Qualcomm wants to fix Bluetooth audio connectivity with Snapdragon Sound

Qualcomm's new Snapdragon Sound is designed to make wireless audio better for Android devices.
Image: Qualcomm

Device manufacturers have been touting the merits of wireless headphones for several years. By now, most of the industry has already transitioned away from wired audio in favor of Bluetooth. However, ask anyone who owns a pair of wireless headphones and they’ll tell you that it isn’t a perfect solution.

Wireless headphones often come with connectivity problems, poor sound quality, and laggy performance. Qualcomm wants to address that issue (finally). The company announced its new Snapdragon Sound technology on Thursday. It is a combination hardware-software approach that will make using wireless audio a more pleasant experience for Android users.

Fixing the Issue

For those who are willing to look past the price gouging of Apple’s wireless audio accessories, their performance is generally pretty good. Since Apple makes the hardware for both its headphones and its devices, the company is able to ensure that they work well together.

Android device makers don’t have the same luxury. However, a large percentage of Android devices and accessories have something in common—Qualcomm hardware.

According to Qualcomm’s recent announcement, the goal of Snapdragon Sound is to deliver high-resolution, wired quality audio” without sacrificing the simplicity of Bluetooth accessories. It’s an ambitious plan. However, it will create a much better wireless audio experience for Android users if it works.

How Snapdragon Sound Works

As noted, Qualcomm’s wireless audio solution relies on both hardware and software. Unfortunately, that means it will only be supported by new devices.

Snapdragon Sound depends on Qualcomm’s latest mobile processors and their improved ability to handle Bluetooth connections. The company says that latency is 45 percent lower than it is with chips from its competitors and that its hardware can deliver 24-bit 96kHz audio. For those that aren’t familiar with the jargon, that’s very good by most standards.

On top of that, Qualcomm claims that its Snapdragon Sound platform will be “glitch-free.” That is one of the biggest issues with wireless audio technology. It often leaves users missing the simplicity of plugging their headphones in and moving on.

Even in crowded areas (once the pandemic is over), Snapdragon Sound will deliver exceptional performance without dropping calls or skipping during music playback.

Qualcomm is already working with a number of wireless audio accessory makers to ensure that Snapdragon Sound is able to hit the ground running. Xiaomi has committed to making a device that supports the platform. Audio-Technica is also working on a range of products that will support Snapdragon Sound.

Moving forward, Qualcomm wants to make it easy for consumers to identify devices that support its wireless audio platform. The company unveiled a new Snapdragon Sound badge that will appear on smartphones, laptops, smartwatches, headphones, and other devices.

As time goes on, Qualcomm intends to roll out other features for its new wireless audio platform. Things enjoyed by AirPods users, like spatial audio and multi-device connectivity, will be added eventually.

Although Snapdragon Sound isn’t a perfect solution for making wireless audio better on Android devices, it is a massive step in the right direction. Hopefully, the rest of the industry will join with Qualcomm in its endeavor.


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