How To Fix Sound Delay in Headphones? (Phone, Windows)

Bluetooth headphones sound delay fix

Sound delay is when the audio playback is delayed or arrives later than the expected time to its source. Why does sound delay happen, what causes it, and how to fix it?

The sound delays in headphones happen because of Bluetooth latency or interference, codec compatibility, or signal processing. The headphones type (wireless or wired), Bluetooth codec and version, and distance between both devices can cause higher audio latency.

To fix sound delay, reset and restart both devices, decrease the Bluetooth distance, disable low power mode, avoid interferences, upgrade the Bluetooth version, and upgrade the Bluetooth device version (in Windows PC).

Why Does Sound Delay Happen in Headphones?

The sound delays happen in headphones because of Bluetooth latency, signal processing, environmental factors (e.g. Bluetooth interference), and codec compatibility.

To understand why there’s a sound delay, you must know how headphones work. Once you pair them with a source device (phone, PC, or laptop) and play music, a digital audio signal is sent from the source device to the receiver (headphones).

This digital audio signal is passed through radio frequencies and then converted into an analog audio signal. The analog audio signal is then processed and played to your headphones.

Sometimes the processing of the analog audio signal takes longer, which means there’s a sound delay. The higher the audio file is, the higher the delay can be. That’s because the audio signal will take longer to transfer (it uses more bandwidth), and longer to process.

The time it takes for the audio signal to be transferred from the source device to the headphones is called audio latency. Audio latency refers to the delay between the time an audio signal is generated or played and when it is heard or received. It is the time it takes for the audio data to travel from its source device to the output device (headphones) and be converted into sound.

The higher the audio latency, the more delayed the sound is. Wired headphones have an audio latency of 5-10 ms, while Bluetooth headphones have an audio latency of 32-300 ms.

What Affects Bluetooth Audio Delay?

Bluetooth audio delay is affected by the following things.

1. Headphones Type

Bluetooth headphones have a higher audio or Bluetooth latency than wired headphones. However, most Bluetooth headphones have a feature called “Delay reporting feature” that helps to minimize audio latency.

The “Delay reporting feature” is a functionality in audio or video systems that provides information about the amount of delay in the signal chain. It helps users to monitor and assess the time delay between an input and output signal.

Phone applications (e.g. Spotify, Youtube) can use the Delay reporting feature to synchronize video playback and audio separately. By measuring and reporting the delay between the video and audio signals, the application can adjust the timing of the video playback to match the audio or vice versa.

2. Bluetooth Codec

Bluetooth codec refers to the specific method or algorithm used to encode and compress audio data for transmission over a Bluetooth connection. The Bluetooth codec can affect sound delay as different codecs have different compressing and encoding processes that can result in a longer (or shorter) latency.

The audio data is converted into a digital format and compressed and encoded by the source device’s Bluetooth codec. The compressed audio file is wirelessly transferred to Bluetooth headphones. The Bluetooth headphones use the same codec to decode and compress the audio file. The decoded audio is then converted back into an analog signal, amplified, and played through the headphones.

If the headphones and the source device have a different Bluetooth codec the audio latency. That’s because the source codec will convert the audio file to a specific audio format. But, if the codec of the headphones doesn’t recognize that format, it will have to convert it to a universal audio format (SBC), and this will take longer.

For video and game sounds use headphones that have a Bluetooth codec called aptX LL.

3. Interference

Interference can increase Bluetooth delay by causing interruptions in the wireless transmission between the source device and headphones.

For instance, if there’s a thick wall between the source device and receiver, there will be a delayed audio data transfer, which results to sound delay. Concrete walls, thick metals, or other things that are between both devices can also cause interference.

Other electronic devices that operate at the 2.4Ghz can also cause Bluetooth interference. It includes wireless routers, Bluetooth mouse and keyboard, different electric toys, microwave. But, it’s not limited to these devices only.

4. Bluetooth Distance

The Bluetooth distance range is 10 meters (30 feet). If the source device and the headphones aren’t within the Bluetooth range, the audio delay will be higher. That’s because the Bluetooth signal will be weaker and not stable, and it can cause buffering.

The Bluetooth range is also affected by physical objects, such as walls or furniture. It’s recommended to keep the source device and headphones as close as possible, even after pairing.

5. Bluetooth Version

To avoid sound delays or latency, use the latest Bluetooth on both devices. Bluetooth 5.0 and higher offers improved data transfer rates compared to Bluetooth 4.0 and lower which have higher delays due to limitations in data transfer rates and less efficient protocols.

It’s important to note that the Bluetooth version will improve the audio latency, but the latency will be also affected by the Bluetooth codec used, signal strength, and interference.

Both devices must have the latest Bluetooth version to enjoy these benefits. If they don’t have the latest Bluetooth version, the devices will use the oldest version that one of the devices has.

For instance, if the source device has Bluetooth 5.2, but the headphones use Bluetooth 4.2, the audio data transfer will happen using Bluetooth 4.2. So, it’s always recommended to update the Bluetooth to its latest version.

How To Fix Bluetooth Headphones Sound Delay in iPhone / Android?

To fix Bluetooth headphones’ sound delay in iPhone and Android, do the following.

1. Restart Both Devices

A restart can fix software bugs or glitches that are causing sound delays. Disconnect the headphones from your phone, and restart both devices. Once restarted, re-connect both devices to each other.

To restart headphones, press the power button once, wait until they turn off, and press the power button again to power them on. To restart your phone, press the power button for a few seconds or until it powers off. For iPhones, slide the “power-off” slider to turn it off. Once turned off, press the power button for 3 seconds to turn it back on.

2. Hard Reset

A hard reset will restore the devices to their original factory settings by clearing the internal memory, removing known Bluetooth devices, and removing software bugs or glitches.

To reset headphones, check the user manual or search for it online. It usually includes pressing the power button (and another specific button) simultaneously for a few seconds. However, each brand/model has its own unique process.

You don’t need to reset your phone for this, simply delete the headphones from the Bluetooth list.

iPhone:

  1. Unlock your phone and go to Settings.
  2. Find and press Bluetooth.
  3. Under the My devices find the “headphones name” and press the .
  4. Press Forget this device.

Android:

  1. Unlock your phone and go to Settings.
  2. Find and press Connected Devices or Bluetooth.
  3. Under Saved devices find the “headphones name” and press the gear icon.
  4. Press Remove this device.

3. Disable Low Power Mode

Low power mode in your phone can cause sound delays as it reduces the data transfer rate and increases buffering. The low power mode is a power-saving feature designed to save energy and extend battery life. When enabled, it typically reduces the power consumption of the device by adjusting various settings and functionalities.

Sometimes, the low power mode can also cause sound delays in your headphones. While the delay isn’t always noticeable, you should disable the mode and see if it fixes the problem.

To disable it low power mode on iPhone, do the following.

  1. Unlock your phone.
  2. Swipe down from the top of the screen.
  3. Tap the Battery icon.

If the battery logo isn’t in the control center:

  1. Go to Settings and press Battery.
  2. Turn off the Low Power Mode.

To disable low power mode on Android, do the following.

  1. Go to Settings and press Battery and device care.
  2. Press Battery and disable the Power saving mode.

4. For Gamers (Android Only)

To fix sound delay in headphones while playing games on Android phones, do the following.

  1. Go to Google Play Store and download Ear Studio.
  2. Open the application, and press the Audio Input.
  3. Under the Bluetooth Codec Option untick these three options: AAC, aptX, and aptX HD.
  4. Press Apply.
  5. Find Buffer Length (usually at the top of the Audio Input page) and reduce it to Short-0. This will reduce the quality, but it will also reduce the delay.
  6. After saving the changes, lock the app in the background.
  7. You may need to un-pair and re-pair the headphones with your phone again.

5. Other things:

  1. If the delay is happening only in one application, update it if there’s an update available.
  2. Update your phone firmware to the latest version.
  3. Update your headphones to the latest version.

How To Fix Bluetooth Headphones Sound Delay in Windows?

To fix Bluetooth headphones’ sound delay in Windows, do the following.

1. Update The Bluetooth Driver

The Windows Bluetooth driver plays an important role in managing Bluetooth connections, codecs, and audio transmission between the PC (or laptop) to the headphones. An up-to-date Bluetooth driver can minimize processing time, optimize data transmission, and reduce delay in audio playback. An old Bluetooth driver will increase the latency and audio delay.

Windows automatically installs a Bluetooth driver on your PC, but it doesn’t automatically update it to its latest version. You must manually go to the Device Manager and update it.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Right-click the Windows Logo (bottom left) and press Device Manager.
  2. Find the Bluetooth (usually, third) and press the arrow next to its name (<).
  3. You will see a list of Bluetooth devices, find the “headphones name“, right-click it, and press Update Driver.
  4. Press Search Automatically For Drivers, and follow the steps.

Note: If you are sure that you don’t have the latest Bluetooth version, but the Device manager says that you do, then download third-party software to update the driver. Sometimes Windows doesn’t have the right files to update the driver, but third-party software does.  Here’s a list of them.

2. Windows Troubleshooting Sound Problems

Windows has an in-built troubleshooting system that scans the Bluetooth connection and checks if there’s something wrong. If there’s a bug or a problem, then the troubleshooting system will fix it or give you tips on how to fix it.

Here’s how to access it:

  1. Pair your headphones with the PC.
  2. At the bottom right corner, find the speaker icon and right-click it.
  3. Press Troubleshoot sound problems.
  4. Press Yes, and wait until it scans for problems.
  5. Based on your problems, the troubleshooter will give you different steps, so follow them.

3. Restart Windows Audio Service

  1. Hold the Windows key + R on the keyboard at the same time to open the “Run”. You can also search for “Run” in the search box.
  2. Type services.msc and press OK
  3. Find the Windows Audio, right-click it, and press Properties.
  4. Under the Startup type choose Manual
  5. Press Apply.
  6. Under the Service Status, press Stop.
  7. Under the Startup type choose Automatic, and press Start (under Service Status).
  8. Then, press Apply and OK.
  9. This will restart the audio service.

4. Restore Defaults

  1. Go to Search and type Control Panel.
  2. Press Hardware and Sounds.
  3. Under Sound, press Manage audio devices.
  4. Find the “Headphones name” for instance “JBL Tune 660NC” and press Properties.
  5. Go to Advanced and press Restore Defaults.

Why Wireless Headphones Have More Audio Latency Than Wired Headphones?

Bluetooth (or wireless) headphones have more audio latency than wired headphones because the transmission process relays on a wireless signal, such as Bluetooth, which has inherent latency as the signal (or audio file) must be encoded, transmitted, received, and decoded.

The Bluetooth itself has some latency as it has in-built processing and erroring mechanisms that result in higher latency and slower receiving of data. Also, the Bluetooth connection can be affected by interferences by other wireless devices operating in the same frequency range. Bluetooth interferences will cause higher latency and delays.

The audio latency for wired headphones is between 5-10 ms. The Bluetooth latency can range from 34 ms(aptX LL) to 100–300 ms.

Does Noise Cancellation Increase Latency?

The noise cancellation can increase the latency as it works by analyzing the surrounding sound environment and generating an opposite sound wave to cancel out unwanted noise. This process requires the audio signal to be processed in real time, which adds a certain amount of latency.

How To Get Zero Latency?

Getting 0 latency is close to impossible. But, if you want a lower audio delay or latency, use wired headphones.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top