(Pocket-lint) - Qualcomm has developed what it claims to be the first truly lossless audio codec capable of bit-for-bit music streaming over Bluetooth.
Coming to devices sporting a new version of Snapdragon Sound tech in 2022, it enables CD quality music to be heard wirelessly on supported in- and over-ear headphones.
Here's everything you need to know about aptX Lossless and why it differs to other aptX technologies.
What is Qualcomm aptX Lossless?
Qualcomm aptX Lossless is the first truly lossless audio technology capable of transmitting bit-for-bit CD quality tracks over Bluetooth.
It will send 16-bit 44.1kHz audio to supported headphones with literally no loss in audible playback. This is through optimisation of "core wireless connectivity and audio technologies".
The new aptX Lossless will be part of the aptX Adaptive suite of technologies and will feature as part of the overarching Snapdragon Sound tech from Qualcomm.
That means it can be activated when the wireless (RF) conditions are at their best, streaming 1Mbps over Bluetooth. However, if the connection weakens for any reason, aptX Adaptive can then shift the stream quality down to, at lowest, 140kbps. That will ensure you will continue to hear your music (or podcast, audiobook, etc) at the best quality possible, albeit not lossless at that point.
Qualcomm's aptX Lossless codec will require devices with the right Snapdragon Sound hardware, both at source and for reception. There are no currently-available headphones that are compatible, as they will need to include new chips with the latest Snapdragon Sound technology. Those with Snapdragon Sound already will not be upgradeable, we understand.
aptX Lossless vs aptX HD
You could be confused in thinking that Qualcomm already has a high-res audio codec in aptX HD. Indeed, it can transmit audio at a higher resolution than even aptX Lossless - up to 24-bit 48kHz. However, that is not transmitted losslessly, the audio is compressed.
The highest bitrate possible through aptX HD is 576kbps, whereas aptX Lossless can stream at 1Mbps.
The other benefit to aptX Lossless is that it can actually reach 24-bit 96kHz if you are happy to put up with lossy audio, so is adaptable. You will be able to switch between the modes, depending on your preference.
We've been very impressed by the audio quality achieved via aptX HD in tests. We're yet to test aptX Lossless.
There are other aptX technologies too, including aptX Low Latency, but that's for less lag (for gaming, etc) than audio quality per se.
What devices support aptX Lossless
Currently, no headsets or earbuds support the new codec. They will be made available from early 2022, with true wireless in-ears and other headphones needing to support a new version of Qualcomm's Snapdragon Sound hardware to be compatible.
Sadly, it is not likely that Apple will adopt aptX Lossless for future iPhones or AirPods. It's not impossible hasn't supported any other form of aptX audio tech to date.
In all likelihood, Apple will develop its own technology to stream lossless audio over Bluetooth, but we've not yet heard of anything in the pipeline.