Sony mobiles are a free verse in a market where whoever goes off the script can end up paying dearly with drops in units sold.
The Japanese brand is characterized by not moving one millimeter from its convictions and values as a brand, and its phones hold several examples of this, such as the omnibalance design that accompanied the mobiles of the Sony XZ range that, finally, they abandoned in 2018.
Currently, one of these peculiarities of Sony mobiles is found in its headphone jack. Not because this connector has anything special, but for the simple fact of being integrated into a high-end smartphone, taking into account that since 2017, this connector is becoming a difficult element to see on a smartphone. mobile of more than 700 euros.
This has led us to the following question:why the Sony Xperia still have a headphone jackwhen most of its direct rivals have not been part of it for a long time?
If you want quality, the audio jack is the way
How could it be otherwise, the fastest way to resolve this question is to ask Sony: “At Sony we always want to offer the best experience. Our mission is to fill the world with emotions through the power of creativity and technology. That is why in our Xperia we seek to be able to enjoy music and images (photography and video ) just as their creators have conceived them. We equip our smartphones with a 3.5mm audio jack and the best wireless connection so that, combining DSEE Ultimate and LDAC support, you can enjoy streaming services with sound from high resolution. We not only take care of the details in the sound, we also look for the best quality on the screen and in the camera. We must be able to enjoy the content offered by the creators or, also, be able to create our own content as we have imagined”, says Jorge Gállego, head of communication at Sony Iberia.
Technically, Sony’s argument is rock solid and, If you want to maintain the highest fidelity between the original content and what your ears hear, the cable connection is the best way and we tell you the reasons.
space vs. quality: difficult decision for manufacturers
Before going into details and technical verbiage, it is convenient to use logic. One of the main selling points of current high-end mobile phones is their design. Especially in the high range. The more compact and lightweight it is, the better..
There are elements, such as the screen, that determine the final dimensions of the device, which is why folding phones play the trick of size compared to conventional phones.
Integrating a physical connector the size of the audio connector would imply displacing other elements inside the device, and it would even be necessary to give up part of the battery to house it.
simply this It is a toll that few manufacturers have been willing to pay because it offers more disadvantages than advantages.
Sound via Bluetooth always has loss, even if it is minimal
Although Bluetooth technology has evolved by leaps and bounds in recent years, there are certain limits of physics that this technology has not yet been able to overcome, and transmitting information via Bluetooth between a smartphone and a Bluetooth headset requires some sacrifices.
As indicated to us Marc Bara, professor at OBS Business School, latency is the most obvious feature of that limitation: “The wired connection has lower latency, which means there is less delay between the audio source and the headphones, which can be important for certain applications, such as games and live broadcasts. In contrast, wireless streaming over Bluetooth has higher latency, resulting in delayed audio and a less fluid listening experience.”
So, if Sony’s goal is to offer the best gaming and video experience, keeping the audio jack makes perfect sense.
However, many manufacturers, including Sony, have fine-tuned the synchronization of the Bluetooth data flow between the emitting device and the headphones that are going to play the content, managing to optimize latency with specific game modes that leave the latency at values below 60 milliseconds.
Although it may seem anecdotal, one of the largest differences between audio that is transmitted by cable and that that is transmitted by Bluetooth, it can be invaluable for many people, unless you have a trained ear or can make a comparison on equal terms listening to a lossless audio file and with the same Bluetooth and wired headphones. Something highly unlikely.
“Bluetooth technology, which is used for wireless audio transmission, compared to a direct cable, is going to give you a little less quality. Normally we do not perceive it, but it could be noticeable in some cases. Audio transmission over a cable is a direct physical connection, which means that the audio signal does not need to travel through the air, as is the case with wireless transmission. This makes wired audio quality more reliable and of higher quality, as the audio signal is not affected by electromagnetic interference or signal loss,” says Professor Bara.
To listen to music with wired headphones on a smartphone, the audio must go through a specific chip or integrated into the mobile’s own processor called DAC (Digital to Analog Converter), o digital to analog converter.
As its name indicates, this chip is in charge of convert the information in ones and zeros of the digital audio file, to electrical impulses that are transmitted through the copper wire of the earphones until they reach the drivers that will react with a movement that generates different levels of air pressure that are converted into sound waves that your brain interprets as music.
In essence, with Bluetooth sound transmission, the process is the same, but the difference is that the DAC allows a maximum bit rate of 24 bits and 48 kHzwhile the more advanced high-definition Bluetooth codecs, such as the LDAC de Sony I the AptX Lossless from Qualcomm, they can only transmit audio with a 16-bit, 44.1 kHz full quality. So some of the dynamic range of the original file is lost.
That is to say, some frequencies of the original file would be lost in that conversion and transmission of data, and finally they will not be reproduced in the headphones.
To give you an example, in a recording saved in a lossless file at 24 bits and 48 KHz, even the breathing of the singer or the strumming of the guitar strings could be appreciated in much more detail, while via Bluetooth these details are so would be lost in the conversion. But there are still more limitations.
Bluetooth and its bandwidth problems
The second great Bluetooth audio drawback is the bandwidth. This parameter refers to the volume of information per second that is capable of transmitting between the sending device (mobile) and the receiving device (headphones).
We remember that in this case, what is transmitted are the ones and zeros of the information of the original file, so the greater the volume of data, the more faithful to the original it will be.
It is estimated that for an audio to be heard with CD quality, a transmission of 1,411 Kbps is needed. Sony’s LDAC codec, one of the most optimized for high fidelity sound, achieves a not inconsiderable maximum transfer rate of 990 kbps, which is almost triple that of an unoptimized codec.
This difference, although considerably smaller than the one that existed a few years ago, means a loss of information that will no longer be reproduced in the headphones. Resulting in a more compressed sound, less bright and with less nuances than the same file reproduced by cable.
The curious thing is that the sound compression algorithms These codecs use are so good that they manage to eliminate only those frequencies less perceptible by the human ear, so, as we mentioned before, this loss of information will only be appreciated by direct comparison or by having a very well trained ear.