OnQ Blog

Meet our new audio technology that's designed to deliver advanced high-res audio and AI voice assistant [video]

Imagine waking up to find out your favorite band just released a new album. You can’t wait to hear every guitar strum and snare hit, so you excitedly put on your Hi-Fi headphones to enjoy the premium audio, catching every note as the master-quality music streams directly to the left and right audio channels.

You switch to your Qualcomm TrueWireless Stereo Bluetooth headphones as you head to the park for your Saturday run — the sound quality is still amazing, and while you used to worry about battery life, this new pair has improved latency and power.

When you reach the park, local jazz musicians are playing, there’s a children’s birthday party nearby, and the dog park is howling. The point is there’s a lot going on and it’s pretty loud all around. While the noisy background may have made it impossible to use your smartphone’s voice assistant in the past, new audio technologies in the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Mobile Platform can cut through the clutter and understand you with ease — even if it’s so loud that you can’t hear yourself.

From supporting pristine audio quality on your wired and wireless headphones to enhancing your voice assistant with hardware and AI, we’ve made significant upgrades to your entire audio experience with this latest mobile platform. You can now hear audio better than ever before, and your device can now understand you better, too.

Let’s take a deeper look at the new technologies.

Tidal Master on Android

With the recent announcement of Tidal Master debuting on Android, the audiophile community is once again excited about mobile audio. Previously available only on PC platforms due to the extra horsepower needed to process the files, this top-tier streaming platform is now accessible to those with Snapdragon-powered Android devices wherever, whenever. This benefits not just audiophiles, but also people who casually enjoy music — with a good pair of headphones, you can truly hear the difference. It’s all because of the Qualcomm Aqstic audio codec (WCD9341), which is designed to decode audio formats up to 384kHz/32bit. This means it not only takes full advantage of Tidal Master streams in highest quality, but that it can also handle your personal high-resolution files on-device, supporting up to native DSD.

Qualcomm aptX Adaptive and TrueWireless Stereo Plus

Bluetooth audio is increasingly playing a larger role in our lives. With the Snapdragon 855 mobile platform and our accompanying QCC chipsets, we took an end-to-end approach to improve the experience — focusing on quality, latency, and power.

The Snapdragon 855 marks the introduction of Qualcomm aptX Adaptive on mobile. This new codec from the aptX family is designed to intelligently switch between a high-bit rate mode (for the best audio quality for your music) or a low-latency mode (for when you’re gaming). We’re also bringing Qualcomm TrueWireless Stereo Plus to the Snapdragon 855, which supports the left and right audio channels to stream directly to the left and right earbuds. This makes it possible to maintain balanced power distribution between both earbuds, resulting in longer playback time and reduce latency. With no primary/secondary earbud, both are connected directly to the phone and then synchronized.

Voice Assist: New voice assistant accelerator and the low power audio subsystem with AI

Voice Assistants like Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa Voice Services, and Microsoft Cortana are increasingly featuring in our everyday lives. Starting with the Snapdragon 855, we made targeted improvements and added AI elements to Snapdragon’s low power audio subsystem to make it smarter and recognize your voice better. (Read our “How can Qualcomm Aqstic support dynamic voice UI experiences?” post to understand how voice assist works.)

We also added dedicated hardware — the Qualcomm voice assistant accelerator — to run our voice processing software like echo cancellation, noise suppression, and Qualcomm Voice Activation at all times. Now that it’s completely hardware accelerated, your Snapdragon 855 phone can hear and understand you better, even under noisy conditions.

With all of these improved audio features, your devices can do more for you. They’re not only smart and able to listen under circumstances that would’ve previously been problematic, but they’re helping to deliver far better audio quality for all of your entertainment needs. At Qualcomm Technologies, we work to advance how the world computes, connects, and communicates, and in delivering brand new ways to connect to devices, the whole world gets closer.

Qualcomm Snapdragon, Qualcomm aptX, Qualcomm Aqstic, Qualcomm Hexagon, Qualcomm TrueWireless, and Qualcomm Voice Activation are products of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

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.