BlueTooth A2DP Headsets, why they suck and what you can do about it?

Recently I bought a pair of Creative WP-350’s. I mainly (only) wanted these to listen to Music on.

I’ve had them for a while now, and to be completely frank, they’ve been the cause of most of my day to day computing headaches. They’ve been frustrating as hell to work with, but can we really blame the headset?

There is nothing wrong with the headset

We cannot blame the headset, it implements the BT protocol perfectly, Creative have done a good job creating these headsets, read the whole post, and you’ll see why the headset is not at fault.

The receiver hardware too isn’t the problem

You might think because most laptops and phones sport a wide range of BT hardware receivers, that surely we can start blaming the receiver hardware, some are good and some are bad? Right? Well yes and no. But usually if your BT device is giving problems, stuttering sound, sound cut offs, disconnects etc, it too isn’t the receiver hardware that is the problem

So why does bluetooth audio suck so badly?

The key to all your woes, and the number 1 cause is a) the drivers for your operating system and b) the BT stack installed in your operating system.

This can be proven with my current setup.

I’ve installed Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, Linux Mint (Bluez4), Linux Arch (Bluez5), at the same time I have an Android Google Nexus 10, a Samsung Galaxy Tab, and a ZTE Blade (all running Android).

Amazingly on the same laptop with a different OS my BT experience is like night and day. I will tell you up front that regardless of OS – No implementation gets it just right, except Android.

Windows 8.1 : Sound quality was terrible, skipping, stuttering, etc.

Windows 8.0 : Sound quality was ok, skipping and stuttering.

Windows 7 : Unable to detect, updated to latest driver, could pair, sound was cutting off, no skipping. Sound disconnects while audio sink remains connected – unusable for the most part.

Android : Easy to detect, easy to pair, easy to repair, sound quality awesome, no stuttering or skipping.

You’re not shit out of luck.

When it comes to A2DP, the last thing you want to rely on is the operating systems bluetooth implementation or the manufacturers drivers. The very people who are creating the experience very seldom get it right.

Luckily there is hope, in the form of a special type of BT dongle for Creative Products. The Creative Bluetooth Audio BT-D1, could mean the difference between throwing away those BT headsets, or actually enjoying the experience.

Why it’s better?

When you plug in the creative Bluetooth Audio BT-D1 dongle, essentially what you’re connecting is a USB audio device, the OS is not away of the BT implementation, this is all encapsulated in the dongle. For this reason regardless of OS, the BT stack and drivers always reside on the USB device. This dongle is specifically designed for Audio too. And it’s the best hope in hell BT wireless has got at being OS agnostic, and work out of the box nearly perfectly every time.

Even the pairing no longer happens on the laptop, You pair directly with the dongle, not through software.

Another most excellent piece of news is that it does not support hands free telephony, for this reason it can only connect to the High Fidelity Audio profile. Say goodbye to that low resolution radio sound.

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4 thoughts on “BlueTooth A2DP Headsets, why they suck and what you can do about it?

  1. It is a sad state. I can remember ages ago when there was a lot of fan fare about the potential for Bluetooth devices. Your story is all too common. I have a new Bluetooth speaker that I got as a present. Just like in your case the connectivity and audio quality of the connection is poor. The speaker and laptop are only months old and support the latest “4.0” hardware. I cannot edit the output frequency, and the connection is hidden in Windows 8.1s poor implementation. And there is no reasonable software solution.

  2. Great post. You certainly sparked my hopes. My OS to is suffering from poor Bluetooth support. I’m on fedora 20 on my aspire s3 laptop. In all your listed OS’s you seamed to have left out Linux support for Creative’s BT-D1. Does it work out of the box with current Linux distros?

    • Yes it works out of the box but it’s possible you might have to tweak volume controls a bit so that the sound is not too low.

      • Thanks for your response. I crossed my fingers and went ahead and ordered it last week. I’m still waiting for delivery from UK to DK.

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