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Our 2020 State of Play consumer research explains how breaks in connectivity, audio glitches, latency, and poor compression can detract from a premium audio experience. For consumers, these issues are deal-breakers when it comes to choosing a wireless audio product. In this blog, we’ll look at the trends driving the need for premium wireless audio and how Qualcomm® Snapdragon Sound™ Technology can help you create optimized audio experiences.
Transformation and Growth in the Audio Space
2021 is shaping up to be a transformative year of innovation in consumer audio. Mobile gaming, HD music streaming, remote working, home audio, and the rollout of 5G are all converging as important audio trends to watch for 2021. Add to this the evolution of the Bluetooth standard to include the forthcoming LE Audio profile, which adds support for hearing aids, introduces audio sharing, and enhances the performance of traditional Bluetooth audio. Together, these trends will contribute to significant changes in how developers can create digital sound experiences for consumers so they can connect with the world around them – with the demand for premium audio at the heart of it all.
Creating Premium Wireless Audio Experiences
Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. recently announced Snapdragon Sound which is designed to deliver seamless, immersive audio experiences by optimizing audio technologies and software across the entire audio 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. This technology can help developers create mobile and wireless audio products that meet the exploding consumer demand for consistent sound quality, reliable connectivity, and low latency.
Let’s look under the hood of the mobile platforms and headset/earbud System on Chip (SoCs) that we have optimized to work better together:
Mobile Platforms and Technologies
Snapdragon® 888 5G Mobile Platform includes innovations in 5G, AI, gaming, and photography. It features a smart speaker amplifier engineered to deliver 7.3W output power, almost doubling our previous generation.
Qualcomm® FastConnect™ 6900 connectivity system is an advanced 14nm 2x2 mobile connectivity system designed to extend the power of Wi-Fi 6 into the 6 GHz band (Wi-Fi 6E).
Qualcomm Aqstic™ audio codec and smart speaker amplifier is designed to decode audio formats up to 384kHz/32bit and handle high-resolution files on-device, supporting up to native direct stream digital (DSD).
Headset and Earbud Technologies
Qualcomm® QCC514x is a family of Bluetooth audio System-on-Chips (SoCs) based on a low-power architecture, designed for robust, high quality, wireless listening in smaller devices with longer audio playback.
Qualcomm® QCC305x is a suite of flash programmable Bluetooth audio SoCs based on our ultra-low-power architecture, that include support for a suite of our superior audio technologies, previously available only with our premium Qualcomm® QCC5100 series.
Qualcomm® QCC304x is a family of flash programmable Bluetooth audio System-on-Chips (SoCs) based on an extremely low-power architecture and designed for use in compact devices like truly wireless earbuds to support all-day use.
How Premium Sound is Achieved
The audio and voice technologies used for Snapdragon Sound are designed to help you achieve premium sound quality in the products you create. Here’s how they support this innovation:
Audio and Voice Technologies
Qualcomm TrueWireless™ Mirroring is designed to deliver robust, seamless connectivity for a truly immersive audio experience. With mirroring technology, only one earbud maintains the Bluetooth connection with the smartphone, while the secondary bud mirrors the connected bud. This technology is designed to deliver a rapid, seamless swap in multiple use cases. If a consumer removes the connected earbud, the secondary earbud assumes the connection with zero interruption. If the connection between the smartphone and mirroring bud is stronger than the connected bud, the connection will invisibly swap to ensure the best possible connection.
Qualcomm® Adaptive Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) is designed to dynamically adjust performance in real-time while enabling natural noise leak-through. This allows for awareness of surroundings that provide high-quality immersive experiences.
Qualcomm® aptX™ Adaptive Audio is an audio codec engineered to automatically adjust to provide optimum audio quality or latency depending on the type of content being played on the device. At the same time, it takes into account the external RF environment to support a robust connection.
Qualcomm® aptX™ Voice is a super wideband voice codec designed to deliver 32kHz sampled audio with a flat 16kHz frequency response, providing HD-quality voice audio to Bluetooth earbuds and headsets.
Qualcomm® cVc™ noise cancellation and noise suppression technologies are designed to reduce ambient sound to the listener (and enhance the voice of the caller) by utilizing techniques to prevent packet loss, such as error concealment.
Learn More with Samples and Examples
Together these audio and voice technologies help developers deliver high-resolution music, crystal-clear voice calls, and lag-free gaming for your latest earbud and headset designs. To learn more, check out our audio samples and examples that explain:
- How sound should sound – Start with an overview of the technologies that we have optimized to work together to deliver premium sound with our Snapdragon Sound: how sound should sound video
- Delivering premium sound - hear the difference that high-resolution audio makes with our three tracks of Wired audio quality examples. The chart following highlights how aptX Voice helps you deliver the equivalent of 24-bit 96kHz Bluetooth audio for studio quality audio.
- In our next three tracks of Voice demo examples, you can hear the difference crystal clear voice quality makes. The chart following helps you see the difference of using aptX to deliver 32kHz super wideband voice quality calls with greater intelligibility than standard Bluetooth.
- Ensuring robust connectivity - RF interference in crowded spaces can cause audio glitches in devices like earbuds and headphones. Our Snapdragon Sound open spaces demo video lets you hear how aptX Adaptive delivers a robust connection with minimal dropouts or audio glitching.
As detailed in our Snapdragon Sound whitepaper, most consumers have embraced wireless audio. This adoption continues to ramp, and this is particularly the case in the true wireless earbud category. Delivering wireless audio experiences with superior sound quality and robustness is at the heart of this transition. It continues to be the number one requirement for audio and increasingly important for mobile product development with how you develop audio-rich solutions.
Snapdragon Sound helps you create products that are optimized for premium sound and ease of use without compromising battery life by supporting you to:
- Provide virtually glitch-free, premium audio even in the most congested RF environments.
- Deliver 24-bit 96kHz High Resolution Bluetooth audio so listeners will hear the audio as the artist intended.
- Fully synchronize the audio experience with the action on the screen to create a totally immersive gaming experience.
- Provide seamless, immersive audio across mobile devices and wireless audio accessories.
- Connect with virtually any voice assistant to allow easy swapping between voice assistants—all without compromising battery life.
To delve deeper into technology from Qualcomm Technologies that can support your audio project check out these resources:
- Snapdragon Sound Technology whitepaper
- Qualcomm® QCC5141 – Earbud Reference Design
- Introduction to Audio for Developers eBook
- The Importance of Mobile Audio whitepaper
If you’re ready to get started on a Snapdragon sound audio solution, check out the following tools:
- Snapdragon Developer Tools
- Snapdragon 888 mobile hardware development kit (HDK)
- Snapdragon Profiler
- Qualcomm® Smart Headset reference design and development kit
- 3D Audio Tools
Finally, to keep up with the existing developments happening with Snapdragon Sound, please join our Future of Wireless Sound mailing list, and be sure to become a member of our Snapdragon Insiders community.
Snapdragon, Snapdragon Sound, Qualcomm FastConnect, Qualcomm Aqstic, , Qualcomm TrueWirelesss, Qualcomm aptX, Qualcomm ANC, Qualcomm QCC5100, Qualcomm QCC305x, Qualcomm QCC514x, Qualcomm QCC304x, Qualcomm QCC5141 and Qualcomm cVc are products of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.