The use of Bluetooth in different devices is proven to be one of the most convenient technological innovations nowadays. Hands-free headsets, wireless mouse and keyboards, among others, make our everyday tasks easier and our workspace neater.
However, the connection in these devices causes interference with other technologies. This is why your Bluetooth headphones or earphones sometimes stutter, skip audio, or even disconnect.
This can be irritating especially when you’re in the middle of a work call or while you’re working out. How does Bluetooth device interference work and how exactly can you fix or avoid it?
This article covers everything you need to know about Bluetooth connections and interference.
What Is Bluetooth Interference?
Bluetooth technology is a type of wireless connection that is used in a lot of devices such as headsets, earphones, mouse, keyboards, etc. It works by connecting your device with a smartphone or a computer to enable the transfer of data between the two devices.
To accomplish this, Bluetooth sends signals over a 2.4GHz radio frequency covering short distances.
The problem starts when other devices nearby are also using the same frequency. Baby monitors, microwaves, wireless speakers, other Bluetooth devices and receivers, as well as Wi-Fi are some of the examples of devices with frequencies that can clash with each other. In turn, your Bluetooth device may experience different types of disruptions such as disconnections, static sounds, and audio delays. These disruptions are called Bluetooth interference.
Aside from frequency clashes, there are many other causes of interference that would be discussed later in this article.
Types of Bluetooth Interferences
There are different ways a Bluetooth connection interference can manifest in your device. Below are some examples:
If you notice that your Bluetooth device becomes frequently disconnected, it might be caused by external interference. For example, when you walk by a place with a physical obstruction, it might prevent a reliable connection between Bluetooth paired devices. It results in possible disconnection to the Bluetooth device and the inability to connect back to it.
Interruptions can cause delay, especially in Bluetooth speakers or headphones. When you use a Bluetooth device to play a song, it requires your audio to be compressed and travel through frequencies from the audio source to your headphones. If there are delays, you will notice your audio not matching your source. This is evident when playing videos or games.
Your Bluetooth device might produce static or buzzing sounds when other devices near you are using 2.4GHz frequency. This might be one of the most annoying types of interference. These sounds happen due to different activities happening on the same frequency, causing connection overlaps between devices.
Other audio interferences. This can more often be experienced in wireless earbuds. It includes skipping parts of a song you’re listening to, the whole song changing its pitch erroneously, and only one of the two buds working at some points.
Why Do Bluetooth Interferences Happen?
There are different reasons why Bluetooth interference occurs. Sometimes, it can even be a combination of these reasons. Knowing why Bluetooth interference happens will help you establish a system of solving and avoiding disruptions to happen in the future.
The most common reason for Bluetooth interferences is overlapping frequencies. For example, a common Wi-Fi router uses a 2.4GHz frequency to communicate with other devices on the network. As previously mentioned, Bluetooth uses the same frequency. This is also the reason why you would find Bluetooth interference to happen more often in urban cities where there are abundant Wi-Fi signal sources in an area.
Microwave ovens and even fluorescent lights emit electromagnetic waves that disrupt the 2.4GHz wavelength. So if you come a little too close to these devices, it may interrupt your Bluetooth connection.
Smart home devices that come with the Zigbee technology can also cause your Bluetooth device to underperform because they operate in the same spectrum.
It is common sense that the signal on your Bluetooth devices gradually becomes weaker the further a device is placed from the one it’s connected with. An example is when a Bluetooth headphone is placed in a different room from its audio source. Closing the door of the other room might cause an even weaker connection. You can often find how far your device can intercept a good connection in its box or manual.
Bluetooth connection is vulnerable to connection loss if there are objects between devices. Some materials can even absorb or reflect wireless signals. Metal objects such as metal doors, refrigerators, and metal studs in walls cause the highest interference. Bulletproof glass, concrete, and plaster are some of the examples of materials with the second-highest tendency to interfere with Bluetooth connection. Meanwhile, bricks and marble can cause medium interference. Synthetic materials such as plastic, glass, and wood are at the bottom of the list and cause the lowest interference.
Another factor that can serve as a physical barrier is the human body. The human body blocks the Bluetooth antenna of the Bluetooth device and makes it harder for Bluetooth devices to communicate. The same can be said when you use metal protective cases for your device.
Developers send in patch updates to fix bugs that users encounter and report. Without updating your firmware to the latest version, you risk your device experiencing errors, such as excessive Bluetooth interference, that may already have been solved by the latest compatibility fixes.
Does Bluetooth interfere with Wi-Fi
Yes, Bluetooth can interfere with Wi-Fi. However you shouldn’t worry too much as each has ways to handle interference. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth use the 2.4GHz ISM band, which they share with other appliances like microwave ovens. Wi-Fi transceivers can detect a busy channel, reroute data transfer, see any data loss, and re-transmit. Wi-Fi transceivers reduce the data rate transfer to improve link robustness and sensitivity to lower the interference further.
On the other hand, Bluetooth uses frequency hopping, which means it changes channel
frequencies 1600 times per second. The frequency hopping reduces the interference effect on
data transfer, such that it can isolate the channels under interference and ask for data re-transmit. So yes, interference may happen, but Wi-Fi and Bluetooth transceivers are equipped to deal with it.
Bluetooth Speaker Interference
Bluetooth speakers use the 2.4 GHz band to send and receive data. They share the same
bandwidth with other appliances such as Wi-Fi devices, microwave ovens, and fluorescent
lighting. When these appliances transfer data simultaneously, you may experience cut-outs from the speakers, otherwise referred to as interference. It causes inconvenience but is relatively easy to fix.
While Bluetooth speakers are equipped to counter interference, too many devices may be too
much to handle. You can do the following to minimize Bluetooth speaker’s interference:
- Ensure the batteries have enough charge
- Use third-party apps to check devices causing interference and switch them off if necessary
- Reset your Bluetooth devices regularly
- Switch other devices like the Wi-Fi router to different frequencies such as 5GHz that doesn’t interfere with the speakers
- Ensure you’re within the range of your Bluetooth speakers
- Update your Bluetooth speaker’s app to fix bugs
- “Forget” and pair your Bluetooth speakers again with audio devices like your phone or
- computer again.
- If the interference is still there, seek technical support.
Solving Bluetooth Interference
Repeatedly experiencing Bluetooth interference is annoying, especially nowadays where your home or office abounds with different kinds of wireless devices. Fortunately, there are ways to troubleshoot this. Below are some of the ways you can fix Bluetooth interference:
1. Find out what causes the interference. Turning your devices on and off can isolate the interfering device. If there is still interference after turning one device off, turn it on again and do the same with the other devices. Knowing what device causes interference will help you know what method to use to solve your problem.
2. Find out what causes the interference. Turning your devices on and off can isolate the interfering device. If there is still interference after turning one device off, turn it on again and do the same with the other devices. Knowing what device causes interference will help you know what method to use to solve your problem.
3. Once already paired with your default device, you can now see it in your paired devices and should be automatically connected when you turn on Bluetooth. Also, make sure if there are other issues that cause devices to fail to connect when interference doesn’t seem to be the issue.
4. Switch to external Bluetooth receivers for laptops. One way to prevent Bluetooth interference is by switching to an external Bluetooth receiver. This prevents your laptop from using both its Wi-Fi and Bluetooth feature at the same time. A small external USB Bluetooth usually costs $10 to $20.
5. Clearing cache. Clearing cache especially helps mobile devices that experience stuttering when paired with a car’s audio system. This, however, doesn’t guarantee to fix your interference problem. Aside from clearing cache, you can use the ‘forget this device’ feature in your phone’s settings. Clearing your cache every once in a while will help clean up you’re devices cached files that became corrupt over time due to subtle changes to your device’s OS.
Other Ways to Avoid Bluetooth Interference
There are ways you can do to minimize if not avoid experiencing Bluetooth interference. Being proactive saves you the hassle of dealing with different connection disruptions. The following will help you monitor your devices and avoid connection disruption:
Check your battery life
Some Bluetooth devices send signals more poorly when their battery is almost drained. This is because Bluetooth devices are completely wireless and rely heavily on battery power to transmit wireless signals. To avoid this, keep your battery level at the ideal percentage.
This problem is more prominent with some brands of audio devices so make sure to check your manual beforehand.
Use third-party apps
Some third-party apps such as Bluetooth Smart Scanner can scan wireless channels within your proximity. It then reports if there is any wireless interference occurring. This will help you find out what device is causing the disruption and what you can do about it.
Regularly reset your devices
You can set a regular schedule of resetting your Bluetooth devices. Resetting involves device reboot on both receiver devices such as smartphones and connecting devices, as well as re-pairing devices. This helps avoid connectivity issues. It also removes the cache of devices you’re paired with, along with other settings. It also helps by making sure that your device does not incorrectly connect with the wrong default device.
Turn other wireless devices off
You may have many wireless devices at home running at the same time that causes interference with your Bluetooth connection. Turning off your baby monitors, microwaves, or even your Wi-Fi routers when not in use will help you avoid this problem. This is ideal if you really need a smooth Bluetooth connection at one time. However, if these devices can’t be turned off, it’s best to just move them further away or move to a room far from them.
Change your WiFi’s channel
You can change your Wi-Fi channel to help avoid Bluetooth interference. It is helpful to know that the 2.4GHz wavelength contains different channels. Specify another channel for your Wi-Fi to operate on by altering your router’s settings. If you are not that sure how to perform this, you can contact your manufacturer for instructions or let them do it. Most routers can also allow a 5GHz frequency connection which doesn’t interfere with Bluetooth connection so make sure that you know your router’s specifications.
For true wireless audio devices, make sure to pair individual buds properly
When your audio device uses true wireless technology, it allows you to listen only to one bud at times. However, if you pair both earbuds and take one back to its charging case, it may cause a bad connection between the two and might therefore lead to interference. To solve this, you can check your device’s manual for the proper procedure for single-bud listening.
Bluetooth interference can make you feel frustrated. With Bluetooth technology becoming more and more widely used today, it’s best if you stay ahead and know how to fix or avoid this issue.
However, if you have tried and found that the methods above did not work to improve your Bluetooth problems, you might have to check it for other issues.
You’ll find that other Bluetooth problems can have the symptoms of Bluetooth interference. If this happens, you should get a professional’s opinion on your device to see what issue is causing your problems.
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