Qualcomm has a solution to reduce latency in Bluetooth headphones

Although Qualcomm is best known for its chips integrated into smartphones and laptops, the American company is a major player in the world of wireless audio with its components for Bluetooth headphones and headsets.

However, Qualcomm is not only satisfied with conventional headphones and earphones. In order to offer users and manufacturers more comprehensive solutions, the company announced a new wireless headphone and earphone hearing solution.

A new perspective with the USB dongle

The solution is based on the Qualcomm S3 Gen 2 platform, which the company has already introduced. But instead of just putting it in headphones or earphones to connect to smartphones, PCs or consoles that aren’t compatible with the benefits of Snapdragon Sound, Qualcomm has chosen to put it in a USB dongle too.

With these Bluetooth dongles disguised as USB headphones, you will see more wireless headphones and headsets on the market that come with a small USB-A or USB-C stick to connect directly to your computer, smartphone or console . Unlike current dongle headsets, the Qualcomm platform uses Bluetooth 5.4 alongside Bluetooth LE Audio and Snapdragon Sound.

According to Qualcomm, this solution offers improved autonomy and greater compatibility compared to current solutions. The device to which the dongle is connected must be compatible with Audio over USB in order to recognize the dongle. The dongle presents itself as a simple USB headset compatible with Android, Windows or macOS. Compared to a traditional Bluetooth connection, it also offers an advantage in terms of lower latency. Qualcomm says Bluetooth audio latency will be just 20ms, compared to around 200ms for Bluetooth headphones currently. This significant reduction is due to the fact that the radio signal is generated directly by the dongle and not by the operating system.

This low latency will be particularly beneficial for PC, smartphone and handheld gamers thanks to a dedicated mode. Thanks to its compatibility with Snapdragon Sound and the aptX Adaptive Codec, Qualcomm’s solution also offers high-quality audio.

Headphones and earbuds are coming in the next few months

As usual, Qualcomm will not sell the dongles directly to consumers, but will offer its platform to third-party manufacturers to equip their dongles. Most solutions come automatically with Bluetooth headphones or headsets already paired with the dongle. Many manufacturers have already taken the 2.4GHz dongle approach, but the solution could be a longer-range alternative. It will still be possible to connect the dongles to other Bluetooth headsets or headphones if the user so desires, specifically to take advantage of the Auracast feature available with Bluetooth LE Audio

It is not yet known when the first Bluetooth headphones and headsets with this type of dongle will be available. However, Qualcomm said several brands are already working on these products, without naming the partners involved.

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