As audio technology advances, there will always be an argument as to what is best. Vinyl records to cassettes, cassettes to CD’s, CD’s to digital streaming. Newer technology may or may not be better than old, but we’ll always progress and they’ll always be room for improvement.
One question we see asked over and over is if streaming from your phone via Bluetooth lowers the quality of your music. The short answer is yes, there will be some loss in quality when streaming music via Bluetooth rather than connecting to an external device via a wired connection (headphone jack or auxiliary input). A wired connection suffers no direct compression or loss in data quality, making it the best choice for many users. However, Bluetooth is much more convenient in many cases — your car for example — where a wired connection isn’t available or just isn’t an option. Bluetooth also has additional benefits with things like hands-free calling, something that a wired connection usually doesn’t offer.
While there are still many wired options for connecting to your phone or music player, there are now just as many (if not more) Bluetooth offerings for even easier streaming. Bluetooth headphones are abundant and Bluetooth is also easy to integrate with both factory and aftermarket head units in cars. Many car stereos used to sport a built-in AUX port, but now that connection is becoming outdated and is not as readily available as it once was.
Conversely, when you connect to your headphones or car/home stereo with Bluetooth from your phone, the data is transmitted wirelessly and suffers some loss due to compression. The compression stems from when the data is compressed at one end and then decompressed at the other end. How much loss? Not enough that you or I can really tell the difference. With most average headphones and factory car stereos, the quality isn’t good enough to notice the difference between a direct analog connection and a wireless Bluetooth connection. Also take into account that the places you’re using Bluetooth — running, on the subway, driving in a car, in a noisy work environment — all add sound to the mix so you won’t hear things perfectly clear.
So while the answer remains yes — you do lose some quality when streaming over Bluetooth — the fact of the matter is that you won’t really ever notice that loss. So you can rest assured that you’re not doing yourself a huge disservice by streaming your audio via Bluetooth.