Wireless audio protocols
There are 2 major wireless audio protocols:
- Network (IP)
Let us look together at the particulars of both of these two protocols.
- 1. Wireless audio protocol: Bluetooth
- 2. Wireless audio protocol: Music over WiFi
1. Wireless audio protocol: Bluetooth
How does Bluetooth work in audio?
The Bluetooth A2DP protocol allows the music to be transferred from the terminal A to B without a broker through a permanent live stream (understanding “live”). So the sound it makes to the Bluetooth speaker is “lived” by your smartphone.
The importance of the Bluetooth A2DP protocol
The audio should not only be bluetooth but also A2DP compliant for audio transmission between 2 devices. Fortunately, this is the case on any audio device, but not on those more general devices, such as televisions that are seldom supplied with this protocol.
The need for compatible codecs between the 2 devices
Therefore, 2 devices must be compliant with Bluetooth (duh!), A2DP and must have the same codecs read under the same conditions if they are to be able to communicate an audio signals on this protocol. Luckily, a codec is 100 percent common to audio devices from Bluetooth: the SBC codec.
Interrupting the music and mixing the music and the OS.
The Bluetooth audio is transmitted live, so that the sound of the OS and/or of your computer (iOS, Android, Windows…) is mixed. So if you get a telephone or notification, your music is muted.
That’s why some brands don’t use Bluetooth in their wireless speakers (Sonos for example).
You can also suggest that a first stage of Sound Degradation may occur when the mixing period from the sound of the OS to the sound of your musical programme, imagine Spotify. If all other sounds are muted while playing music, it remains to be proved, but it is not impossible.
Protocol transport limits
Limited range of 5 to 10m
The 2.4GHz band radio waves with a very long theoretical range are used by the Bluetooth protocol, but their usability to the general public is restricted to a shorter practical range without losses of a few decades.
Transfer rate limited according to versions and codecs
The new versions (v5.2 and above) of Bluetooth and some proprietary codecs like Sony or Huawai allow for more speed and therefore more quality in principle, wireless range being traded. The bit rates are always compressed, depending on the range but also on the codec used. In reality, they are always stronger or stronger.
Quality is therefore often suitable for mobile applications, but conversion is required!
What future for Bluetooth?
The Bluetooth SIG, the Bluetooth committee, focuses mainly on an effective quality improvements, i.e. more quality without more speed, and on improving audio in transmissions and receipts, in particular for calls. The Bluetooth SIG argues that the Universal Codec arriving late in 2021, LC3, would be as good as the CD by decreasing its size by 8 times. Audio transmission would also benefit. Don’t believe this, we will probably have the same or much better output than we have now, but with lower bitrate we will achieve more range and stability. That’s not going to be a bad thing.
2. Wireless audio protocol: Music over WiFi
Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) and broadcast modes are the best you know. All of you have access through your internet box to this link form.
Wi-Fi does not mean internet
We always think of the internet when we speak of WiFi, and that is understandable, because this is the main use of the wifi, but wifi is just a protocol for connecting devices to popular networks. Your smartphone connects to your home box, which includes all house gadgets in its directory (LAN) and also provides you with an outside door to your house/network: internet.
Protocols using your network
You have as many options as move computing requires in order to play your music. Let’s look at your LAN / wifi network for the most common music streaming solutions.
Benefits of WiFi to stream your music
Turning to WLAN solutions, the network is the best choice, since you do not have the limitations of Bluetooth’s speed, range and codecs.
No quality limit… in theory!
In principle, you can supply any file of any size on your network to prevent conversion, but still allow your wildest file choices to go uncommon, so let’s be crazy about it with a DSD-file of 1-7GB for one single music!
The limits of the practice
You can already face a first “break” depending on your transfer protocol. You claim you are a distinguished audiophile who wants to play a DSD or a 32/384 PCM file of very high resolution.
- You need the audio file to have, of course, a broadcasting system to detect that is present in your home for certain online services or for the PC, or for a NAS server, but this would not be the case for all on-the-market audio-browse products.
- Of course, you have to have a replay unit that supports the formats you like, otherwise your effort will be ruined and converted.
- Finally, you have to comply with the transfer protocol from the first to the second unit, if we take the package and move it without opening it by so-called “transparent.” This is not the case with all protocols; you risk the signal transformation when you open the packet!
You need an important degree of testing and choice of your devices in order to get the highest quality wireless listening and, regrettably, not all of the biggest names played the game well, so that the simplest solutions do not have the best theoretical quality and reduce first-time interest in wireless services. However, to achieve excellent wireless music efficiency, you should stick with these 2 basic tips:
- When you opt for a common streaming protocol such as Chromecast and AirPlay, DLNA is sometimes enabled with software snooping.
- Try not to override the CD quality 16/44 stubbornly; it is easy to replicate the excellent multi-room, hi-fi and home movie setting, all of which are wireless in CD quality.