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Expanding audio horizons: the power of Ultrawide Band technology in headphones

Bluetooth has been the go-to wireless connectivity technology for decades. It’s used in a vast array of consumer electronics, from mobile phones to speakers, and is both convenient and widely available. But Ultrawide Band, or UWB, is another wireless technology that is now breaking into the world of headphones. For applications that require faster speeds and greater dependability, UWB is emerging as the sought-after solution.  

What makes UWB so good? 

UWB is not a new technology. It’s been used for its precise spatial and directional capabilities for decades, often appearing in military and industrial applications. But it didn’t enter the world of personal electronics until 2019, when Apple used the technology in its U1 chip for location-tracking in the iPhone 11. 

UWB’s strengths lie in its ability to transmit data across a broad range of frequency bands. It uses pulse frequency modulation to encode data and delivers it through 32-128 pulses, resulting in data speeds ranging from 7 to 27 megabits per second. UWB also incorporates MIMO distributed antenna technology, extending short-range networks' range and stability. Plus, it can do this while consuming less energy than other wireless technologies. This makes UWB great at short-range transmission applications such as audio and data transfer, as well as location tracking and real-time device tracking systems.  

These higher frequencies and wider bandwidth make it less susceptible to interference and provide more precision in both line-of-sight and non-line-of-sight circumstances. UWB can serve multiple devices simultaneously while avoiding other wireless traffic in the same spectrum.  

New advancements pushing UWB to greater availability 

UWB hasn’t yet infiltrated the headphones space due to body-blocking issues, but this will soon change. With the introduction of AntennaWare’s BodyWave antenna, UWB can begin to be integrated into headphones. While Bluetooth will retain its widespread appeal, UWB will be an increasingly attractive option for prosumers, providing genuine high-resolution wireless audio through codecs such as SCL6.   

The launch of PSB headphones that support UWB through BodyWave is close on the horizon. The headphones will offer a massive amount of bandwidth, providing lossless hi-res audio of up to 24-bit/192kHz and beyond. Despite their limited range in comparison to Bluetooth, UWB’s low power advantage means the headphones will have a healthy battery life. 

Because of the fast data speeds of UWB, the need for sound compression is eliminated. UWB-enabled headphones offer wired-like sound quality without the cords, making them a transformative option for audiophiles. Consumers can anticipate higher power conservation, greater audio quality, and longer battery life with UWB headphones powered by SPARK transceivers. For good reason, UWB is primed to be a truly disruptive force in the premium headphones space. 

In a nutshell 

Recent innovations in Bluetooth codecs have led to some impressive results in improved audio quality and battery life. But with breakthroughs like the BodyWave antenna and MQair codec, UWB is now able to enter the headphones space. UWB’s ability to transmit clean, immersive audio makes it a great option for prosumers and audiophiles. Or in other words, those who simply want wireless audio without any losses. 

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Olivia Lowden

About the author

Olivia Lowden

Olivia Lowden is responsible for the long-form content, press, and partnerships at Futuresource. Prior to her career at Futuresource, she completed an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, demonstrative of her lifelong love of words.

Saranraj Mathivanan

About the author

Saranraj Mathivanan

Saranraj is a Senior Market Analyst in the Personal Electronics team. He has about six years of experience in market research and consulting. He is responsible for analysing and reporting trends in consumer electronics such as headphones, hearables and smartphones. In the past, Saran worked with the B2B and Technology teams at Kantar, where he managed and executed more than 80 customised market research projects across various sectors such as e-commerce, technology, logistics, automotive, engineering, etc. Projects he handled included market sizing, competitor analysis, demand estimation, forecasting, and brand equity. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Electrical & Electronics Engineering and an MBA in Marketing & Analytics.


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