OnQ Blog

Introducing Qualcomm Snapdragon Sound: How sound should sound

Mar 4, 2021

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

Perhaps now more than ever, sound matters. As an integral part of our lives, it can inspire, motivate, and connect us. It can be a favorite song that stirs up fond memories, a child singing happy birthday to their grandmother on a video call, an alert that signals a win in a video game, or the voices of colleagues and loved ones. You deserve great sound, so no matter how you experience it, it should be crystal clear and reliable — and it should work seamlessly across devices no matter where you take them.

Even with recent technology advancements, there are still places where sound quality can break down across the wireless audio chain. Impaired sound quality, as well as how easily mobile and audio devices connect and interact, can have a huge impact on our overall user experience. Your ear and brain are very sensitive to poor sound, and can strain to fill in gaps or other issues — so better-quality sound means a more relaxed listening experience

Qualcomm Snapdragon Sound is designed to deliver seamless, immersive audio experiences to devices by optimizing audio technologies and software across the entire chain. It combines our leading audio, connectivity, and mobile technologies, then optimizes them to work together to solve some of the most common wireless audio issues. It’s designed to provide consistent sound quality, reliable connectivity, and low latency.

Studio master grade music quality

Our 2020 State of Play Report showed that sound quality is still the number one purchase driver for consumer audio devices, and streaming is how the majority of consumers access music, with a growing number seeking high-resolution music quality. To help meet this increasing appetite for high-quality wireless listening experiences, Snapdragon Sound utilizes Qualcomm aptX Adaptive Audio technology — designed to support 24-bit word depth and 96kHz sampling frequency — to help deliver audiophile-quality music wirelessly from the phone to wireless earbuds or headsets. For those who prefer listening directly from the mobile device, Snapdragon Sound incorporates the Qualcomm Aqstic audio codec, which is designed to support true audiophile formats of up to 384kHz 32-bit PCM and DSD with ultra-low THD+N and the Qualcomm Aqstic smart speaker amplifier with a whopping 7.3W output power — almost doubling our previous generation of smart speakers.

Crystal clear voice

The global shift to working from home means millions of people around the world are making more voice and video calls than ever before, and this trend looks set to continue. It’s important to the overall user experience that voice and video calls deliver true-to-life audio, whether they’re made direct from the mobile device or using Bluetooth earbuds or headphones. On the mobile device, Snapdragon Sound harnesses the features of the Qualcomm Technologies audio and voice communication suite, incorporating many pre- and post-processing features that are designed to deliver crystal-clear sound. For example, multi-mic echo cancellation and noise suppression technology use AI to isolate noisy environments from voice signals for the clearest possible audio on phone calls. For calls made using Bluetooth accessories, aptX Voice Audio is designed to deliver super wideband voice quality with 32kHz sampled audio and a flat 16kHz frequency response for greater voice clarity and speech intelligibility, as well as clearer overall sound quality to help reduce listener fatigue and improve productivity.

Low latency for immersive gaming

There’s been explosive growth in mobile gaming, and sound is a crucial element that can make or break the gaming experience. When using Bluetooth earbuds or headsets, the audio needs to be highly responsive and in-sync with what’s seen on screen. Snapdragon Sound utilizes aptX Adaptive Audio technology between the mobile and Bluetooth accessory, which is designed to deliver latencies as low as 89ms, almost half of most competitive solutions, allowing for more immersive gameplay when milliseconds matter.

Robust connectivity and seamless user experiences

One of the major factors driving the need for sound innovation is the continued adoption of truly wireless earbuds. According to our State of Play Report, consumers of virtually all demographics are using these devices for a wide range of applications for longer periods of wear and in many different environments. This is driving the need for consistent and reliable experiences no matter where or how these devices are used. As adoption and usage increases, it also means that consumers are less likely to accept devices that don’t provide a seamless out-of-box experience.

Drawing on Qualcomm Technologies’ unique expertise and industry-leading solutions across mobile, audio, and connectivity, Snapdragon Sound takes a system-level approach, optimizing performance at every stage of the audio chain. This helps provide more robust connectivity, which can minimize annoying dropouts and glitches — even in congested RF environments like a busy train station or shopping mall.

The Snapdragon Sound advantage

Snapdragon Sound can make it easy for consumers to identify the products that sound best together, while expanding their choice. Devices that include the Snapdragon Sound branding will be rigorously tested by Qualcomm Technologies for performance across latency, voice call quality, music quality, and robust connectivity. For our customers, Snapdragon Sound provides an opportunity to compete with vertically intergraded ecosystems and differentiate with great performing sound, coupled with an out-of-box experience that is designed to be seamless. Pre-certified solutions across device segments will also help reduce development time and cost.

How sound should sound

You deserve the best audio experiences, and with Snapdragon Sound, listeners can finally hear every detail of their favorite music just as the artists intended, get fully immersed in lag-free mobile gaming with ultra-low latency, and feel better connected to colleagues and loved ones through voice and video calls with true-to-life audio. Snapdragon Sound: It’s how sound should sound.

Learn more about Snapdragon Sound and watch our Science of Sound roundtable.

Qualcomm Snapdragon Sound, Qualcomm aptX, and Qualcomm Aqstic 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.

The OnQ Team