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Qualcomm tackles wireless audio streaming

by Ken Hyers | Mar 05, 2021

Sales of Totally Wireless (TWS) Bluetooth headsets are skyrocketing.  So is mobile gaming, video streaming and listening to music on smartphones.  The coronavirus pandemic has also led more people to work remotely, using wireless headsets for Zoom calls.  With the explosive usage of wireless streaming, users are becoming more aware of some of the limitations of current audio technology which can lead to glitches like dropped connections, buffering, lag and overall uneven sound quality.

Qualcomm has decided to tackle the issues with a new product portfolio, Qualcomm Snapdragon Sound

The products that Qualcomm is introducing include processors, Digital to Analog Converters (DACs), and codecs.  The company claims the products can provide 24-bit 96kHz signal support to provide high-fidelity music sound quality, 32khz sampling frequency for better call quality to prevent drop-out during calls, and 89ms latency for video streaming and gaming, which means less lag.

The problems that Qualcomm is working to solve are real.  Many are familiar with garbled bits of sound during calls, buffering issues that interrupt the audio (and video) portions of streams, and latency issues that limit the use of Bluetooth headsets for the most demanding gaming situations.  Qualcomm has presented data that shows its high-resolution audio solutions are better than standard Bluetooth in terms of audio quality.


The Bluetooth headset market is growing rapidly, driven in large part by demand for TWS headsets.  New work and new play patterns are causing users to use Bluetooth headsets across a variety of devices, creating a need for better audio quality.  Qualcomm is looking to improve the audio experience on these devices.  Some of the first products that use Snapdragon Sound to improve their products include Xiaomi and Audio-Technica.  We expect many more will also partner with Qualcomm to integrate Snapdragon Sound into their products.

Strategy Analytics closely tracks and forecasts the Bluetooth headset and TWS market in its Device Technologies (EDT) service.  Clients can access that research here.

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