Tech Facts

Better sound quality with Qualcomm Snapdragon Sound

Qualcomm Snapdragon Sound is a combination of hardware and software that, among other things, increases the sound quality of your next mobile phone. The goal is to provide lower latencies when streaming music and movies, as well as higher sound quality without the battery suffering.

  • Increases sound quality and has lower latency than competitors (Qualcomm claims)
  • Works initially with selected, new mobile phones and headphones
  • Based on several other technologies from Qualcomm and has low power consumption

For the technology to work properly, manufacturers must adapt their gadgets to it. Among other things, we know that Xiaomi and Audio-Technica are fast on the train. However, it is unclear exactly which products are involved.

Snapdragon Sound will work with mobile phones, headphones, smartwatches, in-ear headphones and computers in the future. Initially, however, only mobile phones and headphones are in focus.

“The human ear is very sensitive to faults, latencies and other challenges that usually happen when streaming music, in video conferencing and with gaming over wireless connections.”, says James Chapman at Qualcomm Technologies International.

“We want innovations that solve common problems for consumers over basically all sound-related interactions!, says James.

Snapdragon Sound supports high-definition sound in 32-bit / 384 kHz

When streaming audio wirelessly, Snapdragon Sound supports up to 24-bit / 96 kHz. If you instead listen directly to the device, the quality increases significantly, up to 32-bit / 384 kHz thanks to Qualcomm Aqstic Hi-Fi DAC. It sounds really good then – in theory for many.

What is Qualcomm Aqstic Hi-Fi DAC?
Aqstic Hi-Fi DAC is also called AQT1000 and is a physical circuit that converts digital signals to analog so that you actually hear something in your headphones. The better the DAC used, the cleaner and clearer sound you get in the ears with minimal noise.

Because even if it sounds really good on paper, it is important to remember that they are only on paper.

There are several factors that matter if you can take advantage of high-definition sound that is 32-bit at 384kHz. For example, you need to have the right headphones that can actually present high definition sound, the music files need to be in the right format and your ears should actually be able to hear the difference as well.

What is the difference between 24- and 32-bit audio?
The difference between 24-bit and 32-bit audio is the dynamic range specified in decibels (dB). That is, from the quietest to the loudest that the audio file (and playback) can handle. The absolute majority do not hear the difference between 24 and 32 bit sound, nor the difference between 96 and 384 kHz.

Something that is more noticeable to many is that streamed sound has a low latency of down to 89 milliseconds with Snapdragon Sound. According to Qualcomm, it is 45 percent lower than the competition.

A low latency, which is the delay between what you see on the screen and what is played in the ears, is important for video and audio to be out of sync. A high latency means that speech and mouth movements do not go together, which quickly becomes annoying.

Snapdragon Sound requires you to buy a new gadget

Snapdragon Sound does not work with your old mobile phone. Not even if it’s already a newer model with a Qualcomm processor.

All gadgets with Snapdragon Sound have the sound technology logo clearly marked on their box, so when you shop in a store, there is never a question of whether or not you have. Just look at the box what applies.

Snapdragon Sound is a combination of several hardware technologies and software. Here are the technologies that Qualcomm highlights as compatible and necessary for Snapdragon Sound.

Mobile platforms and technologies Headphone & in-ear headphone technician Sound & voice technicians
Snapdragon 888 QCC515x Bluetooth Audio SoC TrueWireless Mirroring
FastConnect 6900 QCC514x Bluetooth Audio SoC Active Noise Cancellaiton (ANC)
WCD938x Aqstic Audio Codec QCC3056 Bluetooth Audio SoC aptX Adaptive Audio
WSA883x Aqstic Smart Speaker Amp aptX Voice Audio
HDR & 3D Audio Record

If you want to read more about Qualcomm’s new sound technology and how it works, there is an excellent article from the manufacturer here.

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