Qualcomm just announced one crucial update to its Snapdragon Sound ecosystem by announcing (among other things) the support for 16-bit 44.1kHz audio over Bluetooth. If that sounds similar, it’s because these are the specs for “CD Quality” audio, now available for the first time over BT.
Existing Snapdragon Sound devices can’t be upgraded via a software update, so only newer devices will have this capability, and I expect to see it being promoted by both Qualcomm and their OEM partners in the future (in 2022).
If you’re unfamiliar with Snapdragon Sound is an umbrella brand that brings together Qualcomm audio technologies powered by the Snapdragon platform (software and hardware).
aptX Lossless is a CODEC that produces superior quality over aptX HD. This lossless version uses about 2X the bandwidth of aptX HD, which translates into 1Mbit. In the past decade, Qualcomm has dramatically improved aptX, making it more robust to adverse radio conditions while increasing sound quality.
At the NYC launch event, Qualcomm invited high-profile partners such as Amazon Music. “Sound quality matters to everyone, and now with Qualcomm Technologies’ Snapdragon Sound technology paired with Amazon Music HD, more fans than ever can experience the best possible version of their favorite music” said Karolina Joynathsing, Director of Business Development for Amazon Music.
Handset maker Motorola (represented by Doug Michau, Executive Director of North America Business Development at Motorola) has also expressed support for Snapdragon Sound (pre aptX Lossless), which is included in the recently announced Motorola edge. You can bet that 2022 premium Motorola phones will include Lossless aptX.
In its annual research report “The State of Sound,” Qualcomm says that the pandemic might have precipitated the need for higher sound quality. 65% of respondents “turned to listening to music for comfort” and of course, a whole lot of people suddenly had to do everything over videoconferencing. Because it is for one’s livelihood, people want the best quality possible.
The wireless audio market is exploding. Smartphone, headphones, and speaker manufacturers are indeed looking to improve the user experience (and increase the average selling price). AptX Lossless seems like a perfect means to do so.
Although not every content provider will have Lossless content at first, the evolution to higher-quality audio seems inevitable as it is low-hanging fruit for the media industry.
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