Qualcomm's 'Snapdragon Sound' aims to boost wireless audio quality

Xiaomi and Audio-Technica have already signed up to use the optimized audio tech.

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Audio-Technica
Audio-Technica

Just days after it unveiled its project to bring advanced haptics to Android, Qualcomm has announced another ambitious venture aimed at bridging the gaps in device performance. This time it's focusing on boosting wireless sound quality on phones, headphones and gaming headsets by combining its mobile and audio technologies to solve latency and connection issues. That way, it says, you won't suffer from dropouts when streaming a playlist on your earbuds or miss important intel when using a headset in a gaming session.

To achieve this goal, Qualcomm is utilizing Bluetooth latencies as low as 89 milliseconds (which it claims is 45 percent lower than its rivals), active noise cancellation, support for high-resolution 24-bit 96kHz audio, and super wideband voice. As usual, device makers will be able to license the tech from the chip giant, offered under the new "Snapdragon Sound" banner, to add to their gear.

Its first customers include Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi and headphone specialist Audio-Technica, both of which will incorporate the audio suite into their future products. If all goes to plan, the Snapdragon Sound badge will start appearing on everything from phones and earbuds, initially, to additional devices including PCs, smartwatches and augmented reality glasses further down the line.

Though high-quality audio is readily available across all the use cases Qualcomm has identified — from lossless music streams on Tidal (and, soon, Spotify) to Dolby Atmos support on headsets — the goal here is to eradicate some of the flaws that come with the wireless listening experience to bring it closer to, well, wired audio.

"The human ear is highly sensitive to glitches, latencies and other challenges which commonly occur when streaming music, video conferencing, or gaming over wireless connections," said James Chapman, vice president and general manager, voice, music and wearables, Qualcomm Technologies International. "We are looking to deliver innovations to solve common consumer pain-points across virtually all audio interaction points.”

To promote its new offering, Qualcomm has teamed up with Amazon Music (which introduced lossless streams and downloads in 2019) to create a high-quality audio playlist featuring songs from contemporary and classic artists including British songstress Celeste and punk rock icons The Clash.

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