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Snapdragon Summit | Qualcomm brings WiFi connectivity to earbuds for dropout-free lossless audio with Snapdragon Sound S7 Pro chip

The S7 and S7 Pro chips bring powerful capabilities to wireless earbuds (Image Source: Qualcomm - edited)
The S7 and S7 Pro chips bring powerful capabilities to wireless earbuds (Image Source: Qualcomm - edited)
Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon Sound technology will allow wireless earbuds and headphones to play dropout-free lossless audio with low latency using a WiFi network. The new S7 and S7 Pro chips, expected to start appearing in devices soon, also offer vastly improved DSP and AI processing, which will enhance ANC and make awareness mode more intelligent.

Some of the biggest weaknesses of wireless earbuds and headphones are lossy audio quality, dropouts over longer distances and unforgivably high latency. With the increasing popularity of high-res and spatial audio, these issues only become more pronounced. However, it seems they could very soon become things of the past.

At the recent Snapdragon Summit, Qualcomm launched the S7 and S7 Pro chips for wireless earbuds and headphones as part of its Snapdragon Sound platform. Apart from greatly increasing computing and AI processing power, the S7 Pro chip adds the groundbreaking ability to stream audio over WiFi – apparently the key to solving the above-mentioned issues.

Qualcomm's new Expanded Personal Area Network (XPAN) technology enables dropout-free coverage over a wide area while supporting up to 24-bit 192 kHz lossless audio streaming and spatial audio for gaming. Most importantly, it does so without compromising on battery life, and with seamless switching between Bluetooth and WiFi as the distance changes. Even the pairing process remains the same – WiFi credentials are just passed on from the phone/computer to the earphones.

XPAN technology enables audio streaming over WiFi (Image Source: Qualcomm)
XPAN technology enables audio streaming over WiFi (Image Source: Qualcomm)

Of course, the S7 and S7 Pro chips have other strengths. They deliver “six times more compute power and almost 100 times more AI power than previous generation platforms” and feature 3 times more memory. All this translates to noise-cancelling and awareness modes which perform better, are more context-aware and can transition between the two modes smoothly (much like Apple’s Adaptive Audio), with applications extending to hearing assistance. It will also improve immersive audio experiences.

So, what’s the catch? For all of Snapdragon Sound's features to work, you’ll need to pair the earphones with a compatible device, i.e. one with the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 or X Elite processor. And Apple is unlikely to join the party, as it seems to be building on its own audio capabilities independently.

With micro-power WiFi, power consumption is the same as with Bluetooth (Image Source: Qualcomm)
With micro-power WiFi, power consumption is the same as with Bluetooth (Image Source: Qualcomm)

Thankfully, Qualcomm is a big enough player that widespread compatibility is not a major concern. Companies like BoseSennheiserAudio-TechnicaFiioJabraLG, Master & Dynamic, ShureEdifier and more are already Snapdragon Sound partners. Hopefully we’ll start seeing new audio devices with these features very soon.

Until then, you can buy the latest Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds, or the Sony WF-1000XM5 earbuds, both with market-leading ANC and immersive audio, on Amazon.

The S7 and S7 Pro chips improve performance in many areas (Image Source: Qualcomm)
The S7 and S7 Pro chips improve performance in many areas (Image Source: Qualcomm)

Source(s)

Qualcomm

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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2023 10 > Qualcomm brings WiFi connectivity to earbuds for dropout-free lossless audio with Snapdragon Sound S7 Pro chip
Vishal Bhardwaj, 2023-10-26 (Update: 2023-10-26)