Qualcomm aptX Lossless audio presentation

The past few years have seen an increasing focus on improving audio streams, from Tidal, Amazon Music HD and Qobuz, to the upcoming Spotify Hi-Fi tier, but how exactly can you transfer that audio quality across Bluetooth in a bit-perfect manner?

Qualcomm believe they’ve got the answer in the form of their new aptX Lossless codec.

Introduce as an extension of its aptX Adaptive technology and as part of its Snapdragon Sound ecosystem, aptX Lossless is designed to deliver CD quality, 16-bit 44.1kHz lossless audio.

Many audio codecs claim to be able to reach lossless playback over Bluetooth, but Qualcomm are confident they’ve nailed the aspects of what’s required thanks to their approach from an overall ecosystem, which covers the source, the form of transmission and the technology that’s used in the receiver.

How does aptX Lossless work?

Of course, aptX Lossless isn’t just one thing – it’s made up of a series of parts that bind together to form a while. So, in order to deliver CD lossless audio quality ‘reliably’ over Bluetooth, Qualcomm make use of their aptX
Adaptive (which adapts the signal strength/bit-rate to maintain a strong connection between the source and receiver) with its Bluetooth High Speed Link technology to achieve the “required sustainable data throughput”.

At its most capable, the combination of these technologies can deliver claimed transmission rates of beyond 1Mbit/s, and can smoothly scale down to 140kbits/s in busy areas to minimise any audio dropouts. That does suggest you won’t always be getting that 1Mbit/s throughput, but that figure is above the likes of Sony’s LDAC, which can reach 990kbps.

Enter Snapdragon Sound

Of course, to be able to reach these bit-rates you need wireless gear that sits within the Qualcomm ecosystem – specifically Snapdragon Sound.

Snapdragon Sound covers the wireless experience from the source all the way to the user’s ears, and as such requires the use of new hardware to make this possible. So older headphones that already support aptX Adaptive, for example, won’t be able to be upgraded to deliver aptX Lossless quality audio.

But, a number of brands are moving to launch their first Snapdragon Sound products and they include Audio Technica, Master & Dynamic, Cleer Audio, Edifier, Asus and Motorola, with over 31 licensees having signed up to Snapdragon Sound so far.

Commenting on the announcement, James Chapman, vice president and general manager, Qualcomm Technologies International, Ltd, said: “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.”

“With many leading music streaming services now offering extensive lossless music libraries, and consumer demand for lossless audio growing, we’re pleased to announce this new support for CD lossless audio streaming for Bluetooth earbuds and headsets which we plan to make available to customers later this year.”

Expect aptX Lossless as part of Snapdragon Sound to launch later in 2021.

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