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Understanding Quality Difference Between Bluetooth Quality and Basic Streamer

Joe Smith

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I have a rather basic "transmission quality" question, and thought I'd ask for clarification and advice here - regarding whether it would be worth it for me to purchase a WiiM Mini/Regular streamer to add to my inputs...(not much money, but I don't want to buy unless there's a strong advantage)...

We are in a 1916 home, and the walls are plaster and lath, which makes networking a bit of an issue. Our Verizon modem/router is set for best line of sight pickup in an upstairs study, it has a wired connection only to my wife's PC in that same room and it also sends wireless signal sufficiently through the house to TVs for entertainment streaming, my desktop in a separate workroom, etc.

I currently do most music streaming in my workroom from Windows PC (Spotify/Amazon HD) to a DAC (currently using JDS Labs Atom+) to amp to speakers. I enjoy using the PC interface for this "through the day" listening. (I used to get intermittent signal dropouts using Amazon HD, but no more - not sure what changed, but the wireless works OK now.)

But in my other setups, in downstairs rooms, when I stream I mainly use my iphone or Amazon Fire tablet as source, using Bluetooth to a BT mini receiver (SMSL AO 100 amp/BT, Logitech receiver, or BE-RCA receiver) connected to an amp. I can use a PC with DAC to amp on occasion, but having to set up the laptop and DAC means I usually don't go this route.

Assuming that a WiiM device is strong enough to connect wirelessly to my network in those rooms...would I get significantly better transmission quality/data than via BT for those situations? It's the less critical, more casual listening time (dinner, parties, back porch) but still want sound to be as good as it can be.
 

staticV3

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Assuming that a WiiM device is strong enough to connect wirelessly to my network in those rooms...would I get significantly better transmission quality/data than via BT for those situations?
Technically better, but not significantly.
 

Timcognito

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In my house WiFi is stronger so it goes farther without disruption and as staticV3 said better but I can't really tell the SQ difference. Also its easier to mesh access points with WiFi.
 

Timcognito

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antcollinet

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As long as you are using the better BT codecs (AAC on apple, or Aptx/LDAC on android), then you probably won't detect difference between that and streamed lossless.

Even if you can detect a difference it is unlikely to be significant enough for it to matter.
 
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Joe Smith

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As long as you are using the better BT codecs (AAC on apple, or Aptx/LDAC on android), then you probably won't detect difference between that and streamed lossless.

Even if you can detect a difference it is unlikely to be significant enough for it to matter.
Is there an easy way for me to know what codec my iphone is using to send - will it always default to AAC? I think my receivers are regular Aptx, not Aptx HD capable.
 

recycle

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Bluetooth is not any good for hi fidelity transmissions, this is due to data compression. Also Bluetooth add latency to signal: in case of watching video with it, there will be an out of sync issue
 

amirm

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As long as you are using the better BT codecs (AAC on apple, or Aptx/LDAC on android), then you probably won't detect difference between that and streamed lossless.
AAC on both iOS and Android sounds bad to me and presents significant degradation. Maybe not everyone is sensitive to it but the loss in quality is definitely there. LDAC on the other hand, sounds superb. So statement above in my book should only apply to LDAC.

Regardless, if you have Wifi working, I would absolutely use that instead of any bluetooth.
 

amirm

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kemmler3D

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BT is worse than Wifi streaming, but for most people it's not super noticeable.

One thing to maybe consider is that if you are moving around with your phone / tablet while streaming to the receiver, the BT signal might degrade and you'll get dropouts and/or lower bitrates (depending on BT codec) which can be very bad and noticeable. So in that sense the WiiM has an advantage, since as long as it has a wifi signal, you'll get full quality or nothing.
 
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Joe Smith

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BT is worse than Wifi streaming, but for most people it's not super noticeable.

One thing to maybe consider is that if you are moving around with your phone / tablet while streaming to the receiver, the BT signal might degrade and you'll get dropouts and/or lower bitrates (depending on BT codec) which can be very bad and noticeable. So in that sense the WiiM has an advantage, since as long as it has a wifi signal, you'll get full quality or nothing.
My phone or tablet is usually in fixed position by the receiver, so the BT signal drop is not much of an issue...if playing for a long time, I usually have the phone or tablet wall-plugged anyway to keep the battery high.

Looks like my little SMSL AO100 does have AAC codec, but the other two little receivers I use just have Aptx and SBC. So, I'm not getting the best quality from those for sure.

I may buy a used WiiM for around $60 and give it a try...would be easier than setting up laptop & extra DAC in those setups.

May also try seeing if I can get my tablet to use LDAC for the time being...?

Thanks for all the responses!
 

amirm

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Looks like my little SMSL AO100 does have AAC codec, but the other two little receivers I use just have Aptx and SBC. So, I'm not getting the best quality from those for sure.
My testing shows SBC to be superior to AAC so that is not a bad thing at all.
 

GGroch

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Joe asked about transmission quality of Bluetooth vs Wiim WiFi and received excellent answers.

Other Wiim benefits not asked about are more important to my use.
- 1st the includes of a high quality Graphic EQ. Wiim Promises a Parametric EQ this month. There are ways to do this from some Phone/Tablet sources, but usually not ways that are specific to the downstairs speakers. If this PEQ upgrade happens, buying a cheap calibrated mike and using a free Laptop program like REW would let you accurately EQ any room you equip with a Wiim. If you are not doing that now, it would probably provide more accuracy enhancement than Bluetooth/Wifi transmission will.

- The ability to stream from any of your upstairs sources, and link them into a whole home system when needed, like while entertaining or during a big game
- The ability for your streaming to not be interrupted if you get a phone call or your battery dies.
Joe, you seem quite sophisticated and may have known all of these things, but I bet the primary reasons many of us use Wiim/Chromecast/Squeezbox is not transmission quality.
 

staticV3

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My testing shows SBC to be superior to AAC so that is not a bad thing at all.
Afaik your public testing of BT Codecs has so far been limited to 1kHz SINAD, which on its own may not be entirely fair to codecs that are tuned based on psychoacoustics.

Case in point: here's a blind listening test that suggests AAC has slightly fewer audible compression artefacts, especially at lower bitrates.
25sbc-all-en2x.png
 

antcollinet

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AAC on both iOS and Android sounds bad to me and presents significant degradation. Maybe not everyone is sensitive to it but the loss in quality is definitely there. LDAC on the other hand, sounds superb. So statement above in my book should only apply to LDAC.

Regardless, if you have Wifi working, I would absolutely use that instead of any bluetooth.
It must be a real pain in the ass to have been trained to hear the problems with compressed audio.

I consider myself fortunate not to have that problem. I love my AirPod pros - especially the transparency mode for cycling. :p
 

Devon Howard

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Oh those codecs! First encounter with Bluetooth was when I fed CD via a little TX to Phonak BT hearing aids. Grain I have learned to ignore, despite a BBC training, but this setup gave me wow and flutter! The codec in the TX and Phonaks is A2DP, and I discovered on Google that instantaneous pitch-change is common enough on BT devices because of processing/recovery delays. All too evident on piano, and on dense texture. So, back to ancient Philips FM analogue cans. Chunky but sweet.
 
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Joe Smith

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I did buy one, got for about $64 shipped (used as new) from the 'bay. Very easy setup, I am enjoying using it with Spotify. I do get good WiFi pickup in all of the rooms where I want to use it. It is a nice pairing with my various class D amps. Very easy to use Spotify Connect to hook to it. Their setup software is very slick.

Have not yet tried to output via the optical jack to a separate DAC, but I will probably fiddle with that sometime.

Main advantage for me is some savings of phone battery. I can either send to the mini from my main PC or from my iPhone. I use a small iPhone at present (SE 2016 model) so the battery drain is an issue. I am upgrading - slightly - to a 2022 SE next month but battery use will still be a consideration then too.

Thanks to everyone for their input. These are nice little devices, for barely more than the cost of the basic BT receivers.

If they do add a good EQ to their software, that will be another plus. I don't use any of the Spotify EQ options except, occasionally, their "acoustic" one. All of the others make the sound worse/tinnier, to my ears.

For now, I won't go down the measurements route as I'm pretty happy with my overall system/room interactions - my environments are pretty audio-friendly, at least the ones where I am listening more critically.
 
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