Qualcomm announces new Bluetooth LE Audio chipsets with lossless audio support

Qualcomm S3 and S5 Gen 2 will pair perfectly with Snapdragon 8 Gen 2-based phones, enabling lossless listening through future generations of wireless headsets.

Announced by the Bluetooth SIG as early as 2020 as part of the Bluetooth 5.2 specification set, the Bluetooth LE Audio standard is already included with the Android 13 release, missing only the hardware part to also provide native support on the devices users use. Prior to version 5.2, Bluetooth LE was used strictly for data transfers and did not allow audio transmission. Key features of LE Audio include much reduced power consumption, Multi-Stream Audio support for an enhanced audio experience on true-wireless headsets, the ability to stream one or more audio streams to an unlimited number of audio devices, and more.

Changes to facilitate audio connections have been added in Android 13 in the form of a new API, with LC3 (Low Complexity Communications Codec), an audio compression format optimised for low power consumption and high listening quality, even at severely limited bitrates, at its core. Qualcomm is extending the benefits of Bluetooth LE Audio with lossless audio support, enabling lossless listening in a way that doesn’t affect the range of wireless headphones. However, you’ll need a smartphone and wireless headset equipped with Qualcomm-compatible chipsets for this.

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In addition to lossless hearing over Bluetooth LE Audio connections, the Qualcomm S3 and Qualcomm S5 Gen 2 chipsets also support other advanced features, such as dynamic head tracking for dynamically applying audio spacing effects. For example, the facility is particularly useful when using VR or AR headsets, allowing users to locate the source of sound by turning their head towards the virtual object or location from which it is emanating. Other improvements include the implementation of Active Noise Cancellation, with headsets equipped with the new chipset able to temporarily disable the ANC function if the user attempts to carry on a conversation with another person.

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Other optimizations target the gaming side, with Qualcomm’s new chips reducing connection latency from 68 milliseconds on the previous generation to just 48 milliseconds. Also included is a dedicated voice channel, improving audio clarity for chat sessions conducted during games.

Another interesting addition is the Auracast feature, allowing multiple devices to be connected via the same Bluetooth channel.

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