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Why Do Wired Headphones Need Batteries to Function? - Headphone University

Why Do Wired Headphones Need Batteries to Function?

by Josh Koop | Last Updated:   2 months ago
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While many wired headphones don’t require batteries, many do. Which leads you to the question of why do wired headphones need batteries since they are already connected?

Wired headphones have passive speakers without power to drive better sound, when you add batteries into the mix you allow the ability to have higher quality speakers and audio drivers. This in turn generates a much better overall sound quality along with the chance for noise cancelling and other benefits.

The heart of the matter is, why do wired headphones need batteries? The answer to this question can be very confusing and complicated depending on how well you know electronics. Headphones are a fascinating invention, presenting all the advantages of an excellent personal environment to a person’s ears without being isolated and shut off from what’s happening around them.

Headphones are also getting thinner, lighter and wireless thanks to technology – making them easier than ever before!

Black wired headphones on glass table with red wires running to headphone jack
Black wired headphones on glass

Wired Headphones and Batteries

Many headphones that are wired do not require a power supply to be provided. They can be plugged into a device and used right away. This allows the user to use any time and in almost any location. The downside is that using headphones in this way negatively affects the quality of sound.

When wired headphones utilize batteries, they can help remove or cancel out outside sound as you listen to your favorite podcast, music, or are attending an online class or Zoom session.

Why Do Some Wired Headphones Need Batteries?

With the prevalence of the various smart technologies that are commonly used, many wired headphones need additional battery power to properly function.

While the majority of wired headphones receive their power from the device they are using to listen, be it a smartphone, portable music listening device, or laptop, it is becoming more common for headphones to require additional power to provide the best listening experience.

Reasons for Battery Use with Wired Headphones

The majority of wired headphones that are in active use receive and utilize power through their wires and cords. Many headphones may require the additional power provided by batteries, to provide power for features such as signal transmission, built-in amplifiers, noise cancellation, and the powering of drivers.

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Wired headphones that require batteries usually use AA or AAA batteries. Frequently, headphones with wires feature rechargeable batteries. When used with noise-cancelling headphones, the battery life remains relatively long, usually lasting 18-30 hours per charge.

When using average-priced headphones that are Bluetooth compatible, the batteries may last 8-15 hours between charges. Higher-end Bluetooth headphones can offer upwards of 35+ hours of listening before needing a new charge.

Power for Additional Features

In situations where a set of wired headphones does require batteries, the batteries are utilized for the additional features of the headphones.

The headphones are not only being powered by the device they are plugged into, but also by the batteries. Batteries give additional power support to wired headphones.

Wireless headphones may have most of the same features that wired headphones possess, have no back-up power for support, whereas wired headphones have back-up power from the batteries.

Accentuating the Low-End

Some of the popular wired headphone models are preferred by DJs and musical professionals because they accentuate the “low-end”, or bass, of the music being played.

These types of headphones contain active amplifiers. Active amplifiers make the speakers work harder and play louder than the more traditional passive headphones.

These headphones require a source for power besides the device they are connected to. Built-in batteries can provide this additional source of power. 

Noise Cancelling Headphones

Wired headphones that have noise-cancelling technology contain intricate circuitry that is built-in and require an additional power source to operate the internal mechanisms and the microphones that are contained in the headphone set.

Headphones with Subwoofers

Some headphones contain subwoofers. Subwoofers take a lot of power. They require too much power for a mobile device to provide without experiencing a power drain.

The internal transducers use electromagnetic induction to convert the audio signals into sound waves. These subwoofers work in a similar way to headphones that use drivers. They do require more power, though.

Wired Headphones — Most Do Not Require Batteries

Most wired headphones do not require batteries. They work without a power source because they contain a miniature set of passive speakers. The signal, be it from a laptop, mobile device, or another audio source, produces energy from electrical energy and pulses to vibrate the speaker cone.

Standard wired headphones are usually less expensive than wireless headphones. They can be plugged into a device or smartphone, for a quick start to the listening experience. For true audiophiles, wired headphones are the most popular choice.

Premium wired headphones have long been a standard of musicians and music producers in the recording studio. Recent innovations in technology have dramatically improved the sound quality produced by these wired headphones, further increasing the popularity of quality wired ones.

Wired Headphones Preferred

True audiophiles and music afficionados are always searching for audio components that produce the best sound quality possible. Manufacturers have heeded this cry and are consistently looking to improve the sound quality and qualities that musicians and audiophiles are looking for.

Musicians and audiophiles have a true passion for the sound that is being produced. They want the listening experience to sound as natural and lifelike as possible. They are very particular about their music components and look for the highest quality available on the market.

Quality is Costly

High-quality wired headphones can be costly. The more bells, whistles, and features that the headphones possess, the higher quality the sound is. The higher the quality is, the higher the price is. For discerning listeners, lower quality components simply will not do.

Wireless headphones are generally not the choice for true musical experts. Even with the best technology, wireless headphones are not high quality enough to satisfy their listening needs. 

Wired or Wireless — The Choice Is Yours

When looking for and ultimately purchasing headphones, users need to consider their key needs. Is convenience or sound quality more important? Is cost a major concern when making a choice, or is the sky the limit? Stellar sound comes at a price.

Is mobility and the ability to not be ‘tethered’ to a music source crucial to the purchaser. Wired headphones provide the best sound quality, by far. When a comparison is made between wireless and wired headphones of similar prices, wired headphones come out on top.

Purchasers should consider…sound quality vs. convenience? Do you want the best sound possible, or is the ability to not be attached to the sound source more important? Wired or wireless? The choice is yours to make. For serious audiophiles, musicians, and music lovers, wired headphones may be the right choice.

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