There is no doubt that Bluetooth headphones are convenient to use, but when it comes to sound quality, they do not match wired headphones. That’s why buyers always have to choose between convenience and sound quality.
Luckily, you can change the audio quality of your Bluetooth headphones by changing the default audio codec on your device. In this guide, we will see the different codecs available on Android devices, discuss which is the best and how to change them.
Why should you change your Bluetooth codec
Different goals require different functionality. If you want to listen to Hi-Fi music, you need a codec that provides superior audio quality. Similarly, for calls, you expect consistency in the audio. When watching a movie, you want the audio and video to be in perfect sync, which requires low latency.
Since Bluetooth technology is still fairly new (compared to wired), there is no perfect codec that can deliver consistently high audio quality and low latency at all times. That’s why you should consider changing the default Bluetooth codec depending on your usage and signal strength.
Changing the default codec can help you get the most out of your Bluetooth headset. However, keep in mind that a codec will only work if your headphones are compatible with it. If they are not compatible, your phone defaults to a compatible codec.
5 Bluetooth codecs commonly found on Android
Before learning how to change the default codec on your device, it’s important to know which codec is best for which purpose, so you can get the most out of it based on your usage.
SBC, an acronym for Low Complexity Sub-band Coding, is the most commonly found codec on the list. Every Android device that supports A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile) – a set of standard specifications for transmissions over Bluetooth – has this codec.
You can think of it as the vanilla version of Bluetooth codecs. It offers poor audio quality and consumes less power. However, it fails to transmit high fidelity audio and has higher latency than other codecs.
This codec is fine for casual listening if you’re not too keen on high definition or lossless audio. It also saves your battery for longer. But it’s not ideal for gaming or watching movies due to its high latency.
aptX from Qualcomm is a family of codecs. Besides the oldest, aptX, there are six other variants. Each variant was designed to solve different Bluetooth audio problems. aptX uses an encoding and decoding technique called ADPCM (Adaptive Differential Pulse Code Modulation) which makes its sound quality better than SBC.
Here are the three aptX variants commonly found on Android:
- aptX: It’s a better alternative to SBC, but it still doesn’t work well if you want to listen to lossless audio.
- aptX-HD: It is a significant improvement over the original as the sound quality is better and can transfer audio with minimal data loss. It is a good choice for listening to Hi-Fi audio and watching movies.
- aptX adaptive: This codec adjusts its bitrate based on signal strength to avoid choppy sound and provide a smooth experience despite fluctuating signal strength. It works well for almost all uses, from gaming to calling to watching videos. But aptX HD still has the best audio quality among the three variants.
Some devices also have a new version called aptX TWS+. Although Qualcomm doesn’t provide much information on this, the main purpose of this codec is to enable seamless switching between stereo and mono audio when using only one earbud while the other is on the go. charging in the Bluetooth box.
AAC, short for Advanced Audio Codec, is quite similar to SBC. It consumes more power although it only provides lossy audio. AAC is commonly found in Apple devices as iOS is optimized to take full advantage of it, but Android is not.
AAC should be your last resort as an Android user if all other codecs are incompatible with your headphones. Either way, it’s not a great choice for gaming and hi-res listening, but you can get away with it if you’re using it for casual listening.
Developed by Sony, LDAC is similar to aptX Adaptive. While the latter freely adjusts based on signal strength, the former switches between three preset bitrates, a factor that determines audio quality.
Even though LDAC works best when signal strength is good, switching between preset bitrates is troublesome when the connection deteriorates. For this reason, LDAC is only ideal if the signal strength is strong and you want to listen to high-resolution audio. Due to its low latency, it is also ideal for gaming and watching videos.
LHDC, short for Low-Latency and High-Definition Audio Codec, is developed by Hi-Res Wireless Audio (HWA) Union and Savitech. It delivers high resolution audio quality while minimizing latency. It is a good choice for listening to high fidelity audio and watching videos.
Improving low latency features, HWA has released a new variant of LHDC called LLAC (Low-Latency Audio Codec). In addition to significantly reducing latency, LLAC maintains excellent audio quality, making it a good choice for mobile gaming.
How to Change Bluetooth Codec on Android
Once you’ve decided which codec you want to use and which one is compatible with your headphones and supported on your phone, you can start changing it.
- Go to your device Settings.
- Press on System.
- Move towards Developer Options (you may need to enable developer options first).
- Find it Bluetooth audio codec menu.
- Select your preferred option.
In addition to choosing a codec from those offered, you can also install new ones on your device. To activate and deactivate them, you can use the Enable optional codecs and Disable optional codecs options.
Adjust your Bluetooth settings to improve audio quality
Even though wireless has yet to reach its peak to compete with wired technology, you can still get slightly better audio quality and lower latency by simply changing your Bluetooth codec. No codec is the best at everything, but aptX Adaptive and LDAC work well enough for almost any use.
Wireless headphones are convenient, but wired headphones beat them in all other areas, hands down.
About the Author