Qualcomm's 'adaptive' noise-cancelling technology aims to improve wireless earbuds

Qualcomm's 'adaptive' noise cancellation aims to better AirPods Pro
(Image credit: Cleer Audio)

Qualcomm's technologies have improved the wireless headphones audio experience significantly over the years, most notably through its evolution of high-quality aptX Bluetooth codecs. The global chipset company is not solely focused on improving sound quality, though. 

Today at IFA 2020, Qualcomm is introducing Adaptive Active Noise Cancellation, a technology that aims to improve noise cancellation, and make it more accessible, in future true wireless earbuds.

Qualcomm's Adaptive Active Noise Cancellation has been designed to deliver a consistent audio performance across all fits and use scenarios by dynamically adapting an earbud's sound quality according to changes in how it sits in an ear (an earbud won't necessarily need a tight seal for ANC to be effective, for example) and whether it's being used for music playback or calls. 

Essentially, it promises to provide headphone brands with a flexible ANC solution for their true wireless earbuds.

The global chipset company's annual State of Play report, which is based on research data from 5000 consumers across the US, UK, China, Germany and Japan, shows that the demand for noise cancellation in wireless headphones is increasing year on year. It's now among the most important features alongside sound quality, battery life, price and user experience. 

ANC is increasingly found in budget wireless earbuds, not just more expensive model, including the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live, Cleer Audio Ally Plus  and 1MORE True Wireless ANC In-Ear Headphones – and Qualcomm's goal here is to bring it to yet more AirPods alternatives.

Qualcomm's Adaptive ANC is available now on its latest premium Bluetooth chipset, the Qualcomm QCC514x, so it's likely we'll see its implementation in headphones launched from 2021.


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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.