TWS: True wireless stereo headphone technology

TWS: True wireless stereo headphone technology

TWS: True wireless stereo headphone technology Undoubtedly, one of the biggest and hottest phenomena of many The recent year in the world of audio equipment and accessories for mobile devices has been true wireless headphones, or TWS headphones. Especially since 2016, by removing the headphone jack from Apple smartphones. and besides the supply of wireless handsfree of this company, the market of this equipment has become more prosperous day by day. Although more than a decade has passed since the appearance of wireless headphones and handsfree in the market, how is it that only in the last 5 years we see the flourishing of the market of these products and the release of headphones called “True Wireless”?

What does true wireless mean?

Stereo headphones in terms of wireless technology can be divided into two categories: “wireless” and “true wireless”. In general, wireless accessories are equipment that do not need to be connected to communicate and interact with an audio and video content player. They do not have a cable and instead use wireless communication technologies such as Bluetooth. Although such equipment does not have a physical connection with the main device, they may themselves consist of various components that are connected to each other using a cable. Wireless headphones that are far These types of headphones usually consist of two sound-producing components that are placed inside or on the ear and They are connected through a cable or physical interface – in which the communication wire is embedded. In fact, these stereo headphones, despite carrying the wireless name, are still dependent on wireless communication.

On the other hand, true wireless headphones have replaced all wired connections with communication based on wireless technologies. Today, true wireless headphones use Bluetooth technology both to communicate with the source of audio-visual content (such as smartphones) and to connect two in-ear audio devices. Thus, when using such headphones, you will be able to give one of its earbuds or phones to a friend who is sitting one meter away from you and listen to the same content without having to stick to each other.


True Wireless Stereo Technology (TWS) How Does it work?

Now we know that TWS technology, by removing wires from audio broadcasting equipment, increases the user’s freedom of action and reduces the possibility of damaging these tools, and generally makes their use much easier. But the question is, how does this technology work? The real wireless technology is in the microchips that are embedded in the TWS headphones or speakers and are responsible for controlling the wireless communication between these devices and sound source devices (such as smartphones, computers, etc.) through Bluetooth communication. How to connect the TWS device to the audio source depends on which generation of true wireless technology that device belongs to. Currently, 2 different generations of this technology have been developed and used in the manufacture of TWS equipment. Qualcomm, as one of the main manufacturers and leaders in the field of true wireless chips, calls the first generation of this technology “True Wireless” and introduces the second generation as “True Wireless Plus”.

The first generation of true wireless technology used one part of the headphone or speaker to make the primary connection with the sound source device, and then the second part through a side or secondary connection to the first. connects to allow true wireless stereo playback. The information related to both the left (L) and right (R) audio channels is transmitted to the first headphone or speaker through the main connection, and then the information related to the left (L) audio channel is sent to the second part through the secondary connection. In this case, if the main or primary connection is interrupted for any reason, the connection of the speaker or the second headphone will also be interrupted and the sound will be stopped completely.

The second generation of this technology has a different process for establishing wireless communication. In equipment based on this generation, two direct wireless connections are established between the sound source device and each of the headphones or speakers. In this way, the audio source is simultaneously connected with each of the audio parts and is able to send the information related to the left (L) and right (R) audio channels independently and without intermediaries to each of them. This feature of the second generation of TWS technology brings various advantages, including easier wireless connection, load balance between two audio players, increased battery life, increased connection stability, and improved sound quality.

Advantages of true wireless headphones

• Speed ​​and ease of use: Undoubtedly, a part of the life of everyone who lived before the advent of TWS headphones was spent untangling the tangled wires of headphones. When using wireless headphones, there is no more hassle of untangling wires and collecting them. It may have happened to you that you were busy doing something with your hands and you stopped answering a call due to the hassle of opening the hands-free wires. Or that you didn’t have the chance to collect the wires after use, and by throwing the headphones in your pocket or bag, you took the trouble of untying the tangled wires. With TWS headphones, you will be able to listen to both headphones or even one of them immediately when you receive a call if the phone’s Bluetooth is active. Due to the fact that these headphones are not bulky, you can even keep them in your ear until the next call after the end of the call for greater convenience. One of the important advantages of TWS headphones is acceptable battery life and ease of charging compared to normal and old wireless headphones. Today’s TWS headphones are kept in a small case or box. This holding box is equipped with an internal battery and without connecting to electricity, it plays the role of a headphone charger. Of course, it is necessary to charge the battery embedded in this box from time to time by connecting to a power source (such as phone charger, laptop, etc.). Currently, the built-in battery of TWS earphones usually lasts for 3-6 hours of continuous work, and the carrying case can fully charge the earphones 3-5 times. In this way, most of today’s TWS headphones are able to provide between 15 and 25 hours of combined use (talking and listening) with the help of the battery embedded in their storage box without the need to charge with a wire.



Disadvantages of true wireless headphones

Besides these important and practical advantages, wireless headphones also have disadvantages, the most important of which are:

• Price: New technology, exclusivity The relatively small size of TWS headphones are among the factors that have caused their prices to be relatively high. Of course, like any other technology, with the passage of time, this problem has become less prominent, and especially in the past year, we have seen the release of cheap types of these headphones in the market. So that currently there are several options in the price range of 15 to 30 dollars for users to choose from. Headphones have become wireless, there is still a noticeable difference between them and wireless headphones of the same category in terms of sound reproduction quality. The limitations of Bluetooth technology, along with the inevitable small size of TWS headphones, have caused the sound quality of these headphones to not exceed a certain limit and cannot be compared to high-end and expensive wireless headphones in any way. Of course, it is not unlikely that with the increasing prosperity of the market of these headphones and the continuous development of technologies related to them, in the not too distant future these restrictions will be removed one by one and it will be possible to achieve a quality level equivalent to wireless headphones.

• Microphone quality and noise cancellation: Unlike wireless handsfree in which the microphone is placed on the wire and near the mouth, the location of the microphone in the earbuds or TWS headphones is on the earpiece and near the user’s ear. Therefore, naturally, their ability to receive the user’s voice and remove ambient noise will be affected by this distance and will be weaker. This problem is especially noticeable in crowded environments and is more annoying for the other party. , problems and problems related to the battery will also come. The user should also think of charging another device. In addition, with the passage of time and depending on the amount and type of consumption, the useful capacity of the headphone battery and its holding box will gradually decrease and it will be necessary to charge them in shorter intervals.

Emergence and prosperity of the headphone market True wireless

Prior to the advent of true wireless headphones and Apple’s foray into the market in 2016, the traditional headphone market had suffered from a long-term saturation and a severe lack of innovation. In the years leading up to 2016, companies such as Beats, AKG, Sennheiser, and Audio-Technica are the main drivers of the headphone market, and the dim evolution of this market is due to things like the slow progress of normal wireless headphones, the evolution of earphones, the use of built-in sound cards, and limited ambient noise reduction technology. Been. At that time, the investments made in the field of production and development of headphones were insignificant compared to the market of smartphones and computers. Due to the low depth and complexity of the technology used in the headphones of that time, as well as the short production cycle of those products, a large number of small and medium manufacturers poured into this market and saturated the market of low-end headphones. As a result, traditional and well-known manufacturers gradually abandoned this part of the market and turned to the development of high-end products. Simultaneously with this trend, a new market was being formed in the field of portable smart speakers and smart home audio-visual products. In the same years, the first TWS headphones also appeared, but for various reasons, including low battery life, unstable wireless connection, and low sound quality, they were not well received. In such a situation, the need for a suitable wireless technology to respond to the needs formed in the market was strongly felt. Until finally, in June 2016, the Bluetooth Technology Alliance (SIG) officially introduced the Bluetooth 5 standard with significant improvements in transmission speed, effective range, and energy consumption. Undoubtedly, this evolution and innovation in Bluetooth technology can be seen as the main spark in the heating and lighting up of the TWS headphone market in the last 5 years. The factor that drives this market and has turned true wireless headphones into the most attractive products in the field of smart device accessories for manufacturers and consumers in recent years.

The first truly wireless headphones were produced in 2015 by a Japanese company called Onkyo. This company introduced its first TWS headphones, called Onkyo W800BT, in September 2015. As with most first-of-its-kind products, these headphones suffer from various issues such as connection issues, sound imbalance, and short battery life. Besides all these problems, this product can be considered a successful and fateful experience in the wireless headphones market. Because these prototypes made the users and big companies of the technology world realize the efficiency, comfort and beauty of such products.

Finally In 2016, Apple by introducing and releasing the first series of Your wireless headphones with the name AirPods managed to influence the wireless headphone market forever and soon won the title of the best-selling TWS headphone manufacturer. The reason for this, along with marketing, advertising, closed ecosystem and loyal user community of Apple, can be found in the exclusive technology used in TWS chips of this company. Since the initial release of Apple AirPods, there has been a significant technical gap between the chip used in this product and other Bluetooth chips in the market in terms of energy consumption and battery life. Until finally, in 2018, the Qualcomm company – which had started developing and manufacturing Bluetooth chips years ago – managed to overcome this gap with its QCC512x family of chips, and for the first time, it was possible to produce TWS headphones at the same level. It provided competition with Apple’s product. Guy Gampell, senior product marketing manager of Qualcomm company, in this connection, via An interview with Android Central says: “Overnight, we managed to increase the playback time from 3 hours to 8-9 hours with the release of QCC512.” After the introduction of Bluetooth version 5 and the release of Apple AirPods in 2016, this event had the most impact on the boom of the TWS equipment market. In this way, the real competition in the TWS headphone market has started since 2018, and the ever-increasing progress of other manufacturers’ products has attracted a large number of users of the Android ecosystem to the market.

Since 2016, true wireless headphones from Apple and other active manufacturers in this market have experienced explosive growth and have been the fastest growing in the audio equipment industry in recent years. According to Statista, sales of TWS headphones have increased from 15 million units in 2016 to more than 100 million units in the first quarter of 2020 alone. According to Canalys’s analysis of the audio equipment market, sales of TWS headphones with about 183% growth Annually in 2019, it has surpassed regular wired and wireless headphones and turned it into the largest personal audio equipment market. Also, another analysis of this authority indicates that TWS equipment with about 250 million units sold in 2020 has overtaken smart bracelets and won the title of the best-selling smart accessories. According to Canalys’ forecast, the TWS product market will experience at least 100% growth by 2024 and its annual sales will reach 500 million units.

TWS chip manufacturers

At the beginning of the TWS equipment market, there was a lot of variety in the chips Not applicable for these products. A major part of the market was owned by Apple, which produces AirPods headphones with its own chips. Qualcomm was the only other manufacturer that made a proper investment in this field and was able to mass produce TWS chips. With the increase in demand for true wireless headphones, their chip market gradually became attractive to other companies active in the field of chip design and production and brought competition to this market. To the extent that today we see the activity of many companies in the field of producing TWS chips for different market segments. On the one hand, big manufacturers such as Apple, Qualcomm, Broadcom and Huawei are competing internationally and supplying various Bluetooth chips for high-end and mid-range market products. On the other hand, smaller players such as Hengxuan, Loda, Jerry Technology, Zhongke Lanxun focus on the low-cost and mid-range product market.

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