UWB: a revolutionary high-resolution wireless audio transmission?


Ultra-wideband or UWB. That’s the name of the technology that could change mobile listening. UWB is a short-range wireless communication protocol that differs from WiFi or Bluetooth in that it has a very wide frequency bandwidth of 500 MHz, from 3.1 GHz to 10.6 GHz. What are its benefits and how can this standard revolutionize wireless listening?

UWB, better than Bluetooth?

The Bluetooth standard can ensure a data transmission equivalent to 2 megabits/second. In other words, lossless high-resolution audio over Bluetooth is excluded, regardless of the codec used, such as aptX HD and LDAC.

The “Hi-Res” logos on the packaging of Bluetooth headphones are sometimes misleading, as they usually apply to wired use. However, the Japan Audio Society has created a new “Hi-Res Wireless” logo for wireless models that meet certain audio quality requirements. To be certified, codecs must be able to cover a frequency range of up to 40kHz and support 24-bit/96kHz.

In addition to the HWA and LHDC codecs, two new transmission methods have recently received this certification: LC3plus and SCL6, also known as MQair. It can handle high-resolution audio files up to 384kHz with a bandwidth of up to 20 Mbps.

The high-performance SCL6 codec, also known as MQair, enables wireless transmission of Hi-Res tracks at up to 24-bit/384kHz and MQA.

However, even if this technology can work without loss, it cannot be used with a Bluetooth transmission whose maximum bit rate is capped at 1.5 Mbps. An insufficient rate to support lossless high-resolution audio files.

Read also: SCL6 (MQair): the best codec for Hi-Res wireless transmission

How to transmit lossless high resolution audio wirelessly

To get high quality wireless sound , WiFi was naturally tried. It guarantees a very high rate with TV headphones like the JVC XP-EXT1. However, WiFi is consumes a lot of energy compared to Bluetooth and is only suitable for home listening.

UWB meets all the requirements: it consumes little energy and can achieve a higher bit rate than Bluetooth. However, its use is currently limited, as it is mainly used for device localization. Some phones, such as iPhones and Google Pixels, use UWB for this feature. Note however that it is banned in some countries such as Indonesia, Ukraine and Armenia.

How to use the UWB for mobile listening

Until today, UWB had never been considered as a solution for high-quality wireless listening, due to body blocking issues. Indeed, the radio waves created by existing antennas are reflected or absorbed by the human body, interrupting the signal. AntennaWare, a company founded at Belfast’s Queen’s University, has developed an antenna called BodyWave that enables UWB to be used in wireless headsets.

This new technology provides a higher bit rate and allows codecs such as SCL6 to deliver true high resolution audio. The BodyWave antenna does not provide more bandwidth, but it does provide stable and continuous sound in complex RF environments.

AntennaWare’s BodyWave antenna solves the problem of body blocking that has long been a barrier to the deployment of UWB technology in wireless headphones.

If successful, this technology could prove to be a real improvement for all audiophiles looking for high-resolution, lossless, low-power wireless technology. In short, uncompromising mobile listening!

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