Qualcomm's latest audio tech is designed to improve ANC earbuds

Sony WF-1000XM3
Sony WF-1000XM3 (Image credit: Daniel Bader / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Qualcomm Adaptive ANC lets audio manufacturers tweak the ANC experience on wireless earbuds.
  • The tech allows ANC to operate even when earbuds don't form a tight seal, and dynamically adjust the level of ANC.
  • The solution will be available as a turnkey option, allowing audio brands to integrate it easily into their products.

Qualcomm is rolling out a new Adaptive ANC option that's aimed at delivering better audio quality and noise isolation from wireless earbuds. You can get great-sounding wireless earbuds without paying a lot of money, and even ANC-enabled earbuds are affordable now.

Qualcomm is looking to improve upon how ANC works currently on wireless earbuds. With Adaptive ANC, earbuds don't have to form a tight seal to deliver ANC, meaning you won't need to wedge the earbud into your ear. Qualcomm says its audio tech will dynamically adjust the level of ANC based on the variation of fit so that you get great noise isolation regardless of how tight the seal is around the ear. It will similarly adjust the levels based on the ambient noise in your surroundings.

ANC earbuds like Sony's WF-1000XM3 ask that you take a photo of your ears so they can customize the noise isolation. Qualcomm says that won't be necessary with Adaptive ANC because the tech dynamically tunes ANC levels without any user intervention. The mode will be active even when you're switching from listening to music to asking Google Assistant a query or making a phone call.

Qualcomm's Adaptive ANC solution is now available in the QCC514x Bluetooth audio SoC, and audio products featuring the tech will debut in the market later this year. From Qualcomm's vice president and general manager James Chapman:

Our 2020 State of Play report found that consumer demand for active noise cancellation has increased year on year and it is now the fourth most wanted feature for earbuds. This makes it a key differentiator for manufacturers.However, it can sometimes be difficult for OEMs to deliver consistent ANC because earbuds will not always have the same fit or be placed in the ear in the same way, and both how and where a consumer uses these devices can vary greatly.We have designed our Qualcomm Adaptive ANC to help customers deliver consistent performance levels and great sound for the largest possible number of consumers.

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.