Qualcomm wants to improve wireless audio quality with Snapdragon Sound certification

nanoguy

Posts: 714   +12
Staff member
In brief: Qualcomm wants to boost wireless sound quality on a variety of products that utilize Snapdragon chips, so it's combining its hardware and software technologies under a unified branding called Snapdragon Sound. The company aims to make it easier to shop for a great wireless audio experience that is more seamless and integrated across a range of equipment.

Qualcomm's latest effort aims to tackle one of the biggest consumer complaints in wireless audio. Throughout the years, the company has pushed for the adoption of its proprietary aptX codec and its derivatives, which are designed to reduce latency and improve sound quality delivered through wireless audio products like headphones, speakers, and soundbars.

This approach has worked to some degree, but with the rise of wireless earbuds and smart speakers, it can be hard for an average consumer to discern between the many options available. In order to solve that, Qualcomm is launching a new branding initiative called Snapdragon Sound, which should in theory make it easier to find audio products that incorporate a great audio experience and end-to-end interoperability with other devices that feature the same branding.

Qualcomm says the new certification will ensure your wireless devices will work more like those found in "vertically integrated ecosystems" like that of Apple or Samsung.

One way that Snapdragon Sound will help is that it certifies that a device is capable of Bluetooth latencies as low as 89 milliseconds, which should bring the experience closer to what you get with wired audio. This is especially useful for wireless gaming headsets, as Qualcomm claims that's less than half the latency of competing solutions. But more importantly, the company promises its end-to-end optimizations will lead to more robust connectivity with fewer dropouts even in congested RF environments, such as trains, subways, and shopping malls.

The typical technology chain will involve the Snapdragon 888 mobile platform, the FastConnect 6900 system, the Qualcomm Aqstic codec and amp, the Qualcomm QCC 3056/514x/515x Bluetooth audio SoCs, as well as the Snapdragon Sound software stack, which includes the company's aptX adaptive audio codec.

Other improvements promised by Snapdragon Sound are active noise cancellation, support for 24-bit 96 KHz audio output, and better voice capture that includes frequencies up to 16 KHz and a sampling rate of 32 KHz. Qualcomm is currently promoting Snapdragon Sound through Amazon Music, which has supported lossless streaming since 2019, with similar offerings expected from Tidal and Spotify soon.

On the downside, while current devices from brands like Sennheiser, Audio-Technica, Anker, Bose, and Jabra may feature some of the necessary components, only new equipment will be certified for the Snapdragon Sound experience. Xiaomi and Audio-Technica are expected to be the first partners to deliver Snapdragon Sound-branded earbuds and headsets later this year. Qualcomm also plans to put the Snapdragon Sound badge on other products in the near future including laptops, tablets, smartwatches, and augmented reality glasses.

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yRaz

Posts: 3,574   +3,460
This isn't 1995 when you need a soundcard, how much better do we need digital audio? Maybe my ears are filled with meth or something, but I stopped hearing an improvement in digital audio around 2006-2007

EDIT:
wireless audio.....well, that was a slight oversight......
 

kiwigraeme

Posts: 261   +227
This isn't 1995 when you need a soundcard, how much better do we need digital audio? Maybe my ears are filled with meth or something, but I stopped hearing an improvement in digital audio around 2006-2007

EDIT:
wireless audio.....well, that was a slight oversight......

Even with wired & your ears - you should get a noticeable improvement with a USB - to a powered Dac - to head phones - just by dint of cleaner signal ( electrical interference ) and more power to hit the peaks - heaps of them for $150 or so on Amazon
 

Bullwinkle M

Posts: 451   +349
Even with wired & your ears - you should get a noticeable improvement with a USB - to a powered Dac - to head phones - just by dint of cleaner signal ( electrical interference ) and more power to hit the peaks - heaps of them for $150 or so on Amazon
Clueless is as Clueless does!

Wireless Earbuds MUST be Low Latency!!!!!!!

Sure the better ones sound great, but...........
 

Bulllee

Posts: 157   +114
Without going into the tech details I would say there is plenty of room for improvement in all the forms mentioned.
I don't know, but a bit of R&D could pay off down that forgotten road.
 

kiwigraeme

Posts: 261   +227
Clueless is as Clueless does!

Wireless Earbuds MUST be Low Latency!!!!!!!

Sure the better ones sound great, but...........

What are you on about ?- My comment is a generality about how you can get an easy improvement with wired headphones.

This is a problem going back over a few responses to my varoius posts - reading comprehension - clueless!!! - clueless? your post is fine in general about BT etc - but nothing to do with me
 

Bullwinkle M

Posts: 451   +349
What are you on about ?- My comment is a generality about how you can get an easy improvement with wired headphones.

This is a problem going back over a few responses to my varoius posts - reading comprehension - clueless!!! - clueless? your post is fine in general about BT etc - but nothing to do with me

Try staying on topic >

"Qualcomm wants to improve WIRELESS audio quality"
 

bandit8623

Posts: 265   +153
Improvements are fine, but QUALCOMM needs to include other tech into the mix if its going to do this. ldac is just as good as aptxhd or better. they just want all the biz. im in agreement though that there is confusion.
 

Bullwinkle M

Posts: 451   +349
Improvements are fine, but QUALCOMM needs to include other tech into the mix if its going to do this. ldac is just as good as aptxhd or better. they just want all the biz. im in agreement though that there is confusion.

The latency number is going to be the most important

I'm fine with 16 bit / 44Khz and have no need for AptX HD @ 48Khz

Many Bluetooth dongles do not deliver 48Khz anyway, even if they are listed as AptX HD

You will likely not hear a difference between 44 and 48Khz over bluetooth, but you WILL hear the higher latency

AptX LL is great for games and movies with 40ms delay, but AptX HD is completely unusable in many situations

Better Amplification and headphone quality will make a far bigger impact on sound quality over bluetooth than higher sampling rates anyway

Work on the latency and all is well


 

bandit8623

Posts: 265   +153
The latency number is going to be the most important

I'm fine with 16 bit / 44Khz and have no need for AptX HD @ 48Khz

Many Bluetooth dongles do not deliver 48Khz anyway, even if they are listed as AptX HD

You will likely not hear a difference between 44 and 48Khz over bluetooth, but you WILL hear the higher latency

AptX LL is great for games and movies with 40ms delay, but AptX HD is completely unusable in many situations

Better Amplification and headphone quality will make a far bigger impact on sound quality over bluetooth than higher sampling rates anyway

Work on the latency and all is well
Latency doesn't matter for listening to music. Although for calls and gaming it does. I only use Bluetooth for music so latency to me doesn't matter
 

Shaitan

Posts: 94   +89
Meh. I'll stick to my old LG V40 or any other WIRED phone maker which doesn't remove the 3.5 mm jack.The wired headsets are robust, simple, ergonomic, and reliable.
Wireless headsets need batteries, batteries can't be replaced, the sound is just not as good.
Worse case scenario, I'll buy a portable DAC player which allows me to swap AAA batteries (are there such players available in 201?!)
Sony Xperia III or whatever comes first. I'll never buy Apple (they are the first to remove the headphone jack) nor Same-sung, which copies whatever crap Apple comes up with.