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Latest Tech: Qualcomm aptX Lossless Bluetooth Codec Announced, Promises Wireless ‘CD-Quality’ Audio

Qualcomm aptX Lossless Bluetooth codec has been announced and it is expected to roll out to supported devices later this year. The new Bluetooth codec is Qualcomm’s answer to Sony’s LDAC, and promises ‘CD-quality’ audio over wireless transmission with a maximum bitrate of around 1Mbit/second. The new codec is expected to roll out to supported devices in late 2021 and will be supported on both source devices and headsets. It is claimed to be the most advanced Bluetooth codec from Qualcomm yet.

The new Bluetooth codec from Qualcomm is stated to support streaming at up to 1Mbit/second, just a bit higher than the maximum bitrate of 990kbits/second supported by Sony’s LDAC Bluetooth codec. The company says the bitrate is variable, scaling down to 140kbits/second in congested environments with a lot of radio interference, in order to maintain the stability of the audio stream.

Qualcomm further claims that the codec can deliver CD-quality audio at 16-bits/44.1kHz resolution, with bit-for-bit transmission. That said, achieving this level of audio quality over Bluetooth will require a very stable connection with little radio interference around, so the capabilities will likely only be truly achievable in ideal conditions. In most real-world conditions, aptX Lossless will still offer better audio quality over Bluetooth than existing aptX codecs, and will likely match up to LDAC’s capabilities, but with the benefit of wider product support.

Currently, Qualcomm has a number of aptX Bluetooth codecs supported on various devices, including most Android smartphones and many computers and laptops as well. The newest codec, aptX Lossless, promises to build on existing technologies such as aptX Adaptive, and will theoretically be able to work with lossless audio streaming from services such as Apple Music and Tidal.

While high-resolution audio is best heard on wired headphones or earphones, improvements in Bluetooth capabilities and stability are making it possible to improve the listening experience even over wireless transmission. Qualcomm aptX Lossless is expected to come to supported devices in late 2021, and will hope to bridge the gap in sound quality slightly, while continuing to offer the benefits and conveniences of wireless audio.

Can Nothing Ear 1 — the first product from OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei’s new outfit — be an AirPods killer? We discussed this and more on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.


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