Bluetooth is in almost all modern wireless devices. But, having too many of them in one place can lead to interference. Learn how Bluetooth works What can cause connection dropouts and stutter And how to fix it CONTENTS (show more) What is Bluetooth Interference? Bluetooth interference is when something obstructs your Bluetooth connection, causing data packets to corrupt or preventing them from reaching the receiving device. In practice, interference is when you hear an audio stutter or static noise while using Bluetooth headphones. Here are the most common effects of Bluetooth interference: Reduced range If your two Bluetooth devices are struggling to communicate, the further apart they get, the harder they talk to each other. Bluetooth communication becomes challenging in a room filled with other wireless devices operating in the 2.4GHz band. Slow connection Transmitting and receiving device exchange data packets, where the receiving device has to confirm it has indeed received the correct packet. In case of interference, data packets stop reaching their destination, so Bluetooth has to send more of the same ones to ensure the data is delivered. Consequently, you experience a slow connection (Bluetooth lowers the bandwidth quality of a Bluetooth codec or picks a more efficient one). To preserve the connection, Bluetooth starts prioritizing stability over quality. Distorted sound If the data packets keep missing their destination, you start experiencing audio stutters and glitches. You may also experience a noticeable drop in sound quality since the transmission bandwidth has narrowed down. Types of Bluetooth Interference Interference happens when data packets that Bluetooth devices use to communicate stop reaching their destination or become corrupted. It can occur due to different factors like: Physical obstacles Too many wireless gadgets in the vicinity Bug in the firmware of the transmitting/receiving device How Bluetooth works (roughly) Bluetooth technology uses a 2.4 GHz to 2.4835 GHz frequency band, which is freely available for every manufacturer to use. That’s why it is saturated with other technologies like Wi-Fi. Even your microwave operates at 2.4 GHz, but that’s because this frequency can agitate water molecules in your food. Granted, kitchen microwave ovens operate at 700W or higher, whereas your Wi-Fi transmits at around 100mW. Also, microwaves have a metal cage that traps the radiation; otherwise, it would also cook you while staring at the rotating food. Nonetheless, both Wi-Fi and microwaves can cause Bluetooth interference. To avoid that, Bluetooth constantly hops between 79 different channels dividing the 2.4 GHz to 2.4835 GHz band. Bluetooth devices hop 1,600 times per second between 79 different channels. The data sent through these channels is stored in packets. Each contains the address, so it always goes into the right receiving device. In case of data corruption, Bluetooth can still salvage the data using error-detecting bits (like CDs can still play music after being scratched). However, sometimes there’s too much “noise” from other devices, so the data corrupts fully or packets get lost. As a result, you experience stutters and eventually lose connection. Now that you know a bit more about how Bluetooth works let’s see different types of Bluetooth interference. Frequency interference Frequency interference occurs when there’s too much noise from other devices in the 2.4 GHz to 2.4835 GHz frequency range. The transmitting device sends a data packet, but the receiving device might get corrupted or no packets at all. At this point, Bluetooth starts lowering the quality of transmission to stabilize the connection, which becomes choppy and audibly worse. Distance interference Apart from other devices causing noise, 2.4 GHz frequencies aren’t the most robust when it comes to obstacles. Especially the ones made of water and metal. Normally, Bluetooth headphones start stuttering when you place obstacles between headphones and a transmitting device (phone). Typical headphones promise at least 30 feet (or 10 meters) of Bluetooth range, which is mostly true, as seen from our indoor range tests in reviews. However, most headphones start stuttering or completely lose a connection right after passing the second brick wall. Meaning that hiding yourself behind a solid object significantly impacts wireless performance. Essentially, data packets don’t reach their destination anymore, so the audio stops. Note that headphones are usually the ones at fault, as it depends on the strength of their antennas (which are often weak). Wireless device & Wi-Fi interference (does Wi-Fi interfere with Bluetooth?) Bluetooth operates and hops between 79 channels, while Wi-Fi signals hop between 11 (at 2.4 GHz; there are many more at 5 GHz and 6 GHz). Meaning that both technologies try to stay away from interfering with each other. However, with so many wireless connections (in your home or from your neighbors), channels get saturated, and frequencies start to overlap and interfere. Fortunately, newer versions of Bluetooth (after 5.1) and Wi-Fi are more directional and robust, so interferences between the two are less likely. Buggy firmware Software isn’t always perfectly written, as there are always some weak spots that sometimes trigger an abnormal behavior of your device. Keep your headphones’ firmware up to date to avoid Bluetooth bugs. Maybe your headphones don’t wish to connect anymore, refuse to charge, or play sound. The same thing can happen with Bluetooth. How to Fix Bluetooth Interference In the case of Bluetooth interferences, the important thing is to pinpoint the cause. Now that you know why you might get interferences, finding a cause shouldn’t be difficult. To recap, interference occurs when: Bluetooth and Wi-Fi signal overlap Transmitting and receiving devices are too far away from each other There’s a bug in the firmware Here are all possible solutions to stop Bluetooth interference. Change Wi-Fi channel As you know, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signal both works using the same frequency band of 2.4 GHz-2.4835 GHz. While both have designated channels to hop between, they can still interfere, especially when your device (a laptop or a smartphone) is connected to both simultaneously. The first possible solution is to change the Wi-Fi channel by designating a specific one instead of letting it pick randomly. To do that, you need access to your Wi-Fi settings. If you bought a WiFi router, that shouldn’t be difficult, as you already have an account. Otherwise, if you have your internet provider’s modem, you have to consult them to change settings. When you have access to changing channels, switch between them and observe if you’re still getting interference issues. Note that if you live in an apartment building with many Wi-Fi routers, it’s better to leave channel selection on “automatic”. You can also check your router’s settings for the “Bluetooth Coexistence” feature. It forces Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to work together by waiting for each other. Basically, when Bluetooth is transmitting, Wi-Fi doesn’t, and vice versa. That “polite exchange” happens many times per second, so it shouldn’t significantly impact the user experience. If it has one, set it to “Pre-emptive”. You can help yourself with this screenshot. If that doesn’t help, “Enable” it entirely. However, in that case, you might experience a slower internet connection. Reduce the distance between wireless devices To ensure a stable Bluetooth connection: Keep your transmitting and receiving device as close as possible. If you want to avoid carrying a transmitting device in your pocket, at least have it somewhere in the line of sight. Keep your transmitting device as close as possible. Some headphones even stutter if you have your phone in your pocket. But what if you want to fetch something in the other room? We have some data for you: Based on the last 20 reviews we made, the average Bluetooth headphones offer an indoor range of around 43 feet (or 13 meters), with the majority starting to stutter right after passing the second brick wall. You can use our findings to understand how much you can distance yourself from a transmitting device in your house or apartment. Disable other Bluetooth devices If you own many Bluetooth devices and all of them work simultaneously, try disabling some. That way, you will find out if other paired devices are causing interference. Basically, turn off any device that isn’t necessary to work at the given moment, like Bluetooth speakers, Bluetooth on a TV, digital camera, etc. Turn off Wi-Fi (or change the frequency) If you concluded that Wi-Fi is the main culprit for your Bluetooth interference, you can turn it off while using Bluetooth. However, there are better solutions to stop your Wi-Fi from interfering with Bluetooth. Leading us to the best solution, which is changing the operating frequency of your Wi-Fi to 5 GHz (if it supports that). By doing that, you avoid any chance of frequency overlapping. Before going further, ensure that your Wi-Fi devices also support 5 GHz transmission. Most newer smartphones and laptops do, but maybe your smart TV doesn’t. Go into your router’s settings and change the transmission frequency from 2.4 GHz to 5 GHz. If your modem is the wireless internet source, contact your internet provider to change the settings remotely. Furthermore, if you experience a slow connection on your tablet while browsing the internet and using Bluetooth headphones simultaneously, but your Wi-Fi router doesn’t support 5 GHz, here’s what you can do: Create a hotspot with your smartphone (if modern, it should support 5 GHz, just like your modern tablet). Connect the tablet to a new 5 GHz hotspot. Your wireless connection should improve. Update Bluetooth drivers The cause of interference might be a faulty programming code that starts acting weird, so updating drivers and performing firmware updates can help resolve the issue. If you’re using Windows computers: Go into the Search and type in “Device Manager”. You need administrator access to open these settings. Click a little arrow near Bluetooth to reveal your Bluetooth device. Right-click on it and select “Update drivers.” Do an automatic search unless you downloaded official drivers from the internet. If new drivers are available, they will be installed. If you mess up the installation and Bluetooth doesn’t work anymore, right-click on the Bluetooth device and “Uninstall device”. Restart your PC and let Windows Update find the drivers again. To update your headphones’ firmware: Check if they support any companion app and connect them with it. – If there’s a new update available, you should see a notification to install it (unless you have AirPods, which update automatically in the background). Reset your Bluetooth device It’s funny how many issues you can solve by simply resetting a strangely behaving device. Sure, you can’t save all problems like that. But when the interference occurs out of nowhere, resetting your Bluetooth device is the first thing you should do. A quick solution is to simply turn off and on your Bluetooth headsets. To perform a hard reset, inspect your headphone manual on how to do that, as they all use slightly different approaches. Sometimes you have to press various buttons, while sometimes, you can do it from the app. If they support a companion app, there’s an option inside settings to do a factory reset (that will erase all custom settings and pairing info, so you will have to pair them back to your phone). Companion apps usually have a “factory reset” option, as seen in the bottom right corner. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Does Bluetooth interfere with Wi-Fi? Yes, Bluetooth can interfere with Wi-Fi and vice versa since both work in the same 2.4GHz-2.4835GHz frequency band. While both use different channels to avoid interference with other devices, if there are many devices, issues can occur. What Wi-Fi channel to avoid Bluetooth interference? There is no specific Wi-Fi channel that would avoid Bluetooth interference. Typically, both technologies hop between channels many times per second to prevent interference. You can manually select a Wi-Fi channel that causes the least problems by testing each manually. What could interfere with Bluetooth? Things that could interfere with Bluetooth are other devices that work in the 2.4 GHz frequency band. Like Wi-Fi, other Bluetooth gadgets, and microwaves. Furthermore, separating transmitting and receiving devices also interferes with Bluetooth (avoid obstacles in between, like walls, metal, or water). Read more: What is NFC in headphones? Conclusion These were all possible reasons for Bluetooth interference and many ways to fix it. Hopefully, you better understand how wireless connections work and why they stop working. Understanding that will help you troubleshoot more logically and successfully. If you own Apple AirPods or have issues with connection, feel free to check our separate articles on how to fix AirPods connection so you’ll immediately know what to do in case of problems. And do let us know in the comments if the steps above fixed your issues. Peter SusicPeter’s childhood interest in audio has grown into a full-blown quest to find the best headphones. He’s got many years of editor experience trying out numerous audiophile and consumer headphones. His words: “After many years, I can confidently say which ones are good and which ones are terrible.” Find his honest opinion in his reviews and guides.