Wireless vs. Wired. To Bluetooth or to not Bluetooth, that is the question. There are pros and cons to using both wired and wireless helmet speakers/headsets. They both can play what you connect them to, and they both offer volume and music controls to keep your audio device well hidden, inside your jacket perhaps. On paper, the obvious advantage is the greater mobility a wireless setup can offer, but there are other factors to consider. Let’s take a look:
- Wireless freedom, no wires or connectors to route through your shirt or jacket
- Backward compatible
- Newer Bluetooth helmet speakers/headsets can communicate with older generation Bluetooth specifications (Newest and greatest is 4.0)
- Sound quality is totally dependent on how good and clear the Bluetooth specification (1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0) and connection are
- Requires its own power and usually needs to be charged
- Requires the host device’s Bluetooth radio to be turned on which reduces its battery life from the constant data streaming to/from the helmet speaker/headset
- Helmet speakers do make a difference but the limitation in sound quality is dependent on the audio source and data streaming (ie. File size, bit rate, and amount of data transfer)
- Generally cost more
- Extremely easy plug and play
- Nothing to turn on or charge, unlimited playing time
- As clear as the helmet speaker/headset can reproduce the sound
- However, audio quality is dependent on the audio source only (ie. File size, bit rate, etc)
- Wires to route inside clothing, often long slack of wires to hide
- Wherever you go your audio/music source has to be on you
- Once the cord is cut or damaged, usually it is irreparable
So there you have it, the advantages and disadvantages of wired and wireless. While the sound quality of the Bluetooth will not be 100% of its wired counterpart, it all depends on the Bluetooth version (1.0, 2.0, 3.0, and now 4.0) and its connection.
Bluetooth has come a long way since its inception nearly 20 years ago. The newest Bluetooth 4.0’s connectivity is more stable than previous generations, therefore, less dropped connections. Also, it has a greater bandwidth to support more streamed data which reproduces higher audio sound quality.
Ultimately, the activity you plan on using them for and your budget will determine the right way to go.
For myself, I prefer Bluetooth for its flexibility and being able to connect my helmet speakers to my iPod and phone almost instantly is super convenient. I can just hop onto my motorcycle, turn my headset on, and away I go!