The whole world is aware of Bluetooth device. For this article I have taken a closer look at various Bluetooth versions. We also discusses how it affects your wireless headphones and mobile usage experience.
We have made a lot of progress in terms of technology. Speaking of Bluetooth, from the very beginning it has been used primarily for connectivity. In audio data transmission alone, there are numerous improvements to each Bluetooth versions.
But how do all these Bluetooth versions different from each-other? And with the latest release of version 5.2, do you need to upgrade yours?
To answer the above question, we will introduce you to the advances seen in various Bluetooth versions over the years. In addition, we will discuss some of the related factors that affect the sound quality and performance of your headphones.
Also read- How do headphones work? Guide to the internal operation of our headphones.
The Different Bluetooth Versions
Before we get into the specifications – here’s a little Bluetooth history.
The name “Bluetooth” is derive from the name of King Herald “Blattend” Gormson. Which the Danish king is known to unite Denmark and Norway. Interestingly, the king was nicknamed “Blue Tooth” because of a rotten tooth in his mouth which was blue-gray.
According to the creators of Bluetooth SIG, the name was meant to be temporary until the team could think of something “Specific”.
Additionally, the development of Bluetooth technology was started by Ericsson Mobile CTO Nils Rydbeck in 1989. The first version was finally certified in 1994 by Jap Hartsen, an engineer and researcher from the same company. Here’s a quick look at the different Bluetooth versions throughout the years.
- 1.0-1.2 Bluetooth version(1999)
- 2.0-2.1 Bluetooth version(2005)
- 3.0 Bluetooth version(2009)
- 4.0-4.2 Bluetooth (2010)
- 5.0-5.2 Bluetooth (2016)
1.0-1.2 Bluetooth Version(1999)
The first Bluetooth to be built was name Bluetooth RS-232. The Bluetooth RS-232 computer was specifically designed to replace the serial port. In addition, it was then widely used to connect PC peripherals such as modems and printers. In the years that followed, Bluetooth 1.2 was finally integrated into a variety of devices. Some of these are wireless headsets, mobile phones, laptops, cars and also digital cameras.
- Fast device detection capability and pairing
- Improved adaptive frequency hopping (AFH) that minimized signal interference
- Implemented Extended Synchronous Connections (eSCO) for improved sound quality
Moreover, Bluetooth 1.0a and 1.0b have a peak data transfer speed of approximately 732.2 kb / s with a connection range of 10m or 33ft. Version 1.2 has improved the data transfer speed to 1 Mbps.
Despite being an upgraded version, Bluetooth 1.2 does not have enough bandwidth to transmit high-quality audio. And also logically because, at the time, Bluetooth was mainly design for calls rather than music.
2.0-2.1 Bluetooth Version(2005)
The advent of Bluetooth 2.0 marks a significant growth period. This is due to the increasing global demand for Bluetooth-enabled devices. These devices were the first Bluetooth-enabled stereo headphones.
- Increase the connection range to 30m or 100ft.
- Low power consumption and long battery life for wireless devices.
- Improved pairing system with SSP (secure simple pairing)
However, the most significant improvement in version 2.0 was the Advanced Data Rate (EDR). This increased the data transfer rate to 3 Mbps.
Since most of the devices in this version use SBC codecs, their sound quality is normal. Its subpar is known for digital file compression. Which results in poor sound quality, and can lead to audio delays.
3.0 Bluetooth Version(2009)
Bluetooth 3.0 + comes with HS (High Speed) Wi-Fi connection capability which allows faster data transfer speeds. This allowed for better audio data transmission. As well as the transfer of large amounts of data such as video.
- L2CAP Advanced modes and optional MAC and PHY for transferring large digital files
- Advanced power control and wireless devices to adjust the power level as needed. This helps maintain a good Bluetooth connection
- Unicast connectionless data facilitates faster transfer of small amounts of data
Furthermore, one of the most notable changes to Bluetooth version 3.0 was the ability to use a Wi-Fi connection to transfer data. Which it did at speeds of up to 24 Mbps.
One of the main drawback of version 3.0 was its high power consumption. Which quickly reduce batteries of the Bluetooth-enabled devices.
4.0-4.2 Bluetooth Version(2010)
In the fourth version, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) or Bluetooth Smart was used. The primary use of Bluetooth Smart allows fitness trackers, hearing aids and headphone devices to be paired longer using less power. Additionally, Bluetooth Smart Ready allows primary devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones to act as connection hubs that send data from smart devices. And can achieve.
- Connection range extended to 60m or 200ft
- Less interference between Bluetooth and 4G / LTE signals
- Improved pairing and reconnecting of devices
- Increase packet capacity and data range for IoT devices
- Improve data transmission with adaptive frequency hopping (AFH)
Furthermore, Bluetooth 4.0 has improved more than its power consumption. The introduction of the AptX codec has also increased audio data transmission. This is due to its high bitrate and efficient detrimental compression algorithm.
Smart Ready devices can easily pair with devices using older Bluetooth models. But they are best paired with other Smart Ready devices. This is for them to take advantage of BLE’s new energy-saving facility.
5.0-5.2 Bluetooth Version(2016)
Now, we talking about the latest version of Bluetooth 5.0. Which was released back on July 2016. It providing a better operation framework for IoT devices
- Low power consumption
- Increase message capacity
- Backward compatibility with Bluetooth 4 version
- Dual audio feature allows you to connect up to two different devices at once
- Add Slot Availability Mask (SAM) which further minimizes interference with LTE
Bluetooth 5 offers increased bandwidth capacity of 2 Mbps. It has also extended the connection range to 240m. Also, it comes with a low complexity communication codec (LC3). This is a new audio protocol that transfers audio data at low bitrate without sacrificing audio quality.
To take full advantage of these new features, your peripherals also need to support Bluetooth 5.
However, you can still use a Bluetooth 5 device with a Bluetooth 4 device. But if you want to take advantage of that wide range or dual audio feature. You have to make sure that your smartphone or laptop can also support it. Or else, your Bluetooth connection will only return to the lower version.
Furthermore, Bluetooth 5.2 was released in January 2020, so at the time of writing only a limited number of headphones were known to be equipped with the new Bluetooth versions .
Signal reliability is enhanced with Bluetooth 5 due to improved frequency hopping and slot availability mask (SAM).
Improved frequency hopping means that Bluetooth can use a wider selection of 5 channel sequences than the 12 sequences used by Bluetooth 4. The introduction of SAM determines when the LTE channel is transmitting data. It also helps Bluetooth devices avoid these specific channels. Together, these two features reduce signal interference, thus maintaining your Bluetooth connection.
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Other factors that contribute to Bluetooth performance
However, there are other Bluetooth characteristics that affect your Bluetooth headphones’ performance. Following discussion is about that.
Firstly, lets discuss what is Bluetooth Profile.
What is a Bluetooth Profile?
When two Bluetooth devices establish a connection, they learn about the protocol that the partner device offers. However, only devices sharing the same protocol can exchange data, just as two humans have to agree on a common language in order to communicate meaningfully.
While Bluetooth defines the physical wireless connection between devices. Bluetooth profile commands and establishes the functionality that these devices can exchange using Bluetooth technology.
HSP (handset profile) and HFP (hands free profile) Bluetooth profiles are required for normal, mono Bluetooth headset operation. Which is Important for A2DP and AVRCP stereo headsets.
Which profile is important for Bluetooth headsets?
HSP (Handset Profile) – Provides the basic functionality required for communication between a handset (cell phone) and a headset.
HFP (Hands Free Profile) – HSP has somewhat extended functionality and was originally intended to control cell phones from a stationary, hands-free unit in a car.
A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile) – Allows the transmission of stereo audio signals (with much better quality than the mono encoding used for HSP and HFP).
AVRCP (Audio / Video Remote Control Profile) – Used to send commands (eg skip forward, pause, play) from controller (eg stereo headset) to target device (eg PC with media player) Happens.
Note: Bluetooth profiles only work if your device (cell phone / MP3) supports this. That’s why refer to your device’s user guide for details.
In Bluetooth, “class” refers to the three levels of power for Bluetooth devices: Class 1, 2, and 3. The following table compares power and range of these three classes:
|BT Class||>Maximum Power||Operating Range|
|Class 1||100 mW (20 dBm)||100 meters|
|Class 2||2.5 mW (4 dBm)||10 meters|
|Class 3||1 mW (0 dBm)||1 meter|
To communicate over the 100 meter range, a class 1 BT device is required at both ends. To communicate over the 10 meter range, a class 1 or class 2 device is required at both ends.
Note: Class 3 devices are uncommon due to their very limited range.
A Bluetooth codec is a program that compresses and decompresses audio data into a specific format and transmits it to a specific bitrate.
Moreover, High-bitrate codecs like Sony LDAC (990kbps) generally provide good sound quality. This is because more data is transmitted and less compression occurs. This is in stark contrast to the more common SBC codecs.
The SBC codec transmits data at 192-320kbps and offers poor sound quality.
Presently, both Bluetooth 4 and 5 can handle codecs with high bitrate. Thus, upgrading to Bluetooth 5 will not miraculously improve the sound quality of your headphones.
There are different types of wireless connections but Bluetooth is still the king. However, the various Bluetooth versions do not simply determine the sound quality of our wireless headphones. And with each progress, each version has given us an easier listening experience. Ultimately, sound quality is determined by a combination of factors such as Bluetooth profiles, codecs and classes.
Hopefully, with a little help from this guide, these concepts become a little more meaningful now. Whether it’s for gaming, watching TV, workout or listening to any casual with your true wireless headphones, you can now figure out if you should upgrade to Bluetooth 5.
Did you find our guide helpful? If you would like to share your thoughts on the information we have discussed here, please send us a message in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!
Bluetooth 4 or Bluetooth 5: Which version do you choose?
The first Bluetooth-enabled stereo headphones were introduced in 2004. But it did not become a viable option for wired headphones. This was exactly the time Bluetooth 4 was released.
Bluetooth 5, on the other hand, was not released until 2016. This means that you are currently using headphones equipped with some version of Bluetooth 4.
Moreover, you can refer to this table to know the difference between the two.
|Factors||Bluetooth 4||Bluetooth 5|
|Speed||Supports around 1mbps||2x faster and supports around 2mbps|
|Range||Up to 10m indoors||Up to 40m indoors|
|Compatibility||Good for any phone models||Can work with any phones but best for newer phone models|
(Galaxy S8 and up, or iPhone 8 and up)
When it comes to speed, the difference between Bluetooth 4 and 5 is the no-brainer. The former maximum speed is 1 Mbps, while the latter is 2 Mbps. High bandwidth allows low lag and fast data sharing with fast response time between devices.
Bluetooth 4 has a range of up to 60m (10m indoor), while Bluetooth 5 can maintain connections up to 240m (40m indoor). This is good news for increased connection range and high speed wireless headphones. It lets you enjoy your music over long distances with minimal audio dropout.
However, Bluetooth 5 is towards the back compatible with Bluetooth 4 devices. This means you can easily use a pair of Bluetooth 4.2 headphones with a 5.0 phone.
But, some new enhancements in Bluetooth 5 will not work with 4.2 devices. An example of this is the dual audio feature of Bluetooth 5. It allows you to connect two pairs of headphones with one phone. Or play music from one phone on two different speakers.
So, even if your audio device only supports 4.2, it’s best to go for the same version of headphones. And also if you have a Bluetooth 5 phone, and you want to get the most out of it, it’s best to upgrade your peripherals to Bluetooth 5 as well.
For reference, when connecting with Mac, remember that they use Bluetooth 5 on models 2019 and above. As for Windows 10 PC, it relies heavily on a Bluetooth adapter equipped with your device.
Compared to other Bluetooth versions, Bluetooth 5 has further improved this by increasing its data transmission speed and range. As a result, devices require less power to send and receive data, ultimately extending battery life. In contrast, Bluetooth 4 saw an improvement in power consumption. However, its performance still falls in the mid-high range.
Bluetooth 4 has a low message capacity of 37 octets and actual data payload is only 31 octets. In contrast, Bluetooth 5’s message capacity is 255 octets long. This means more efficient data transmission and also less transmission time.
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