Published on March 5th, 2021 | by Adrian Gunning

Qualcomm Redefining Wireless Audio with Launch of Qualcomm Snapdragon Sound

Qualcomm Technologies International, Ltd. today announced Qualcomm® Snapdragon Sound™ technology, an optimized chain of audio innovations and software designed to provide seamless, immersive audio in, and across, devices including smartphones, wireless earbuds and headsets. Snapdragon Sound is designed to provide a superior sound experience for consumers while listening to streaming music, communicating on the phone, or wirelessly gaming. To coincide with this launch, Amazon Music and Qualcomm Technologies also announced a curated Snapdragon Sound Playlist.

“The human ear is highly sensitive to glitches, latencies and other challenges which commonly occur when streaming music, video conferencing, or gaming over wireless connections. By focusing end-to-end, we are looking to deliver innovations to solve common consumer pain-points across virtually all audio interaction points,” said James Chapman, vice president and general manager, Voice, Music and Wearables, Qualcomm Technologies International, Ltd. “Qualcomm Technologies is uniquely positioned to provide tremendous value to customers with Snapdragon Sound and help them quickly commercialize products differentiated by great sound quality. Our system-level approach aggregates multiple technologies and the latest products from across our mobile and audio platform portfolios to achieve our vision of delivering high-resolution, wired quality audio, wirelessly.”

There are many ways sound quality can be disrupted between users and devices. How devices connect with each other, breaks in connectivity, audio dropouts and glitches, latency, and poor audio compression can all contribute to a sub-optimal listening experience. By optimizing interactions between Qualcomm technology stacks, Snapdragon Sound is designed to deliver a more robust and seamless wireless listening experience, supporting high-resolution 24-bit 96kHz audio, ultra-low latency, improved pairing and crystal-clear voice quality. To solve end-to-end latency challenges, Snapdragon Sound can support Bluetooth latencies as low as 89 milliseconds (45% lower than a leading competitor) for more immersive gaming and a better video watching experience. For those who prefer listening directly from the mobile device, Snapdragon Sound incorporates the Qualcomm Aqstic™ DAC, designed to support formats of up to 384kHz 32-bit PCM and DSD with ultra-low THD+N.

Key Technologies

The key components of Snapdragon Sound include:

Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 8-series mobile platforms
Qualcomm® FastConnect™ 6900 mobile connectivity system
Qualcomm® QCC514x, QCC515x and QCC3056 series Bluetooth Audio SoCs
Qualcomm® Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) technology
Qualcomm® aptX™ Adaptive(tm), 24-bit 96kHz and 89ms latency
Qualcomm® aptX™ Voice super wideband voice
Qualcomm Aqstic™ audio codec and smart speaker amplifier WCD938x and WSA883x)
Qualcomm Audio and Voice Communication Suite

To ensure high levels of performance, all Snapdragon Sound optimized devices will be tested for interoperability in Qualcomm Technologies’ dedicated test facility in Taiwan on measures of performance including audio quality, latency and robust connectivity.

Customer Momentum

“Xiaomi is excited to be the first mobile manufacturer to bring Snapdragon Sound to devices. Snapdragon Sound will allow us to bring new high quality, seamless, low-latency experiences to our customers everywhere,” said Lei Zhang, vice president of Mi Smartphone and general manager of Hardware R&D, Xiaomi. “Our customers have told us they want better sound from their devices while engaging in voice calls, video conferencing, gaming and/or music listening. Snapdragon Sound has industry leading capabilities to fully optimize the smartphone phone and earbuds delivering great sound.”

“For decades Audio-Technica has been at the forefront of the movement for premium sound. We are proud to work with Qualcomm Technologies to solve some of the challenges associated with connectivity and latency for the next generation of wireless audio, and they are uniquely positioned to help us do this. We believe that with Snapdragon Sound we get closer to our mutual vision of providing wired quality sound, wirelessly and are excited to be one of the first manufacturers to get our products to consumers,” said, Kotaro Narihara, director, general manager of marketing headquarters, Audio-Technica.

A Snapdragon Sound Playlist

At the event, the company also introduced a brand-new, genre-spanning Amazon Music HD playlist designed to showcase the superior sound quality that Snapdragon Sound can achieve. The Snapdragon Sound playlist features producer/musician St. Panther’s brand-new Amazon Original song, “Real Love Takes Time”, Amazon Original tracks from Allie X and You Me At Six, recently remastered recordings from The Clash and new tracks from Celeste and more. With more than 70 million songs in High Definition, and over five million songs in the highest quality audio, or Ultra High Definition, Amazon Music HD allows customers to hear all of their favorite songs and albums with every bit of detail as their original recording.

“With Amazon Music HD, we wanted to make it easier for music fans to stream their favorite music the way it was originally recorded,” said Andre Stapleton, Global Head of Artist and Label Relations at Amazon Music. “We believe listening to high-quality audio helps customers fall in love again with their favorite music and artists, so we’re always excited to see new developments that will make it easier to experience HD and Ultra HD audio. We’re thrilled to work with Qualcomm Technologies and present the Snapdragon Sound playlist, which includes a beautiful new Amazon Original by St Panther, which will be able to be heard in Ultra HD on Snapdragon Sound-optimized devices.”

Devices supporting Snapdragon Sound are expected to be available later this year. As products are available, consumers will be able to look for the Snapdragon Sound badge on optimized devices to readily identify phones, earbuds and headphones and, in time, other devices like PCs, watches and XR glasses designed to deliver the full benefit of these advanced audio features.

Snapdragon Sound is available to OEMs today and more information can be found, https://www.qualcomm.com/company/events/snapdragon-sound. Further details and additional enhancements to the ecosystem will be announced later this year.

About Qualcomm

Qualcomm is the world’s leading wireless technology innovator and the driving force behind the development, launch, and expansion of 5G. When we connected the phone to the internet, the mobile revolution was born. Today, our foundational technologies enable the mobile ecosystem and are found in every 3G, 4G and 5G smartphone. We bring the benefits of mobile to new industries, including automotive, the internet of things, and computing, and are leading the way to a world where everything and everyone can communicate and interact seamlessly.

Qualcomm Incorporated includes our licensing business, QTL, and the vast majority of our patent portfolio. Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, operates, along with its subsidiaries, substantially all of our engineering, research and development functions, and substantially all of our products and services businesses, including our QCT semiconductor business.

About the Author


Adrian lives in Melbourne Australia and has a huge passion for gaming, technology and pop culture. He recently finished his a Bachelor of Journalism and is currently focusing on games journalism. When not writing and playing video games, Adrian can be found in Comics 'R' Us debating the pros of the DC Universe and cons of the Marvel Universe.

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