Qualcomm’s Bluetooth SoC aims to make truly wireless headphones a whole lot better

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Qualcomm’s new Bluetooth SoC will bring Bluetooth 5.0, Active Noise Cancellation, and aptX HD to future truly wireless earbuds.

While Qualcomm is mostly known for its smartphone chips, it also makes components for PCs and headphones. The latter category is our focus today, as Qualcomm has announced its new QCC5100 Bluetooth SoC.

This component will go into truly wireless Bluetooth headphones, and will bring features that only larger headphones have had until this point. Most importantly, the new chip will be more power efficient than current solutions, allowing you to spend more time listening to music and less time with your earbuds in their charging case.

Qualcomm is also including support for "Hybrid" Active Noise Cancellation on the SoC itself, rather than requiring a dedicated component for the ANC. There will also be dedicated support for voice assistants such as Alexa and Google Assistant. From Qualcomm:

At CES® 2018, Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) today announced that its subsidiary, Qualcomm Technologies International, Ltd., introduced the new Qualcomm® Low Power Bluetooth SoC QCC5100 series that is designed to help manufacturers develop a new generation of compact, feature-rich, wireless earbuds, hearables and headsets. To help meet consumer demand for superior audio quality as well as extended battery life and playback time in wireless audio devices, the breakthrough SoC series is engineered to reduce power consumption by up to 65 percent for both voice calls and music streaming, compared to previous single-chip Bluetooth audio solutions.

The SoC architecture supports low power performance and includes a Bluetooth 5 dual-mode radio, low power audio and application subsystems. Designed to serve various "on-the-go" consumer use cases requiring robust, high quality, truly wireless listening experiences, the platform supports advanced features including Qualcomm® TrueWireless™ Stereo, Qualcomm® aptX™ HD audio, Integrated Hybrid Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) and third-party voice assistant services.

"This breakthrough single-chip solution is designed to dramatically reduce power consumption and offers enhanced processing capabilities to help our customers build new life-enhancing, feature-rich devices. This will open new possibilities for extended-use hearable applications including virtual assistants, augmented hearing and enhanced listening," said Anthony Murray, senior vice president and general manager, voice & music, Qualcomm Technologies International, Ltd. "Without sacrificing our superior sound quality, we can now help to pack tremendous functionality into small, wireless hearable devices. Audio designers are looking for a platform solution that brings an ideal combination of power, size and functionality and user experience – and the QCC5100 series is designed to deliver exactly that."

The exact features will depend on exactly what OEMs want to enable, so your next pair of earbuds may not have all the features this SoC will bring. Are you in the market for a new pair of earbuds this year? Let us know in the comments!

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January 8, 2018 at 05:57PM