience of Bluetooth headphones.