Qualcomm’s aptX Lossless: CD-Quality Sound Over Bluetooth

Multinational behemoth Qualcomm announced they will be rolling out aptx Lossless to deliver CD-quality sound to wireless headphones. Now that’s news.

aptX Lossless, which is part of the company’s Snapdragon Sound program and accompanying chipsets, is an end-to-end hardware solution, which means that your Android mobile phone and your earbuds or headphones need to be so endowed. The company expects to see aptX Lossless devices hit the market in early 2022.

For bit counters, aptX Lossless offers bitperfect replay of CD-quality sources as long as the wireless environment is relatively RF free. When things gets noisy, i.e. in areas with lots of RF activity, the stream will be throttled down down to as low as 140kbits/s to keep the stream flowing without a hiccup — these technologies deliver rates beyond 1Mbit/s yet smoothly scale down to 140kbits/s in congested RF environments.

With Apple, Tidal, Deezer, and Qobuz already offering lossless streaming and Spotify due to hit the CD-quality streaming switch any day now, it’s great to see CD-quality making a Rocky Balboa-like comeback. Cut me, Mick.

“At Qualcomm Technologies we’re excited about the future of sound, and we’re continually looking for ways to help our customers deliver new and exciting listening experiences. Lossless audio means mathematically bit-for-bit exact, with no loss of the audio file and up to now the necessary bit rate to deliver this over Bluetooth has not been available. With many leading music streaming services now offering extensive lossless music libraries, and consumer demand for lossless audio growing, we’re pleased to announce this new support for CD lossless audio streaming for Bluetooth earbuds and headsets which we plan to make available to customers later this year” James Chapman, vice president and general manager of Qualcomm Technologies International, Ltd.

If you’re wondering, What about my iPhone?, Apple devices currently do not support aptX and there’s no word that this will change any time soon. And did I hear someone say, What about hires? aptX Lossless can handle resolutions up to 24-bit/96kHz but the delivery is lossy.

I must admit to mixed feelings about this news. On one hand, CD-quality is old news so I find it difficult to get over-the-top excited about getting something we’ve had for nearly 30-years. Just imagine if the advent of movie streaming services meant you had to trade in the quality of your TV for something noticeably worse, and then years later being told you should be really excited that you can once again have what you used to have! Yea, thanks.

On the other hand, advances in technology that improve the sound of music are always welcome even when that means sticking music into a container, CD-quality, when the original reason for that container, the Compact Disc, is no longer being used for delivery.

Perfect sound forever. Yippee!

aptX Lossless Features & Specifications

  • Supports 44.1kHz, 16-bit CD lossless audio quality
  • Designed to scale-up to CD lossless audio based on Bluetooth link quality
  • User can select between CD lossless audio 44.1kHz and 24-bit 96kHz lossy
  • Auto-detects to enable CD lossless audio when the source is lossless audio
  • Mathematically bit-for-bit exact
  • Bit-rate – ~1Mbps

Company Website: Qualcomm