Many televisions allow you to deliberately introduce video delay to match the audio delay inherent to your audio equipment. By using this feature, you can get a perfect match between your Bluetooth audio output and the video you see.
Unfortunately, this solution isn’t suitable for video games since you’re adding input latency equal to your Bluetooth audio delay. If you want to watch movies and TV shows, this is the easiest solution, but anything interactive will need something different to fix the issue.
If your TV has this feature, you’ll have to look around its audio settings or in the manual for exact instructions since they will vary by brand and model.
Like any radio signal, Bluetooth performance can suffer if the signal is too weak. If there are objects between you and the receiver, or you are too far away, or if other devices are operating on the same radio frequency, this can lead to additional latency.
If latency improves if you move closer to the transmitting device, that’s a sign that this is one of the issues causing the audio delay. The solution is to sit closer to the device, bring it closer to you, remove sources of interference, or move objects that may block the signal.
Newer versions of Bluetooth come with performance improvements, but you’ll only get the benefit of the oldest Bluetooth device in the chain. Bluetooth version 5.0 has been around for some time now, and represents a significant improvement over previous versions. If you’re using headphones, speakers, or a TV that still uses an older version you may benefit from upgrading.
Of course, no one wants to buy a new set of headphones or an entirely new TV to get better Bluetooth, but you may not have to. Numerous standalone Bluetooth transmitters and receivers exist that offer the latest Bluetooth technology.
Avantree Oasis Plus Bluetooth Transmitter & Receiver for TV
This little audio box is designed to upgrade your TV's Bluetooth (or give it Bluetooth) with support for both high quality and low latency codecs. Best of all, it has a soundbar passthrough, so switching to the headset is seamless.
A standalone Bluetooth receiver lets you connect any set of headphones or speakers to it using a wired connection. This is particularly useful if you have a set of headphones you love, but they’re otherwise outdated. A dedicated receiver lets you can keep the audio quality and comfort you’re used to.
Bluetooth transmitters take the audio signal from a device like a TV and then convert it to a Bluetooth signal. Often they’ll connect to the headphone jack on your TV, but there are numerous choices available.
In either case, look for a transmitter that supports the newest version of Bluetooth and, preferably, one that offers a low-latency codec.
Another way you can reduce Bluetooth latency is to switch to a low-latency codec. “Codec” is short for “coder/decoder.” It describes the specific method used to encode video or audio, usually as a way to reduce file sizes while keeping as much quality as possible. You’re probably familiar with codecs such as MP3, but Bluetooth plays host to several different codecs too.
Some of these codecs focus on reducing latency as much as possible. SBC, the most common Bluetooth codec, comes with a hefty 220ms of delay. AptX HD has 250ms of delay or more, but in return, you get much higher fidelity audio, making it a good choice for music.
Standard AptX has decent latency at 70ms, where most people wouldn’t notice any obvious syncing problems. Finally, we have aptX LL (low-latency), which only has 40ms of delay, making it pretty much indistinguishable from a wired connection.
FastStream offers the same delay as aptX LL, but with less audio fidelity, so in general, aptX LL is preferable.
If you want to take advantage of low-latency codecs, then both the transmitting and receiving devices need to share support for the codec in question. In most cases, selecting the best codec is automatic, but some devices (such as Android phones) may allow you to manually switch between codecs. You’ll have to consult their manuals on an individual basis, however.
If you’re experiencing annoying audio lag using your computer’s built-in Bluetooth radio, you may benefit from an audio-only USB Bluetooth dongle.
Avantree DG80 USB Bluetooth Audio Adapter
This affordable, tiny plug-and-play audio adapter works with any USB audio compatible device such as consoles and PCs. With a suitable aptX LL headset, you'll experience virtually no lag at all.
These devices don’t present themselves as Bluetooth devices to the computer. Instead, the computer thinks the Bluetooth device is a normal USB audio interface. Bluetooth pairing and processing all happen on the dongle independent of the computer.
This offers an ideal situation for Bluetooth audio, since the adapter isn’t connected to multiple peripherals, and the computer’s Bluetooth drivers aren’t a factor at all.
If you have one of the latest video game consoles, you’ve probably noticed that they don’t have audio delay issues with their wireless audio solutions. That’s because these devices don’t use standard Bluetooth. They may use a modified version of Bluetooth or a completely proprietary wireless audio standard that better handles latency issues.
Logitech G PRO X Wireless Lightspeed Headset
The G PRO X from Logitech uses its custom Lightning audio standard to offer lag-free audio while still offering more than 20 hours of battery life.
You can also take advantage of proprietary non-Bluetooth audio (or Wi-Fi-based wireless audio in some cases) which may have much better performance and quality.
Avantree HT280 Wireless Headphones for TV
The HT280 provides a plug-and-play, lag-free wireless audio solution for TVs, with support for both optical and RCA audio output.
For computers, you may get wireless headphones that come with a proprietary USB dongle. For televisions, there are wireless headphone systems that have several input options that are typical for TVs. For example, if your TV has an optical digital audio output, you can often use this for a high-quality feed to the wireless transmitter.
If you’re still unhappy with your Bluetooth audio’s tendency to lag, remember that there are more reasons to switch to a wired headset or speaker than just fixing latency. And if you use Bluetooth simply because your device doesn’t have a 3.5mm audio port, you can still add a wired connection to devices without headphone jacks.
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