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AirPods Pro in trouble as Sony WF-1000XM3 get exclusive feature

Sony WF-1000xM3
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Sony WF-1000XM3 will allegedly get a new update that will allow them to use Hi-Res Audio, a high performance audio standard already used by Sony in other high-end audio products.

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.

  • McPhallus
    Couple of problems:

    Apple doesn't support aptX, so I'm not sure how adding that feature is going to put the Air Pods Pro "in trouble" as the title suggests. AirPods are purchased primarily by Apple users.
    Also, a retracted mention of a feature on a supplier web site is far from confirmation that this feature will ever appear on Sony's earbuds.
    I'm an iPhone user with two sets of the Sony earbuds, and I hope they get this feature, but this article is very irresponsible.
    Reply
  • Carbonman_
    I have to vehemently disagree with the assertion that CDs aren't going to be capable of providing adequate audio fidelity. 44.1 CD sound with well-recorded source material has excellent sound quality and detail, especially since most users are used to listening to highly compressed mp3 and similar formats on their portable devices. I'd suggest you listen to CDs like 'Faith', 'Turbulent Indigo' or'Wish You Were Here' for examples of the sound the medium is capable of.
    Reply
  • Chrispy_3700
    Carbonman_ said:
    I have to vehemently disagree with the assertion that CDs aren't going to be capable of providing adequate audio fidelity. 44.1 CD sound with well-recorded source material has excellent sound quality and detail, especially since most users are used to listening to highly compressed mp3 and similar formats on their portable devices. I'd suggest you listen to CDs like 'Faith', 'Turbulent Indigo' or'Wish You Were Here' for examples of the sound the medium is capable of.

    Completely agree. I'd go as far to say that if you can actually hear the difference between 16 bit and 24 bit, it's because they've changed something in the mastering process. Also, most of the commercial recordings available today don't give you 24 bits of actual resolution. They're 16 bits in a 24 bit container. All you're getting is noise.

    Redbook CD 44.1 recordings provide everything you need in the full range of human hearing - 2khz to 20khz. 24 bit gives the recording studio more headroom for noise filters & other things when they're mixing/editing their music. Recordings are generally 24 bit, but they get mixed down to 16 bit. You'd never know the difference.
    Reply