The next generation of Apple AirPods is expected to include new and improved audio quality in addition to new audio quality support. LE audio And LC3 Bluetooth codec support. The latest beta firmware for AirPods includes LC3 codec With the recently announced iOS 16 operating system. The new codec is said to improve power efficiency along with future AirPods audio quality.
What is the LC3 codec? How can the LC3 codec play an important role in improving the audio and call quality of future Bluetooth headphones?
However, before understanding the LC3 codec as a whole and its importance, it is important to understand the low energy (LE) audio presented by the Bluetooth SIG at CES2020.
There are two types of Bluetooth, classic and LE. LE stands for Low Energy and is further extended to low power, low bandwidth, TWS operation with individual streams to support low latency. However, it is currently limited to IoT devices such as smart watches and fitness bands. Note that so far, audio transmissions are via Bluetooth Classic, including Bluetooth 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0. This includes support for the following codecs: SBC, AptX or Sony LDAC. However, LE Audio is now capable of low power and low bandwidth audio transmission.
Now let’s move on to the LC3 codec.
What is the LC3 codec?
The LC3 ((Low Complexity Communication) codec is a Bluetooth audio codec specially designed for use with LE (Low Energy) audio profiles. The codec is voice and at various bit rates according to the official website of the Bluetooth SIG. You can encode music. Please note that the LE Audio and LC3 codecs work with Bluetooth 5.2, which means that you will need that particular or new Bluetooth version of your device to take advantage of the new Bluetooth codecs.
According to the official Bluetooth website, the LC3 codec compresses audio to a very low bit rate without sacrificing audio quality. This not only speeds up data transfer, but also limits bandwidth.
According to the data provided by SoundGuys, the LC3 scales from 345kbps audio to 160kbps, but the SBC range is limited to 345kbps to 240kbps. Qualcomm’s aptX ranges from 279kbps to 420kbps. Compared to older codecs, LC3 is the most compact Bluetooth codec ever.
Given all these numbers, the next question that comes to mind is how the LC3 codec affects audio quality. Let me explain:
Impact of LE Audio and LC3 Codecs on Audio Quality
To explain how the new LC3 codec affects audio quality, the Bluetooth SIG has published a graph comparing SBC and LC3 audio codecs. According to the graph, the company claims that the LC3 codec can deliver high quality audio even at low bitrates. In fact, the graph clearly shows that LC3 can provide better audio quality at the same rate as SBC.
This new codec has several advantages: it consumes less energy and can send larger packages at lower bitrates, requiring less bandwidth. It also supports an unlimited number of audio channels and has a wide range of usable bitrates, in addition to sampling rates of 8 kHz, 16 kHz, 24 kHz, 32 kHz, 44.1 kHz, and 48 kHz. In addition, LE Audio comes with native support for True wireless earphones.
Today, the new LE audio and LC3 codecs are highly scalable and it is almost clear that they can provide high quality audio. However, all other properties of the new Bluetooth technology give OEMs more flexibility to try out audio devices, making TWS earphones much smaller with a smaller battery without sacrificing battery life or connectivity. can do.
Overall, it would be interesting to see how the entire LEAudio and LC3 codec implementation changes over time.