Need basic audio help re: headphone options

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by kkm9, Nov 10, 2013.

  1. kkm9 macrumors newbie

    Aug 12, 2010
    I'm a 64 yo tech dweeb, researching my first pair headphones, embarrassed by my lack of basic audio knowledge. I'm trying to decide between bluetooth HP's vs plugging a regular set of Sennheiser's (or others) into my MacBook Pro.

    My Setup:
    Music and TV/DVD/DVR audio come to me via a bluetooth signal from a Bose Wave box w/Soundlink, selected in my Sound Preferences. Handily, the Bose remote lets me switch between TV & music on its AUX button.

    Music lives in iTunes library on an external HD, connected to MacBook via USB-3. The Bose box is 10-12' from where i sit w/laptop, and it requires a bluetooth signal to connect wirelessly to my music library.

    (I know everyone hates Bose, but I migrated to that after losing patience with wire spaghetti. I wear hearing aids, and the sound is good enough for me.)


    1. If I just plug a pair of non-bluetooth HP's into my MacBook jack, and play music from iTunes, will I hear it from the HP's? Would I need to change anything with my Bose box to get the sound to come from the headphones?

    2. Research suggests any bluetooth HP's will have a lag, making TV dialogue off sync. That would annoy me. But, if I got BT HP's, would the Bose remote still work to switch between TV audio & iTunes based music?

    I just don't want a cord across my living room. I could choose to give up on getting TV audio from HP's and go with a plug-in set of headphones on my laptop. Advice?

    Input from anyone with TV experience using decent BT headphones w/TV would be appreciated.

    Thanks for your patience, if I haven't driven you off by now.
  2. kkm9 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 12, 2010
    Not sure if my question is too stupid, too simple, or too long, but it clearly doesn't belong here.

    Where should this kind of elementary inquiry be?

  3. Gofre macrumors regular

    Feb 7, 2011
    Hi :)

    There's a couple of ways you could go here, if I'm understanding your setup correctly. For a pair of wireless headphones that will work with both your TV and laptop the most seamlessly, Bluetooth is probably the best option, however I don't have enough experience with BT pairs to say whether or not the lag inherent to wireless systems will be noticeable. Next up would be a pair of wireless headphones which use a different kind of technology, for example the Kleer headphones in Sennheier's RS line. The advantage here is higher fidelity audio and (from what I can gather) no detectable lag, however the required base station/transmitter these headphones use means switching between the TV and laptop is not as simple as with Bluetooth. The third option is a pair of standard wired headphones, which although introducing unwanted cable mess will provide the best quality sound while being more cost efficient.

    How much were you looking to spend? If you could let us know your budget and music preferences I could provide a few options for each of the above usage scenarios [=
  4. kkm9 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 12, 2010
    Thank you so much for responding, Gofre! I was beginning to give up on humanity.

    I have looked at (and read reviews of) everything from Sennheiser RS120-RS180 ($100-$200) to Sony MDR1RBT Premium Bluetooth ($369 or $313 used from Amazon mktplace) to Sennheiser HD25-1 II ($200) to fancy French Parrot Zik ($350 from Amazon mktplace) to Bose AE2w Bluetooth ($250) and others in between.

    Haven't looked yet at Kleer. Don't know if Senns 'HD' 'works' just plugged into iTunes via my MacBook.

    I'm not enough of an audiophile (obviously, if I accept a Bose Wave box) to 'overdo' it with HP's which won't make the most of my iTunes library--a mix of many degrees of quality bit-rates, from older MP3's to newer up or down-loaded remasters.)

    This started with getting the new Dylan box set & wanting to listen louder than appropriate for my tenant during day. But I have 200 GB music from classical to jazz to pop to most everything but hard rock (Rolling Stones excepted).

    I would rather not have to get up and walk over to the transmitter to change from TV sound to laptop or vice versa. Hence, am considering just a pair to plug into Mac for music at my chair, leaving Bose set up as it is.

    Sorry I'm so longwinded in these days of tweet shortness, but I just can't help it. I'm old.

  5. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Seeing as you use a hearing aid, I wonder if a "hearing loop" would work for you?
    This is a system that broadcasts sound directly to your hearing aid. Many hearing aids have what's called a t-coil. Once you have this then you get a t-coil compatible telephone. The phone is silent. It uses a short distance radio to connect to the hearing aid. This same system works in airports and train stations for their PA system. Churches use them too. Also you can buy a home system for your TV and stereo. It is basically a wireless system that goes direct to your hearing aid. The system is standardized so it works in public spaces, your hem, many phones have this too.

    This page has many links to more info.

    You have to tell your Mac where to send the sound. You can select using the "audio midi setup" app. If you tell it to send the audio data to the Mac's builtin output them it goes to the Mac's built-in speakers unless a headphone jack is plugged in, then it goes to the headphones.

    How does the audio get from the Mac to the Bose unit?.

    Then route it along the edges of the room along the baseboard or pay an electrician to install wires user the floor or whatever.

    Also an analog wireless link will have zero delay. Several companies make these and there is not lag. Digital needs to be buffered, analog doesn't.
  6. kkm9 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 12, 2010
    Thanks, Chris for responding. I will investigate hearing loop for future reference. A bit beyond me at the moment. My HA's cost $3000 and would not accommodate this. New pair is prohibitive at the moment.

    Is 'audio midi setup' app something I download from the net?

    By bluetooth signal. Bluetooth headphone transmitter would plug into back of Bose box, making it feasible to use its remote to switch between TV audio & computer audio (I think).

    I'd choose plug-into-laptop headphones before going to that cost and trouble, and just not use them for the TV.

    Is sound of analogue as good as digital?

    Again, I appreciate your bothering with this.
  7. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Is 'audio midi setup' app something I download from the net?

    It is an app that is one your Mac already.

    Is sound of analogue as good as digital?

    It depends. There are good and poor of each. In the end all audio is analog as it must be converted to analog before it cam by amplified and sent to a cable to drive speakers (OK maybe a class D amplifier is an exception? but I argue not.)

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