Chip designer Qualcomm has introduced aptX Lossless – a new tech that promises consistent CD quality (lossless) audio over Bluetooth. It’ll appear in numerous new wireless headphones launched in 2022 and steals a march on Apple whose AAC Bluetooth tech doesn’t offer the same bandwidth for full lossless audio, something we’d expect to see corrected with the next generation of AirPods devices.
Essentially the technology is a refinement of what has gone before and will work initially with smartphones that run later-generation Qualcomm Snapdragon chips. The technology is adaptive and will deliver lossless audio when the music file being played is lossless and the wireless connection is good enough to support it; the tech can scale the data throughput up or down depending on the conditions to minimise any audio dropouts.
Sound quality and battery life top the list
With streaming services increasingly offering lossless audio options such as Amazon Music HD and Tidal as well as Apple Music, it seems that lossless support in is set to be a key theme for new Bluetooth headphone launches next year.
Qualcomm says that its research shows true wireless headphone buyers – which, after all, isn’t the cheap end of the market are primarily interested in sound quality and battery life before price, comfort and ease-of-use. Interestingly, noise cancellation and call quality are both further down the list.
“Currently lossless audio is only supported on devices such as phones, PCs and tablets. By supporting lossless audio on next-gen earbuds and headphones, we’re providing another way to deliver sound the way the artist intended,” said Qualcomm’s James Chapman.
“Lossless audio means mathematically bit-for-bit exact, with no loss of the audio file and up to now the necessary bit rate to deliver this over Bluetooth has not been available." The aptX Lossless technology will support audio up to 16-bit 44.1kHz lossless audio.
Existing Snapdragon Sound partners include Cleer and Audio-Technica, so expect them to also introduce earphones based on the new aptX Lossless tech.