How Do Bluetooth Codecs Work? Which One Is Best?

Audiophiles argue that Bluetooth headphones sound weaker when in comparison with wired ones. Whereas that is true, Bluetooth know-how has come a good distance since its inception. As we speak, you’ll be able to select from a lot of codecs that considerably enhance your audio expertise.

On this information, we’ll clarify what Bluetooth codecs are, how they work, and the seven codecs discovered within the Bluetooth audio realm. We’ll additionally evaluate them side-by-side and assist you select the suitable ones on your wants.

What Are Bluetooth Codecs? How Do They Work?

A Bluetooth codec is a software program program that permits wi-fi transmission between an audio supply and an audio participant. It encodes knowledge obtained from the supply and transmits it to the suitable participant, the place the identical codec decodes this knowledge.

Merely put, it is a channel by which audio travels out of your telephone to your Bluetooth headphones. The purpose is to transmit audio with minimal knowledge loss and minimal delays—imitating wired audio high quality.

7 Bluetooth Codecs You Ought to Know


The Bluetooth logo

1. aptX Codecs

aptX, quick for Audio Processing Know-how, is a household of codecs owned by Qualcomm. All trendy Android gadgets include aptX codecs, however not iOS gadgets. The next are the codecs of the aptX household, every designed to prioritize totally different options:

aptX: aptX is the primary of the bunch and is thought for its low latency and excessive audio high quality, making it the usual Bluetooth codec within the audio business. Though there are different specialised variants obtainable, aptX continues to be a outstanding alternative for professionals and laymen alike.

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aptX HD: aptX HD was developed to imitate high-res audio by way of Bluetooth. Transmitting high-quality audio requires sending larger audio information with much less compression. This will increase latency as a result of restricted bandwidth of Bluetooth connections. But, aptX HD manages to supply HD audio with decently low latency.

aptX Adaptive: aptX Adaptive addresses the ache level of patchy and glitchy sound attributable to sign fluctuations. This drawback arises when the codec tries to output high-quality audio when the sign is weak. aptX Adaptive solves this by adjusting the audio high quality as per the sign energy, eliminating audio inconsistency.


aptX Bluetooth Codec
Picture Credit score: Rydo87/Wikimedia

aptX Low Latency: aptX Low Latency prioritizes decreasing the delay in audio-to-video synchronization. To allow this, the codec closely compresses audio to cut back file measurement, which helps transmit audio shortly—reducing latency. However the draw back is that the audio high quality might be barely decrease than the opposite aptX variants.

aptX Lossless: aptX Lossless is the latest addition to the lot. Not like different variants of aptX, it helps lossless audio, offered that the sign energy is powerful sufficient. It is a deal with for audiophiles since not many codecs supply this degree of constancy.

aptX Dwell: aptX Dwell is designed to prioritize microphone output in wi-fi microphones and in-ear displays. That is largely utilized in reside performances the place the microphone enter wants the vast majority of the Bluetooth bandwidth. The recorded audio is then compressed and transmitted.

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2. LDAC


LDAC Bluetooth Codec
Picture Credit score: Sony/Wikimedia

LDAC was developed by Sony and is an in depth competitor to aptX Adaptive when it comes to options. Just like aptX Adaptive, LDAC adjusts its efficiency as per the sign energy. The one distinction is that LDAC switches between three pre-set audio qualities whereas aptX Adaptive can freely slide between a variety.

Associated: aptX vs. LDAC: What is the Distinction?

3. AAC

Standing for Superior Audio Codec, ACC is the usual codec on iOS gadgets. Nonetheless, it’s discovered on most Android gadgets too. Opposite to different codecs, AAC makes use of psychoacoustics to cut back file measurement for fast transmission. Its efficiency is nerfed within the Android ecosystem, however iOS is optimized to take full benefit of it.

4. SBC

SBC, quick for Low Complexity Sub-band Coding, is and does the naked minimal for Bluetooth transmission. Each Android and iOS gadgets have this codec, however you virtually undoubtedly do not wish to use it over different codecs. Not solely does it present poor audio high quality, nevertheless it additionally suffers from latency points.


5. LHDC


LHDC-logo
Picture Credit score: LHDC

Low-Latency Excessive-Definition Codec (LHDC) is developed by the Excessive-res Wi-fi Audio (HWA) Union and Savitech. All Android gadgets with Android 10 and above assist this codec, whereas iOS gadgets do not. It presents a excessive audio high quality whereas nonetheless holding its latency pretty low.

It additionally has a low latency sibling known as LHDC LL or LLAC (Low Latency Audio Codec). Its latency is kind of just like aptX Low Latency however has higher audio high quality as it may enhance its efficiency as per the sign energy.

6. LC3

Low Complexity Communication Codec (LC3) is a comparatively new codec developed by Fraunhofer IIS and Ericsson to deliver Bluetooth capabilities into listening to aids. It permits the transmission of a number of audio streams concurrently. This helps people who find themselves onerous of listening to to take heed to music whereas nonetheless having the ability to hear their environment.

7. Samsung Scalable Codec

Samsung Scalable Codec (SSC) is kind of just like aptX Adaptive and is suitable solely with Samsung gadgets. It was first seen within the Samsung Galaxy Buds and is designed to cut back uneven audio. It freely adjusts its efficiency to allow smoother audio output.

Which Bluetooth Codec Is the Finest?


wireless earbuds

There is not one codec that performs nicely in all conditions. As Bluetooth codec know-how continues to be under-development, there may be at all times a trade-off between audio high quality and latency.

Bitrate, pattern fee, and bit depth contribute to the general sound high quality. The upper they’re, the extra correct the reproduced sound might be. That means, you’ll be able to hear tracks the best way the unique artist supposed. The next spec desk will assist you put issues into perspective.

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Bluetooth Codecs Spec Desk

Codec Bitrate Max Pattern Price Max Bit Depth Latency
aptX 384kbps 48kHz 16-bit 50–150ms
aptX HD 566kbps 48kHz 24-bit ~150ms
aptX Adaptive 279–420kbps 48kHz 24-bit 80ms
aptX Low Latency 352kbps 44.1kHz 16-bit 40ms
aptX Lossless ~1mbps 96kHz lossy/44.1kHz lossless 24-bit lossy/16-bit lossless (unavailable)
aptX Dwell (unavailable) 48kHz 24-bit 1.8ms
LDAC 330/660/990kbps 96kHz 24-bit ~200ms
AAC 264kbps 44.1kHz 24-bit 150–250ms
SBC 320kbps 48kHz 16-bit 150–250ms
LHDC 990kbps 96kHz 24-bit (unavailable)
LLAC 440/660kbps 48kHz 24-bit 30ms
LC3 160–345kbps 48kHz 32-bit 30ms
Samsung Scalable 88–512kbps 96kHz 24-bit (unavailable)

Which Bluetooth Codec Ought to I Use?


Phone-and-earbuds
Bluetooth earbuds alongside smartphone

No single codec is the perfect for all the things, however loads of them get the job finished most often. Relying in your utilization, the appropriate codecs will fluctuate. Let’s take a better look.

Utilization Options Required Appropriate Codecs
Informal listening Excessive audio high quality aptX Lossless, LDAC, LHDC, aptX HD
Watching movies Low latency LLAC, aptX Adaptive, aptX Low Latency, LC3
Calling Constant audio high quality aptX Adaptive, aptX, Samsung Scalable, LC3
Gaming Low latency, consistency LLAC, LC3, aptX Low Latency, aptX Adaptive

Select a Codec Proper for You

Many of those codecs will sound very related except you are an audiophile. So, what issues probably the most is the headphone–supply compatibility. Each your gadget and headphones ought to assist the identical codec you wish to use, in any other case, they’ll default to every other codec obtainable.

Whereas Android customers have many choices, iOS customers have to decide on between SBC and AAC. So, the subsequent time you are shopping for Bluetooth headphones, be certain to test the codecs they assist and their specs to get the perfect expertise attainable out of them.


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