OnQ Blog

The aptX story: from Spielberg to Sennheiser

Tracing the history of Qualcomm aptX audio technology from pro-audio to wireless Bluetooth applications

Dec 15, 2016

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

People are often surprised when I tell them that I have worked with aptX technology for over 20 years, so to say that I’m pretty close to the technology is an understatement! A couple of weeks ago at an event in New York I had the opportunity to share the amazing story of aptX with a group of industry analysts and press. Here’s what I told I them:

The beginnings of superior quality Bluetooth

The original aptX audio codec originated as the result of research undertaken at Queen’s University Belfast in the late 1980s. This innovative work specifically focussed on high speed, bit-rate reduction for wideband stereo audio applications in the music, film, radio-broadcast, and post-production sectors.

DTS, Steven Spielberg, and aptX

The early 1990s saw a technology collaboration with DTS and Steven Spielberg, who chose aptX to record audio for 5.1 digital playback for films including Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan.

Music and post-production

aptX has two inherent qualities: high quality and low latency. Combined, these two features made it the ideal technology for audio transmission over ISDN lines. It soon became the de facto standard for applications including mix approvals, voice over, ADR, and foreign language overdubs.

Radio broadcast

If you listen to the radio, chances are you’ve heard aptX encoded audio—over 30,000 radio stations worldwide use aptX to deliver high quality audio for applications, including studio-to-transmitter links and outside broadcast.

Revolutionizing Bluetooth stereo listening

In 2009 Sennheiser launched the first ever Bluetooth headset with aptX—the first to bring high quality audio to wireless consumer electronics applications. Until then, Bluetooth stereo had the unfortunate reputation for providing only average audio quality. But with aptX, Bluetooth-enabled consumer electronics devices overcame this barrier. aptX is engineered to provide a means to consistent high quality audio over Bluetooth.

The Modern Ecosystem

Today, we estimate that more than 1 billion smartphones, tablets, PCs, and TVs are aptX enabled. The aptX codec provides advanced quality audio in approximately 50 million Bluetooth headsets, speakers, and soundbars. aptX is a strong, recognized brand in the consumer electronics segment, supporting all major platforms including Android, Windows 10 for PCs and smartphones, Mac OS, and BlackBerry.

Wireless HD audio

In 2016 we launched aptX HD, a next-generation bit-rate efficient solution, designed to support advanced, high definition wireless sound quality that is indistinguishable from high resolution audio. 

Given the outstanding wireless audio experience delivered by aptX it’s not hard to understand why the ecosystem has gained such momentum. Looking towards CES I am excited about new aptX enabled products that are expected to be unveiled by many of our customers. In fact, aptX technology has already dominated the CES Innovations Awards. Below are the aptX enabled devices that have been honored:

Best of Innovation

Home Audio-Video Components and Accessories: Mars by CrazyBaby levitating speaker



High performance home audio-video:

Home audio video components and accessories:

If you are interested in experiencing aptX for yourself, visit us at CES, January 5 – 8, at booth 10948 in Central Hall.

If you’d like to integrate aptX into your wireless audio products contact us now to set up a meeting at CES.

Qualcomm aptX is a product of Qualcomm Technologies International, Ltd.

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Opinions expressed in the content posted here are the personal opinions of the original authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Qualcomm Incorporated or its subsidiaries ("Qualcomm"). Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries. The content is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be an endorsement or representation by Qualcomm or any other party. This site may also provide links or references to non-Qualcomm sites and resources. Qualcomm makes no representations, warranties, or other commitments whatsoever about any non-Qualcomm sites or third-party resources that may be referenced, accessible from, or linked to this site.

Jonny McClintock

Director of aptX Sales and Marketing, Qualcomm Technologies International, Ltd.

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