Ever since Apple removed the 3.5 mm headphone jack in 2016, Bluetooth audio streaming has come a long way, with Apple using AAC as its preferred Bluetooth codec for its AirPods, while many of its competitors sought to offer aptX from Qualcomm on their True Wireless Stereo (TWS) offerings.
While it is known that Bluetooth audio streaming is lossy, regardless of the choice of codec, this might not be the case anymore.
Qualcomm has this week announced aptX Lossless, a new technology that the company claims to deliver CD-quality 16 bit 44.1 kHz lossless audio over Bluetooth via its aptX Adaptive codec and Snapdragon Sound platform.
Qualcomm has taken a systems-level approach and optimised a number of core wireless connectivity and audio technologies, including aptX Adaptive, which work together to auto-detect and scale-up, designed to deliver CD lossless audio when a user is listening to a lossless music file, and the RF conditions are suitable.
To deliver CD lossless audio quality reliably over Bluetooth wireless technology, aptX Adaptive works in conjunction with Qualcomm Bluetooth High Speed Link technology to produce the required sustainable data throughput. The technologies are designed to work seamlessly to deliver rates beyond 1 Mbit/s. When necessary, smoothly scale down transmission to a minimum of 140 kbits/s in areas where the wireless spectrum is heavily congested. Users will also have to option to switch from lossless to a lossy 24 bit 96 kHz setting.
According to Qualcomm, the aptX Lossless technology for Bluetooth earbuds and headphones is scheduled to be available to customers later this year, which means that one should expect to see Bluetooth earbuds or headphones bearing the Snapdragon Sound Technology Badge in 2022.
What does this translate to the consumer? To gain access to aptX, one will need a smartphone or a portable audio player that supports the Snapdragon Sound Technology (i.e. one that runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC) and a pair of earphones that support the aptX adaptive codec. Probably something to ponder if one is looking to upgrade the smartphone or the digital audio player.