Issue with bluetooth speakers and VoiceOver

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Hardware & Accessories

I recently purchased bluetooth speakers made by Inateck. While I've been pleased with the sound and performance, I do have one nagging issue. When VoiceOver talks over the speakers, there seems to be a fraction of a second delay in connecting. As a result, the first syllable is often lost. Is this a common problem? I've searched AppleVis but haven't seen this problem mentioned.

What are others doing to get around this issue? Is there a way to direct VO to the built-in speaker while music routes to the bluetooth speakers? Is there a way to make VO pause briefly before speaking? Something else I haven't thought of?

I've used the speakers with both my iPhone SE and my 2012 MacBook (both with current OS) and the problem occurs in either scenario.

Thanks.

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Comments

Submitted by DJX on Monday, September 25, 2017

If what you are experiencing is lag, where the sound from VoiceOver speech takes a second or so to come through the speaker, this is normal for most Bluetooth devices. This is due to the way Bluetooth audio works. Some devices do better with lag than others.

However, if what you're hearing/experiencing is voiceOver not speaking the first half of the phrase or word after the delay (it gets cut off), I suspect this might be specific to your speaker. Perhaps it has a power saver feature or some other thing that doesn't let it process all the audio as it comes in. Do you have other Bluetooth devices? If so, have you tried with those (BT headset or speakers)? I would check the speaker's manual for any power saver features or things of that nature.

I've never experienced this issue with my Bluetooth speaker or Bluetooth headset. Again, lag is normal, but speech getting cut off? that is not! :)

Submitted by Larry Thacker Jr. on Monday, September 25, 2017

This started happening for me after the last iOS upgrade when I switched to Tom.

Submitted by PaulMartz on Monday, September 25, 2017

Thanks for the replies. The problem seems to be that VO starts talking, but the BT speakers don't actually start playing the audio until a fraction of a second later, as a result the first syllable is lost. This happens on my BT speakers as I mentioned, and also happens on my BT hearing aids.

It's possible, even likely, that this issue is specific to my BT devices. With the demise of the headphone jack and switchover to earbuds, I'd think someone (everyone?) in the AppleVis community would be complaining loudly about this issue.

Submitted by Roxann Pollard on Monday, September 25, 2017

At this point, at least in my experience, while using both Bluetooth speakers and two different Bluetooth headsets, the lag time of Voiceover is just sort of built in. It's a maddening action that hasn't gotten better just yet. Bluetooth 5.0 has now been released and perhaps newer devices that will eventually support the Bluetooth 5.0 range will help to eliminate the lat time. Until then it's just something to get used to.

Submitted by peter on Monday, September 25, 2017

Yes, the lag in hearing VO is annoying, but from reading lots of posts and working with some blue tooth devices myself, it does seem that some devices are better than others. As someone already noted, hopefully the new blue tooth 5.0 standard will help this issue.

As for missing speech at the beginning, that is a bigger problem since we're missing information. I don't think this is a situation that is specific to VoiceOver. When my sighted wife is using Google Maps to navigate while driving, the first word of each direction is often missing or truncated when spoken. My guess is that this is because it takes a fraction of a second for the blue tooth device to realize that it has been spoken to and wake up the connection again. I'm surprised that developers haven't built in better buffering ofto accomodate for this issue. Maybe the developers are so busy programming that they don't get a chance to work with their own creations to observe the problems.

Sad that we can't do better.

--Pete

Submitted by PaulMartz on Monday, September 25, 2017

Buffering would solve the problem, but might impact the cost of the Bluetooth device. And for really small devices such as hearing aids, might not be practical. On the other hand, it doesn't need to buffer very much. I'd be surprised if I'm missing more than a kilobyte of compressed audio.

Another solution that would work - the device (smartphone, computer, whatever) could send out a sub-audible beep just before sending out the normal audio stream. This would make the BT device "wake up" and hopefully not miss any of the real audio. Sounds like a kludge, but it might work.

Submitted by peter on Monday, September 25, 2017

If this problem is so prevalent I've often wondered why either the device or the service generating the audio didn't prepend a fraction of a second of blank before the audio being sent. After all, silence compresses really well!

This isn't an issue that only VO users are experiencing but also is affecting many sighted users. Maybe they don't know enough to complain since, if they are relying on their eyes, they aren't paying as much attention to broken audio!

--Pete

Submitted by DJX on Monday, September 25, 2017

I have a JBL speaker and have used various plantronix headsets, and I haven't noticed any speech breaking off. I checked and was able to use VO and no sounds cut off, on the phone or system sounds or anything. Is it dependent on the device?

Submitted by tito on Monday, April 27, 2020

I have an iphone 8 and recently I bought a redmi airdots but it does not work well with my iphone because there is a delay. Can some one solve this issue?