What you need to know
- Qualcomm announces aptX Lossless audio technology over Bluetooth.
- The new aptX Lossless will bring CD-quality lossless audio to devices supporting Snapdragon Sound.
- Qualcomm expects the technology to be available later this year.
Qualcomm has announced the next generation of Bluetooth audio with its new aptX Lossless Technology. The new feature is coming to next-generation earbuds equipped with Snapdragon Sound technology and will enable CD-quality audio over a Bluetooth connection.
While many smartphones and computers are capable of lossless audio, Bluetooth connections often hinder the experience due to a lack of bandwidth. Current codecs like those from Sony can offer near-lossless or "lossy" audio, but there are still limitations that Qualcomm has apparently addressed with aptX Lossless.
With aptX Lossless, users will experience CD-quality 16-bit 44.1kHz lossless audio from their Bluetooth earbuds and headphones. According to James Chapman, vice president and general manager of Qualcomm Technologies, this will enable devices "to deliver sound the way the artist intended."
Lossless audio means mathematically bit-for-bit exact, with no loss of the audio file and up to now the necessary bit rate to deliver this over Bluetooth has not been available.
[W]e're pleased to announce this new support for CD lossless audio streaming for Bluetooth earbuds and headsets which we plan to make available to customers later this year."
Qualcomm takes a "systems level approach" by using aptX Adaptive with Qualcomm Bluetooth High Speed Link technology to detect when lossless audio is being played and scale up using a sustainable connection.
The technology is capable of rates above 1Mbit/s and can smoothly scale down in congested RF environments for a consistent audio experience. It's also backward compatible, so while aptX Lossless is only available when both devices support the technology, it can still provide near-lossless audio and other high-quality formats on supported devices.
According to Qualcomm's 2021 State of Sound Report, 70% of those surveyed are seeking "good sound" while 52% want high-quality or lossless audio. The report highlights how listening trends have changed due to the pandemic and more people looking for low-latency audio, particularly for gaming.
As it stands, there are very few devices that actually support Snapdragon Sound, and none of the best wireless earbuds are on that list. However, with the current listening trends from Qualcomm's State of Sound report and companies like Amazon bringing lossless audio to their streaming platforms, it's only a matter of time before more devices launch with the Snapdragon Sound badge.