AptX Adaptive is a brand new version of Qualcomm’s existing Bluetooth AptX standard that the company hopes will one day unify all its audio technologies.
From AptX HD to AptX Low latency and just regular old AptX, Qualcomm now offers a lot of different Bluetooth audio standards to choose from if you want to connect a pair of wireless headphones to a phone.
Having multiple standards is necessary when each of them fulfils a very different purpose. AptX HD is the version that offers the highest possible music quality, while AptX low-latency focusses on offering (you guessed it) a low latency of below 40ms. Standard AptX, which transmits less data than AptX, works better when there’s lots of radio interference around.
So each standard has a reason to exist, but the problem is that we use our phones for many different things throughout the course of the day. Maybe you’re listening to music in the office when you want the best possible audio quality, but when you’re playing a game or two on the bus home you’re likely to care far more about latency.
Related: What is aptX and aptX HD?
One standard to rule them all
Qualcomm’s solution to this problem is AptX Adaptive. For now, the company has conservative ambitions for the standard. It’s replacing AptX Low Latency for now, but AptX’s director, Jonny McClinktock, confirmed to Trusted Reviews that the hope is for it to one day be able to unify the whole lineup under a single standard.
AptX Adaptive’s unique feature is for it to analyse both your content and environment and change the way it transmits audio appropriately. If it senses from the audio’s metadata that you’re playing a game, then it will automatically optimise itself to minimise latency.
Meanwhile, it’s also able to scale the bitrate (read: quality) of the audio it’s sending depending on how much radio interference is around you at any given moment.
It’s going to take a little while before you’re actually going to make use of the new standard. Qualcomm is releasing chips for the headphone side of the equation this September, but the manufacturers buying it are unlikely to have headphones that support it available until next Summer.
Even then, you might want to proceed with caution on the new standard. Qualcomm is launching AptX Adaptive with support for 24-bit / 48kHz, but the eventual aim is for it to be able to transmit audio going all the way up to 96kHz in resolution.
Although the difference will be on the software side (meaning the first batch of Adaptive headphones should be capable of being upgraded), Qualcomm wasn’t able to promise that every pair of headphones would receive an update since it will be up to the individual manufacturers.
It might take a little while for AptX Adaptive to fully take over, but given Qualcomm’s dominance of the Bluetooth audio market, we’re betting it will arrive sooner than you think.
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