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Bluetooth Audio Codecs Demystified!

Bluetooth Audio Codecs Demystified!

While talking about cars, we talk about engine power. While talking about cameras, we often talk about pixels. While talking about smartphones, we most likely use the word android/iOS version. While talking about the internet, we talk about the IP address.

And finally, while talking about the wireless earphones, we often tend to hear Bluetooth Audio Codecs a lot. Unlike some, this is a very technical term for many people. You must be claiming to know everything about earphones, the best models, how wireless can beat wired ones etc. But if you do not really know about Bluetooth Audio Codecs, you are missing out on some very important information about the latest technological invention, the wireless earphone.

So here, taking a chance to throw light on this topic, educating you about the various types of codecs that are best for audio quality and connection stability, hoping that it will enable you to make the right choice about your wireless earphones.


What does Audio Codec mean?

In the programming language, a codec decides how Bluetooth is transmitted from the source to your earphones. Its basic function is to encode and decode advanced audio data that is digital in nature and convert it into a specific format. Stating correctly, it transmits a high-fidelity signal (High quality of sound produced as an output in an answer to the high-quality input that is processed) at a minimum required bit-rate. This outcomes with the minimalistic amount of space and bandwidth which is required for storage and playback, individually. A lower bitrate implies better compression and more regrettable sound quality, a high bitrate implies better sound quality and more awful compression. So how do codecs explore this trade-off?

Now that we have learned that codecs are the ones that reduce stagnation of sound, improves the quality of audio that reaches your ears, contributes to the efficiency of energy and also, creating an impact on the battery life as well, it is time to distinguish between various types of Bluetooth audio codecs that are available in various wireless earphones. Knowing this difference will enable you to choose the earphones with the best codec.


Qualcomm aptX

This code is mostly relevant to android users. To our surprise, aptX has been around much before we got familiar with Bluetooth itself. Earlier, it was used in broadcasting radio signals and in commercial movie theatres. Nowadays also it is one of the favorite codecs for your wireless earphones. If you already own a pair of them and want to check if it has aptX codec, you need not surf a lot because it is a licensed codec and will be mentioned on the packaging of your earphones very clearly. To beam huge amounts of data wirelessly, aptX uses compression, which helps reduce latency or stagnation in simple words. It supports 16-bit/48 kHz LCPM audio data up to 352 kbps, and is referred to as a 'lossy compressed' format. This simply means that you get really small file sizes. This is a widely used consumer Bluetooth codec present today for MP3s.


apt-X HD

As the name suggests, aptX HD is a high-definition version of aptX. Owned by Qualcomm, there are many expensive Android smartphones packing Snapdragon SoCs also included atpX HD as part of the package. It is known for supporting high-definition audio transfers at 24-bit/48kHz with a max transfer rate of 576 kbps. Being the HD version, it is certain that the signal-to-noise ratio is also much better on aptX HD compared to aptX, which results in a high definition of music, such as individual instruments that can blur together on even CD-quality audio. For aptX HD to work, the input device, such as your smartphone or media player, as well as output device, such as a pair of Bluetooth headphones, need to support aptx HD.

There also exists aptx LL - for 'low latency'. Another of Qualcomm's technologies, aptx LL is designed to increase the end-to-end speed of audio transmission to as low as 40ms and is commonly found in gaming headsets and audio equipment for lip-syncing.



This is the codec you really should not bother much about since it gives the lowest quality of audio over Bluetooth. Sub-band coding (SBC) is the basic, default Bluetooth audio codec. If you happen to find this codec in any smartphones or headphones, it is as a basic requirement they are offering in this field and is therefore not a marketing selling point for any of them.



This is for our friends who choose to buy Apple iPhone. Advanced audio coding (AAC) is also the default compression format for the version of YouTube that is free. AAC achieves MP3-quality sound rather than CD-quality, but the transfer rate is topped at 250 kbps. AAC is found to consume more than the usual power which results in quick battery drainage.



LDAC is the restrictive sound codec from Sony. The superstar here is the variable bit rate, with the most elevated numbers for bitrate moves in the business (anything up to 990 kbps is on the cards here). In any case, LDAC isn't broadly utilized and most cell phone makers will expect you to delve into the engineer settings to turn it on if your gadget bolsters it. In any case, when you make it run, you will have the option to transfer multiple times the amount of information with LDAC than you can with the standard SBC in a similar measure of time.

To make a choice between all these codecs, there has to be a trade-off according to your priority. You could choose high definition audio over power consumption or vice versa. Quality for everyone is different and very subjective. Qualcomm's aptx HD is considered to be of an industry standard for HD audio on Android, but hear from any Apple user and they will debate that AAC is best. You could even be someone using a variety of Bluetooth devices or someone looking for a best pair of smartphones and earphones using the same audio codec, choice in the end is yours!


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