OnQ Blog

Qualcomm Immersive Audio: superior surround sound on your smartphone—without headphones

17 Apr 2015

Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

These days we’re using our mobile devices to hear everything under the moon, from our favorite songs and podcasts, to high quality surround sound on streaming HD videos. But when the headphones come off, the mobile sound experience can leave something to be desired. That’s why we developed Qualcomm Immersive Audio, a technology designed to bring theater-like sound to users’ ears—no headphones required.

With Immersive Audio there’s no need to plug in headphones. You don’t need an AV receiver, or to plug any wires into external speakers to coax surround sound from your mobile device. Whether you’re just watching a movie on the couch—or introducing your friends to the song you’ve been playing on repeat all week—excellent audio plays straight from the speakers on your device.

Let’s compare Qualcomm Immersive Audio to the traditional getup for a second. Traditional smartphones deliver sound with stereo headphones on a mono speaker. With Immersive Audio, users can listen to high quality music without the headphones and with the help of two front-facing speakers.

Until now it wasn’t technically possible to play stereo audio on mobile speakers. Quality sound relies on acoustic isolation, which stereo speakers haven’t been especially competent at delivering. For a good listening experience, each ear is supposed to hear a different stream of music. But there’s this phenomenon called crosstalk which happens where the right ear hears the same sound as the left ear. Without acoustic isolation, the signal is distorted and loses its full dimension. Immersive Audio is designed to fix this problem.

Crosstalk cancellation technology, added to mobile devices with dual front speakers, processes the audio so that users can listen to any content with the equivalent quality as when they’ve got their headphones plugged in. Canceling out crosstalk addresses the problem of listening fatigue. Qualcomm Technologies takes this technology a step further by selectively drawing out, and then processing, the center of the “sound image” before the crosstalk cancellation technology adds the finishing polish.

This innovative technique produces a center of sound that’s faithfully sharp and immersive, unmatched in other audio platforms. Music and other surround sound content now sounds like it’s flowing from multi-channel headphones with nothing more than the device in your hand.

HTC’s famous BoomSound just went fully immersive by adopting Qualcomm Immersive Audio in the flagship HTC One M9, powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor. The new HTC device also supports the Qualcomm AllPlay smart media platform, which makes streaming music to one or more speakers easier than ever.

The technology behind Immersive Audio has a special place in our hearts. That's because it was born from the Qualcomm ImpaQt program. From the very start, Qualcomm has thrived on the merits of an inventive spirit. ImpaQt is that spirit distilled. Through this program, Qualcomm Technologies employees submit ideas, and then work with peers from a number of departments and specializations in bringing them to their full realization in finished products. Immersive Audio is one such ImpaQt idea that grew from inception to commercialization in just one year.

Qualcomm Immersive Audio and other advanced audio features like HD audio and Fluence Pro noise cancellation technology are available in certain Snapdragon processors, depending on OEM implementation. Read more about all of the ways we’re working to create the future of mobile audio on our Audio features page.

Qualcomm Snapdragon, Qualcomm Immersive Audio, and Fluence are products of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. Qualcomm AllPlay is a product of Qualcomm Connected Experiences, Inc.