If you have ever dealt with video and audio being out of sync, you know how frustrating it can be. You want to enjoy your Bluetooth headphones in peace, but the sound delay takes the fun out of it. Thankfully, there are ways to reduce this lag.
I’ve had my share of Bluetooth headphones, and a few of them have had this latency problem. After a lot of troubleshooting, I was able to reduce the delay. It never really goes away, but there are methods you can use to reduce it significantly.
In summary, there are several steps you can try to fix sound delay on Bluetooth headphones:
- Update the firmware of both your Bluetooth headphones and your device.
- Update the Bluetooth driver: Make sure you have the latest Bluetooth driver installed on your device.
- Change the codec: Some codecs may result in latency. Try changing the codec to a low-latency option if available. See below for more details
- Decrease the audio quality: Lowering the audio quality to a lower bitrate may reduce latency.
- Turn off audio enhancements: Features like virtual surround sound or noise cancellation can add latency. Turn them off and see if it improves the situation.
- Reduce the distance between your device and headphones: If your headphones and device are too far away from each other, it can cause latency.
- Restart your device and headphones: Sometimes a simple restart can resolve the issue.
- Try a different pair of headphones: If none of the above steps work, the issue may be with the headphones themselves. Try using a different pair of headphones to see if the problem persists.
Throughout the rest of the article, there are more details that can help you learn how to fix sound delay on Bluetooth headphones, including Airpods, and even how to fix sound delays when using your Bluetooth radio.
What Causes Sound Delay or Latency?
All wireless headphones are going to have some sort of delay. There are a few reasons for this.
Mostly, the delay is a by-product of the audio process. To get to your headphones, sound first must be processed by your phone or computer. Then, it uses a wireless signal to pass the audio into your headphones. Finally, the headphones must convert the audio into an interface that they can use.
Because this process is so complicated, there will always be latency when using Bluetooth headphones. However, this delay doesn’t have to be huge.
Other Causes of Bluetooth Sound Delay
If you are experiencing an abnormally large sound delay, there are some common causes that you can fix.
- Bluetooth Version. Different devices have different Bluetooth drivers or versions. The first step is to make sure that your headphones are compatible with your device. Check the manufacturer specifications for your device and your headphones to make sure they are compatible.
- Battery Life. A low battery on your headphones may cause a large sound delay. Try charging your headphones or checking their battery levels.
- Range. Bluetooth devices have a recommended range. Check to make sure that you are within the recommended distance to get the best performance out of your Bluetooth headphones.
How to Reduce Sound Delay on Bluetooth Headphones
If you have checked the Bluetooth version on both your headphones and your device, checked the battery life, and know you are in range, it’s time to troubleshoot.
The first three solutions for this problem are simple.
First, reboot your device. No matter what device or type of device you’re using, rebooting it can help significantly. This ‘refresh’ clears a lot of background processes and leaves memory open for audio processes. This is the quickest way to fix the problem, though it may not always work.
Second, reset your Bluetooth headphones. Each headphone model has its own reset method. Usually, this requires power-cycling the headphones, making your device ‘forget’ them, and then reconnecting them. For details on how to reset your Bluetooth headphones, consult your user manual.
Finally, you can change your device’s performance options. On smartphones (including iPhones and Androids), you can usually control the power settings. Usually, this is set to save power and conserve battery life. Changing your phone to “high-performance” mode can help reduce audio delay, but it will drain the battery.
If all of this fails, you may have to check into your Bluetooth audio codecs.
Choosing the Latest Bluetooth Audio Codecs
For the most part, newer devices and headphones will be using Bluetooth 5.0. This is the latest and best Bluetooth option, as it decreases latency across all devices. If one of your devices can only use the previous version (Bluetooth 4.1), they are still compatible. However, there may be latency problems.
To solve this problem, you can upgrade your device.
When searching for new Bluetooth headphones, make sure you know which codecs your devices support. The oldest and least flexible of these codecs is SBC. You should avoid choosing headphones that use this codec, as is it outdated and may no longer be compatible.
Codecs to look for include:
- aptX and aptX HD
- aptX LL
- LDAC (Sony devices only)
- Samsung Scalable Code (Samsung devices only)
How to Fix Sound Delay on Apple Airpods
Very few people report audio delay issues with their Apple Airpods. If you are experiencing audio delay issues, there are still options for fixing it.
First, make sure that your device is upgraded to the latest version of iOS. You should also check your AirPods firmware version. Usually, these updates are installed automatically. To check, navigate to Settings > General > About (for iPod, iPad, and iPhone). Tap the ‘AirPods’ line to see your firmware version.
If there are updates, they will show on this screen. If the problem persists, you may have to reset your AirPods.
To reset your Airpods, follow these steps:
- Put both AirPods in the case and close the lid.
- After 30 seconds, reopen the lid.
- Navigate to your Bluetooth settings menu on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod (Settings > Bluetooth). Tap the ‘i’ icon in this menu.
- Choose ‘Forget This Device’ and confirm.
- On your iPod’s charging case, hold the setup button (located on the back of the case) for at least 15 seconds. The status light will flash orange and then turn white.
- Now you can reconnect your AirPods to your device.
After resetting your AirPods, the delay should be gone. This is how to fix sound delays on iPads, iPods, and iPhones.
How to Fix Bluetooth Audio Delay in Your Car
Audio delay in your car can be particularly jarring, but there are ways you can attempt to solve the problem. Some of these solutions depend on whether you have an iPhone or an Android device.
iPhone Solutions Fix Bluetooth Audio Delay in Your Car
If you are hearing an audio delay while using your iPhone to stream music, compatibility may be the main factor. First, check your car radio’s manual – or the car manual itself if the radio is a factory model. This should tell you what Bluetooth versions and compatibility the radio has.
Pairing an iPhone with older devices can be a challenge. If you really want to solve this problem, you may have to purchase a newer car stereo. Otherwise, if the devices should be compatible, you can try resetting your car stereo.
Each stereo model has different reset procedures. Consult your car’s manual, or a manual from the stereo’s manufacturer to carry out a factory reset. This can clear connected devices and may get rid of latency.
You can also restart your iPhone to see if the problem is solved. Sometimes, clearing the memory of your current iPhone session can help improve audio latency.
Android Solutions Fix Bluetooth Audio Delay in Your Car
Many of these same solutions work for Android phones. You should make sure that the car stereo and your Android phone are compatible. You can try to reset your car stereo, but you can also choose to have your phone ‘forget’ that it’s paired to the car stereo.
To do this, navigate to your Bluetooth menu. You should be able to select your car stereo while the devices are paired. Choose your stereo and unpair the devices. Then, restart your phone. You might also benefit from turning your car off and then on again.
Pair the devices again to see if this eliminates the audio lag.
These steps can help you reduce the sound delay on your Bluetooth headphones, AirPods, and even in your car. Of course, you can never fully remove latency with Bluetooth headphones. Instead, these solutions can help you reduce delay so that you barely notice it.