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The Walkman Blog reports that Sony’s high-end wireless earbuds — which already offer superior audio performance than the Apple AirPods Pro except for phone calls — popped on Qualcomm aptX’s page as “aptX HD enabled”. Maybe it’s a mistake but the fact that they took it down right after it was posted suggests it was a premature listing.
What is Hi-Res audio and aptX HD?
If the aptX HD support is indeed being enabled in the Sony WF-1000XM3 through an update, audio fans are in for a treat.
Hi-Res Audio-encoded files contain the richest recordings you can find, even better than CD quality (which is not that good) and much, much better than any lossy MP3 and AAC audio file. The songs are encoded using lossless codecs that offer a higher range of sound, using the original masters from the recording studio. The higher resolution, just like HDR10+ in video, offer a higher sound dynamic range. In other words: you will be able to hear everything that happened in that recording booth down to the breathing of the singer or a trumpet player.
However, these audio files are usually transmitted to your cans using cables, not wireless standards like Bluetooth. The latter has poor quality and not enough bandwidth to carry all that information — unless your devices support aptX HD. This Bluetooth codec can transmit Hi-Res Audio files at 24-bit/48kHz.
The current Sony WF-1000XM3 doesn’t support that standard — neither does the AirPods Pro. But it seems that the former earbuds may have the hardware to support that. It’s may not be enabled yet and that’s what the Qualcomm’s page leak seems to indicate.