Qualcomm aptX is everywhere, but what exactly is it?

    What is Qualcomm aptX?AptX is an audio codec that goals to make your music sound as strong as doable whereas holding the file dimension as compact as doable. The transmission technique determines how massive the file could be, and Bluetooth is… effectively, let’s put it this fashion: Wi-Fi is like an eight-lane freeway, whereas Bluetooth is a two-lane rural freeway.
    Qualcomm commonly updates aptX so you may have the prettiest, most strong automobile doable, touring that two-lane freeway proper via your ears and into your dome piece, er, mind.Audio Processing Technology turns into “apt-X”Audio transmission over Bluetooth radios has developed considerably from the period of the only SBC codec. Today, you’ll doubtless encounter acronyms for audio codecs like LDAC, AAC, ALAC, or aptX. While a few of these are newer applied sciences, aptX has a historical past nearly so long as Bluetooth, relationship again some 30 years. This longevity underscores its relevance and affect on Bluetooth expertise right this moment.APT, or “audio processing technology,” started as a compression algorithm developed within the 1980s by Dr. Stephen Smyth as a part of his Ph.D. analysis, and earlier than it was Qualcomm aptX, it was simply “apt-X.”His work was first used to retailer CD-quality audio or switch audio by way of ISDN strains (the precursor to DSL strains). ISDN strains had been akin to that dial-up telephone web connection you’ve doubtless heard about. Before the appearance of broadband, should you wished CD-quality audio from distant sources, this was how you bought it on the enterprise degree.(Image credit score: Universal)In the 1990s, Steven Spielberg collaborated with DTS to make use of aptX and its compression expertise to file audio for 5.1 digital playback. You might have heard of the movies performed again utilizing this expertise: “Schindler’s List,” “Saving Private Ryan,” and “Jurassic Park.Apt-X, or “aptX” as you already know it right this moment, wasn’t acquired by Qualcomm till 2015. A 12 months later, the corporate launched the aptX HD commonplace, and it’s been iterating and upping the ante on compressed dynamic digital file coding/decoding (codec), bringing us to the place we’re right this moment with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Sound merchandise.Qualcomm aptX: A timelineThe finish aim of aptX and Bluetooth codecs, normally, has all the time been to transmit CD-quality audio information over Bluetooth’s restricted bandwidth. Over the years, that bandwidth has expanded, however not fairly sufficient to transmit uncompressed CD-quality audio wirelessly.Qualcomm took its first step towards this aim in earnest in 2016 when it launched aptX HD, promising high-definition wi-fi sound high quality that they mentioned was “barely distinguishable from high-resolution audio.” For the sake of comparability, earlier than you learn the remainder of this text, let’s first set up what “high resolution” or CD high quality truly is. Uncompressed CD audio information are 16-bit, 44.1kHz information with a bitrate of 1411kbps.Get the most recent information from Android Central, your trusted companion on the earth of Android2009: aptX commonplaceSennheiser PX 210 BT: The first BT headphones to assist aptX (Image credit score: Sennheiser)In 2009, aptX might solely have a most bitrate of 384kbps at 16-bit/48kHz. Latency was a difficulty, so in 2012, the usual iterated and gave us aptX LL, or Low Latency, which was 352kbps at 16-bit/48kHz.As you may see, it was nonetheless a good distance away from giving customers CD-quality audio, nevertheless it did one thing else—it gave customers much less lag time between the time the image performed and the sound was decoded. It is as little as 32 milliseconds, to be actual. When prioritizing low-latency stereo audio over high quality, 32ms is quicker than our brains can course of, so it seems to be latency-free.2016: aptX HD & Adaptive(Image credit score: Victor)When aptX HD was launched in 2016, it supported each 16- and 24-bit depths, marching ever nearer to that 1411 bitrate at a theoretical max of 576kbps at 24-bit/48kHz. However, Qualcomm acknowledged a bottleneck stopping them from realizing CD-quality audio, and that was controlling the {hardware} and software program in varied units like smartphones, earbuds, headphones, and audio system just like the Victor EX Dub1 pictured above (which truly had a CD participant).So, in 2018, Qualcomm launched the QCC5120 SoCs, or system on a chip, which was extra environment friendly, giving Bluetooth units longer battery life and paving the best way for future developments. Also that 12 months, it launched the primary iteration of aptX Adaptive, which, because the identify implies, dynamically adjusts the quantity of knowledge being streamed between units for higher audio no matter whether or not you’re listening to music, gaming, or watching movies. Improving upon earlier bitrates, aptX Adaptive was 24-bit and scaled from 276-420kbps.Creative Bluetooth dongle that helps aptX Adaptive (Image credit score: Creative)Qualcomm would launch the Snapdragon 855 chipset a 12 months later, which introduced native aptX Adaptive assist to smartphones; then, in 2021, it launched an replace to Adaptive known as Snapdragon Sound with Qualcomm aptX Lossless.“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,” mentioned James Chapman, vp and basic supervisor of Qualcomm.2021: Snapdragon Sound and past(Image credit score: Qualcomm)This brings us to the current, and aptX Lossless remains to be working its method via the market. If your units assist it, you may hearken to 44.1kHz, 16-bit lossless audio in case your hyperlink high quality is nice sufficient. Lossless can stream CD-quality audio round that 1411kbps mark however can scale all the way down to as little as 140kbits/s in areas with heavy RF interference. The commonplace additionally helps spatial audio with head-tracking and builds on the teachings discovered from adaptive audio with “lag-free” cell audio. For units that assist aptX Lossless, you can even select between CD lossless audio and 24-bit, 96kHz lossy Hi-Res Wireless Audio.The backside line to all of this aptX expertise is that despite the fact that your earbuds, headphones, or audio system might have the mandatory Qualcomm chipsets, you continue to should depend on your telephone, pill, or laptop computer’s producer to assist the codecs and that may be an issue. To use the expertise, firms should license it (pay for it), and so they aren’t fast to try this.Samsung makes use of its personal proprietary codec, SSC, and helps older aptX requirements, whereas Google makes use of its personal chipset however helps aptX and aptX HD. There are different Android telephones on the market which are nice units and do make the most of the Snapdragon Sound platform however aren’t available in America, contemplating that many customers within the States depend on buying via a cell service, and smartphone producers typically have to ascertain offers with carriers to have their merchandise in shops.

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