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Apple clarifies lack of high-definition Bluetooth codec support for AirPods Max and AirPods Pro 2

All AirPods products cannot transmit audio at higher than 256 kbps. (Image source: Akhil Yerabti)
All AirPods products cannot transmit audio at higher than 256 kbps. (Image source: Akhil Yerabti)
While the AirPods Max and AirPods Pro 2 have been heralded as offering excellent audio quality for their class, neither support high-definition Bluetooth audio codecs. Instead, both peak at 256 kbps over AAC, or SBC if you are not using an Apple product. Finally, an Apple engineer has commented on why the company has elected against supporting LDAC, aptX or equivalents.

Apple’s AirPods products offer many enticing features, including good active noise cancellation (ANC), spatial audio and impressive audio quality in the case of the AirPods Max or AirPods Pro 2. However, they all trail their competitors when it comes to Bluetooth codec support. Inexplicably, while the industry has adopted high-fidelity codecs like LDAC and the various version of Qualcomm aptX, Apple has remained resolute with AAC and SBC.

For context, AAC tops out at 256 kbps, a way behind the likes of aptX Lossless and LDAC. According to Apple engineer Esge Andersen, the company does not believe that ‘the codec currently is the limitation of quality on Bluetooth products’. Instead, Andersen asserts that Apple ‘can still make big strides without changing the codec’, as has happened with between the AirPods Pro and AirPods Pro 2.

Ultimately, it seems that Apple is not against adopting a higher bandwidth Bluetooth codec. The company still considers AAC a more reliable codec than its higher resolution peers though, despite the maturity of technologies like aptX and LDAC. In short, Andersen’s interview with What Hi-Fi reads as though Apple will not be making changes in this department any time soon and will focus on design improvements to maximise audio quality on future AirPods products.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2022 11 > Apple clarifies lack of high-definition Bluetooth codec support for AirPods Max and AirPods Pro 2
Alex Alderson, 2022-11-24 (Update: 2022-11-24)