Bluetooth utilizes radio waves to transmit information.
But so do RF (radio frequency) devices, many of which operate at 2.4 GHz.
This begs the question: Is Bluetooth better than 2.4 GHz?
Bluetooth isn’t necessarily better or worse than 2.4 GHz; rather, it’s an expression of the frequency. Bluetooth signals transmit at 2.4 GHz, as do many RF (radio frequency) headsets and speakers. The differences between Bluetooth and 2.4 GHz audio devices are audio quality, latency, and range.
This article goes deeper into answering this question, as it can be somewhat complicated.
After all, Bluetooth operates at 2.4 GHz, and comparing Bluetooth against 2.4 GHz RF devices may offer some answers.
Overall, the better option depends on your specific preferences and intended uses.
7 Factors To Consider When Choosing Between Bluetooth and 2.4 GHz
Deciding between Bluetooth and a 2.4 GHz audio device can be challenging if you’re unfamiliar with their similarities and differences.
Fortunately, you don’t need to spend hours on research.
To make the best choice for your intended uses or needs, you’ll only need to consider the following 7 essential factors:
1. Wireless Frequency
Bluetooth works by sending and receiving electromagnetic radio waves. These are invisible to the human eye.
The speed at which these waves travel depends on wavelength. But a radio signal’s wavelength is often determined by its frequency.
The higher the frequency, the shorter the resulting wavelength. And the shorter the wavelength, the faster the wave can travel.
Bluetooth radio waves travel at a frequency of 2.4 GHz. This is also the frequency that many WiFi routers and RF headsets utilize.
So, is Bluetooth better than 2.4 GHz? The answer is a resounding no, as Bluetooth operates using the 2.4 GHz frequency.
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Many devices offer Bluetooth compatibility, but some may not.
When attempting to transmit audio wirelessly, you’ll want to take this compatibility into account.
After all, while your smartphone might be able to send audio signals to your Bluetooth speaker, it might not be able to do the same thing for your television or home computer.
Wireless headsets and speakers that utilize RF technology may be the better option in terms of compatibility.
3. Audio Quality
Audio quality is one of the most crucial things to consider when searching for a high-quality headset or speaker system.
Bluetooth performs relatively well in terms of audio quality, except when attempting to raise the volume.
It’s not uncommon for transmitted audio to be somewhat quiet on a Bluetooth speaker.
RF audio devices tend to do a better job at translating radio waves into smooth, studio sound.
However, an RF headset can receive interference from other devices functioning on the same frequency.
Of course, the same is true of Bluetooth devices.
The time it takes for an audio signal to travel from its source to your eardrums varies depending on the type of technology you’re using.
RF audio devices tend to have very low latency. This means that any auditory delay is minimal.
But Bluetooth devices can have much higher latency.
Those using an Android device may lower latency by updating their Bluetooth audio codec using Qualcomm aptX.
However, those with an iOS device may be disappointed by the noticeable delay in their audio transmission.
This delay is particularly evident when viewing video via Bluetooth.
If transmission speed is an essential priority, you may want to consider opting for an RF headset or speaker system.
RF devices that transmit at higher frequencies like 5 GHz tend to have the lowest latency and most impressive range.
As such, they’re often unable to transmit audio over long distances.
If you’re hoping to enjoy some Bluetooth audio while taking a jog around your neighborhood, you’ll want to keep your smartphone in your pocket.
Devices that utilize RF tech to transmit audio tend to feature much longer transmission ranges.
For example, some RF speakers can pick up radio waves that are 300ft away.
As such, a wireless RF device could be the better option for those hoping to enjoy long-range audio or data transmission.
That said, RF headsets primarily transmit audio. Bluetooth can send audio, video, and data.
Editor’s pick: WiFi vs Bluetooth Speakers: 3 Sound Quality Comparisons
Many of the most popular handheld devices feature Bluetooth connectivity. This enables users to pair their most essential electronics with one another.
Without Bluetooth, your smartwatch wouldn’t be able to stream music from your favorite Spotify playlist.
It also wouldn’t be able to alert you to incoming calls or text messages.
RF audio devices can pick up radio signals from a wide variety of electronics. But they cannot receive data as Bluetooth-enabled devices can.
Consequently, Bluetooth is often considered to offer more excellent connectivity than RF devices.
Still, it’s crucial to remember that Bluetooth operates using a 2.4 GHz frequency.
This is the same frequency that single-band and dual-band WiFi routers utilize.
It’s not uncommon for Bluetooth connectivity to fail when enabled devices are close to a router or WiFi source.
However, RF audio devices can transmit on multiple frequencies.
Many devices include Bluetooth functionality.
However, smartphones, televisions, and wireless headphones tend to be the most common Bluetooth devices.
Transmitting data or audio between Bluetooth-enabled tech is often a straightforward, two-step process:
- Enable Bluetooth connectivity on your transmitting device.
- Select the device that should receive the transmission.
And just like that, your devices have paired.
Of course, transmitting audio to an RF headset or speaker system may not require any pairing.
That’s because many RF audio devices utilize a wired base or hub.
This base acts as a physical link between audio sources and speakers.
Additionally, RF headphones can pair with televisions, smartphones, and computers via device connectivity settings.
Essentially, Bluetooth is a specific type of technology that can only communicate with other Bluetooth-enabled devices.
However, Bluetooth only permits communication between pairs.
On the other hand, RF devices can pair with virtually any device capable of sending radio signals.
They can also receive information from multiple devices.
Choosing Between Bluetooth and RF Audio
Bluetooth operates at a 2.4 GHz signal, as do nearly all wireless RF headphones and speakers.
As such, choosing between Bluetooth and RF audio can be challenging.
Taking the time to consider your preferences and intentions can help you select an effective and satisfying option.
For example, if you’re looking for a headset that can transmit audio over long ranges (such as large office spaces), you may want to choose an RF model.
But if you want to wirelessly listen to music on your smartphone while doing chores around the house, a Bluetooth audio device might be a better choice.
Be sure to consider the above mentioned factors (audio quality, latency, range, etc.), as they’ll help guide you toward the right solution.
Bluetooth is a short-range radio signal that can wirelessly transmit audio from an electronic device to a headset or speaker.
It transmits information using a 2.4 GHz frequency.
Other types of wireless audio can also operate on this frequency.
However, RF audio devices tend to have longer ranges, shorter latencies, and they may feature superior audio quality.
Consequently, Bluetooth isn’t necessarily better or worse than 2.4 GHz. It’s simply an expression of that frequency.
After assessing each of the major categories above, you can select an option that’s right for you.