6 Signs It’s Time to Upgrade Your Wireless Headphones

Main points

  • Distorted sound indicates the need for new headphones; failing to upgrade may harm audio quality.
  • Shortening battery life is prompting new headphone upgrades, especially for those who are always on the move.
  • Technological advances like spatial audio encourage upgrades for a better listening experience.

In the ever-evolving world of technology, it’s crucial to keep up with the latest advancements. As wireless headphones become an integral part of our daily lives, it’s important to recognize when it’s time to upgrade.

Whether you rely on wireless headphones to enjoy a peaceful commute or to avoid the dings at the gym, or you’re a frequent traveler, spotting the telltale signs that your headphones need replacing can prevent any future disasters.

From the advent of cutting-edge features like spatial audio, to the wear and tear of everyday use, there are several signs that your wireless headphones may be in need of an update.


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As a music industry professional, I’m going to dive into six key indicators that indicate it’s time to consider updating your trusted audio companion. Whether you’re a music lover, a podcast enthusiast, or an audiobook expert, staying alert to these signs will ensure you always get the best audio experience possible.

1 The sound begins to distort

Be careful not to speed

The Sony WH-1000XM4 is located next to the phone with the Sony Headphones app open, showing the equalizer.

Today’s best headphones should be able to handle very loud volumes without even a hint of distortion. However, if your headphones are more than six years old or made with cheaper components, you may be causing irreparable damage to the drivers through overdriving.

Overdriving can cause noticeable audio distortion, often manifesting itself as a rattling or buzzing sound when you turn up the volume. Additionally, overuse may cause distortion at specific frequencies, not just at louder volumes.

Distortion isn’t just caused by misuse, over time headphones can develop defects or malfunction due to age.

2 Battery capacity gradually decreases

you need strength

AirPods Max battery

If your headphone batteries aren’t lasting as long as they once did, it might be time to consider buying new ones. Especially if you’re always on the go, hopping from one airport to the next without much opportunity to recharge. Sure, some headphones offer fast charging, but having a battery can last you a long way.


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3 There are new technologies available

Exciting innovations for enthusiasts

AirPods Max placed by the window

It’s not your old headphones’ fault, but there are some really cool innovations happening in the headphone world that might make you want to upgrade. One thing that stands out is the whole immersive spatial audio deal. I mean, listening to music in 3D space? That’s next level stuff. Take Apple’s AirPods Max, for example, which thrive on spatial audio improvements and even feature dynamic head tracking. Apple Music offers incentives for making music with Spatial Audio, so it’s no wonder they’re the leader in the over-ear industry.

One thing that stands out is the whole immersive spatial audio deal. I mean, listening to music in 3D space? That’s next level stuff.


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There are plenty of other features, like improvements to adaptive noise cancellation technology, higher bitrates for lossless audio streaming, and faster wireless charging, that might also encourage you to bite the bullet and upgrade your old wireless headphones.

4 Your headphones no longer fit your head or ears

Sitting comfortably leads to a better sound experience

A woman wears a Sony WH-1000XM4 and puts her hand on the right side to demonstrate how to activate transparency mode.

Fit is an important factor when it comes to earbuds or other in-ear monitors, but if your headphones are worn and no longer fit properly, you won’t get the great audio experience you’re after. This is especially troublesome if you’re trying to use active noise cancellation (ANC), which relies on a tight fit to work properly.


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With over-ear headphones, if you’ve been using them for many years, there’s a good chance the straps will start to loosen. Since you most likely use headphones every day, sometimes you won’t notice this right away unless you try a brand new pair. But if the band gets wobbly and loose on you, your headphones will slip around and you might miss out on the immersive audio experience you want.

5 The earmuffs are starting to wear out

Your headphones are worn out


This issue may be more of a cosmetic issue than a functional issue, but if your earmuffs are starting to get tattered and starting to wear out, it might be time to invest in a new pair. If you already own a pair of headphones and the material on the earcups or headband is starting to peel off, well done you’re definitely getting your money’s worth.


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6 Poor Bluetooth performance

Build better connections

After Onik

If your wireless headphones use an older version of Bluetooth, you may notice that the connection can be a little choppy at times. It’s frustrating when your favorite chorus is about to crescendo and your Bluetooth connection starts to stutter. So you might want to save yourself the trouble and upgrade your wireless headphones to ones that use Bluetooth 5.3, the latest version of Bluetooth.

The latest Bluetooth codecs will provide better audio performance. For example, if wireless headphones support aptX, they will run more efficiently and reduce latency.


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Strong connections aren’t the only benefit. The latest Bluetooth codecs will provide better audio performance. For example, if wireless headphones support aptX, they will run more efficiently and reduce latency. This is ideal if you like streaming or watching videos. If you go a step further and buy aptX HD-enabled headphones, you’ll notice a huge improvement in audio quality.

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