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(Pocket-lint) - Over the past few years, smartphones have moved away from wired headphones by removing the 3.5mm headphone port, which used to be a mainstay feature. That meant wireless technology had to get better and - as always with any wireless tech advancement - Qualcomm was at the forefront. 

Previously, when relying on Bluetooth for audio, that often meant a dip in audio quality. Bluetooth, until relatively recently, was useless at transferring high amounts of data in good time. 

That's where aptX HD comes in, it's a technology designed to improve the quality of your music when streamed wirelessly. But how does it work and which devices support it? Allow us to explain.

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What is aptX HD?

aptX HD is an evolution of aptX. aptX is a lot more common than the HD derivative, so there's a good chance you've already heard of it. It's been around since the 1980s but is now owned by Qualcomm, the manufacturer of the Snapdragon processing chips that are found in the majority of Android smartphones.

aptX is able to transmit your music in 'CD-like' 16-bit/44.1kHz quality, but because it's compressed, it can't technically be classed as "CD-quality". The compression is there to help keep latency at an absolute minimum when transmitted wirelessly to headphones or a Bluetooth speaker.

If you want better quality sound over Bluetooth then you need aptX HD. The new technology was launched in 2016 to offer higher quality streaming and it can support high-definition audio up to 24-bit/48kHz. Qualcomm says it offers "better-than-CD" sound quality and can even enhance the sound of standard resolution music files.

aptX HD has also been designed to improve the signal-to-noise ratio, meaning you should be able to hear even the most intricate of details in the songs you listen to.

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Which devices support aptX HD?

In order to take advantage of the benefits of aptX HD, you'll need to make sure you have a device that supports it. These devices will have the CSR8675 Bluetooth audio system-on-chip (SoC) as it's capable of supporting 24-bit audio from end-to-end.

When aptX HD first launched, not many devices supported it, but now more manufacturers are getting onboard with higher quality streaming. In fact, if you head over to this list on Qualcomm's website, there are now more than 280 products on the market, ranging from smartphones and media players to headphones and amps. 

You'll find a list of smartphones below. It's by no means extensive, but there are lots of popular Android phones on there. 

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Smartphones

For the full list of support smartphones, old and new, check out the page on aptx.com

Headphones

Check out the full list on aptx.com. 

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Portable Music Players

  • Astell & Kern Kann
  • Astell & Kern AK320
  • Astell & Kern AK380
  • Astell & Kern AK300
  • Astell & Kern AK70
  • Astell & Kern AK70 MKII
  • Astell & Kern A&Ultimata
  • Fiio M6
  • Sony Walkman NW-A40
  • Sony Walkman NW-ZX300

Hi-Fi Components

  • Astell & Kern XB10
  • Bluewave Audio Get Wireless Hi-Fi Amplifier
  • Dali Callisto speaker system
  • Inateck BR1006 Bluetooth receiver
  • Naim Uniti Core
  • Naim Uniti Atom
  • Naim Uniti Nova
  • Naim Uniti Star
  • Ruark Audio R5

To find out more about Qualcomm aptX HD and to keep up to date with all the devices that support the platform, head to the official aptX website.  

Writing by Max Langridge. Originally published on 18 October 2017.