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IR or RF headphones?
Old 10-11-2005, 02:24 PM   #1
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IR or RF headphones?

Our kid's getting ready to celebrate her 13th and the holidays aren't far off. One of the teenager presents we're giving her is a set of headphones to watch TV in the familyroom. This will let her crash on the couch (a good 15 feet away from the TV) without the volume being so loud that I can't use the computer at the same time. The only catch is that we have to go wireless because the bunny thinks headphone wires are yummy (chewy on the outside, crunchy on the inside, with an exciting surprise center!).

We've seen a variety of cordless headphones but it's hard to sort the performance from the hype. We'd also prefer to keep the price under $50 and avoid Bose territory, but we might be persuaded to go higher for reliability & family harmony. We could buy them on the Web but Oahu also actually supports CostCo, Radio Shacks, a Circuit City, and even a Best Buy. Anyone have any experience, recommendations, or gripes?
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Re: IR or RF headphones?
Old 10-11-2005, 05:15 PM   #2
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Re: IR or RF headphones?

I have used them for years.* DW goes to sleep long before I do and if I want to watch TV or a movie in bed without disturbing her with the sweet sounds of battle* e.g., Lord of the Rings or Star Wars etc, I use the headphones.* It is nice too since you can go to the kitchen for a snack or to the can (head) and still hear what is going on.

The downside is possible interference from the neighbors that may also have the same frequency as your headphones or their wireless phone or other wireless devices that use the same frequency.* Also, others can hear what you are hearing since it is not encrypted so just keep that in mind.

Just get a leading name brand so you can exchange it easily if it stops working.*

Edited to add:
IR may be the better choice for longer distances or when wall are in the way. RF may also get more interference than IR too.

I even have a set of video and audio wireless remotes that send my Dishnetwork signals to a couple of TVs that are not easily connected via cable.* It even goes through walls.* *
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Re: IR or RF headphones?
Old 10-11-2005, 05:41 PM   #3
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Re: IR or RF headphones?

I've never used wireless headphones, but in general RF devices are better than IR devices. IR has a lower bandwidth, requires clear line-of-sight, and will have reduced transmittance in bright rooms.

As far as wired headphones go, I like my Sennheiser's fine.

If your kid already has a laptop with WiFi, then just get her regular wired headphones and setup a media server. We've got about 500GB of music and movies on ours, and WiFi bandwidth is fine even for DVD-quality video. I have the software to do a WiFi TV server as well, but I don't have a TV tuner that can talk to our satellite box (yet).
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Re: IR or RF headphones?
Old 10-12-2005, 12:09 PM   #4
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Re: IR or RF headphones?

Wab,

You are correct...I always get the two mixed up. Here is an article on the subjec that might be of some help. Source: http://www.audiolinks.com/Articles/RFvsIR.shtml


Quote:
How do IR, infrared transmission systems, and RF, radio frequency transmission systems, perform in different environments?

If you want to broadcast in large spaces (especially outside), even on multiple channels, as a rule of thumb radio frequency systems are your best bet.

They provide a strong and reliable signal, which is able to pass through walls and opaque objects. It's the most economical, simple-to-operate choice for churches, auditoriums, stadiums, classrooms and boardrooms. It even works well in the open air. Radio frequency receivers consume more electrical power than the infrared type; therefore battery life is considerably shortened. Finally, with the advent of digital electronics and signaling, infrared has taken the lead with regard to component features -- a lead which is being diminished by some of the new models of radio frequency transmission systems.

With Infrared systems, transmission is confined within opaque walls, making it a good choice for movie theaters, boardrooms, and courtrooms - anywhere privacy is valued. Infrared systems are also immune to radio interference. Receiver management is easier with infrared systems because there is no reason to search for the frequency. However, infrared is usually not appropriate for outdoor use because sunlight generates interference. Power consumption is also quite considerable, however digital electronics offer a wider array of features, in particular auto shut-off mode. Channel capacity is approximately 5 times that of RF. In general, infrared systems are more costly and require more equipment to cover a larger area.

One final note on security issues: radio frequency systems have been unfavorably compared to infrared in the area of security. RF systems are susceptible to interference and can be discreetly intercepted. The later has been a concern in high security situations -- though it is important to note that current technology allows fairly sophisticated intercepts of infrared signals as well. On balance neither system is fully secure -- wireless transmission is by its very nature subject to intercepts -- hard-wired systems are the only way to minimize this threat.
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