Wireless headphones are quickly replacing traditional wired ones.
High-quality models sound very good, and you don’t need to deal with pesky wires.
But are wired headphones louder than wireless?
On average, wired headphones are louder than wireless headphones. The battery doesn’t limit wired headphones, and it’s easier to override the volume limit. Manufacturers usually limit the max volume on wireless headphones to preserve battery life.
Read on to learn some important factors that you should consider when buying wired or wireless headphones.
You’ll know how to make the right choice for you.
5 Facts About Loudness on Wired and Wireless Headphones
If you’re in the market for new headphones, you came to the right place.
I’ll also share a few tips on how to make both wired and wireless headphones louder.
Here are a few facts that’ll help you understand how exactly headphone volume works.
1. Wireless Headphones Have a Limited Volume Range
People who listen to very loud music on their headphones all the time have a poorer hearing. That’s a fact, and it’s been proven dozens of times.
Of course, headphone manufacturers know this. That’s one of the main reasons why they put a software limit on how loud your earbuds can get.
But what’s loud for the manufacturer may not be what’s loud for us. We tend to misjudge how loud our music is, so it’s probably for the better.
I’ve also noticed that cheaper knock-off Bluetooth earbuds tend to get way louder than what’s safe.
If you want to burst your eardrums, you could do that with them. But I urge you not to.
So, you can only get the headphones as loud as the manufacturer lets you. You’ll know that from pressing the volume up button.
Most Bluetooth headphones will play a sound that indicates you can’t get any louder.
2. Wired Headphone Volume Is Theoretically Unlimited
We now know that manufacturers limit the volume of Bluetooth headphones.
But what about their wired counterparts? They make those headphones, too, right?
You can easily override any wired headphones by plugging them into an interface, amp, DAC, or anything similar.
You can turn the volume up as much as you want to.
Even if you don’t have any of the hardware mentioned above, many third-party programs will let you change it.
Naturally, the drivers in the headphones will break at a certain volume. This is determined by the quality of the drivers, wiring, and impedance rating.
But then again, that’s a practical limit, not a theoretical one. Your headphones will become unusably loud anyway.
Most wired headphones can get to around 100 – 120 dB.
For reference, 100 dB is a motorcycle, and 120 dB would be a loud rock concert or sports crowd.
I don’t think that anyone wants to listen to music at that kind of volume. Only a few hours at 120 dB will permanently damage your hearing.
You may also wonder: Do wireless headphones last longer than wired?
3. You Can Override Maximum Volume With an App
Did you buy a pair of wired or wireless headphones that are very quiet?
You’re in luck because there are hundreds of apps out there that’ll let you override the maximum volume.
You should override wired headphones with audio gear if possible. You’ll get better sound out of them.
If not, you can use the same trick as for a wireless pair.
Simply download and install any third-party program that lets you increase the maximum volume.
Here are a few of the best apps that I’ve found on the Google Play Store and the App Store:
- Super Volume Booster (Google Play)
- Volume Booster GOODEV (Google Play)
- Speaker Boost (Google Play)
- Max Volume Booster (App Store)
- Volume Booster – Equalizer FX (App Store)
Note that this is a software trick. The more you turn the volume up, the more distortion you get.
And the same dangers of listening to loud music apply here.
Furthermore, overriding Bluetooth headphones like this puts an additional strain on the battery.
It’ll reduce your battery life, but that’s the least of your concerns.
It could make the headphones overheat. If you turn the volume up extremely high, you’ll kill the headphones.
4. Wired Headphones Sound Better When You Override Them
To continue the topic of overriding headphones, let’s talk about sound quality when you increase the volume beyond the limit.
All wireless headphones will suffer from the same problems.
They’ll heat up, the battery life will be drastically shorter, and your music will sound distorted.
That’s because the manufacturer never intended for you to increase the volume beyond the maximum.
At best, you’ll get a 10-20% volume increase before serious problems start to show.
Don’t get me wrong, that’s a huge difference. But the smooth, balanced sound of your expensive Bluetooth headphones will be out of whack.
Overheating can happen on wired headphones too, but only when the volume is excessively high.
Nonetheless, the sound quality will stay more or less the same. Distortion kicks in only at a very high volume.
If you’re looking for a high-end amp/DAC combo for your headphones, I got the right product for you.
The FiiO E10K DAC and Amplifier (available on Amazon.com) is a gorgeous unit. It’s sleek and made of brushed aluminum.
Your headphones will sound amazing even when you turn the volume knob all the way up.
5. Some Wireless Headphones Get Much Louder Than Others
There are thousands of different wireless headphones that have come out over the past few years.
We usually sort wireless headphones into three separate categories:
- Over-ear headphones. These types of headphones cover your whole ear. They typically offer the best sound experience at the cost of size and weight.
- On-ear headphones. This design is more popular for Bluetooth headphones because they’re much smaller than over-ear ones. As the name says, they sit on the ear.
- In-ear headphones. We also call these earbuds. They have a few different styles, but most of them use ear tips.
The differences in volume are huge between these three types. In-ear headphones are the quietest because they fit deep inside your ear canal.
Over-ear headphones have to get much louder if you want to hear them. I like to think of them as speakers that sit on your ears.
On-ear headphones are similar to over-ear ones in this regard. But they can get away with a slightly lower max volume for the same loudness.
You should pick the type based on what your preference is, but focus on comfort first.
Let’s say you want in-ear headphones.
The classic AirPods design looks nice, but earbuds with ear tips get much louder.
That’s because the ear tips create a tight seal inside the ear canal and don’t leak much sound.
Next, we have to look at brands. Nearly all headphone or phone manufacturers have their own wireless headphones nowadays.
Some get much louder than others. But since manufacturers won’t tell us a number, you’ll have to look at reviews of the products.
If a reviewer says that they get loud, you’ll have to trust them on their word. If reviewers are complaining about low volume, don’t buy those earbuds.
The loudest pair I’ve tried is the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus (available on Amazon.com). Not only do they get loud, but they sound great too.
They also have a large battery and a minimalist design.
You can get a very loud sound both from wired and wireless headphones.
However, wired headphones tend to sound better and have fewer issues when you override them.
If you want loud wireless headphones, look for a pair that’s loud from the get-go.
Increasing the volume further with an app is possible but not advisable.