Qualcomm promises lossless Bluetooth audio with new chipset

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Qualcomm has announced a new generation of sound platforms that could introduce new capabilities like lossless audio, lower latency, and improved Bluetooth performance.

The chipmaker on Monday unveiled the new S3 and S5 sound platforms with support for the company's Snapdragon Sound technology. Both chips sport both Bluetooth wireless audio and the latest LE Audio standards.

The audio accessories sporting the new S3 and S5 chip will be enabled on devices equipped with Qualcomm's Snapdragon Sound technology. Samsung, OnePlus, and other Android makers include the tech, but two notable holdouts include Apple and Google.

As far as benefits on compatible hardware, Qualcomm says the new sound platforms will provide lossless, CD-quality audio, lower Bluetooth latency as low as 68 milliseconds, and better audio performance on phone calls.

For non-Apple users, the S3 and S5 sound platforms will also enable audio sharing, which could let users set up private streams that allow multiple devices to listen to the same audio simultaneously. Apple H1 and W1 chips already enable this capability, but other manufacturers haven't supported anything similar.

In addition, the new Qualcomm technology will bring improved active noise cancellation that the company says will do a much better job than previous generations. The improved ANC could include better power efficiency and the ability to adapt to noise conditions like wind or a poorly fitting earbud.

Although Apple and Qualcomm have a modem licensing agreement in place, the iPhone has been traditionally reluctant to adopt Qualcomm's aptX family of Bluetooth codecs. Given that Apple may also move away from Qualcomm modems entirely sometime in the future, the likelihood that Apple will adopt Snapdragon Sound in its own devices seems low.

Qualcomm says it'll provide the new sound platforms to customers such as Yamaha, Cambridge Audio, Master & Dynamic, and Audio-Technica by the end of the second half of 2022.