Chip designer Qualcomm recently introduced the aptX Lossless codec, a new technology that promises CD-quality (lossless) audio over Bluetooth. This technology will be integrated into many Bluetooth heaphones and True Wireless earphones to be released in 2022.
The aptX Lossless codec is technically an extension of aptX Adaptive. Qualcomm says it will be possible to stream CD-quality lossless (16-bit / 44.1kHz) audio over Bluetooth. The first headphone models compatible with this new technology should start appearing as early as 2022 and will work with smartphones equipped with the latest generation Qualcomm Snapdragon chips. The technology is adaptive and will transmit at CD quality provided the music file being played is lossless and the wireless connection is good enough to support it. In environments where the wireless network is very saturated, the bit rate will therefore be dynamically reduced to 140 kbps in order to maintain the best audio performance depending on the quality of the connection.
The aptX Lossless codec will therefore provide a higher bit rate than was previously possible with aptX HD and will even surpass Sony’s LDAC in terms of bandwidth (up to 1 Mbps for aptX Lossless versus 990 kbps for LDAC). Some compression is still involved; CD-quality music typically has a bit rate of 1.4 Mbps, but Qualcomm uses lossless compression to provide mathematically accurate, bit-by-bit audio reproduction.
As online music platforms offer more and more hi-fi subscriptions, such as Amazon Music HD, Qobuz, Tidal, or even Apple Music, streaming and lossless transmission have become key elements in the battle between these services and a particularly important feature for all future Bluetooth headphones.