Qualcomm Turns to Wi-Fi to Elevate Wireless Earbuds and Headphones
The world of wireless audio has seen significant advancements in recent years. With the rise of noise cancellation technologies and the introduction of Bluetooth codecs like LDAC and AptX Adaptive, audio quality has reached impressive heights. However, as with all technology, there’s always room for improvement. Qualcomm, a leading tech company, believes that the future of wireless audio lies beyond the constraints of Bluetooth. Their solution? Incorporating Wi-Fi into the mix.
The Snapdragon Sound Platform
Qualcomm’s latest innovation is the Snapdragon Sound platform, which aims to utilize both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to overcome the limitations traditionally associated with Bluetooth. The goal is to allow users to enjoy a seamless audio experience without the need to stay within close proximity to their devices. This means that you could potentially move beyond the typical 20-foot range of Bluetooth without any disruption to your audio playback.
The company has announced the S7 and S7 Pro platforms, which will be integrated into various audio devices, including earbuds, headphones, and speakers, by third-party manufacturers in the coming year. Some of the current partners of the Snapdragon Sound initiative include renowned brands like Audio-Technica, Bose, Edifier, Fiio, Jabra, LG, Master & Dynamic, Shure, and more.
Features and Advancements
The S7 and S7 Pro platforms boast a range of features designed to enhance the user experience:
- Increased Compute Power and AI Capabilities: Like its predecessors, the new Snapdragon hardware promises significant improvements in compute power, memory, and AI capabilities.
- Advanced Noise Cancellation: The ANC in the S7 and S7 Pro is designed to be smarter and more powerful. It can adapt in real-time to allow important external sounds, ensuring users remain aware of their surroundings without compromising their audio experience.
- Micro-Power Wi-Fi Support: The S7 Pro, in particular, introduces micro-power Wi-Fi support. This feature aims to combine the best of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to deliver groundbreaking audio experiences, including 192kHz lossless audio over Wi-Fi without draining the battery.
- Expanded Personal Area Network (XPAN) Technology: This technology allows for the delivery of high-quality, lossless audio over Wi-Fi, overcoming the bitrate limitations of Bluetooth.
- Seamless Handoff: One of the standout features is the ability for earbuds to seamlessly switch from a direct Bluetooth connection to Wi-Fi, ensuring uninterrupted media playback even when moving away from the paired device.
However, it’s worth noting that to fully utilize these features, users would need a device powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 platform, which is set to be released next year.
The Future of Wireless Audio
While Qualcomm’s advancements are promising, there are still questions to be answered. For instance, how will the pairing process change with the introduction of Wi-Fi? According to Qualcomm, the process will remain straightforward, with Wi-Fi credentials exchanged during the conventional pairing process.
However, it’s important to note that these features might not be compatible with Apple devices, as Apple has its own ecosystem and has shown a preference for developing its own solutions.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Sound platform, with its focus on integrating Wi-Fi, represents a significant step forward in the world of wireless audio. As technology continues to evolve, it’s exciting to see how companies like Qualcomm are pushing the boundaries to enhance the user experience.