Qualcomm says aptX Lossless can deliver lossless CD-quality audio over Bluetooth

Qualcomm aptX Lossless
(Image credit: Qualcomm)

Qualcomm has today introduced aptX Lossless, which it says is capable of delivering lossless CD-quality (16-bit.44.1kHz) audio over Bluetooth – an unprecedented feat within the wireless audio world. aptX Lossless is to become a new feature of the Snapdragon Sound audio platform the telecommunications giant introduced earlier this year. 

To achieve lossless audio quality at this level, Qualcomm has optimised a number of wireless connectivity and audio technologies within aptX Adaptive (the firm’s highest-quality Bluetooth codec, capable of transmitting hi-res audio up to 24-bit/96kHz – albeit in a lossy way.) 

Qualcomm claims this new method can produce “mathematically bit-for-bit exact” audio transmission at CD quality between a compatible source and aptX Lossless-supporting pair of headphones, so long as the RF conditions are “suitable”. Compression methods are still used, but these new developments have been designed to ‘scale-up’ to CD lossless audio based on the Bluetooth link quality.

Qualcomm says that wireless transmission rates are “beyond 1Mbit/s yet smoothly scale down to 140kbits/s in congested RF environments to minimise any audio dropouts or glitches for a consistent and reliable listening experience”.

“With many leading music streaming services now offering extensive lossless music libraries, and consumer demand for lossless audio growing, we’re pleased to announce this new support for CD lossless audio streaming for Bluetooth earbuds and headsets which we plan to make available to customers later this year,” said James Chapman, vice president and general manager of Qualcomm Technologies International, Ltd.

Lossless audio has been the talk of the tech town of late, in light of Apple Music recently offering lossless CD quality (and hi-res) audio to subscribers for free. Spotify is set to offer lossless audio later this summer within an all-new Spotify HiFi tier, too. 

While Bluetooth methods, such as Apple’s ALAC and Qualcomm’s aptX HD, are currently all lossy, in that they can support the transmission of lossless audio but do lose some audio file data in the process, Qualcomm claims aptX Lossless will be the first Bluetooth technology for earbuds and headphones capable of retaining every bit of information from the original source. We can expect the first models of their kind to be available by the end of the year.


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Becky Roberts

Becky is the managing editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her 10 years in the hi-fi industry, she has been fortunate enough to travel the world to report on the biggest and most exciting brands in hi-fi and consumer tech (and has had the jetlag and hangovers to remember them by). In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.