Bluetooth Audio Codecs Explained

Wireless headphones and other audio devices use different ways to send sound from your phone or device to your headphones. The three main types are Infrared, Radio Frequency, and Bluetooth. Today, we’ll focus on Bluetooth, but the basics apply to all.

When sending audio wirelessly, the size of the audio file affects how much space is needed to send it. Bigger files need more space. Bluetooth has a limit on how much space it can use. If the file is too big, the audio might not play smoothly.

To make files smaller, Bluetooth devices use special tools to shrink the audio file. They send this smaller file to the headphones, which turn it back into sound.

The special tool that does this is called an audio codec. A codec is like a recipe that tells the device how to squeeze the audio for sending and then how to open it up for listening. Both the sending device and the headphones need to use the same codec to talk to each other.

There are different types of Bluetooth audio codecs, like SBC, AAC, aptX, and more. Each one has its own special way of squeezing the audio and affects how clear and fast the sound is.

Before you get into codecs, it’s good to know a few audio words:

  1. Sample Rate: This is like taking pictures of the sound. It’s how many pictures we take every second to make sure the sound is just right. We might use 44,100 pictures per second or even more!
  2. Bit Depth: This is like how detailed our pictures are. It helps us see the softest and loudest parts of the sound really clearly. We might use 16 or 24-bit depth.
  3. Bitrate: This is how fast we send the pictures. The faster we send, the better the sound, but it needs more space. We measure this in bits every second, like 1,000 bits or even 1,000,000 bits per second!
  4. HD Audio: Some people really love super clear sound. They use special files that keep all the details. These are called FLAC, ALAC, WAV, and AIFF.

When you’re picking audio gear, think about what codec it uses. This way, you’ll get the best sound wirelessly, especially if you love super clear audio.

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