The Bluffers Guide to apt-X

My recent review of the Creative ZiiSound D5 mentioned its apt-X credentials. However, I had no idea what apt-X was, so I’ve taken a look into it.

To manage the transfer of stereo audio, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) ratified a system known as A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile). Now, Bluetooth stipulates the maximum available bandwidth for A2DP is 768kbps. So for high quality stereo music, it is necessary to use some form of audio coding to reduce the required data rates. This is where apt-X comes in.

Originally developed for use in the professional audio and broadcasting sectors, apt-X is a real-time digital audio data reduction system that compresses audio by a factor of 4:1 with no perceptible audible degradation and with negligible delay.

apt-X, though, is not just about compressing audio for Bluetooth purposes – it’s used for all sorts of hardware and software implementations, with different versions available for different tasks. For example, there is a lossless (where compression may occur but no data is lost) version of apt-X, as well as a hybrid-version which is “near lossless” and apt-X Live for digital wireless microphones.

The apt-X codec is handled by its parent company APTX who licence its use.

I have to say, the more I’ve read about apt-X, the more impressed I’ve been. It’s very easy with a new product to be blinded with lots of trademarked names and abbreviations without knowing exactly what they do and how important they are. From what I’ve read, certainly when it comes to Bluetooth audio, apt-X appears to be a must have.


5 responses

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by apt-X audio coding, David Artiss. David Artiss said: New blog post: The Bluffers Guide to apt-X @apt_x […]

  2. Jon Pritchard avatar
    Jon Pritchard

    However much I like the idea of apt-X, until devices integrate it, it’s useless. I’m not going to carry around an apt-X transmitter to plug into my phone, or my mp3 player.

    This is the reason why A2DP is good, it’s part of the standard.

    1. Yes, you are right, to get the apt-X experience, you must have it on “both sides” – transmitting and receiving. Like most new technologies, if everybody shuns it until it “takes off” then it never will!

      However, this situation is set to change… apt-X is set to “go native” (i.e., pre-installed) in a great number of Bluetooth A2DP enabled products thanks to a deal that apt-X has made with a major supplier of Bluetooth modules for consumer electronics, and other suppliers of Bluetooth-friendly technology.

  3. phil taylor avatar
    phil taylor

    Any reason why apt-X support could not be added in software to Android? Surely most smartphones would have enough cpu power to handle it. Do we really need to throw away more functioning hardware into land fills just because these companies can never get anything together till its too late?

    1. I’d love to get an answer to this too, can I somehow add aptx to my nexus 4?

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