Smartphone audio can be a bit hit or miss. Some phones ship with HiFi digital audio converters (DACs) capable of delivering high quality audio to headphones and speakers while others take a something-is-better-than nothing approach.

Now chip maker Qualcomm is introducing a new Snapdragon Sound set of technologies designed to bring high-quality, low-latency audio to supported devices with an emphasis on minimal impact on battery life, easy pairing of wireless hardware, and robust connectivity to prevent dropouts and other glitches.

In some ways Snapdragon Sound is as much a branding and certification program as anything else – the company’s a little vague on what the minimum specs will be for devices slapped with the Snapdragon Sound brand.

So while the company says “key components” of Snapdragon Sound include support for Qualcomm active noise cancellation technology, high-resolution audio at up to 24-bit, 96 KHz, and Bluetooth audio latency as low as 89 milliseconds, it’s unclear if all Snapdragon Sound gear will match those specs. I wouldn’t be surprised if active noise cancellation, for example, is an optional feature.

For what it’s worth, here’s Qualcomm’s list of “key components” of Snapdragon Sound:

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8-series mobile platforms
  • Qualcomm FastConnect 6900 mobile connectivity system
  • Qualcomm QCC514x, QCC515x and QCC3056 series Bluetooth Audio SoCs
  • Qualcomm Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) technology
  • Qualcomm aptX Adaptive(tm), 24-bit 96kHz and 89ms latency
  • Qualcomm aptX Voice super wideband voice
  • Qualcomm Aqstic audio codec and smart speaker amplifier WCD938x and WSA883x)
  • Qualcomm Audio and Voice Communication Suite

Qualcomm says Xiaomi and Audio Technica are among the first customers to sign onto Snapdragon Sound, which means we can probably those companies to announce Snapdragon Sound-certified Xiaomi phones and Audio Technica headphones and/or speakers in the coming months.

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