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AudioFiles: Down to the Wireless

Can Bluetooth technology cut it for serious jazz listeners?

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Audioengine B1 Bluetooth adapter
BenQ treVolo
Peachtree Audio deepblue2
Riva Turbo X

Audiophiles reacted to the advent of Bluetooth wireless audio much the way bebop diehards reacted to the first use of electric bass and electric piano in jazz: with a mixture of revulsion and resignation. Because so many people now store their music on phones, tablets and computers, and because Bluetooth makes it so easy to get that music into speakers and headphones, Bluetooth products have become the hottest category in the audio business.

Why don’t audiophiles dig Bluetooth? Mostly, it’s because Bluetooth reduces audio fidelity. Bluetooth’s MP3-like data compression discards audio information we theoretically can’t hear. It’s a difference you’ll notice if you listen for it, but one that you may or may not care about, sort of like the differences between two brands of good guitar strings in the same gauge. Technologies such as AAC and aptX claim to upgrade the sound of Bluetooth, but in my experience the improvement is at most subtle and often imperceptible.

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Originally Published