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How Bluetooth Headphones Work & How To Pair Them To Devices. Bluetooth earphones connect to phone

How to Pair Wireless Earbuds to Your Phone

Adam has been writing about mobile technology since 2011. He is the former host of the Android Authority podcast, and his work has appeared in numerous publications.

What to Know

  • Put the earbuds in pairing mode. If you don’t know how, check the manual that came with the earbuds.
  • Turn on Bluetooth on your Android or iOS device.
  • Find your earbuds on the list of available devices and tap Pair.

This article covers how to pair wireless earbuds to your iOS or Android device.

Overview: How to Pair Bluetooth Earbuds

The first step is with the earbuds themselves: You must put them into pairing mode. There’s no single, standard way to do this, however, so consult your earbud manual for specific directions. Generally, though, you’ll probably use one of these methods (in descending order from most common to rarest):

  • Removing the earbuds from the charging case.
  • Pressing and holding the power button.
  • Opening the charging case.
  • Removing the earbuds from the charging case and putting them back in.
  • Pressing the pairing button on the charging case.
  • Pressing the pairing button on the earbuds.

Typically, you’ll see a blinking light when the earbuds are in pairing mode. Then, it’s time to start the pairing procedure on your device.

How to Link Wireless Earbuds on Android

As with many things in Android, the process can vary slightly, but most of the time, you’ll follow these steps:

If you cannot get to the menu by long-pressing on the Bluetooth icon, you can also navigate there by going to Settings Network Bluetooth.

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Tap Pair.

Once you’re successfully paired, the device will move to the top of the list and indicate that the device is ready. Often, the earbuds themselves will give an audio cue that the pairing was successful.

Pairing Wireless Earbuds on iOS

On iOS, the process is slightly different.

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  • Open Settings Bluetooth.

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Tap Pair.

When the device successfully pairs, it will move to My Devices.

How Bluetooth Headphones Work How To Pair Them To Devices

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Bluetooth connectivity is becoming more and more prevalent in headphones due, in large part, to the phasing-out of the headphone jack in mobile audio devices. If you’re one of the many who have switched to a pair of Bluetooth headphones or will eventually get a pair, this article will help you understand how they work and how they connect wirelessly. How do Bluetooth headphones work? Bluetooth headphones receive digital audio wirelessly via the Bluetooth protocol when paired with Bluetooth-enabled digital audio devices. BT headphones accept digital audio via BT wireless transmission; convert it analog audio; amplify it, and convert it into sound like regular headphones. In this article, we’ll dive deeper into how Bluetooth headphones function and have a look at several BT headphone examples. We’ll also list the steps required to connect these headphones to the common audio devices in our everyday lives.

Table Of Contents

  • Bose QuietComfort 35 II
  • Beats Solo 3
  • Anker SoundBuds
  • TaoTronics SoundLiberty 79
  • SteelSeries Arctis 3 Bluetooth
  • Plantronics Voyager Legend
  • BlueParrott B450 XT
  • A Special Note On Pairing Bluetooth Headsets
  • How To Put Bluetooth Headphones In Pairing Mode
  • Pairing Bluetooth Headphones With Computers/Laptops Running Mac OS
  • Pairing Bluetooth Headphones With Computers/Laptops Running Windows OS
  • Pairing Bluetooth Headphones With iPhones
  • Pairing Bluetooth Headphones With Android Smartphones
  • Pairing Bluetooth Headphones With Playstations
  • Pairing Bluetooth Headphones With Xbox
  • Pairing Bluetooth Headphones With Smart TVs
  • Pairing Bluetooth Headphones With Non-Bluetooth Audio Devices (With Bluetooth Adapters)

Primer On How Headphones Work

Before we get into the bulk of this article, let’s quickly go over how headphones work.

After all, Bluetooth headphones are no different from regular headphones except for the wireless method they receive and send audio to their drivers (the method being Bluetooth technology).

The main purpose of a headphone is to act as a transducer that converts electrical energy (audio signals) into mechanical wave energy (sound waves). This is true of wired headphones, wireless headphones and Bluetooth wireless headphones.

Headphone drivers are the transducer elements found in headphones the turn audio into sound. Therefore, the key element of any pair of headphones is its pair of drivers.

For a comprehensive guide to headphone drivers, check out my article What Is A Headphone Driver? (How All 5 Driver Types Work).

Headphones of all types work when an analog audio signal (alternating current) passes through the driver and causes proportional movement in the driver’s diaphragm.

The diaphragm movement pushes and pulls the air around it and effectively produces sound waves that mimic the form of the AC voltage of the audio signal.

This critical action in headphone design is required regardless of the headphone’s form factor (how it’s shaped and worn), its driver type, how it receives its signal (wired or wireless), or any other specifications that differentiate one headphone from another.

For your information, the most common headphone driver type is the moving-coil dynamic driver.

The Sony WH-1000XM3 (link to compare on Amazon and BH Photo/Video) is one of many examples of a Bluetooth headphone with moving-coil dynamic drivers:

The Sony WH-1000XM3 is featured in the following My New Microphone articles: Top 5 Best Earphones For Sleeping Under 250 Top 5 Best Noise Cancelling Earphones Under 200

The moving-coil dynamic driver uses a conductive coil (tightly-wound wire) connected to a thin movable membrane. This coil passes the audio signal (AC voltage), and a coinciding magnetic field is produced within it and around it.

The varying magnetic field interacts with a permanent magnetic field supplied by the magnets in the driver and causes the coil and diaphragm to oscillate back and forth.

This causes the driver to produce sound waves that mimic the applied audio signal.

To learn more about moving-coil dynamic headphone drivers, in particular, check out my article Complete Illustrated Guide To Moving-Coil Dynamic Headphones.

Note that the audio signal driving the headphone driver must be a continuously variable voltage. This means that only analog audio signals can drive headphone drivers. This will become important when it comes time to explain the digital-to-analog converters (DACs) inherent in Bluetooth headphone design.

For an in-depth article on how headphones work, check out My New Microphone’s post titled How Do Headphones Work? (Illustrated Guide For All HP Types).

What Is Bluetooth Technology?

Bluetooth is a wireless technology standard. It is used for exchanging data between fixed and mobile devices over short distances using short-wavelength ultra-high frequency (UHF) radio waves.

specifically, Bluetooth uses the microwave radio frequency spectrum in the 2.402 GHz to 2.480 GHz range to transmit digital data wirelessly.

Bluetooth technology is a deeply complex subject, and we will only be scratching the surface in this article. If you’d like to learn about Bluetooth technology in greater detail, I’d suggest starting with this Wikipedia article.

The complexity of Bluetooth technology is due, in part, to its extensive range of applications. Not only is Bluetooth used to transmit digital audio from digital devices to headphones (or speakers or headsets), but it is also implemented in the following wireless data transferring applications:

  • Contol and communication between smartphones and other Bluetooth audio devices and Bluetooth-compatible car sound systems.
  • Communication between a smartphone and a Smart lock for unlocking doors.
  • Communication between smartphones and other Bluetooth audio devices and Bluetooth-compatible wireless speakers.
  • Communication between wireless Bluetooth headsets and intercoms/gaming systems/computers, etc.
  • Streaming of data from Bluetooth-enabled fitness devices to smartphones/computers etc.
  • Wireless networking between computers in close proximity.
  • Communication between computers and their input/output devices (mouse, keyboard, printer, microphones, headphones, etc.).
  • OBject EXchange transfer of files, contacts, calendars/schedules and reminders.
  • Communications in test equipment, GPS receivers, medical equipment, bar code scanners, and traffic control devices.
  • As a replacement for infrared wireless and wired RS-232.
  • Sending advertisements from Bluetooth-enabled advertising hoardings to discoverable Bluetooth devices.
  • Bridging between two Industrial Ethernet networks.
  • Connecting wireless controllers and other accessories to gaming consoles such as the Sony Playstation.
  • Dial-up internet access using data-capable Bluetooth-compatible smartphones as wireless modems.
  • Short-range transmission of health sensor data from medical devices to smartphones and dedicated telehealth devices.
  • Allowing Digital enhanced cordless telecommunication (DECT) phones ring and answer calls on behalf of Bluetooth-capable smartphone.
  • Real-time location systems (RTLS) used to track and identify the location of objects in real-time.
  • Personal security application on mobile phones for the prevention of theft or loss of items.
  • Prediction of travel times and road congestion for motorists.
  • Connection between motion controllers in virtual reality (VR) and computer

Bluetooth Versions

Though originally developed in 1989, the first iteration (version 1.0) of Bluetooth only came about in 1999 after the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, the managing body, was formed in 1998.

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group continues to improve upon the standard and releases new versions periodically. With each new version, the BSIG improves on three key factors (range, data speed and power consumption) along with whatever peripheral factors they see fit for improvement.

Every version of Bluetooth supports downward compatibility. This means that the latest standard will work with all older versions. The capabilities of a Bluetooth connection will be limited to the standard of the device with the oldest version of BT.

That is to say, a pair of Bluetooth 5.0 headphones will work perfectly fine with a Bluetooth 4.2 audio device. However, the connection will only be as good as the limitations of the 4.2 standard.

Bluetooth Classes

There are 3 classes of Bluetooth to be aware of (appropriately named Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3).

The class of a Bluetooth device determines the wireless range of the device and the maximum power limitation. The classes are described in the table below:

ClassTypical RangeMaximum Power

Bluetooth Profile

Bluetooth profiles determine the kind of data that is exchanged using Bluetooth technology.

For two Bluetooth devices to be compatible, they must support the same profiles. These profiles allow for each of the applications mentioned above.

The profile that sends audio to Bluetooth headphones, for example, is the high-quality audio A2DP transmission profile. This profile has its own codecs to transmit audio signals wirelessly properly.

The A2DP Bluetooth profile is discussed in greater detail later in this article. Click here to skip ahead.

The profile that allows wireless communication between a computer and its Bluetooth mouse and keyboard, as another example, is the HID profile. The HID profile is not for sending audio, and so Bluetooth headphones would not be designed to use the profile.

How Do Bluetooth Headphones Work?

Bluetooth headphones work just like typical wires headphones except for the way in which they receive audio signals.

Wired headphones receive their audio signals via hardwired headphone cables.

Bluetooth headphones, as their name suggests, receive their audio signals wirelessly via Bluetooth.

To function properly, a Bluetooth headphone must be paired (wirelessly connected) to the Bluetooth audio device. We’ll discuss how to pair Bluetooth headphones to various devices in the section titled How To Connect (Pair) Bluetooth Headphones To Bluetooth Audio Devices.

Once paired, the headphones and digital audio device form a Piconet in which the audio device may effectively send its audio signal to the headphones via Bluetooth.

Note that headsets and Smart headsets with voice assistant technology and pause/play controls will also send information back to the audio device via the Piconet.

Once the headphone’s Bluetooth receiver receives the digital audio signal, it must pass through two key components before it can drive the headphone drivers.

First, because Bluetooth transmits digital audio, the received audio signal must be converted into an analog audio signal. This is done via a built-in digital-to-analog converter in the headphones.

Next, the converter analog audio is sent through an amplifier. This effectively boosts the signal to a voltage level that can properly drive the headphone drivers while also properly matching the impedance of the signal for optimal driver performance.

Once the signal is passed through the driver, it is the driver’s job to produce sound waves that represent the audio signal. This is how we hear the information of an audio signal via Bluetooth headphones.

If you’ve skipped over or need to re-read this article’s primer on how headphones work, click here.

Before we get into the details of how audio is transmitted via Bluetooth, let’s have a broader look at how audio is transmitted from the digital audio device to the Bluetooth headphones and how the audio is then converted into sound waves for the listener to hear.

The signal flow from a Bluetooth audio device to a paired Bluetooth headphone to the listener’s ears is as follows:

  • The Bluetooth-capable audio device plays a digital audio signal.
  • This audio signal is encoded by a codec (typically SBC “Low Complexity Subband Code,” which is supported by all devices) in the A2DP transfer standard.
  • This encoded audio signal is used as the modulating signal that modulates the Bluetooth UHF radio carrier signals.
  • The radio carrier waves are transmitted wirelessly as per Bluetooth standards between the audio device’s BT transmitter and the Bluetooth headphone’s BT receiver.
  • The Bluetooth receiver then decodes the modulation signal from the carrier wave.
  • The A2DP encoded signal is then further decoded back to the intended digital audio signal (compression losses apply when encoding and decoding the signal).
  • This digital audio signal is then converted into an analog format by the headphone’s built-in digital-to-analog converter (DAC).
  • The analog audio is then amplified by a built-in amplifier circuit.
  • This amplified audio signal is then sent to the headphone drivers (note that stereo audio signals will be split at this point to drive their respective drivers).
  • The driver transducers turn the analog audio signal(s) into sound waves.
  • The listener (the person wearing the headphones) hears the sound waves.

That’s quite the signal flow for a technology that is so user-friendly. That’s part of the beauty of Bluetooth headphones and Bluetooth technology in general: the engineers and inventors take care of the complexities, and we can use the technology without thinking too deeply about it.

That being said, it’s good to have an idea of how audio is transmitted via Bluetooth technology to understand Bluetooth headphones better.

How Is Audio Transmitted Via Bluetooth Technology?

Let’s get a bit more technical in explaining how audio is transmitted via Bluetooth technology.

In this section, we’ll go into the following topics in more detail to further our understanding of Bluetooth technology and its role in transmitting audio wirelessly:

  • The Piconet connection (pairing of the devices)
  • The A2DP, AVRCP Bluetooth Audio Codecs
  • The Headset Profile (HSP)
  • Continuously Variable Slope Delta Modulation
  • Pulse Code Modulation
  • Pulse-Shift Keying Modulation
  • The RF frequencies of Bluetooth frequency jumping
  • Bluetooth range
  • Battery usage

Please note that this is, by no means, a complete in-depth guide to Bluetooth technology.

Piconet

A Piconet is a network that links devices wirelessly using Bluetooth technology.

Any given Piconet has two or more devices synchronized to the same Bluetooth channel. They share a common clock and frequency jumping sequence.

A piconet will allow one master device to connect with up to seven active slave devices. Essentially, this means in any piconet (there can be virtually unlimited in a given space), one device will send information, and up to seven devices will receive information.

A common example of this is the computer, which will act as the master to multiple devices. We could have a mouse, keyboard and speaker all connected to a computer via Bluetooth. In this piconet, the computer would be the master, and the other devices (whether input or output) would be slave devices.

So then, it would make sense that up to 7 different Bluetooth headphones could connect to a single audio source device in a piconet.

Well, unfortunately, there is more confusion to come. The technical reasons are beyond the scope of this article, but we’ll get into the philosophy behind why we cannot easily connect two BT headphones to a device at once.

First, we must remember that the Bluetooth standard is designed to be backward compatible. Therefore, the newest version of Bluetooth must be able to connect and work proficiently with the first version.

However, when Bluetooth was first designed, mobility wasn’t a huge concern, and playing audio from smartphones would only come much later.

The original philosophy of Bluetooth was simply to remove the wire from common electrical connections between household devices. It aimed to rid of the wires in close-proximity device connections like the computer-keyboard and computer-mouse connections. It was designed to do so while consuming as little power as possible.

It basically comes down to the fact that most electric audio playback devices only had one output, and Bluetooth was designed to allow that single output only without wires.

Even today, our mobile devices that still have headphone jacks only have a single jack. Bluetooth is simply a short-range, low-power, wireless connectivity designed to do the same job as the single jack.

Of course, we have the technology today to change this, but the bottom line is that changing basic features will negatively impact the backward compatibility of Bluetooth.

That being said, there are definitely workarounds to allow multiple headphones to connect to a single audio device—more on these workarounds in the section How To Connect Multiple Bluetooth Headphones To A Single Audio Source.

The A2DP, AVRCP Bluetooth Audio Codecs

The Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) is the Bluetooth standard profile for transferring high-quality stereo audio signals.

This profile is used between an A2DP source (the Bluetooth-enabled audio device) and a recipient. In the case of this article, the recipient is the Bluetooth headphone, but it can also be a BT speaker, car stereo system, or other Bluetooth-enabled playback devices.

A2DP allows for 2-channel (stereo) audio transfer. It has mandatory support for the low-complexity SBC (Low Complexity Subband Code) codec and many other codecs to transfer audio effectively.

A codec (a portmanteau of coder and decoder) is a device or program used to encode and/or decode a digital data stream or digital signal.

Digital audio is simply a digital representation of analog audio (which is an electrical representation of sound).

Digital audio can be stored in a wide variety of file formats. It is the codecs that are required to encoded and decoded these files. Codecs can effectively reduce the storage space and the bandwidth required for transmission of the stored audio file.

So while the mp3s.wavs, FLAC, or other audio files on your audio device could certainly be used as the digital modulating signals in Bluetooth wireless transmission, they are actually encoded according to one of the A2DP standard codecs (often SBC) before being transmitted wirelessly.

SBC compresses the audio signals, and so it always worsens the quality. However, with a high data transfer rate of up to 345 kbps and a perfected algorithm, the loss is barely perceptible.

SBC has been a required codec in the Bluetooth A2DP standard since its introduction in 2003. Newer codecs have been introduced since then, but for the sake of backward compatibility, SBC has been a requirement.

Other A2DP codecs include:

  • aptX (Digital Audio Data Reduction Technology)
  • aptX HD (Digital Audio Data Reduction Technology – High Definition)
  • AAC (Advanced Audio Coding)
  • LDAC (Lossy Digital Audio Codec)

The digital audio of a Bluetooth audio device will generally be encoded by one of the above-listed codecs before being sent wirelessly to the paired BT headphones.

This A2DP profile is often used along with the AVRCP (Audio/Video Remote Control Profile). This profile allows remote control of media playback on paired device devices. Supported functions are play, pause, stop, next, and previous.

Note that the Generic Audio/Video Distribution Profile (GAVDP) provides the basis for A2DP. It defines the roles of the Initiator and an Acceptor in the pairing of two Bluetooth devices.

The Initiator is the device that initiates a signalling procedure, and the Acceptor is the device that shall respond to an incoming request from the Initiator.

The HSP (Headset Profile)

The HSP is one of the most commonly-used Bluetooth profiles. As the name would suggest, it provides support for BT headsets for use with smartphones and gaming consoles.

The HSP does not transmit high-quality stereo audio like the aforementioned A2DP, but it works perfectly well for voice.

This Headset Profile relies on the SCO (Synchronous Connection-Oriented) codec, which encoded audio in 64 kbps and transmits the audio wirelessly via CVSD (Continuously Variable Slope Delta Modulation) or PCM (Pulse Code Modulation).

SCO also allows for several controls, including the functions of ringing; answering a call; hanging up, and adjusting the volume.

Continuously Variable Slope Delta Modulation

64 kbit/s CVSD is one of the options available for encoding and transmitting voice signals wirelessly in telephony-related Bluetooth profiles (such as the aforementioned HSP).

The 64 kHz sample rate and 64 kbit/s delta modulation are efficient ways to encode audio when pristine audio quality is not overly important.

Pulse Code Modulation

PCM is the form of digital audio, and so it makes sense that it would be used in some Bluetooth applications as well.

PCM effectively samples the analog signal’s amplitude at fixed intervals and quantizes the amplitude to the nearest value within a range of digital steps.

The resolution of PCM digital audio is defined by the sample rate (how many samples per second), which is measured in Hz (typically in the kiloHertz range) and the bit-depth (the number of potential amplitude values).

Bit-depth is described exponentially with base 2 so that 16-bit has 65,536 distinct values and 24-bit has 16,777,216 distinct amplitudes.

Pulse-Shift Keying Modulation

Unlike the CVSD and PCM types of analog-to-digital modulation, PSK modulation has to do with the wireless transmission of Bluetooth audio. In this section, we’ll describe how the audio signal modulates its wireless carrier signal.

As mentioned above, BT sends digital info wirelessly. Bluetooth audio is sent via pulse-shift keying modulation (PSK).

The PSK modulating signal is the digital audio of the paired device. This modulating signal modulates the phase of a fixed-frequency carrier wave. It does so by varying the sine and cosine inputs at a precise time.

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In the case of Bluetooth audio, the carrier wave is a radio frequency wave within the range of 2.4 and 2.485 GHz.

Bluetooth RF Range Frequency Jumping Protocol

Bluetooth transmits digital information via short-range radio frequencies in the frequency Band between 2.400 to 2.485 GHz. In the case of Bluetooth headphones, this information is the digital audio signal from a paired device.

Bluetooth uses 79 distinct frequencies within the 2.400 to 2.485 GHz to transmit information. It can change this frequency 1600 times per second to avoid interference with other Bluetooth connections.

It is unlikely that two transmitters will be on the same frequency at the same time. This minimizes the risk of interference between Bluetooth devices since any interference on a particular frequency will last only a tiny fraction of a second.

Bluetooth Distance Range

The range of Bluetooth connectivity largely depends on its class. We’ve discussed the Bluetooth Classes earlier in this article.

Bluetooth headphones typically belong to either Class 2 (typical), which allows a range of 10 meters or 33 feet or Class 1 (less common), which allows a range of 100 meters or 328 feet.

There are other ranges available in Bluetooth technology (up to 244 meters/800 feet or more) though headphones generally have one of the two ranges listed above.

Battery Usage

Most Bluetooth headphones have battery lives long enough to get you through a full day of listening. 6 – 20 hours of battery life is about the typical range. Of course, this varies from model to model.

As for the batteries of the audio devices, Bluetooth audio connectivity will drain the battery life of these audio devices. How much of an effect the headphones connection will have on the device battery depends on the device itself and its battery strength.

The Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology is not capable of sending audio.

Note that the shorter-range Class 2 mentioned above has a maximum permitted power of 2.5 mW. The longer-range Class 2, on the other hand, has a maximum permitted power of 100 mW.

The lower power consumption of the Class 2 headphones, in general, allows for longer battery life.

For more information on wireless headphones in general, check out my article How Do Wireless Headphones Work? Bluetooth True Wireless.

How Do Bluetooth Headsets Work?

Bluetooth headsets work very similarly to Bluetooth headphones, with one notable difference: rather than only sending audio information one way (from the device to the headphones), headset communication has two-way audio transmission.

The headphones portion of the headsets works the same way as Bluetooth headphones.

The microphones portion works similarly, only in reverse.

The Headset Profile is typically used when a headset (headphones microphone) is connected via Bluetooth. This leads to poorer audio quality.

Note that microphones are inherently analog, just like headphones. Therefore, their transduced signals must be processed by an analog-to-digital converter via the HSP Profile (which may use CVSD or PCM encoding).

The mic signal is then used to modulate the Bluetooth UHF carrier wave via PSK modulation so that it can be properly transmitted wirelessly via Bluetooth.

The device’s receiver then decodes the digital signal (from the radio carrier signal and then the HSP codec) before using the mic’s signal for the device’s own processes (which may or may not include converting it to analog for playback).

Bluetooth Headphone Headset Examples

In addition to the Bluetooth headphones mentioned already, let’s look at a few more examples of headphones and headsets with Bluetooth capabilities.

The Bluetooth headphones and headsets we’ll discuss are:

Bose QuietComfort 35 II

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II (link to compare on Amazon and BH Photo/Video) is a circumaural (over-ear) closed-back Bluetooth 4.1 headphone with active noise-cancelling technology.

Beats Solo 3

The Beats Solo 3 (link to compare price on Amazon and BH Photo/Video) is a supra-aural (on-ear) closed-back Bluetooth 5 headphone with Class 1 connectivity.

The Beats Solo 3 is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 5 Best Supra-Aural (On-Ear) Headphones Under 250.

TaoTronics SoundLiberty 79

The TaoTronics SoundLiberty 79 (link to check the price on Amazon) is a Bluetooth 5.0 earphone with noise-cancelling technology.

The TaoTronics SoundLiberty 79 is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 5 Best Noise Cancelling Earphones Under 100.

SteelSeries Arctis 3 Bluetooth

The SteelSeries Arctis 3 Bluetooth (link to check the price on Amazon) is a Bluetooth gaming headset for Playstation, PC and other gaming systems.

SteelSeries is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 13 Best Headset Brands (Gaming, Aviation, Communication).

BlueParrott B450-XT

The BlueParrott B450-XT (link to check the price on Amazon) is a headband-worn single-driver Bluetooth headset.

How To Connect (Pair) Bluetooth Headphones To Bluetooth Audio Devices

What good are Bluetooth headphones if they aren’t paired to an audio device? In this section, we’ll go into detail about how to connect your Bluetooth headphones to a wide variety of audio sources.

Luckily, pairing Bluetooth headphones is pretty simple if the audio device in question has Bluetooth capabilities.

Even if the audio device doesn’t have inherent Bluetooth technology, there are adapters available to allow us to connect our BT headphones (more on these adapters later).

A Special Note On Pairing Bluetooth Headsets

The steps required to pair Bluetooth headsets with devices are pretty well the same as pairing Bluetooth headphones.

The big difference between headphones and headsets (other than headsets having a microphone) is that headsets use a different profile than headphones. The HSP (headset profile) is more efficient but has worse audio quality than the headphones’ A2SP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile).

Let’s begin with the headphones themselves and putting them in pairing mode.

How To Put Bluetooth Headphones In Pairing Mode

Bluetooth headphones will have a pairing button that must be pressed to make the headphones available for pairing. We must also ensure that the Bluetooth receiver inside the headphones is properly charged.

Some headphones will have a dedicated Bluetooth pairing button. Others will have their power button double as a pairing button. Other designs will automatically go into pairing mode when they’re powered up.

If you’re unsure which switch/button to hit to engage pairing, consult the owner’s manual of the headphones. That being said, the pairing switch should be somewhat obvious if the headphones do not pair automatically.

The aforementioned Bose QuietComfort 35 II (link to compare on Amazon and BH Photo/Video) headphone has its power switch double as the Bluetooth pairing toggle switch.

Here is the 35 II in off position:

Here is the 35 II in the on position.

Holding the toggle all the way to the left (relative to the pictures above) will engage pairing mode, where the headphones will become discoverable to other devices.

The TaoTronics SoundLiberty 53 (link to check the price on Amazon) will immediately enter pairing mode when they are initially removed from their charger.

Placing them back into their charger will disconnect them from their source.

Once paired, the TaoTronics SoundLiberty 53 earphones will automatically attempt to reconnect to their paired source when taken back out of their charger. If the device is unavailable (turned off, out of range or disconnected), the earphones will re-enter pairing mode to be paired with another device.

Now that we know how to make Bluetooth headphones discoverable, we have to look at the various devices that are made to “discover” the headphones.

In other words, how do we get our audio devices to connect specifically to our headphones?

Let’s have a look at the various audio devices the Bluetooth headphones commonly connect to and how to pair the devices together:

Make Your Mac OS Computer Discoverable

How to make a computer/laptop running Mac OS discoverable:

It should read “Now discoverable as “computer_name”

Pair The Mac OS Computer With The Headphones

  • System PreferencesBluetooth
  • Under Devices
  • Click “Pair” next to “headphone_name”

Unpair/Disconnect The Mac OS Computer From The Headphones

  • System PreferencesBluetooth
  • Under Devices
  • Click the “x” next to “headphone_name”
  • Click “Remove”

How To Connect/Pair Bluetooth Headphones To A Computer/Laptop Running Windows OS

The pairing process in Windows 10 is a two-way process. That is to say that both devices have to accept pairing in order to be paired.

Make Your Windows OS Computer Discoverable

How to make a computer/laptop running Windows OS discoverable:

  • SettingsDevicesBluetoothManage Bluetooth Devices
  • Click Turn Bluetooth On

It should read, “Your PC is searching for and can be discovered by Bluetooth devices.”

Pair The Windows OS Computer With The Headphones

  • Settings AppDevicesBluetooth Other Devices
  • Click Add Bluetooth Or Other Device
  • Click “headphone_name”
  • Control PanelHardware And SoundDevices And Printers
  • Click Add A Device
  • Click “headphone_name”

Unpair/Disconnect The Windows OS Computer From The Headphones

  • Settings AppDevicesBluetooth Other Devices
  • Click “headphone_name”
  • Click “Remove Device”
  • Click “Yes”

For more information on headphones and computers, check out my article Are Headphones Input Or Output Devices?

Make Your iPhone Discoverable

Alternatively, swipe up or down (depending on the iPhone model) to open the Control Center and tap the Bluetooth icon to turn it on (it will light up with a blue background).

It should read “Now discoverable as “iPhone’s name” in the SettingsBluetooth page.

Pair The iPhone With The Headphones

The connected headphones should be labelled as “Connected”.

Unpair/Disconnect The iPhone From The Headphones

  • SettingsBluetooth
  • Under My Devices
  • Tap the “i” next to “headphone_name”
  • Tap “Forget This Device”

Make Your Android Smartphone Discoverable

Alternatively, swipe down from the top of the screen to open the Notification Panel. Swipe down again to open Quick Settings and tap on the Bluetooth icon to turn it on (it will light up with a blue background).

Pair The Android Smartphone With The Headphones

  • Settings AppConnected DevicesPair New Device
  • Tap “headphone_name”
  • Tap the checkbox to “Allow access to your contacts and call history.”
  • Tap “Pair”

Unpair/Disconnect The Android Smartphone From The Headphones

  • Settings AppConnected Devices
  • Tap the gear icon next to the “headphone_name”
  • Tap “Forget”
  • Tap “Forget Device”

Make Your Playstation Discoverable

The PlayStation 4 is always discoverable.

Pair The Playstation With The Headphones

Playstations have supported headphones but can also be connected to unsupported headphones. Let’s discuss each here.

Supported Headphones

Unsupported Headphones

You must connect the headphones to the controller via wire. This technically connects the headphones to the PS with Bluetooth through the controller rather than straight from the headphones.

  • SettingsDevicesBluetooth Devices
  • Select “headphone_name”
  • Select “Output Device”
  • Select “Headset Connected to Controller”
  • Adjust volume using “Volume Control (Headphones)”
  • Select “All Audio”

Unpair/Disconnect The Playstation From The Headphones

  • DashboardSettingsDevicesBluetooth Devices
  • Select “headphone_name”
  • Select “Disconnect”
  • Select “Confirm”

How To Connect/Pair Bluetooth Headphones To Xbox

Unfortunately, Xbox One does not have Bluetooth functionality.

How To Connect/Pair Bluetooth Headphones To A Smart TV

Televisions have been around much longer than Bluetooth technology. That being said, many of the new “Smart” TVs on the market have Bluetooth technology and will easily pair with Bluetooth headphones.

There are many different Smart TV framework platforms managed by various individual companies. Each framework may have a slightly different menu path to connect Bluetooth headphones.

If your TV comes with a Smart Remote, it supports Bluetooth. That’s is, after all, how Smart Remotes pair to Smart TVs.

If the TV does not have Smart Remote, you may be able to find Bluetooth connectivity options in the menu settings. Otherwise, check the TVs manual.

If your TV has Bluetooth functionality, pairing headphones can be done by following these steps:

Make Your Smart TV Discoverable

Smart TVs are typically always discoverable.

Unpair/Disconnect The Smart TV From The Headphones

  • SettingsSoundSound Output
  • Select “headphone_name”
  • Select “Unpair”
  • Select “Okay”

How To Connect/Pair Bluetooth Headphones To A Non-Bluetooth Device (Bluetooth Adapters)

There are plenty of devices that output audio that could benefit from Bluetooth connectivity. Many newer devices have Bluetooth capabilities built into their design. However, many do not.

So how do we connect our Bluetooth headphones to an audio device that does not have Bluetooth? You’ll need a Bluetooth adapter/transmitter.

These adapters connect to the devices and effectively transmit the devices’ audio signals wirelessly using Bluetooth’s standard protocols.

Let’s have a look at a few examples of Bluetooth adapters/transmitters:

The 1Mii USB-A Bluetooth 5.0 Adapter (link to check the price on Amazon) is a Bluetooth adapter that connects via digital USB-A and works on Bluetooth version 5.0.

The TP-Link USB-A UB400 Bluetooth 4.0 Adapter (link to check the price on Amazon) is another Bluetooth adapter that connects via digital USB-A. It works on Bluetooth version 4.0.

The TaoTronics TT-BA07 (link to check the price on Amazon) works on Bluetooth version 5.0 and the low-latency aptX codec. It connects to analog headphone jacks via a 3.5mm TRS plug. This adapter can act as either a transmitter or a receiver and can connect to two devices simultaneously.

The Aluratek ABC02F (link to check the price on Amazon) is another Bluetooth receiver and transmitter. This device works on Bluetooth 4.0 and can pair with 2 Bluetooth headphones simultaneously in the transmitter mode. It has a 3.5mm, optical in and optical out and a USB-C connector.

The 1Mii 2020 Expert (link to check the price on Amazon) is a Bluetooth transmitter capable of connecting to two headphones at once. It has RCA, optical, 3.5mm and USB connectivity and works on AptX low-latency Bluetooth codec.

Reconnecting Bluetooth Headphones

Most Bluetooth headphones will automatically re-pair with the device they were most recently paired with when powered up, provided that the device is available for pairing and in Bluetooth range.

That being said, some headphones will need to be manually re-paired every time you power them up.

Though this may be annoying, it is quite simple to re-pair the devices.

You just have to follow the steps necessary to pair the headphones to the device in question. See the section above (How To Connect (Pair) Bluetooth Headphones To Bluetooth Audio Devices) to find out how to connect Bluetooth headphones to various devices.

In the odd case that you have to re-pair the headphones, you usually won’t have to put the headphones in pairing mode to reconnect them.

There should be memory of the device after the initial pairing process.

Unpairing (Forgetting) Bluetooth Headphones

Unpairing the Bluetooth headphones could be as easy as turning the headphones off or turning the device off.

However, for the audio device to unpair from or “forget” the Bluetooth headphones, we must get into the Bluetooth menu of the device and hit the disconnect/forget button.

Note that, once forgotten, the headphones will eventually show back up in the Bluetooth device pairing options. It may take some time, but we can also reconnect the headphones to the device later.

For more specific advice on forgetting headphones in common Bluetooth devices, check out the previous section How To Connect (Pair) Bluetooth Headphones To Bluetooth Audio Devices.

How To Connect Non-Bluetooth Headphones To Bluetooth Sources

Sometimes we’re in a situation where we really love a pair of headphones that do not have built-in Bluetooth connectivity.

How do we effectively turn wired headphones (or RF or IR wireless headphones) into Bluetooth wireless headphones? The answer is with a Bluetooth wireless receiver.

A Bluetooth receiver will effectively accept the wirelessly transmitted audio from a Bluetooth transmitter or audio device. By plugging our wired headphones into a receiver, the audio signal can be transferred from the receiver to the drivers of the headphones.

Of course, this isn’t a completely wireless setup, but it at least removes the wire between the headphone and the audio device.

Let’s have a look at some Bluetooth receivers.

Fiio μBTR

The FiiO μBTR (link to check the price on Amazon) is a Bluetooth receiver that supports Bluetooth 4.1 as well as the aptX, SBC, and AAC audio codecs. It has a 3.5mm headphone jack and a built-in microphone with independent volume control for voice calls.

EarStudio ES100 Mk2

The EarStudio ES100 Mk2 (link to check the price on Amazon) is a Bluetooth receiver with SBC, aptX, AAC and aptX HD codecs. It has a 3.5mm unbalanced 2.5mm balanced output for different wired headphone connections.

How To Connect Multiple Bluetooth Headphones To A Single Audio Source

As we’ve discussed earlier, for the sake of backward compatibility, default Bluetooth connections will not allow a device to connect to two BT headphones simultaneously.

However, Bluetooth splitters allow us to pair multiple headphones to a single audio source effectively.

Let’s have a look at a couple of Bluetooth splitter examples:

TROND BT-DUO

The TROND BT-DUO (link to check the price on Amazon) is a Bluetooth 4.1 splitter and transmitter/receiver with aptX aptX Low Latency codecs.

Its 3.5mm headphone jack allows the BT-DUO to connect to a single source and transmit the audio to two paired devices. Alternatively, the BT-DUO can connect to wired headphones and act as a BT receiver.

TaoTronics TT-BA014

The TaoTronics TT-BA014 (link to check the price on Amazon) is a Bluetooth 5.0 transmitter/receiver desktop unit capable of pairing with 3 separate Bluetooth headphones simultaneously.

Related Questions

Can you use Bluetooth headphones on a plane? The official global rule states that Bluetooth devices larger than a smartphone and/or unable to function on flight mode are not allowed to be used during flights. The use of short-range Bluetooth headphones and earphones is, therefore, permitted during flight.

Will leaving Bluetooth on all the time drain the batteries of my devices? Since Bluetooth Low Energy was incorporated into Bluetooth 4.0, it has dropped power consumption to the point where many Bluetooth pairings that periodically exchange small amounts of data (tracking apps, for example) use up a negligible amount of battery. However, connecting to headphones takes up more energy and should be unpaired/disconnected when not in use.

Choosing the right headphones or earphones for your applications and budget can be a challenging task. For this reason, I’ve created My New Microphone’s Comprehensive Headphones/Earphones Buyer’s Guide. Check it out for help in determining your next headphones/earphones purchase.

This article has been approved in accordance with the My New Microphone Editorial Policy.

How to set up Bluetooth multipoint on your headphones

Bluetooth multipoint lets you connect two devices at once to your headphones. It can greatly enhance your experience, plus it’s easy to use.

Bluetooth headphones make it easy to listen to music or podcasts almost anywhere. But if you’re the kind of person who jams out to tunes while working and doesn’t want to miss your Slack calls, take advantage of Bluetooth multipoint.

What is Bluetooth multipoint?

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Bluetooth might be most well-known for its nearly effortless ability to connect headphones to a computer or smartphone. Multipoint extends this capability to more than one device at a time. It gets more complicated than that, though. For an in-depth look, check out our guide to multipoint.

The advantage of this becomes evident if you think of an everyday use case. For example, if you’re listening to music from your phone with wireless earbuds and a Slack call comes in on your laptop, multipoint will deliver that alert without any hassle and will (usually) let you switch devices seamlessly. Typically, multipoint involves a main device and a secondary one, but again this varies. Not every headset model supports multipoint, but some of the most well-known do. We’ll get into some specifics about the most popular brands of headphones shortly.

What’s the difference between simple and advanced multipoint?

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Simple Bluetooth multipoint drops a call on one device if another one arrives somewhere else. Advanced, on the other hand, maintains both and puts the previous one on hold. Furthermore, some devices support the ability to push through notifications from one device, like a computer, without completely stopping music playback through another, such as a phone. The specifics depend on your model of headphones and playback devices.

Keep in mind that your ears can really only listen to one stream of information at a time. If you’re mastering multiple audio tracks across files and devices, multipoint (or even Bluetooth headphones in general) may not be the solution for you.

How do you use Bluetooth multipoint?

While the specific instructions for using Bluetooth multipoint with your headphones will vary, we’ll cover some of the most popular brands, and go over the basic phone and computer scenario here. However, know that plenty of other options exist. Check the manual or manufacturer’s website to see if your favorite pair of headphones support Bluetooth multipoint.

How do you use Bluetooth multipoint with Sony headphones?

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Sony’s most well-known model of noise canceling Bluetooth headphones, the Sony WH-1000XM4, supports multipoint. To use it:

  • Pair the headphones to a computer and phone
  • Open the Sony Headphones Connect app
  • Under the System tab, enable “Connect to 2 devices simultaneously”
  • Under the Status tab, tap on the name of the currently connected device
  • From the list of available devices, select the other one you wish to connect
  • Ensure both devices now appear under “Device Currently Being Connected”
  • You can now listen to music from either source and switch to an incoming call by tapping the touch sensor twice quickly

Bluetooth multipoint only works with the AAC Bluetooth codec. So, don’t expect the ultimate in audio quality—especially on Android devices. But it works well enough for casual listening at your desk or the gym.

How do you use Bluetooth multipoint with Bose headphones?

Bose’s flagship wireless headphones model, the Bose Noise Canceling 700, supports Bluetooth multipoint. To use it:

  • Open the Bose Music app
  • Tap on the name of your headphones
  • Tap on Source
  • Already configured devices should sync automatically, but if not, tap the slider next to their name to do so
  • To add a new device while synced to another, select “Add new”

The Bose Noise Canceling 700 keeps a list of up to eight devices, but only two will work with Bluetooth multipoint simultaneously. Play music or videos on one, then pause and switch between them as desired.

How do you use Bluetooth multipoint with Jabra headphones?

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The Jabra Elite 75t has Bluetooth multipoint support for up to two devices at once, and the Jabra Sound remembers sync settings for up to eight devices.

The Jabra Elite 75t and Active 75t, Elite 45h, Elite 85h, and Elite 85t support Bluetooth multipoint. Jabra calls it “Multiuse.” The process works the same way as syncing a new Bluetooth device. Two devices may connect simultaneously, and you can store a list of up to eight within the Jabra Sound app.

How do you use Bluetooth multipoint with Jaybird headphones?

Jaybird headphones, including the Freedom, Freedom 2, X4, and many others, support Bluetooth multipoint. The specific steps vary between models, but in general:

  • Connect to one device via Bluetooth
  • Put your headphones back into pairing mode
  • Pair up the second device
  • One device can now play music and movies, and the other is the secondary for taking calls or answering notifications

Playing music on one device will pause it on the other and vice versa. Receiving a call means the music pauses so that you can answer.

How do you use Bluetooth multipoint with Anker headphones?

Some models of Anker Soundcore headphones, including the Life Q35 and Q30, support Bluetooth multipoint. Check your manual to be sure, but in general:

  • Connect to one device via Bluetooth
  • Enter Bluetooth sync mode as if you were adding a new device
  • Connect to your Anker headphones on another device
  • The first device is the main, and the other becomes a secondary

The main device is the one you’ll play music and movies on. It will take priority unless a phone call comes in, which supersedes all other content. To switch between devices, pause playback on one and then start it on the other.

How do you use Bluetooth multipoint with Samsung Galaxy Buds?

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You can take your Samsung Galaxy Pro Buds to the gym, listen to music on your phone, and still have your tablet ping you work notifications, all automatically—if you stay within the Galaxy ecosystem.

Things get a bit more interesting if you own the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, Galaxy Buds 2, Galaxy Buds Live, or Galaxy Buds Plus and a compatible Samsung device. None of these models support Bluetooth multipoint, but each headset can automatically switch devices as soon as you hit play on any device, as long you sync them properly on each. There is no need to swipe, tap, or dive into settings menus. Be sure you’re signed in to the same Samsung account on all your Galaxy devices so that this feature works correctly.

If you’ve got the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro but no other compatible Galaxy device, you can still switch between sources manually:

  • Open the Galaxy Wearable app
  • Tap the Menu icon (three vertical lines)
  • The currently connected device appears at the top of the list
  • Tap another device to connect to two devices at once

Of course, this method means no automatic switching. Instead, you’ll have to start and stop music yourself on each device.

How do you use Bluetooth multipoint with Sennheiser headphones?

Certain Sennheiser headphones models support Bluetooth multipoint, including the HD 450BT, HD 350BT, MOMENTUM 3 Wireless, and PXC 550 II. The level to which it works varies, but you’ll find the setting in the Sennheiser Smart Control app under “Connection.”

How do you use Bluetooth multipoint with V-Moda headphones?

Select models of V-Moda headphones support Bluetooth multipoint, including V-Moda Crossfade 2 Wireless and Crossfade 2 Wireless Codex Edition. Use the V-Moda app on Android or iOS to add devices and connect to two at the same time.

How do you use Bluetooth multipoint with Apple Airpods earbuds?

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Airpods makes for easy-to-use Bluetooth multipoint earbuds, but only if you remain within Apple’s walled garden.

If you’re already in Apple’s cozy ecosystem, then you’ll be happy to hear that the Airpods and the Airpods Pro can switch automatically between devices. Much like the Samsung Galaxy Buds, this requires compatible Apple devices to work. Similarly, you must use the same Apple ID across all these devices. Calls take precedence, and the earbuds will switch to your iPhone if one comes in. This won’t work with any other brands’ devices. We don’t recommend that you try, anyway.

Bluetooth multipoint can help make your listening experience seamless. As you switch between tasks and devices, your wireless headphones can do so, too. For example, think of keeping a TV show going in the background while working from home yet still getting notifications of incoming calls. The possibilities are nearly endless, and the right multipoint pair of Bluetooth headphones could change the entire way you listen to music.

What is Bluetooth multipoint?

bluetooth, headphones, work, pair, them, devices

We’ve all been there: it’s Friday afternoon and the minutes are ticking away slowly, so to pass time faster, you surreptitiously turn on Netflix. Well, with Bluetooth multipoint, you can use your work laptop to listen to your show while remaining aware of any work notifications that come through your phone, all with a single headset.

Using your favorite headset to connect to multiple devices simultaneously is a small delight that headphone manufacturers have largely neglected, and just a select few devices fully support the technology. Let’s break down what multipoint is, and why it isn’t a universal feature.

Editor’s note: this article was updated on March 20, 2023, to add more information on how to use multipoint.

What is Bluetooth multipoint?

bluetooth, headphones, work, pair, them, devices

Bluetooth multipoint s a feature that allows a single Bluetooth headset to maintain simultaneous connections to at least two source devices like a laptop and smartphone, and was introduced with the release of Bluetooth 4.0, over ten years ago. For it to function, a device must support both A2DP and HFP/HSP connections for audio streaming and talking, respectively.

Some devices may support a phone and computer connection only, while others can support two simultaneous phone connections. It all depends on what Bluetooth profiles are supported. Originally it was intended for professional use, say you have multiple work phones and use them all to field phone calls—Bluetooth multipoint would come in handy because you can be on one call without missing notifications from another device.

What are the limitations to Bluetooth multipoint?

bluetooth, headphones, work, pair, them, devices

Bluetooth multipoint doesn’t necessarily mean that you can stream media from two devices at a time. Few headsets support this properly, and most are limited to designating one device as a media player and the other strictly for pushing notifications through. Other devices, like the Sony WH-1000XM4, only support multipoint connectivity over the AAC Bluetooth codec. It’s a mixed bag and something that’s rarely stated in marketing copy.

Now that I’ve tried it, multipoint is difficult to do without. The technology lets me stream music and receive notifications from my laptop while keeping an ear on my phone, for incoming calls. It automatically prioritizes a connection to the device receiving an incoming call over the one streaming YouTube videos.

How to use Bluetooth multipoint

Though the exact method for using multipoint with your Bluetooth headphones varies from product to product, in general it involves maybe enabling the feature, and then simply connecting to new devices. You will be able to change connections either automatically, or with minor input compared to unpairing and repairing your headphones.

For more, you can check out our guide on using Bluetooth multipoint with popular headphone models. Alternatively, you could also read the manual that came with your audio products for explicit instructions—or you could download the app that accompanies the product to tell it which devices it should be listening to.

Who should use Bluetooth multipoint?

Anyone will benefit from multipoint’s convenience. If your company provides you with a work phone, you can connect your compatible headset to both your personal and professional devices. It’s a great way to remain aware of everything, and increase productivity.

The difference between simple multipoint and advanced multipoint

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Simple and advanced Bluetooth multipoint operate on the same principle: one headset connects to two devices at a time. However, simple multipoint is less, well, advanced because it drops the current call from the primary source device once you answer an incoming call from the secondary source device.

Fortunately, most handsets support advanced multipoint. This puts a primary call on hold when a second incoming call is answered. It’s great for anyone who likes to chat with their friends during lunch breaks but needs to remain available for professional happenings. Advanced multipoint is available in professional Bluetooth headsets, but isn’t quite as ubiquitous within the consumer audio market. Some headsets even allow you to connect to three devices at the same time.

Why is multipoint support hard to find in wireless headphones?

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As with all features, there is a cost-to-benefit ratio that manufacturers must consider. Most general consumers don’t need multipoint; rather, it’s an appreciated convenience. However, for professionals, Bluetooth multipoint support is a necessity for juggling multiple tasks from multiple source devices. Not only does multipoint help notify listeners of incoming calls, but it also forwards notification pings, dings, and rings, so if you have sounds for Slack, email, and Skype, you can stay aware without physically removing yourself from the task at hand to check-in.

Since it’s something of a frivolity for consumer headsets, companies don’t feel the need to implement the feature. Ultimately, including it adds to the retail price, which drives consumers away. What’s more, this technology isn’t without its shortcomings, at least in the consumer audio space, since many multipoint-supported headphones and earbuds struggle to switch between devices cleanly.

bluetooth, headphones, work, pair, them, devices

You can connect the BackBeat FIT 6100 to two devices at the same time, and it can remember eight devices.

In the case of the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 6100, a white noise, static-like crackle is often emitted when notifications from the secondary device interrupt the primary device’s playback (e.g., when I watched movies on my laptop, and an incoming text came through on my phone, I heard a ping interrupted by a crackling sound).

In a space where multipoint isn’t a must-have feature, it seems difficult to justify introducing a technology that may be fraught with issues—at least on devices that primarily serve as headphones for audio playback, rather than as communication headsets.

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro and Apple Airpods automatic device switching

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The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro takes the best features from all of the previous Galaxy Buds generations.

Bluetooth multipoint seems to be a difficult technology to nail properly, and very few headsets do it well. Rather than deal with this, companies like Samsung and Apple prefer automatic device switching, which rids the need to manually disconnect from one device before reconnecting to another. When you use the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro and Apple Airpods across compatible Samsung and Apple devices, respectively, the earbuds automatically detect playback when you hit play on the desired device. This means they switch source devices without you ever needing to enter the phone’s Bluetooth menu.

What headphones and earbuds support Bluetooth multipoint?

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Nearly all professional headsets support multipoint, if not advanced multipoint, but what about the consumer headphones from your favorite brick and mortar stores or online retailers? Here are some of my favorite headphones and earbuds with multipoint support listed alphabetically.

  • Anker Soundcore Life Q35: Not the most premium headset, the Life Q35 will be worthwhile for someone looking for incredible battery life, travel features, and immense customization without breaking the bank.
  • Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700: If you want a modern pair of noise canceling headphones with nearly perfect touch controls go with Bose. The sound quality is spot-on and accurately reproduces music as it was intended to be heard.
  • Jabra Elite 75t and Jabra Elite Active 75t: These durable, portable earbuds are a great value because Jabra released a firmware update that added noise canceling capabilities to each headset. Sure, the ANC isn’t great, or even very good, but it’s nice to have in a pinch. As you might surmise, the Elite Active 75t earbuds are for athletes and feature an IP57 rating.
  • Jabra Elite 85h: Many of Jabra’s professional Bluetooth headsets offer multipoint support, but the Elite 85h is an excellent all-purpose pair of noise canceling headphones that supports simultaneous connections. Another unique feature of the Elite 85h is its water-resistant coating, so you don’t have to worry about getting a little sweaty on hot days.
  • Jabra Elite 85t: Jabra’s noise canceling true wireless earbuds are great for listeners who don’t want to default to the Apple Airpods Pro. You can stream over SBC or AAC, but aptX isn’t supported, which is unfortunate for some Android users. Sound quality is fine for casual listening, but you may want to reduce the bass and treble loudness for a more accurate representation of your favorite songs.
  • JBL Live 650BTNC: Smart noise canceling headphones that bring an engaging bass-centric sound to your ears: a great everyday headphone.
  • LG TONE Flex XL7: This headset is a big step up from the Tone Style SL5 as it features Google Assistant integration and Meridian Audio technology which facilitates a neutral-leaning sound signature.
  • LG TONE Style SL5: If you’re looking for a great pair of budget neckband earbuds, look no further than these ‘buds. The retractable earbud mechanism is a nice touch and the sound quality is great for a sub-100 headset.
  • Microsoft Surface Headphones 2: Microsoft’s sleek headset hit a homerun when it comes to multipoint performance. You can easily operate both devices without a hitch. Noise canceling is quite good, and the gesture controls on the side of the ear cup are reliable.
  • Phiaton Legacy 900: For a brand with little clout among the mainstream audio community, Phiaton released some great active noise canceling headphones. The Legacy 900’s Bluetooth multipoint functionality is reliable, and rivals that of the Microsoft Surface Headphones 2.
  • Plantronics Voyager 6200 UC: This is a work-oriented headset but features a sleek enough design that you can pull of wearing it around the city. It includes a magnetic charging dock, a nice zippered carrying case, and is supremely comfortable. For anyone interested, here’s a more extensive list of multipoint Plantronics (now Poly) headsets.
  • Sennheiser HD 450BT: Sennheiser’s mid-tier noise canceling headphones deliver accurate audio quality and a stylish design. You can adjust the sound profile in the mobile app. If you don’t need ANC and want something with a bit less clamping force, consider the Sennheiser HD 350BT instead.
  • Sennheiser MOMENTUM 3: These stylish noise canceling headphones are the cream of the crop when it comes to construction quality. If you care about style and sound quality, get these.
  • Sennheiser PXC 550-II: These headphones support Bluetooth multipoint but the functionality is limited. Notifications from the secondary source device weren’t always pushed through to the headset if I was streaming a video on a primary source device.
  • Shure AONIC 50: Shure’s headset executes multipoint connectivity really well, and doesn’t freeze up or drop connection when switching between devices. This is one of our favorite noise canceling headsets, because of its comfort, sound quality, and ANC performance.
  • Sony WH-1000XM4: Sony’s flagship noise canceling headphones are the best you can buy. They do everything exceptionally well and are comfortable for extended hours of wear.

Multipoint’s presence may become more salient with the rise of Bluetooth LE Audio and the LC3 codec, but until then, we’ll be sure to mention in our reviews when a device supports this handy connectivity mechanism.

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