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I'm finally catching up w/ the 21st century and bought my first pair of truly wireless earbuds: the Sony WF-1000XM3.

My issue is that audio quality degrades significantly when I connect them to my computer and enable the microphone. To do this, I have to switch from High Fidelity Playback (A2DP Sink) to Headset Unit (HSP/HFP), which forces the output to go from Stereo to Mono.

For ~$200+, I was hoping to have better audio quality than my cheap wired earbuds+mic. I already bought 2 other earbuds at different price points and noticed similar or worse issues. Tried with Airpods Pro as well, but since I'm not on a Mac, I could never get the mic working.

In short, I'm wondering if things change significantly with something like the Sennheiser Momentum 2 (or higher price point), or if I should consider non-truly wireless earphones, if I want quality audio and mic?

4 Answers 4

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Each A2DP "service" is Mono-Directional.

A typical device using the A2DP profile for music will not support more than one service (i.e. audio stream), but it's possible. This would need a more complicated chipset so it may not be suitable for the size constraints of "truly wireless" earbuds.

Unfortunately I can't recommend any headphones that do this because I haven't found a pair myself. It is often cheaper/simpler for the headset to switch to HSP for bi-directional audio.

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    Thanks, Romen. I think I'll have to go the gaming headset route, which use USB+wireless adapter to support high quality audio and mic simultaneously.
    – Khashir
    Sep 17, 2020 at 20:25
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The solution seems to be to buy earbuds that support a USB Bluetooth adapter, like the ones a wireless gaming headset would use (search for "Lag-Free Wireless Audio" to read about the included adapter).

According to this reddit thread (2020-07), the Jabra Elite 75t can be hooked up to the Jabra Link 370, which increase range and:

"Sound quality features such as HD voice, HiFi Audio and A2DP for crystal-clear sound for calls and music."

However, I haven't tried this myself, and Jabra Link devices are not officially supported by Jabra to work with earbuds (only headsets and speakers), so YMMV.

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  • The Jabra Link still uses bluetooth, so it is still limited to the A2DP or HSP problem. Not sure if they have some proprietary improvements for their HSP mode. The Plantronics/Poly BT600 do that, they do HSP with stereo sound, though it is still limited to the 8 KHz bandwidth limit of HSP, instead of 20 KHz needed for hifi audio.
    – JanKanis
    Oct 26, 2022 at 15:13
  • Note that there are bluetooth and non-bluetooth usb wireless adapters. For lag free (and good sound with microphone) you need the non-bluetooth type, those use a proprietary wireless protocol that is not bluetooth.
    – JanKanis
    Oct 26, 2022 at 16:04
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Galaxy Buds Pro support this. Uncomfortable as hell, but good sound, good mic and support simultaneous HSP and A2DP.

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The A2DP or HSP choice is afaik a limitation of the bluetooth standard itself. You'll need to wait for an update of the standard for that to be fixed, but I'm not aware of such an update being in the works. Perhaps some company will come with a proprietary mode that improves this. The Plantronics/Poly headsets with the BT600 dongle do that to an extent, with that dongle they can run in HSP mode with stereo sound, but the sound is still limited to a 16 KHz sampling rate instead of the 44.1 for hifi sound, so that is clearly audible. If that is good enough, there is the Poly Voyager 6200 UC if you can live with a neckband.

As you figured out, you will want to look for a wireless gaming headset. The connection is often described as 2.4GHz, lag free, or uncompressed. It appears that wireless gaming earbuds (truly wireless or with ears connected) with such a connection do not exist. Keep watch of this SoundGuys page, especially the Notable Mentions section, if you want to find out if the situation changes. They update their "best of" pages when new headsets come out. Currently it says the Epos GTW 270 Hybrid is the only pair of true wireless gaming earbuds on the market today, and importantly its microphone doesn't function when connected to the 2.4GHz dongle.

edit I realized there is a bluetooth technology that supports this. It's called the faststream codec, though it is not really a new codec, just a different configuration of the standard SBC codec. Unfortunately it is very hard to find faststream supporting headsets. Google found the Creative Outlier Sports, though it is not true wireless. You'll also need a bluetooth audio dongle that supports faststream, because current desktops and phones don't.

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