Qualcomm Snapdragon SoundSource: Qualcomm

What you need to know

  • Qualcomm has announced Snapdragon Sound, an audio platform that integrates the company's audio technologies under one roof.
  • Qualcomm is touting 24-bit audio, lower latency, better pairing and connectivity with Snapdragon Sound-enabled devices.
  • Xiaomi and Audio-Technica are launch partners for Snapdragon Sound, and Amazon Music HD is getting a curated Snapdragon Sound Playlist.

Qualcomm's latest initiative is Snapdragon Sound, a platform that brings all of its disparate audio efforts under a single roof. In doing so, Qualcomm is making it easier for manufacturers to leverage all of its innovations. The end-to-end solution includes the Snapdragon 888 chipset, FastConnect 6900 Wi-Fi system and Aqstic codecs on the mobile side of things, Qualcomm's various Bluetooth audio-related SoCs, as well as audio and voice technologies like Qualcomm Active Noise Cancellation, AptX Adaptive Audio, and more.

Essentially, what this means is that if you buy a phone with a Snapdragon Sound-enabled chipset — right now, that means the Snapdragon 888 — and pair it with wireless earbuds that are also leverage the tech via one of Qualcomm's audio SoCs, you should be able to take advantage of all the features the platform has to offer.

Qualcomm Snapdragon SoundSource: Qualcomm

As for those benefits, Qualcomm is touting high-resolution 24-bit 96kHz audio, 89ms latency, much better voice quality, and improved pairing. Although the best Android phones of 2021 already feature the Snapdragon 888, existing devices won't work with Snapdragon Sound, so if you're using the Galaxy S21 or Xiaomi's Mi 11, you miss out on the added benefits.

You'll find Snapdragon Sound branding on mobile devices and wireless earbuds/headphones in the beginning, with Qualcomm envisaging the tech making its way to PCs, watches and XR glasses in the future. Xiaomi and Audio-Technica are launch partners for Snapdragon Sound, with the first set of audio products featuring the branding debuting later this year. Qualcomm has also partnered with Amazon over a curated Snapdragon Sound Playlist on Amazon Music HD that lets users stream music in "Ultra HD on Snapdragon Sound-optimized devices."

Qualcomm isn't exactly introducing any new technologies here; instead, Snapdragon Sound is a licensing solution that allows mobile manufacturers and audio brands to integrate the latest innovations from Qualcomm to deliver better-fidelity wireless audio solutions. Furthermore, by offering the Snapdragon Sound branding, Qualcomm is hoping to increase awareness about its Snapdragon platform in general and establish a standard for hi-fi wireless audio.