It often takes a while to notice when this issue occurs, and it normally happens while you are watching a video. The person will be speaking; however, you’ll be wondering if you’re actually watching an old dubbed kung-fu movie.
The voices and the mouth movements don’t match up. Once you notice it, it becomes incredibly annoying, very quickly. This issue is commonly caused by what’s known as “Bluetooth audio lag.”
In this article, we take a look at why this happens, along with a range of troubleshooting steps to resolve this issue. So, let’s find out exactly How to Fix Sound Delay in Bluetooth Headphones?
Why do these delays occur in Bluetooth headphones?
First off, we’ll give a basic explanation as to how Bluetooth headphones work. From the source device (usually a smartphone, tablet, or computer), a digital audio signal is processed. It is passed via radio frequencies to your Bluetooth headphones, where it is then converted into an analog audio signal, which is what you then actually hear.
The reason you will sometimes notice a delay is because this process takes time. With wired headphones, the signal often arrives in between 5 and 10 ms.
When using Bluetooth headphones, it can take anywhere from 32 ms all the way up to 300 ms for some true wireless earbuds. This is because they also need to sync the left and right sides, creating an additional process.
What factors affect how much delay will be experienced?
A delay in the signal reaching your headphones from your source device is unavoidable. There are a few different factors that will contribute to how much delay is experienced. The most common factors are the following:
- Bluetooth version being used.
- Interference from surrounding objects.
- The distance between your device and the headphones.
- Which Bluetooth Codec is being used.
Which Bluetooth version is being used?
Bluetooth wireless technology has been around since 1999, starting with version 1.0 and is now up to version 5.1. Each time a new version is released, there are improvements that improve amounts of data, the speed of transfer, and energy efficiency.
All versions of Bluetooth are backward compatible. This means that a Bluetooth 5.1 device can still work with a Bluetooth 1.2 device. That does mean, though, that the 5.1 device’s performance will be limited to what a Bluetooth 1.2 device is capable of.
Is there interference from surrounding objects?
Because the signal relies on radio frequencies, it is susceptible to interference. There are two different ways objects can cause interference to a Bluetooth signal. The first is physical objects such as brick walls, concrete, or even items like bookshelves or cabinets.
The second is other devices that also use the 2.4 GHz radiofrequency. You will be surprised as to how much traffic can be found in this spectrum. Wireless keyboards, remote controls, children’s toys, Wi-Fi routers, and even microwaves can all have an effect.
How far is your device from your headphones?
Generally, for optimal performance, it is recommended no matter which version of Bluetooth is being used to stay within approx 30 feet (10 meters). There is, of course, a range of contributing factors that will determine the exact distance possible.
As we just mentioned, any surrounding interference will reduce the maximum distance possible. While 30 feet (10 meters) is the recommended distance, there have been improvements made with each generation. So, the newer generation of Bluetooth being used, the further you might be able to go without being affected.
Which Codecs are being used?
Remember when we explained how Bluetooth worked how your device and headphones convert audio signals? Well, the software that completes this process is called a Codec. Both your device and headphones will have their own Codec installed.
There are different types of Codecs with different capabilities of how much data they can process and how quickly. This is often a part of the software that is updated when firmware upgrades are completed.
So, How to Fix Sound Delay in Bluetooth Headphones?
It is completely impossible to remove all delay from any pair of headphones, no matter if wired, wireless, cheap, or expensive. What can be done, though, is to reduce this level of delay as much as possible.
We will now look at a number of ways you can ensure that any delay present is so minimal that it’s not even noticeable.
Match your Bluetooth versions
You should check what version of Bluetooth is being used in both your device and also your headphones. You can’t really update the version in your smartphone, tablet, or headphones, but it is possible on your computer.
If the in-built version of Bluetooth on your computer is an older generation, it’s possible to upgrade using a Bluetooth USB dongle. The tiny device connects to an available USB port on your computer and will provide the latest version.
Find the perfect option for your needs by checking out our reviews of the Best Bluetooth Adapters currently on the market.
Ensure the latest Codec is installed
Updates sometimes aren’t performed automatically, meaning that sometimes the software installed on your device isn’t up to date. Checking for and completing any updates or Firmware upgrades can often resolve any delay issues.
If it is your smartphone, tablet, or computer, make sure that the latest version of the operating system is being run, and also check that your Apps or programs are the latest versions. For your headphones, connect them to a computer, or check on any companion Apps provided by the manufacturer.
Reconnect your Bluetooth connection
Occasionally when your headphones establish a connection using Bluetooth to your device, it doesn’t pair correctly. This often happens after an automatic update, as the connection process may have changed only slightly.
How to Reconnect Bluetooth on an iPhone or iPad
For reconnecting Bluetooth headphones to an iPhone or iPad, follow these simple steps:
- Open the [Settings] App on your iPad or iPhone.
- Tap the [i] icon next to your headphones in the list.
- Press [Forget this device].
- Then hit [Confirm].
- Toggle the [Bluetooth] switch off, and then on again.
- Make sure your headphones are in discovery mode
- Tap on your device in the list.
- Then select [Connect]
How to Reconnect Bluetooth on an Android smartphone or tablet
If you own an Android smartphone or tablet, these steps might vary slightly, but they all should be very similar:
- Go to [Settings] on your device.
- Choose [Connections] in the list.
- Tap on [Bluetooth].
- Find your headphones in the list and tap on them.
- Select [Unpair].
- Go back and toggle the switch for [Bluetooth] off, then back on.
- Ensure your headphones are in discovery mode.
- Select your headphones in the list of devices.
How to Reconnect Bluetooth using an Apple Mac computer
Just like most things with Apple, the steps for configuring Bluetooth devices is simple and straightforward:
- Click on the [Apple Logo].
- Select [System Preferences] from the menu.
- Then choose [Bluetooth].
- Locate your headphones in the list of devices [Control Click] and select [Remove].
- Ensure your headphones are in discovery mode.
- Locate your headphones in the list of devices and click [Connect].
How to Reconnect Bluetooth on a Windows computer
We will give instructions based on the latest Windows 10 operating system. If you are using an earlier version, the steps will still be very similar.
- Click on the [Windows] icon.
- Select [Settings] in the list.
- Choose [Devices].
- Click on [Bluetooth & other devices].
- Locate your headphones in the list of devices.
- Click on the [Remove device] button, and then click [Yes] to confirm.
- Toggle the [Bluetooth] switch off, then on again.
- Ensure your headphones are in discovery mode.
- Click the [+] next to Add Bluetooth device.
- Select [Bluetooth].
- Click on your headphones in the list of devices, then click the [Connect] box.
Update the drivers
As we mentioned, all Bluetooth devices use software to process the signal and convert it either to or from a digital version. If these files are corrupt, or possibly out of date, then delay issues can occur. We will take you through how to ensure your devices are up to date.
How to Make sure your iPhone or iPad software is up to date
To ensure you are running the latest version of iOS, follow these easy steps. It is recommended to complete a backup to the iCloud or your computer first:
- Plug in your charger, and make sure you are connected to Wi-Fi.
- Go to the [Settings] App on your iPhone or iPad.
- Tap on [General] in the list.
- Select [Software Update] and then tap [Download and Install].
- Tap [Install] and enter your passcode if prompted.
How To Make sure your Android smartphone or tablet is up to date
Updating your Android device is very simple when following these easy steps:
- Open up [Settings] on your device.
- Select [System] from the list of options.
- Tap on [Advanced] and the [System update].
- Your device will then automatically update to the latest version.
How To Delete old Bluetooth files on a Mac Computer
Apple computers will automatically replace system files with the latest version if you remove them. Instead of updating your operating system, you can focus on only the Bluetooth files by following these steps:
- Launch [Finder], then click on [Go], followed by [Go to folder].
- In the window, type /Library/Preferences and then click on [Go].
- When a new window appears, search the list of files for com.apple.Bluetooth.plist, then right click it and select [Move to Trash].
- Repeat the first step, but this time type ~Library/Preferences/ByHost and click [Go].
- In the window, this time, look for a file named com.apple.Bluetooth.xxxxxxxxxxx (the xxxxxxxxx will be a number and letter combination unique to your computer).
- Right click the file and select [Move to Trash].
- Restart your computer and try the headphones again.
How to Update the Bluetooth driver on a Windows computer
Follow these steps for updating the driver on a Windows 10 computer. If you are running an earlier version, the process will be very similar:
- Right click on the [Start] button and then select [Device manager].
- Click the arrow pointing right next to [Bluetooth].
- Locate your headphones in the list of devices and right click on it.
- Select [Update driver].
- Choose the option [Search automatically for driver].
- Windows will search the internet and install the latest driver.
How to Update your headphones Firmware
Not all headphones allow you to update their Firmware, but most will. This process will vary slightly between manufacturers and models. The best way to know exactly how to complete this process is to search the website of your headphone manufacturer.
There are two common processes, with the first being to connect your headphones with a computer using a USB cable. The second is to update them using an App you might have installed on your smartphone or tablet.
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How to Fix Sound Delay in Bluetooth Headphones – Final Thoughts
As newer versions of Bluetooth are released and as technology improves, the delay associated with Bluetooth will continue to decrease. With the latest technology, it is already at a level that even trained ears can hardly notice.
We hope that this guide has fixed the issue for you, and you can continue to enjoy synced audio. However, you might need to consider that your device might be coming towards the end of its life as technology has advanced.
So, make sure you check out some of our great reviews above for the latest and greatest headphones currently on the market.