Bluetooth Codecs: Unraveling the Transmission of Audio Data

Bluetooth audio codecs play a pivotal role in determining the quality and efficiency of audio transmission between Bluetooth devices. These codecs encode and decode digital audio data into a format suitable for wireless transmission, ensuring seamless audio streaming. The choice of codec depends on various factors, including the capabilities of the connected devices and the desired audio quality.

SBC: A Ubiquitous Codec with Basic Performance

Subband Coding (SBC) stands as the most prevalent Bluetooth audio codec, enjoying widespread support across a vast array of devices. Developed by the Bluetooth Standards Organization, SBC offers a baseline level of audio quality with a low computational overhead. It operates at a 16-bit depth rate, a maximum bitrate of 320 Kbps, and a maximum frequency of 48 kHz. While SBC may not deliver the highest fidelity, its broad compatibility makes it a reliable choice for general-purpose audio applications.

AAC: Apple’s Codec for Enhanced Audio Quality

Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) emerges as the preferred codec for Apple devices, including iPhones, iPads, and Macs. It delivers superior audio quality compared to SBC, thanks to its higher bitrate and sampling rate. AAC operates at a 44.1 kHz sampling rate and a maximum bitrate of 320 Kbps, resulting in a more detailed and nuanced audio experience. Its efficiency and compatibility with various streaming services make it a popular choice for music enthusiasts.

aptX: A Codec Tailored for High-Quality Audio

aptX, developed by Qualcomm, stands out as a high-quality Bluetooth audio codec designed to minimize latency and deliver CD-like audio quality. It achieves this by employing a higher bitrate of up to 384 Kbps and a wider frequency range, extending up to 22 kHz. aptX is particularly suitable for applications demanding low latency, such as gaming and video conferencing, where even minor delays can disrupt the user experience.

LDAC: Sony’s High-Resolution Audio Codec

Low-Delay Audio Codec (LDAC), developed by Sony, pushes the boundaries of Bluetooth audio quality by supporting high-resolution audio transmission. It operates at a maximum bitrate of 990 Kbps and a sampling rate of up to 96 kHz, far exceeding the capabilities of other Bluetooth codecs. LDAC is designed to deliver a rich and immersive audio experience, making it ideal for audiophiles and those seeking the highest possible audio fidelity.

Determining the Active Bluetooth Codec

Windows 11 and Windows 10 do not provide a built-in method for displaying the active Bluetooth codec. To ascertain this information, third-party applications like Bluetooth Tweaker can be employed. These applications extract the necessary data from the connected Bluetooth device, providing insights into the supported codecs and the one currently in use.


Bluetooth audio codecs play a crucial role in shaping the quality and efficiency of audio transmission between Bluetooth devices. Different codecs offer varying levels of performance, catering to diverse use cases and audio preferences. Understanding the capabilities of these codecs and the factors influencing their selection empowers users to make informed decisions when choosing Bluetooth devices and streaming services.


What is a Bluetooth audio codec?

A Bluetooth audio codec is a software algorithm that encodes and decodes digital audio data for transmission over a Bluetooth connection. It determines the format and quality of the audio signal sent between Bluetooth devices.

What are the most common Bluetooth audio codecs?

The most common Bluetooth audio codecs are SBC, AAC, aptX, and LDAC. SBC is the most widely supported codec, offering basic audio quality. AAC provides better audio quality than SBC and is commonly used by Apple devices. aptX is known for its low latency and CD-like audio quality, while LDAC supports high-resolution audio transmission.

How do I know which Bluetooth codec is being used?

Windows 11 and Windows 10 do not provide a built-in method to display the active Bluetooth codec. Third-party applications like Bluetooth Tweaker can be used to extract this information from the connected Bluetooth device.

Which Bluetooth codec should I use?

The choice of Bluetooth codec depends on various factors, including the capabilities of the connected devices, the desired audio quality, and the application being used. For general-purpose audio applications, SBC is a reliable choice due to its wide compatibility. AAC offers better audio quality and is suitable for music enthusiasts. aptX is ideal for applications requiring low latency, such as gaming and video conferencing. LDAC is the best choice for high-resolution audio transmission.

Can I change the Bluetooth codec?

The ability to change the Bluetooth codec depends on the capabilities of the connected devices and the operating system being used. Some devices may allow users to select the preferred codec through their settings, while others may automatically choose the best codec based on the capabilities of both devices. In general, changing the Bluetooth codec is not commonly supported.

What factors affect the quality of Bluetooth audio?

The quality of Bluetooth audio is influenced by several factors, including the Bluetooth codec being used, the bitrate of the audio stream, the capabilities of the transmitting and receiving devices, and the presence of interference in the wireless environment. Higher bitrates and advanced codecs generally result in better audio quality.

What is the difference between Bluetooth audio codecs and audio codecs used in wired connections?

Bluetooth audio codecs are specifically designed for wireless transmission over Bluetooth connections, considering factors such as bandwidth limitations and latency. Audio codecs used in wired connections, such as FLAC and WAV, typically offer higher audio quality but are not suitable for wireless transmission due to their higher bandwidth requirements and lack of support for real-time encoding and decoding.

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