These 9 earbuds support hi-res codecs

Not all audio sounds exactly the same, and it's not just because of the disparities between headphones. The Bluetooth codec also matters, and when you're talking hi-res codecs, like aptX HD and LDAC, you start to see that earbuds are already on board supporting them. Not all wireless earbuds go that far, but this group certainly does.

Why Bluetooth hi-res codecs matter

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If you think of audio the same way you would a screen, you may see it differently. Much like HD, 4K, and HDR have altered how we watch video content — and what we're willing to accept because of it — the same could be said about audio playback as well. Like Qualcomm's aptX Adaptive (which includes aptX HD) and LDAC, Bluetooth codecs bring hi-res audio to the masses through support on both the device side (i.e., phones, streaming services, or music files) and the audio side (i.e., earbuds). Not every mobile device supports these codecs, nor does every service streaming music. A few exceptions include Tidal, Qobuz, Deezer, Apple Music, and Amazon Music Unlimited.

The whole purpose behind hi-res audio is to try and get your ears as close to what audio sounded like coming out of the studio — basically, the way producers intended. Lossless audio is defined as being recorded and mastered in better than CD quality at 20-bit/48kHz or higher. These codecs won't always get you way above that, but they are certainly doing better than the more compressed audio streams you often hear from the most popular services.

Sony has tried to do it with LDAC, its own codec that it licenses out to others, including some of the best wireless earbuds. The WF-1000XM5 are only one pair supporting it, with others doing the same, as seen on this list. Qualcomm's aptX Adaptive is already another standard for hi-res, given that it's basically two codecs in one.

Ted Kritsonis
Contributor, Audio Reviewer

Ted Kritsonis loves taking photos when the opportunity arises, be it on a camera or smartphone. Beyond sports and world history, you can find him tinkering with gadgets or enjoying a cigar. Often times, that will be with a pair of headphones or earbuds playing tunes. When he's not testing something, he's working on the next episode of his podcast, Tednologic.