What Is AptX And How Does It Affect Your Bluetooth Listening Experience?

Is aptX all hype?

Since Bluetooth headphones are becoming more popular, consumers are being reminded, by several manufacturers, that their Bluetooth headsets have aptX sound technology. In theory, aptX is supposed to give you a CD-quality listening experience through Bluetooth.

Some readers are probably already ready to say, “But I thought I already had CD quality with my Bluetooth headphones.” If you believe this, you have been fooled. I won’t use complex technological terms to describe why you don’t. I’ll say it in simple terms: With Bluetooth, the sound gets “compressed” and loses some of its quality. It used to lose almost all of its quality. However, Bluetooth headsets have improved a lot over the past three years.

So, are you excited that you have aptX Bluetooth headphones to use with your iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus? Well, hold on! The iPhone has yet to support aptX. The Samsung Galaxy S5, S6, S6 Edge, Galaxy Note 4, and every other Samsung device released after 2013 support aptX. However, I (as well as others) fail to hear a difference when playing music through a Samsung device to a Bluetooth headset.

The Bose SoundLink On-Ear Bluetooth headphones don't have aptX and sound better than headphones that do.

It’s quite ironic that the Bose SoundLink On-Ear Bluetooth headphones, which don’t support the aptX codec, sound better on the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge than just about any Bluetooth headphone that does support aptX. I have some colleagues who say they can notice a slight difference in sound quality with aptX on the Galaxy S6 smartphones while using the Beats Studio Wireless headphones, which support aptX. However, as much as I try, my ears can’t spot the difference, whereas I can easily spot the difference between wireless sound and wired sound using headphones that offer both.

Speaking of wires, you will have to put up with them on your headphones if you want the best sound. No matter how convenient Bluetooth headphones are, they still don’t match the quality of wired headphones. The Bowers & Wilkins P5 come as close to any Bluetooth headphones I have tried (and I have tried a lot of them) in terms of matching wired headphones. However, if you are going to spend $400 on the P5 headphones, you are probably better off spending the same on the Bowers & Wilkins P7 cans.

In summary, don’t think you are automatically going to get top-notch sound buying Bluetooth headphones that are enabled for aptX. If you buy top-notch Bluetooth headphones and use them with a top-notch device, you will get great sound, even if the sound doesn’t match most wired headsets.

About Daryl

Daryl Deino has been a technology enthusiast since 1995 and has written for several newspapers and technology sites. Please reach him at [email protected]
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