Users had only the Tidal option around a year ago if they wanted to stream lossless audio recordings to their phone. Since then, a lot has changed, with Apple introducing lossless streaming compatibility in June and Spotify promising to follow it later this year. More streaming providers enabling the Hi-Res bandwagon won’t help users unless they have prepared to add a USB DAC to their phone because Bluetooth headphones can only deliver lossy audio. That is going to change.
Qualcomm is introducing a new lossless version of its aptX Bluetooth codec, which the firm claims can deliver CD-quality 16-bit 44.1kHz audio streaming over a wireless connection in suitable conditions. Qualcomm claims that it improved its Bluetooth High-Speed Link technology to give the requisite data speed for streaming lossless music wirelessly, but the codec can also compress a signal down to 24-bit 96kHz quality to ensure no disruptions. You can also choose between 16-bit 44.1kHz and 24-bit 96kHz streaming modes, however, the codec will default to the former if a lossless source is detected.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chipsets provide support for Qualcomm’s aptX codecs. As a result, practically any Android phone purchased in North America or Europe will be compatible with the standard. It’s not enough to have a Bluetooth-enabled phone, tablet, or computer, as it is with all Bluetooth codecs. You’ll also need a pair of compatible headphones or earbuds. The first ones that enable aptX Lossless, according to Qualcomm, will be available later this year.
Sony’s LDAC and DSEE technologies were the closest you could come to a lossless Bluetooth connection until now. These work great, but you’ll need a pair of Sony headphones to get the most out of them.