In the world of audio technology, things are always changing. Choosing the right earbuds for you seems like a challenge. However, it doesn’t have to be like that. If you can learn the common terms, such as HI-FI and TWS and how the quality of each differs, you can make the right choice when you invest in your earbuds.
What is HI-FI, and Where Did It Originate?
HI-FI is a term that is short for high fidelity in audio market, home audiofiles in reference to the high-end reproduction of sound. HI-FI eliminates the unnecessary noise and distortion that can be commonplace among other audio sources. In the early 1930s, Bell Laboratories began testing with a wide array of recording techniques, hoping to find a better way to record audio for home use. In 1930 and 1931, performances of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Leopold Stokowskiwere were recorded by telephone lines. Harry F. Olsen had test subjects listen to a live orchestra through a hidden variable acoustic filter after World War II. He found out listeners preferred listening as long as the noise or distortion generated by early sound equipment were extracted, or listeners preferred high fidelity reproduction.
After 1948, several innovations lead to the improvement of home audio, including the following:
- Reel to Reel audio tape recording
- 33⅓ rpm Long Play (LP) microgroove vinyl record
- FM radio
- Better amplifier designs
- New loudspeaker designs
The term “high fidelity” was used widely by audio manufacturers who were marketing records and equipment intended to provide better sound reproduction. While some consumers viewed the term as something “fancy and expensive”, many noticed the difference in the sound quality and purchased the new equipment. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, stereophonic equipment created the next wave in home audio. This is where the term “stereo” took over the term of HI-FI for most people. However, for audio enthusiasts, high fidelity continued to refer to highly accurate sound replication.
How is HI-FI Applied to Equipment?
When you listen to music or any other sound, it takes three things to get the sound to your ears-first, a signal source. Second, a way of connecting to the source. Finally, the equipment itself. Modern HI-FI equipment for signal sources transmission was introduced by the 2000s mainly including:
- Digital audio broadcasting (DAB)
- The digital audio tape (DAT)
- HD radios
Some of the modern HI-FI equipment can be digitally connected using:
- TOSLINK cables
- Universal Serial Bus ports (USB)
Some of the modern HI-FI equipment includes:
- Speakers: when you choose speakers to go with your HI-FI system, it is essential to remember that a bigger speaker doesn’t mean a bigger or better sound. When you select your speaker, consider the size of the room, where you are going to position them, and how visible you want them to be.
- Headphones: If you are going to be listening to your music while on the move, a good pair of headphones is essential.
- Amplifiers: The amplifier is the muscle of your sound system. It controls how the volume in your system is going to function. There are different types of amplifiers, including power amps, pre-amps, receivers, and integrated amps.
Ultimately, HI-FI audio equipment is any device that is used to play any audio in excellent quality. The level of sound that comes from these devices is incomparable.
What is TWS?
TWS is a technology that has been moving quickly to the forefront of the technological world. TWS stands for True Wireless Stereo. This is a new technology that allows you to connect two audio devices through Bluetooth, transmitting the Left Channel and the Right Channel separately.
Listening in stereo means that the sound is being reproduced using two channels, each playing a portion of the original sound. This is done in such a way that it creates the illusion of locating the sound in a particular position, offset from each other. This allows the sound to be more accurately imitated as though it were being heard from the original source.
What is the difference between HI-FI earbuds and TWS earbuds?
HI-FI earbuds are often marketed as being wireless, although in actuality, they are not. HI-FI “wireless” earbuds often don’t connect to your music device with a wire, but they still connect to one another with a wire, which is usually where you will see the mic, volume control, and battery. TWS earbuds contain no wire at all. In TWS earbuds, the mic, controls, and battery are built in the earbuds’ housing, instead of being connected through a wire.
Who Should Use TWS Earbuds?
Trying to decide which earbuds to get can be difficult, to make it easier here are some of the situations where TWS earbuds are the better choice:
- Working out: fitness enthusiast and sports athletes love having the freedom to move without catching a cord
- Traveling: Not having to untangle a cord or worry about the cord getting caught up in other things makes traveling more convenient.
There are people whose TWS earbuds might not be the best for, although even those situations typically have a solution.
- Those who don’t have the discipline to ensure that they charge their earbuds might find themselves without batter. However, many brands on the market have long playing hours and even longer playing times when you have the charging case.
- The people who often find themselves losing their keys and cellphones might not want to purchase the earbuds based on the fact they are small and, therefore, easy to lose. While this can be a deterrent if you choose one place that you will always place your earbuds, you will lessen the chance of losing them.
Pros and Cons
Like with anything in the world, there are pros and cons to choosing a pair of wireless earbuds. The following are things that you should consider when you are in the market for a pair.
- Cost: A good pair of wireless earbuds is going to cost money. While you can pick up cheap earbuds, it is almost always best not to waste your money. One of the biggest reasons you should avoid cheap wireless earbuds is that you want to ensure the ones you buy have a good quality Bluetooth chip and high-density batteries. Neither of these comes cheap, so if your earbuds are exceptionally cheap, the equipment inside them will be too.
- Codecs: Codecs are the compression technologies that are responsible for compressing and decompressing your media files. If your wireless earbuds will only work with SBC, you will be disappointed, as SBC is a basic codec that doesn’t support high-resolution music. If you are an Apple user, you want to ensure that your earbuds will support AAC, though if you are an Android user, you have more flexibility in the higher end codecs, such as aptX and LDAC.
- Battery Life: Many manufacturers of wireless earbuds quote a playing time of between three and five hours, although some models, like the Fusion, have a battery life of up to eight hours, with an additional thirty hours of playback with the charging case.
- Controls: When you choose higher-quality earbuds, they will have control pads or buttons on the earpiece that you can tap to issue commands such as increasing and decreasing the volume, skipping a track, or making a phone call. Some lower models don’t have these controls, which means you need to have your smartphone close at hand.
- Active Noise-Cancelling: Just because you are using wireless earbuds doesn’t mean that you are sacrificing your access to noise-canceling technology. Many wireless earbuds come as noise-canceling, and in many cases, this is better then what you would get with regular earbuds. Many wireless earbuds allow you to change “how” noise-canceling your earbuds are, which means you can make them less noise canceling when safety requires it, such as jogging on a busy road.
- Charging Case: The case that stores and recharges the wireless earbuds are an integral part of the earbud package. If you are going to be carrying the matter with you, you want to ensure that the case is robust enough to stand up to any bumps it might take. The worst thing that could happen is to have a fragile case that ends up broken because it fell out of your pocket.
Why do TWS Earbuds Take the Edge in the Audio Market?
True wireless earbuds are taking over the audio technology market. The freedom to move around without having cords getting tangled and caught on things is a significant selling factor. Another reason that TWS earbuds are taking over the audio world is the versatility they offer. If you are listening to something and want to share it with a friend, you can. And you can share without missing any of what you are listening to. Wireless earbuds allow you and a friend can walk side by side and listen to the same music.
When it comes to listening to music, people will always want the option that gives them the best sound quality. In an ever-changing fast-paced world, it can be hard to keep on top of which options are indeed the best. Choosing the earbuds that are going to be right for you doesn’t have to be complicated. TWS earbuds are diverse enough to meet all of your listening needs.