OnQ Blog

Behind the scenes with Qualcomm Aqstic and aptX audio tech

14 Dec 2016

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

For decades, Qualcomm Technologies has worked ceaselessly to establish and enhance the mobile entertainment ecosystem.

Along the way, it’s helped support glistening graphics, frictionless connectivity, immersive VR, and, you might be surprised to learn, outstanding audio inside millions of smartphones, tablets, speakers, and headphones. At Qualcomm Technologies, we believe that the audio experience is just as central to mobile entertainment as our other industry-leading solutions. That’s why Qualcomm Aqstic integrated into Qualcomm Snapdragon processors, and aptX audio technologies are designed to deliver the best audio experience to everyone from audiophiles to VR gamers and TV bingers.

At our recent Snapdragon Technology Summit in New York, both technologies were on display for the tech press. We brought in five suitcases of professional equipment to demonstrate the quality of our audio solutions.

So how does Aqstic orchestrate superior audio performance? It all starts with its acclaimed mixed-signal audio codec with a Hi-Fi-grade digital-to-analog converter (DAC). This is at the heart of how music gets from your phone to your ears.

Get more info on Qualcomm Aqstic specs

While everyone perceives audio quality differently, there are still ways to measure it objectively. For example, one of the demos at the event was a live THD+N (Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise) measurement. The demo compared the audio from an industry-leading audio analyzer (Audio Precision APx555) on an HTC 10, powered by the Snapdragon 820, to another device with a top-on-the-line, third-party DAC. A good THD+N number means no additional noise or signal is added, giving the HTC 10 the most authentic sound reproduction. The image below shows the results.

Our Aqstic audio codec (WCD9335) can achieve up to -105 db

A highlight among the demos was the subjective blind listening. We used a high-quality passive AB switch connected to Sennheiser HD800 headphones that we switched between the HTC 10 and an audiophile-grade, high-end reference DAC/headphone amplifier. We played a variety of songs from different genres with different sampling rates and bit depths.

Since each has a unique sound characteristic, we didn’t ask our listeners to pick which one sounded better. Instead, we simply wanted them to enjoy the music so they could experience the tiny differences between a smartphone’s audio and a full-size audio amplifier.

Snapdragon Technology Summit attendees also learned about Qualcomm aptX HD and aptX Low Latency audio technologies. Licensed by more than 320 consumer electronic brands, these aptX technologies are engineered to deliver high-quality wireless Bluetooth audio to millions of smartphones, tablets, laptops, headphones, and soundbars.

Originally, aptX was used in the professional audio and broadcast industries to provide rich, low-latency audio for applications with limited bandwidth. Then, in 2009, the aptX audio codec began bringing outstanding audio to wireless consumer electronics, which badly needed an audio boost. Up to that point, Bluetooth Stereo could transmit only average sound quality. With the addition of aptX, Bluetooth- enabled products received the technological upgrade able to deliver consistent, high-quality audio. 

Learn about the history of aptX.

The first aptX demo showcased aptX HD audio technology, which was launched in January this year to meet the increasing demand for higher resolution wireless audio. Engineered to deliver 24-bit music quality over Bluetooth, aptX HD has already been incorporated by a number of top brands, including LG, NAIM Audio, Beyerdymanic, and Audio-Technica.

Check out the full range of aptX HD enabled devices.

aptX Low Latency is another groundbreaking technology engineered to support the transmission of sonorous, synchronized audio over Bluetooth connections, which is vital for video, media, and gaming applications. As more people use soundbars to broadcast audio from those applications, aptX Low Latency helps ensure that sound and video move in harmony for optimal entertainment experiences.

Snapdragon processors audio architecture is designed to optimize both wired and wireless audio

With the ability to bring professional-quality, sharp, and unblemished sound to wireless devices, Qualcomm aptX audio technology has revolutionized the Bluetooth Stereo listening experience, heightening entertainment and immersive audio experience for millions of users around the world. To find out more and for the latest list of devices visit www.aptx.com.

Qualcomm Aqstic and Qualcomm Snapdragon are products of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.