Qualcomm aptX and aptX HD are the answer to the gradual abandonment by manufacturers of the standard 3.5 mm headphone jack. How are these codecs working and whether it is worthwhile to switch to wireless music listening?
In recent months, the mobile market has seen an interesting trend. More and more manufacturers are starting to put their handsets on their smartphones with the 3.5 mm jack connector that lets you plug in traditional audio headphones. While I totally do not understand such a move, I am glad that in the meantime other brands make sure that listening to music wirelessly becomes as pleasant as "cable". Among these technologies are the increasingly popular Qualcomm codecs such as aptX and aptX HD . How it's working? Before I delve into the subject, I will also mention that aptX and aptX HD are not the only codecs that work on wireless audio. But I think this is the technology that is currently most noteworthy as it is supported by more than half of the smartphones currently available on the market. Just like removing the jack connector, aptX and aptX HD codec implementation will only work.
Briefly: What is Bluetooth codec?
The theme itself and the concept of "codec" is very broad and has several uses. But let's focus on wireless audio interfaces. In this case the Bluetooth codec is a simple software that is meant to read and send the relevant information between two devices – the result is obviously the sound in the headphones. Different Bluetooth codecs send data in an individually defined manner. In this case, we can deal with both faster and slower transmissions or better or worse audio quality. Everything matters. It is also worth mentioning that both devices that exchange information between themselves have to be compatible with a given standard so that the connection is successful. At present practically most of the equipment is able to use such codecs as SBC, AAC or LDAC . The last codecs on the list are aptX and aptX HD from Qualcomm.
What is aptX?
Qualcomm aptX is a codec whose history dates back to 1980. Since then, the technology has been used on the radio or in some electronic devices. Over the years, the codec itself has evolved and has seen a number of improvements: among them, it is worth mentioning, for example, the speed of transmission and the naturally higher quality of transmitted audio. The first mobile device that used this codec was the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus , which appeared in 2011. The aptX technology is capable of transferring full-rate music at 16-bit / 44.1 kHz (356 kbps) in the same format as CDs. Unfortunately, this is just such a guarantee, because aptX itself is still using compression. Although we get the quality "from the audio disc", we eventually get worse sound quality. So it can be said that aptX is an improved, somewhat outdated technology that has been followed by the successor of aptX HD. This codec is worth discussing in more detail, because it is a great innovation with respect to predecessors and solutions from other manufacturers. This codec also comes with the latest smartphones and audio products such as wireless speakers or smartphones.
Why use aptX HD better?
Because this is an updated, described above aptX. In the case of the codec with the note "HD" the change is really big. Qualcomm has made the effort to provide us with fully lossless, high quality audio. This time in 24-bit / 48 kHz format . (576 kb / s) . Such a difference can be heard almost immediately. In this case, I can safely admit that wireless audio is capable of being "as good as a disc", but in addition to the hardware supporting the aptX HD codec, you should also have the appropriate wireless headphones. Unfortunately, at the cheapest you will probably not hear the difference.
What do I need to do to be able to use the aptX codecs?
The aptX HD codec was officially launched in January 2016 and is now in a number of smartphones, tablets and portable media players. The first smartphone to use the aptX HD was the LG G5 – the latest generation of Korean flagship also has support for this technology. If we are already with LG, then we can also boldly drop LG V20. Holders of OnePlus 3, 3T and OnePlus 5 can also enjoy the difference in sound quality.In terms of accessories and headphones , the case is dependent on the manufacturers. It makes no sense to create a list of compatible devices here: it's best if you just make sure your smartphone or headset is able to use the aptX or aptX HD codec for the next purchase.
Can you really hear the difference?
This question is hard for me to answer, because I adhere to the principle that in the subject of audio should not be too much push for subjective opinions. I try to maintain objectivity and guide you to sound improvement, but your ears will be able to judge if something really has changed. So let's keep in mind that each of us has different musical preferences not only in terms of the listener's genre, but also in the reception of sounds and the whole scene – from the bottom, through the middle to the top.Currently, he uses two pairs of headphones to listen to music: one on the cable and the other on the cord . The difference in sound quality is significant, with the advantage for cable solutions. For the city and traveling, where I have no time to wear the player and remember the cables, the "wireless" works great. AptX and aptX HD allow you to easily get closer to the quality of cable and headphones. The loss is not big enough for me to get upset at my favorite albums and songs that they play wrong as I would like. Considering the fact that we are also moving towards a fully wireless future, Qualcomm and other manufacturers are likely to create solutions and codecs that will throw cables out of the bin. So far, however, you can safely use what the above mentioned technology offers. In my opinion, it is worth a try.