(Last Updated On: February 22, 2021)

An in-depth look at what causes Bluetooth interference, and the proactive steps that you can take to avoid it.

Bluetooth interference can cause your wireless headphones to stutter, audio skip, and even disconnect entirely. This can be a pain when all you want to do is listen to some music or watch a movie.

This problem becomes especially irritating when you’re doing something important, like dialing into a work call or getting some mid-commute studying in. It can really disrupt your productivity.

That’s why, this article aims to save you from all that. Here, we’ll talk about Bluetooth interference, and how you can avoid it.

Frustrated man wearing wireless headphones (From: Pexels)
A frustrated man wearing Airpods (From: Pexels)

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What Is a Bluetooth Interference

Bluetooth is a type of wireless connection that’s found in a lot of devices these days. But despite its popularity, it’s not perfect. One of the most common problems that Bluetooth users experience is Bluetooth interference.

Based on the name itself, this problem happens when something (tangible or not) ‘interferes’ with the Bluetooth connection. Common signs of Bluetooth interference include:

  • Hearing a static sound: When other devices in your proximity are using the 2.4GHz frequency, you may occasionally hear static or buzzing sounds. This happens because of the activity happening on the same frequency, which overlaps with the connection between your devices.
  • Sound delays: Unlike wired headphones, your audio needs to be compressed and travel through frequencies from your audio source to your headphone speakers when using Bluetooth headphones. And just like when you’re traveling from one place to another, interruptions cause delays on your estimated arrival time. In the case of Bluetooth headphones, it can result in audio that sounds like it’s a step behind everything else.
  • Connection dropping: Bluetooth interference can cause your Bluetooth connection to intermittently disconnect. This can be the result of a physical obstruction that’s preventing a reliable connection between your two paired devices. When this happens, your device will disconnect, and attempt to reconnect until it does so successfully.

Why Do Bluetooth Interferences Happen

Man wearing wireless headphones (From: Pexels)
Man wearing wireless headphones (From: Pexels)

There are a few reasons why Bluetooth interference occurs. Moreover, sometimes it can even be a combination of multiple reasons. Below are some of the primary causes:

Wi-Fi

Your average Wi-Fi router uses the 2.4GHz frequency to talk to other devices on the network. Bluetooth uses the same frequency. Because of this, Wi-Fi connections can overlap with Bluetooth and cause interference.

This is why Bluetooth can perform poorly in dense, urban areas like cities due to the amount of Wi-Fi signals in the area.

Microwave ovens and fluorescent lights

When in operation, microwaves emit electromagnetic waves that disrupt the 2.4GHz wavelength. Just being near a working microwave can cause connection loss. A similar problem can be found with fluorescent lights.

Physical obstructions

Bluetooth is a wireless connection. This means it’s vulnerable to connection loss if there are objects between the devices. Some materials can absorb or reflect wireless signals more than others.

This chart is helpful in knowing what materials to avoid when using Bluetooth.

Low InterferenceMedium InterferenceHigh InterferenceVery High Interference
WoodWaterPlasterMetal
GlassBricksConcrete 
Synthetic MaterialsMarbleBulletproof Glass 

Range

Bluetooth devices are sorted into groups based on the power needs of their Bluetooth chip. This affects how far they can broadcast.

  • Class 3 has an intended range of less than 10 meters.
  • Class 2 has an intended range of 10 meters or 33 feet.
  • Class 1 has an intended range of 100 meters or 328 feet.
Most Bluetooth headsets are Class 2 devices, so it’s best to stay within 33 feet when connected.

As your connected device moves farther, you’ll notice more connection drops. When out of range, the device will disconnect completely.

Firmware needs updating

Up-to-date firmware ensures you’re receiving the latest patches, hotfixes, and compatibility fixes. With outdated firmware, your Bluetooth functionality could be patchy. And, it can leave your device susceptible to bugs that might already be fixed by developers.

How to Avoid Bluetooth Interference and Improve Your Connection

Student studying while wearing wireless headphones (From: Pexels)
Student studying while wearing wireless headphones (From: Pexels)

If Bluetooth interference holds you back in your daily activities, here are a few tips on how to fix this issue:

Find out what causes the interference

This step is the most critical because you need to know where to start before you can implement a solution. There are two ways you can go about doing this.

Turn other devices off and on again.

A simple (but effective) way of isolating the interfering device. Turn a device off, then check for interference. If there’s still interference, turn the device back on, and repeat with the next device. Continue this process until you find the device that was causing interference.

Using third-party apps

Third-party apps, like Netspot and Bluetooth Smart Scanner, allow you to see if any wireless interference is occurring by scanning the wireless channels in your area.

Turn other wireless devices off

Other wireless devices can affect the connection, as they may use the same wavelength.

Devices like wireless speakers, baby monitors, and microwaves can cause interference. Wi-Fi routers also influence your Bluetooth connection.

Once you’ve done the previous step, you should be able to identify the device that’s causing the interference. If possible, turn this device off when using Bluetooth is prioritized. But, sometimes turning specific devices off may not be practical. In this case, moving further away from them can also help.

Stay within the range limit

The range limit for most Bluetooth headphones is 33 feet. If you’re farther than 33 feet from your device, your Bluetooth connection will slowly break down. To get the most out of your headphones, keep the two devices close together.

However, not all headphones are limited to a range of 33 feet. You can check the range of your headphones by reading the manual, or by reaching out to the manufacturer.

For those who prioritize range more than anything else, you may try headphones with RF connection instead of Bluetooth. These headphones work great, especially when connecting to TV.

Stay away from obvious obstructions

As mentioned, it’s best practice to have both Bluetooth devices close to each other at all times. Some obstructions are worse than others, with metal being the worst.

But, even your own body can act as an obstruction. Your body contains a lot of water, which can be known to interfere with Bluetooth connections. To maintain a strong connection, keep a clear line of sight between the audio source and your Bluetooth headphones.

Do a reset regularly

Resetting your headphones every month or so (or, when you’re experiencing issues) helps fix connectivity issues.

Over time, some Bluetooth headphones build a cache of the devices that they’ve paired with. This can cause them to default to other devices when you’re trying to connect. Resetting them removes this cache, and resets all other settings.

Change your WiFi’s channel

The 2.4GHz wavelength contains multiple channels. You can help free up channels by specifying a channel for your Wi-Fi to operate on. You can change your Wi-Fi channel in the settings of your router. Consult the manufacturer’s website for specific instructions.

Most routers also allow you to connect using the 5GHz frequency. This frequency doesn’t interfere with your Bluetooth connection.

Update your firmware

Keeping your firmware updated is imperative. Updates include bug and compatibility fixes. Without them, you may encounter bugs, performance issues, or connectivity issues.

Make it a habit to commonly check for updates on your phone, as well as any other devices used with your headphones.

Conclusion

Now that you’ve figured out what causes Bluetooth interference, you have a better chance to combat it. If it’s something that you can’t fix immediately, at least you’re aware of how to avoid it going forward.

What was causing Bluetooth interference for you? Let us know in the comments.