OnQ Blog

5 top consumer audio trends, and our 5 new platforms to address them

Jun 15, 2017

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

For more than 15 years, Qualcomm Technologies International, Ltd. audio platforms have been the foundation of innovative wireless speakers, soundbars, headphones, and headsets from the world’s leading brands. Today, our audio technologies, combined with our Bluetooth/Wi-Fi connectivity and flexible system-on-chip (SoC) platforms, continue to fuel major shifts in the audio industry and change the way consumers listen to, interact with, and connect their devices.

1. The way we listen to music has changed

According to our State of Play 2016 report, over 80 percent of consumers use their smartphones to store and stream music, taking advantage of the ease and variety offered by streaming services such as Spotify, TuneIn, and others.

2. Consumers are embracing wireless

Where and how we listen to music is changing. People want quality audio everywhere, at home, in the office, car, gym, even in the workplace. They also want devices they can use all day, every day, and take anywhere — whether it’s a pair of truly wireless earbuds they use when working out, or a portable speaker that they can take to the beach. This drives demand for smaller, lighter form factors, and low power devices that don’t need to be charged regularly.

3. The emergence of high-res audio

Over the past few years, what started as an audiophile requirement in the high-end audio segment — a desire for wireless 24-bit high resolution audio — has gained momentum in mainstream consumer electronics. Consumers are now demanding wireless audio that doesn’t compromise on audio quality. In early 2016 we launched aptX HD to further improve the consumer wireless listening experience by delivering 24-bit music quality wirelessly over Bluetooth.

4. The emergence of smart speakers and the virtual assistant effect

The emergence of devices with virtual assistants has stimulated massive consumer interest in smart assistant devices and their potential applications. Consumers now want to be educated, entertained, or informed, simply by asking a question or giving a command. As cloud-connected ecosystems continue to expand, smart assistant capability is expected to be included in a much broader range of devices including headsets, wireless earbuds, soundbars, and networked speakers.

5. The evolution of hearable devices

A new category of “hearables” is emerging which reflects the convergence of features from traditional audio devices and wearable technology in ultra-small form factors. These device users want high quality audio combined with advanced features, including the addition of sensors for biometrics, algorithms for voice recognition, and support for cloud-connected ecosystems. A good example is Bragi’s wireless earbuds that incorporate the power of a personal assistant. Consumers can also use these devices for hearing assistance – for example, to help improve speech intelligibility in a very noisy environment.

How we are addressing these new consumer demands:

At our customer conference in Shenzhen this week we announced five new audio platforms that will help redefine the consumer audio experience, whether at home, in the office or on the go. This is an unprecedented launch of new product capability for us that helps our customers address these exciting new consumer trends by addressing the challenges of developing low power, high performance products:

1. The Qualcomm Smart Speaker Platform is a highly flexible platform designed to redefine the way manufacturers approach the development process for smart and networked speakers, through a unique combination of support for virtual assistants and multi-room streaming audio capability.

2. CSRA68100 is a new generation highly flexible Bluetooth audio flash-programmable platform for premium wireless speakers and headphones.

3. QCC3XXX is our new family of entry-level, flash programmable audio platforms at competitive price points for Bluetooth headsets and speakers.

4. CSRA6620 with next-generation Qualcomm DDFA amplifier technology. DDFA is an industry-proven high performance digital direct amplifier used in high-end products.

5. WHS9420 and WHS9410 single chip USB audio SoC platforms, designed specifically for USB-C connected audio devices.


Qualcomm Smart Speaker Platform, CSRA68100, QCC3XXX, CSRA6220, Qualcomm DDFA, WHS9420, and WHS9410 are products of Qualcomm Technologies International, Ltd.

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.

Anthony Murray

Senior Vice President and General Manager, Voice and Music, IoT