Windows 10 update to bring AAC Bluetooth support

(Image credit: Apple)

Microsoft has unveiled details of its next Windows 10 update, including big improvements in how the operating system handles Bluetooth audio.

The biggest change is that Windows will begin to support Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) over Bluetooth. AAC is a compressed file format developed by Apple, used for iTunes and Apple Music. It is also a type of Bluetooth codec compatible with Apple audio hardware such as AirPods.

At present, Windows 10 only supports the SBC and aptX Bluetooth codecs, so if you want to playback AAC files from iTunes to listen to on your AirPods, the files get converted into the SBC codec. 

Not only is SBC more lossy, but the process of conversion also degrades the sound quality. By supporting AAC Bluetooth, AAC files will be transmitted with less processing, and Apple fans with Windows devices can enjoy a higher-quality listening experience. 

Microsoft will also update the way Windows 10 lets you select Bluetooth input devices by creating a 'unified audio endpoint'. When using headphones with a mic, users are currently offered multiple Bluetooth profiles for both headset and headphones. 

Using a single audio endpoint, Windows will automatically switch to the correct Bluetooth profile as you swap between listening to music and making calls. Unfortunately, the announcement comes about a year too late to save us from thousands of video meeting audio fails.

The full update is expected later this year but is available now as part of the Insider Preview Build 21370, released to members of the Windows Insider Program.


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Mary is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi? and has over a decade of experience working as a sound engineer mixing live events, music and theatre. Her mixing credits include productions at The National Theatre and in the West End, as well as original musicals composed by Mark Knopfler, Tori Amos, Guy Chambers, Howard Goodall and Dan Gillespie Sells. 

  • Patrick dv
    Now also bring LDAC :)
  • mike2020
  • Vincent Kars
    By supporting AAC Bluetooth, AAC files will be transmitted with less processing

    A lot of laymen think so but it is not true.
    It must be PCM otherwise you can’t do any kind of DSP like volume control, EQ, mixing (incoming phone call).
    Finally the audio is send to the audio device, in this case the Bluetooth sender.
    There the audio in encoded with the codec negotiated between sender and sink. The sink decodes it to back to PCM and send it to the DAC of the Bluetooth device.

    Robert Trigss did an elegant experiment.
    He took a AAC file, so one with a known frequency response and played it on a couple of phones including a iPhone.
    As the frequency response differs from the original, obvious the AAC file has been decoded and encoded by the Bluetooth device using AAC as the transmission protocol.