The future of wireless headphones

When we talk about binaural wireless headsets, we are actually talking about the followers of AirPods and AirPods, and the direction of the smart headphones in the movie “HER” they are working on.

According to public data, AirPods sold 13 million pairs in 2017, accounting for 85% of the wireless headset market.Read more please visit: Analysts predict that AirPods sales will double this year and are expected to reach 28 million.

Stimulated by AirPods’s beastly market performance, a large wave of followers began to pursue headset wirelessly, cutting off the headphone cable, adding wake-up AI assistants, and optimizing the way headphones interact.

When wireless headset manufacturers use AI as a selling point, the last obstacle is the product experience problem.

Although these headphones have used “artificial intelligence” as a premium selling point of products (for example, voice assistants, multilingual translations, etc.), some of them have sound quality distortion, unstable connection, and main and auxiliary headphones. Various basic functional issues such as signal out of sync.

This gap between expectations and actual experience is particularly evident on Google Pixel Buds.

Since its inception, Google Pixel Buds has clearly proposed to target AirPods, not only that but also added more features than AirPods in AI, aiming to create an Android phone that is closer to the “HER” state. Explosive headphones. Unexpectedly, after the product went on the market, not only the sales volume was bleak, but also the media and consumers repeatedly spit out, saying that the Bluetooth connection of the mobile phone has unstable signals and poor outdoor radio reception.

Despite the excitement of the various manufacturers, the products actually arrived in the hands of consumers. And the experience of the earliest crabs, for the experience of wireless headphones, is also more than affirmation.

Combining these sounds, we summarize the key issues of the product experience, which are related to Bluetooth connectivity issues, as follows:

• The binaural connection is often interrupted and the signal transmission is unstable;

• The signal between the main unit and the auxiliary unit headphones is not synchronized, the signal of the sub headphone is weak, and the sound is delayed;

• When the outdoor or TV is turned on, the headphones are easily interfered with by other devices;

• Sound quality is severely damaged during transmission and the hearing experience is poor;

These problems are not individual phenomena. It is not that a certain company is not doing well. Some professionals say that the problems caused by unstable Bluetooth connection are almost common problems in the whole industry, even if they are doing the best at the user experience level. AirPods will also suffer from Bluetooth-related issues, but the ratio is relatively low.

When we looked for several technical experts to talk about this problem, they also pointed out that these products are not good because the technical solutions supporting the wireless earphones are not mature enough. The most important one is the mobile phone and the binaural wireless earphone. Connection, as well as the connection between the primary and secondary headphones, which is a Bluetooth signal transmission technology solution.

Technical analysis: Three solutions for Bluetooth transmission of binaural wireless headsets determine different signal transmission effects

At the Bluetooth Asia Conference (Bluetooth Aisa 2018), a company focused on voice chips has sorted out the three mainstream Bluetooth wireless transmission solutions in the market:

• Classic solution: The data signal is transmitted by the mobile phone to the main earphone using 2.4GHz Bluetooth signal, and then the main earphone transmits the signal to the secondary ear with 2.4GHz Bluetooth signal; the advantage of this solution is to use a set of RF circuit, PCB circuit The board is small in size; the disadvantage is that the 2.4G Bluetooth signal is easily absorbed by the human body, resulting in poor penetrability (the most direct result of the experience is that the earphones are held by one hand and the sub-headphones cannot hear the sound), and are susceptible to Interference from WiFi and other Bluetooth signals.

• Binary synchronous transmission scheme: The Bluetooth signal of the mobile phone is directly split into two channels and transmitted to two earphones respectively, thus effectively avoiding the problem of electric wave loss; the biggest disadvantage is that the compatibility of the solution to the mobile phone platform is not strong, cross-chip The platform is difficult to be compatible. For example, the headphones supported by Qualcomm chips are not compatible with the iPhone. In addition, headphones using this scheme are prone to binaural signal out of sync.

• LBRT magnetic induction forwarding scheme: first transmit the signal to the main earphone in the high-band Bluetooth signal, and then synchronize to the secondary earphone through the magnetic induction forwarding technology. This enhances the penetrating power of the signal and avoids loss of sound quality and reduces delay; the disadvantage is that more low-frequency antennas need to be added to the earphone.

Although the above three solutions have their own advantages and disadvantages, and all wireless headset brands are involved in the application, it is clear that the current LBRT magnetic induction forwarding scheme has gained recognition and favor from more solution providers. The masterpiece of this program is Bragi Dash’s headphones.

The future: more Bluetooth, noise reduction, intelligent technology solutions, is the direction of the upstream chip and technology manufacturers

Comfortable to wear, stable connection, good sound quality, convenient interaction, etc., are all necessary factors for the success of a Bluetooth headset. In response to existing problems, upstream chip and technology solution providers like Hengxuan Technology are trying to explore some new technological breakthroughs, such as:

• Appropriate Bluetooth transmission scheme: The low-frequency forwarding scheme can solve the signal loss problem of 2.4GHz Bluetooth signal forwarding in traditional binaural headphones and has stronger penetrating power, which can effectively reduce the loss of signal forwarding of primary and secondary headphones, and reduce other electromagnetic signals such as WiFi. Interference.

• Low power consumption and noise reduction: low power consumption and noise reduction, always the standard performance of the mainstream Bluetooth headset brand. According to Bloomberg News, Apple is also developing a high-end noise-canceling headset, which may compete with the market leading brand Bose or even the company’s own Beats; the upstream DSP core company CEVA, combined with active noise control solution provider Silentium launched Low power + active noise reduction scheme for wireless headphones.

• The fusion of AI technology: Many upper-layer chip solution providers are currently adapting to AI (mainly intelligent voice), such as Qualcomm’s QCC 5100 chip, human-machine interface solution developer Synaptics, which has been mass-produced with AudioSmart digital headphones. The chips are open to some extent to the application of voice assistants.

Since the iPhone 7 first bid farewell to the 3.5mm audio plug, many smartphone brands have also launched Bluetooth headsets for their own mobile phones, hoping to break the AirPods one-of-a-kind situation – or, in this fast-growing binaural wireless headset. The market has a share of it.

Although this “wireless revolution” has caused followers to encounter various technical problems of headaches, the market is still calling for more competitive Bluetooth headsets, which also requires upstream chip manufacturers and various solution providers to provide more and more. Cattle’s solution.


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