It all adds up

Or: your low latency is not my low latency

With makers of mobile phones and even notebook computers ditching the headphone sockets, more and more people have come to accept in-ears and headphones without cables, most of them using Bluetooth technology to transmit the audio to and from your phones, notebooks, computers, and so on.

And some people – like those playing games – noticed that it takes some time to get audio “streamed” to your wireless cans or in-ears, and that there can be lags between the picture they see, and the sound they hear.

But that’s not the worst. Even with “low latency” Bluetooth codecs – aptX speaks of 40ms – they still forget that there are people for whom this is much too much.

Musicians for example – some people claim that they can hear latencies of around 10ms (I can’t), and so we all set our audio interfaces to the lowest possible settings to achieve latencies of possibly 5ms or better – otherwise it would be hard to play in time with what you hear from others’ tracks coming from your DAW (digital audio workstation). We spend quite a lot of money to get interfaces like from RME or other professional vendors which can give you these low latencies – and then we should add 40ms for the Bluetooth cans only? No way.

Which is why musicians like Zuleikha or myself will always stay with cables, and only buy devices which offer a proper headphone jack. There’s no way around it. KISS principle anyone?

You probably don’t mind the lag if you’re listening to your phone while jogging. But we do – we simply have to. And we’re the ones you’re listening to (or so we hope, but I speak for all musicians here).

So please stop these claims of having ‘low latencies’ if you don’t even consider musicians.


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