At CES in January, Bluetooth SIG announced a spin-off standard for for wireless sound called Bluetooth LE Audio (low-energy). The new framework allows two key features: native support for hearing aids and audio sharing. And, of course, the standard promises higher quality sound while using less power — all thanks to a new Low Complexity Communication Codec (LC3). This means nothing is headphone companies can’t put it in their products, but that will soon be a possibility. Today, Qualcomm announced its QCC305x SoC, a true wireless earbud chip that’s properly equipped for Bluetooth LE Audio.
Indeed, the QCC305x brings a host of handy features to more true wireless earbud models, including LE Audio’s ability to share what’s playing to multiple users from the same device. Qualcomm is also bringing tools from its top tier of SoCs to this mid-tier component. Things like hands-free voice assistants, adaptive ANC, aptX Adaptive and both aptX Voice and cVc Echo Cancellation/Noise Suppression for calls. In other words, on top of getting all the latest features, true wireless earbud companies no longer have to use premium-tier components like Qualcomm’s QCC514X to get all the best audio tools.
“Not only do our QCC305x SoCs bring many of our latest-and-greatest audio features to our mid-range truly wireless earbud portfolio, they are also designed to be developer-ready for the upcoming Bluetooth LE Audio standard,” Qualcomm’s voice, music and wearables vice president and general manager James Chapman explained. “We believe this combination gives our customers great flexibility to innovate at a range of price points and helps them meet the needs of today’s audio consumers, many of whom now rely on their truly wireless earbuds for all sorts of entertainment and productivity activities.”
So what does this mean for you, the consumer? Well, pretty soon, we should see mid-range earbuds — the ones in the $125-$175 range — pop up with all the features we currently encounter on pricier flagship or premium models. And that’s on top of the efficiency and new features Bluetooth LE Audio will deliver.