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HD audio via Bluetooth is now a reality

Qualcomm's new aptX HD codec is the best thing to happen to your ears since Oasis split

Everyone loves Bluetooth. It flings tunes around the home wirelessly, or stops you needing pesky cables on your headphones. But it’s not HD quality – or rather it wasn’t until now.

That’s because at CES 2016 yesterday Qualcomm announced the new aptX HD codec, the latest version of its Bluetooth standard and the most exciting codec we’ve come across in weeks. And trust us, we love codecs.

The good news is, it’s available immediately and will offer 24-bit HD audio support, though it’s not yet clear whether that will be handle 96kHz or 192kHz tunes, or both. It’s also backwards-compatible, so you won’t need to buy new headphones or speakers in order to take advantage of it.

The bad news is, you’ll still need to wait for products capable of pumping out aptX HD to the aforementioned headphones and speakers. Expect to see phones and tablets rocking the CSR8675 Bluetooth audio SoC platform, as it’s technically known, later this year.

The other bad news is that due to the inherent bandwidth restrictions in Bluetooth, the tunes will still be compressed. Qualcomm says that won’t negatively affect sound quality, though, stating that it has “a lower signal-to-noise ratio” and is “ideal for use as part of a high-resolution audio solution”. Then again, it would say that.

We’ve not actually heard it yet, so we’ll reserve judgement for now, but we’ll report back as soon as we can.

Profile image of Will Findlater Will Findlater Contributing Editor


Will is a contributing editor and ex-Editor-in-Chief of Stuff. He's been here a while: since 2004, in fact. Things have changed a fair bit since then, although he still gets ribbed for his ongoing respect for 'pioneering' Windows Mobile PDAs. He lives in hope that a new gadget will some day emerge that excites him as much as his Amiga did when he was nine. (The iPhone came pretty close.)

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