Drop + THX Panda -- Bluetooth Audio Clipping Whenever Resumed from a Pause of More than 2 Seconds
I don't have much experience with Bluetooth headphones and figured I'd ask here to help set my expectations a bit.
I just bought some Drop + THX Panda headphones. They're well reviewed for sound quality and supporting higher-end audio codecs, some of which Macs support (eg: aptX) and some of which they don't (eg: LDAC).
Anywho, upon unboxing them and pairing them to my 2020 iMac running Big Sur, I noticed that audio over bluetooth sounds totally fine until it's been paused for more than 2 seconds. When I unpause, it almost feels as if maybe the headphones are coming out of some standby or low-power mode and are rushing to start a new bit stream. The sound is clipped / distorted for a second or two until it "catches up". This is particularly annoying for things like notifications and other sound effects which, by nature, are essentially really short audio clips.
I can't find anything online explaining if this is normal behavior or just a shortcoming of bluetooth or these specific headphones. I did a few tests:
Any ideas? My only other option before returning these headphones is to visit Best Buy and see how they sound paired to other non-Apple machines. And to state the obvious, yes, I did try both wired (3.5mm and USB-C) and those sound fine with the same headphones.
- Tried enabling aptX codec then AAC codec in Bluetooth Explorer, a developer tool for Macs, which some people claim helps performance, but it didn't help.
- Tried using a cheap $20 earbuds / AirPods ripoffs. It didn't have the same issue and played even short, intermittent sounds like notifications fine.
- Tried using Bootcamp to use Windows. The audio was clipping like crazy, even during sustained audio playback, and was unusable.
- Tried using Bootcamp with the cheap earsbuds. It also had extremely bad clipping. I think the Bluetooth stack for w/e chipset Apple uses must just have horrible drivers in Windows?
- Tried pairing with my iPhone and iPad. If I go to the Sounds preferences and play some of the demo sound effects for things like text message notifications, it's badly clipped off too.
- Tried pairing the cheap earbuds with my iPhone and iPad. There are no audio issues, and every playing back short clips like notification sounds work fine with no clipping.
- Factory reset the headphones multiple times. Reset to original firmware. No improvement.