Qualcomm aptX Lossless: CD-quality audio via Bluetooth

Qualcomm has just unveiled aptX Lossless Audio, a new codec for lossless CD-quality audio that remains under the umbrella of its Snapdragon Sound technology.

Qualcomm aptX Lossless Audio is now official
Supports lossless CD-quality audio (16-bit at a sampling rate of 44.1 kHz) via Bluetooth
Available by the end of 2021

Lossless audio, or lossless sound, is a new trend in music streaming services. Both Amazon Music Unlimited and Apple Music now offer powerful sound at no extra charge to their customers, and Spotify wants to follow suit as well. The problem with this, as we discovered during the lively conversation about the Apple AirPods Max: We don’t always benefit from that level of quality via wireless headphones. This is where Qualcomm intends to fill the gap with the introduction of aptX Lossless Audio.

Lossless CD quality via Bluetooth

A few months ago, Qualcomm introduced its Snapdragon sound technology, which has now been enhanced with the aptX Lossless Audio codec. This makes lossless audio codec that delivers CD-quality audio over Bluetooth available to the masses. Before you proceed any further, how about checking out Ben’s comprehensive article about everything you need to know concerning Bluetooth codecs, AptX included?

According to Qualcomm, AptX supports 16 bits at a sampling rate of 44.1 kHz, which is the equivalent of lossless CD-quality audio. Depending on the Bluetooth connection or user request, that quality is scaled. As the user, you have the choice of enjoying 24-bit audio at 96 kHz as well. If the connection quality is poor, it will then be scaled down to 140 kbit/s. However, in an optimal situation, just under 1 Mbit/s is possible. Here, one adapts via automatic recognition which checks whether a source supplies loss-free audio signals or not.

The codec is supposed to activate lossless audio automatically as soon as a Lossless title is played. Qualcomm lists the following features and specifications for aptX Lossless in its recent announcement:

Supports 44.1kHz, 16-bit CD lossless audio quality
Scales to CD lossless audio quality based on the quality of the Bluetooth connection
User can choose between lossless CD audio (44.1 kHz) and lossy 24-bit audio (96 kHz)
Auto-detection to enable lossless CD audio when the source is lossless audio
Mathematically bit-for-bit accurate
Bit rate – ~1Mbps
Availability from late 2021

The catch to all these figures and numbers is this: our ears will be unable to benefit from this new codec until we obtain the appropriate hardware. Still, it shouldn’t take too long, as James Chapman (Vice President and General Manager, Qualcomm Technologies International, Ltd), explained:

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

Will the first products that support aptX Lossless be released this year? I don’t think so. However, we do look forward to this situation being remedied at the beginning of 2022 with something released for your ears, and in wireless form, too. If that is simply too taxing for your patience and you’re already urgently looking for new pair of in-ear Bluetooth earbuds, take a look at NextPits best lists.