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Qualcomm offers next-gen Bluetooth audio

Open Interface showcases its Soundabout Lossless Bluetooth audio streaming technology at CES 2008.

Photo of Open Interface Soundabout Lossless audio board.
A prototype of the Open Interface (now Qualcomm) SoundAbout Lossless Bluetooth audio board. Donald Bell/CNET Networks

Despite its widespread adoption, the current Bluetooth audio standard (A2DP) isn't pretty. The lackluster audio quality currently achievable using Bluetooth is fine for noisy applications such as car audio or wireless workout headphones, but degraded Bluetooth audio has kept the technology from crossing over into the world of high-end audio and home theater components. With any luck, 2008 will be the year that the A2DP Bluetooth audio standard gets pushed aside by a superior audio codec called SoundAbout Lossless.

Watch the Qualcomm Soundabout Lossless video on CNET TV.

Developed by Open Interface (recently acquired by Qualcomm), the Soundabout Lossless Bluetooth audio codec offers low-latency (as low as 2 milliseconds), low-complexity, lossless audio streaming. We had a chance to demo the Soundabout Lossless for ourselves and were blown away by the audio quality and wireless performance.

With the increasing share of Bluetooth audio products on the market, it makes sense that the concerns over streaming audio quality will need to be addressed eventually. If nothing else, Soundabout Lossless could be the key to finally creating the perfect pair of high-end, wireless headphones.