How Do Wireless Headphones Work?

Do you know that using wireless headphones is a great way to enjoy full wireless freedom when listening to music?But before buying, knowing how wireless headphones work will help you get the most out of them.

There are three types of wireless headphones technology, and they are Bluetooth, infrared, and radiofrequency. Are their features and the way they work the same? 

Read on as we provide you with in-depth information about how wireless headphones work:


Types of Wireless Headphone Technology

With wireless headphones becoming a rage these days, many people always feel a little lost when it comes to picking the best device due to the wide range of headphones available in the market. Many consumers have trouble understanding wireless headphone technology, and this sometimes affects their purchase decision.

To find the right headphones and before you understand how it works, it is important that you know the wireless technology that they come with and which would work best for you:

Wireless headphone






Infrared headphones

33 ft.


Multiple usages that allow connectivity with the flip-down monitor, TVs, car headrest DVD player, and other items with infrared function

Not affected by other audio transmissions

The range is limited, and it needs a direct line of sight for connection to be established

Radio frequency (RF) headphones

About 300 ft.

Between 900MHz to 3.2GHz

Connects with any sound device with an RCA output

They provide good connections through wall and ceilings. Also, you can connect about 100 headphones to an RF transmitter

They are not immune to interference, and they also have limited design choices

Bluetooth wireless headphones

Between 33 ft. And 100 ft.


They are compatible with any Bluetooth-enabled audio device

Low power consumption, low interference, and easy to take anywhere with you

The compatibility is limited to Bluetooth devices


What are infrared headphones?

Infrared is a line-of-sight technology that doesn’t require any obstruction between the transmitter and receiver. This is the same technology used by your TV remote. There are two types of IR wireless headphones, and they include a single channel and dual channel. Single-channel allows for one audio signal while dual-channel permits two audio signals at the same time without interference. The frequency of infrared varies from wireless headphones to wireless headphones. Also, their range is 10 meters.       

What are radio frequency headphones?

These are a type of wireless headphone that uses a stereo frequency modulation system to transmit sound from transmitter to the headphone. RF wireless headphones feature different frequencies, which can be between 900MHz to 3.2GHz. This type of wireless technology can allow ranges of about 300 feet connection.   

What are Bluetooth wireless headphones?

The most common wireless technology in headphones is Bluetooth technology, and it is the foundation of modern wireless headphones. Most of the devices and wireless earbuds or headphones you will see on the market today come with Bluetooth connectivity. Wireless Bluetooth earbuds vary in Bluetooth technology version with 5.0 being the latest version.

They operate at a low power frequency of 2.4GHz and offer about 33 feet range for Bluetooth version 4.0 and lower. Also, the range for Bluetooth version 5.0 is more than 100 feet. A perfect example is the waterproof wireless earbuds such as xFyro Bluetooth earbuds with Bluetooth version 5.0. This provides a seamless and uninterrupted connection with other devices. Also, the version of Bluetooth offers a truly wireless connection with more speed, distance, and throughput.    

Now that you know the types of wireless headphones available, their similarities, and differences, let’s take a look at the way each works.

How Does Bluetooth Wireless Headphones Work?

The Bluetooth is a standardized protocol that works over a radio frequency and operates at 2.4GHz, so it doesn’t interfere with other radiofrequency. Every Bluetooth device such as the headphone has a unique address, which should be visible on your wireless Bluetooth headphones.

To understand how the Bluetooth wireless headphones work, you have to know the connection process.

The Bluetooth wireless headphones connection process

There are three progressive steps involved in the connection process of wireless Bluetooth earbuds. They are an inquiry, paging or connecting, and connection.

  1. Inquiry – if you have not connected your Bluetooth wireless earbuds with your audio device before, you need to run an inquiry for them to discover each other. One of the devices (headphone or your audio device) will send out inquiry request, and the other device will respond with its unique address and maybe name. 
  1. Connecting or paging – this step is where the address is known, and the connection is initiated by selecting the Bluetooth address and accepting to pair with it. 

Connection – after the paging stage, the wireless headphone will be connected with the other Bluetooth device. However, different modes can be experienced here. These are the active mode (where the two Bluetooth devices are actively transmitting and receiving data), park mode, sniff mode, and hold mode. Check here for a more in-depth explanation. 

The way Bluetooth wireless headphones work

  • Ensure your audio device is Bluetooth compatible, enabled, and discoverable.
  • Power on your wireless Bluetooth earbuds and search for the Bluetooth address on your smartphone
  • Once your device has discovered the headphone, tap it to pair them and establish a connection
  • But in some cases, you may be required to enter a passkey before you can pair. This can be found on the user manual of the wireless earbuds.
  • Once you enter it, the connection will be established, and you won’t have to repeat the process with the same audio device and Bluetooth headphone. Read more on how to pair your headphone with phones.

How does a Bluetooth headphone play audio?  

  • Your audio device (smartphone, tablet, or more) will send a digital signal of your favorite music to the earbuds through Bluetooth
  • The wireless Bluetooth earbuds cannot play digital signals, so the digital-to-analog converter (DAC) in the headphone convert the digital signals into analog music
  • The decoded analog music is sent to the amplifier of the headphone by DAC
  • The speakers of the earbuds then start playing the analog sound

How Infrared Wireless Headphones Work

Infrared headphones work by connecting to devices via infrared signals. You can use them for gaming, watching videos, or listening to audio.

To establish a connection between IR wireless headphones and your audio device you need an IR docking station also called transmitter and receiver which is built into the headphones.

Take note that, the new models use the IR light, which serves as a carrier for processing. Regardless of the technique made available by the manufacturer for the effective working of your IR headphone, they have a general process they work with.

The way wireless headphones with infrared technology work:    

  • An AC plug powers the docking station which is also known as the transmitter. The transmitter is connected to your sound device like TV, and Home Theater that comes with a headphone jack. 
  • The stereo channels at the left and right of your device are converted into two discrete carrier differences by the transmitter. 
  • Then they are compressed, multiplexed and transmitted in the form of an IR lightwave 
  • The receiver in the headphone receives the multiplexed signal and convert it back to left and right channels, decompress the signal and distribute it as electrical signals to the suitable sides 
  • The decoding circuitry is powered by the battery in the wireless headphone. It also helps to amplify the musical signal

How Radio Frequency Wireless Headphones Work   

How Wireless Headphones Work

 Just like the IR wireless headphones, the RF headphones connection is made possible with two kinds of equipment. They are the docking station or transmitter, and headphones with the receiver. However, many of the radio frequency wireless connections with your headphone will require RCA audio cable, or 3.5mm to RCA adapter cable for audio devices without RCA output.   

The way wireless headphones with radiofrequency technology work:

  • Use the RCA audio cable to connect the docking station to the audio output of your audio device. If your device lacks RCA outputs, make use of the 3.5mm to RCA adapter cable. 
  • Plug the AC adapter of the transmitter to a power outlet and switch it on. 
  • Switch the headphone on, and you will see the pairing indicator blinking on both the transmitter and headphone 
  • Both devices auto-pairs and this can take about 10 seconds. If you see steady blue light indicators on the devices, the connection is established.

Which Wireless Headphone Technology Is The Best To Go For?

From the information provided above and the popularity of wireless earbuds among audiophiles, it is obvious that wireless headphones with Bluetooth technology are more preferred and also have an edge. There are some key features and factors that make the Bluetooth earbuds standout.

  • Safe – unlike other devices that use standard wireless technology, Bluetooth headphones are safe. It uses a very weak radio signal. You should go for the best wireless Bluetooth earbuds like the xFyro xS2 which comes with Bluetooth V5.0. This type of technology will provide the weakest but seamless signal. 
  • Secure – once a connection has been established between a wireless Bluetooth headphone and a smartphone, there won’t be any interference from other devices. 
  • Easy to use – unlike the IR and RF wireless headphones, the wireless Bluetooth earbuds are easy to connect and use. Pairing them with other devices involves a few simple steps, especially if you go for the best Bluetooth earbuds. 
  • Versatile – even though Bluetooth wireless headphones are limited to Bluetooth enabled devices, it is versatile and can be taken anywhere. You can use them to swim, at home, and in the office. Also, you can use Bluetooth headphones, during outdoor activities, gym sessions, and more. If you travel a lot, Bluetooth wireless earbuds are the most suitable. You can use them on the airplane and enjoy your long-distance trip, especially if you opt for xFyro earbuds with more than 40 hours of battery life and charging case that can charge other devices. 


And there you have how the different types of wireless headphones work! For a quick recap, IR and RF wireless headphones need a transmitter also known as a docking station to transmit signal from your audio device to the receiver of your headphone. This can make things complicated when setting it up to make it work.

As for the Bluetooth wireless headphone, you don’t need a docking system. Enable your headphone Bluetooth, search for it on your device, pair with it, and connect with it. It is that simple! But to enjoy the best, safest, and seamless connection we can suggest the xFyro Bluetooth headphones. They feature the latest Bluetooth technology and other high-end features.