Headset v Handsfree Sound Output - Confused

I have bought 4 or 5 bluetooth speakers (with mic) to try and get my machine usable for Signal calls. Not having much success at all, and this is a big use for me with my laptop. Thus far no solution to lack of microphone detected on my machine (Yoga 7 16" (16ARP8))

I actually have quite a few confusions/questions, such as why doesn’t the machine auto-switch to bluetooth speaker output once connected? (Have to manually change output device in Sound Settings), but main question is…

In Output Device, for each bluetooth speaker I try (Anker Soundcore Motion B for example, but others too) I have a “headset” and a “handsfree” option for the same device. Why is this?

I notice the sound output is VERY different between them, once sounds awful and unusable for music, the other varies from excellent to terrible depending on brand of bluetooth speaker.

I should mention: I do have Easy Effects installed which I spent hours playing with to try to get internal speakers sounding semi-bearable. But I have disabled that during tests, I don’t think that’s related to this, I think it’s the “Configuration” (e.g. “High Fidelity playback (A2DP Sink, codec SBC)”)

BTW - in case anyone is interested, having tested many, there’s a good price on Amazon currently for the Anker Souncore Mini - sound output is excellent (but sadly Fedora can’t detect its microphone so I will be returning this otherwise excellent little speaker!)

Grateful for any explanations on how to use (and why the difference between) headset v handsfree output options. Thanks

For getting appropriate answers, it may help to describe your setup in more detail:

  • Do you use Fedora Workstation or another Fedora variant? Which release (“version”)?
  • Which Desktop environment do you use (such as Gnome, the default for Workstation?
  • Which settings (i.e. where in your environment) are you referring to?

Bluetooth devices typically come with several “profiles” from which you can choose. E.g., a device with output (speaker, ear buds…) and input (mic) may have a profile in which only the output is active and the transmission is optimsed for that (“high fidelity playback”); in that case the mic “disappears”. Other profiles are optimized for speech (clarity of midtones, low latency) and sound dull for music.

Typically, it’s either mic or hifi and does not quite depend on the desktop environment after all :slight_smile:

Thanks that helps me understood the two profiles! Sadly the profile ‘with mic’ is so awful for sound output that I couldn’t use it for calls. It seems I either have to use the (awful) built in speakers and an external mic (USB or possibly bluetooth), OR have excellent external speaker audio, but no mic!

Sorry, I am on bog standard Fedora Workstation and Gnome standard. I will put that in my signature in case I forget again!
Oops. Scratch that, can’t see signatures, not like the good old phpBB days of old :smiley:

If you have more than 2 profiles (with different codecs/standards such as SBC), it might help to try them all. But I’m afraid you’ve done so already …
At some point when I did similar experiments, I wondered how much postprocessing mobile phones do by default to get the quality out of those devices that they get (and computers don’t).

yes, that’s curious indeed. And yes I have tested every option/profile i could find!
I do have EasyEffects installed, don’t think that’s causing any issues and it’s essential to get bearable audio out of the system speakers, but I could try uninstalling, although I have finally set it up how i want it and got audio I can just about live with (begrudgingly I must say, it’s like my iphone1!)

Are you using this totally for audio? or is video also involved?

I use a headphone with mic for sound when video is not involved (and sometimes with video as well).
I find that the Turtle Beach stealth 450 headphone with usb dongle works very well for audio and can be used totally wireless. The headphone is rechargeable by usb as well and lasts for hours on a single charge. This headphone is not bluetooth since the dongle is a dedicated connection to the headphone.

My system even automatically enables the headphone/mic when I power it on and insert the dongle.

I use Audio and Video together usually, sometimes only audio.

Unfortunately, whilst I am sure those headphones would be superb, i need loudspeaker rather than headphones as family are often included on calls.

I wish I could find just the microphone part! I have seen some but don’t trust bluetooth with the problems I am having, so just a USB one will be the way I go i think.

Which reminds me… I notice those headphones (I looked them up) dont say “bluetooth”, but they say “wireless”. I thought “wireless” was just a modern replacement for the word “bluetooth”! If that makes me look as dumb as I really am, dangit!

Bluetooth uses specific frequencies and protocols to connect and communicate.

Devices that are dedicated such as the logitech wireless interface for keyboard & mouse, the headphones I noted, and others are similar but are specifically tied to the device and its dedicated dongle so they do not use bluetooth at all. Frequencies and linking protocols are different than bluetooth. As far as the system sees they are a USB device and not a bluetooth device.

I also have a USB webcam that has a built in mic that works well with zoom. If you have speakers that work well this may be another option for a mic to work with the setup.

Thanks, going to mark that as “Solution” as it contains enough ideas :smiley:

I see, I actually use a Logitech wireless mouse on iMac (love it, the mouse that is). so it’s probably 2.4ghz or 5hz or some other frequency, and with its own dongle it can send/receive on whatever ‘channel’ it likes. That’s a good idea though, if I do go for a wireless microphone, I think I’d prefer that than regular bluetooth, although I may just go the fuddy duddy route and get a good old fashioned wire! (usb)

thanks for your ‘input’ - see what I did there? :slight_smile:

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A large part of the difference is due to the compression and bandwidth limitations of the codecs used to move the audio data between the devices. The better codecs tend to be proprietary, so they are not included with Fedora Linux. FWIW, there is new, experimental support for LC3: LE Audio + LC3 support · Wiki · PipeWire / pipewire · GitLab

Bluetooth will always have its limitations due to the frequencies it uses. If you can use a device with a dedicated wireless dongle, that will likely give you better quality.

if you are deturmined to use wireless/bluetooth, you might want to try aptX.
this is a newer hardware compression system for transmitting audio over bluetooth/wireless, and may over come some of the limitations you have found.
the bluetooth transmitter and receiver needs to be an aptX complaint one so you cant use your built in laptop one, or existing speaker.
I have the Avantree BTTC-417 and its associated headphones, but the tech is not limited to headphones.
it is not a USB dongle, it has 3.5mm and optical input, but there are usb bluetooth ie Creative BT-W2 USB Bluetooth® Transceiver | aptX
one of its advantages is low latency so when in a conversation this is an advantage.
I needed it for guitar as direct connected guitar and phones was too many wires, to get tangled up in, and with standard wireless or bluetooth headphones the latency was so bad that i could hear the last note i played just before the one i just played.
have a look at aptx HD
regards peter

You learned me some more there, hiccup. :smiley: thanks

In that case, I saw a pair of bluetooth mics with a dongle, a set on Amazon or somewhere online. I realise now they won’t be bluetooth either, which is what I’d like if I am to go wireless now. That said, cables would do fine at this point too. Tempted to try this out, cheap and cheerful but may do the job - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Conference-Microphone-Business-Computer-Portable/dp/B08HT1JL8Q (Sorry, I hate posting Amazon links)

PS - that link is very interesting. I am not up to trying to install/run that yet, but suspect I may be up to it in a few months. Definitely sounds interesting reading the introduction, and if I had a friend who was competent with CLI, I’d love to give it a whirl just to see if it magically cured anything, such as detecting the built in mic inside my Anker SoundCore Mini. Something for later methinks

very interesting reading. I know what you mean too, that horrible lag in complex 2 hour conversations (about scientific stuff amongst many other things) can be a real pain in the youknowhat. I don’t think I will be going for it right now as would need to buy a fair amount of gear by the looks of it , and I am trying to limit spending as I suspect I may soon have to call it a day and change this machine and start again! bookmarked though, I do occasionally do music stuff and I can definitely see the benefits of faster I/O