Bluetooth earphones are undeniably useful, but they can’t compete with wired earphones in terms of sound quality. That’s not to say all wired headphones are superior to bluetooth headphones† It’s just that there’s only so much data you can send over Bluetooth. Bluetooth isn’t great at transferring large amounts of data quickly. That’s where Bluetooth codecs come into the picture.
What is a Bluetooth codec?
Bluetooth audio codecs are complex algorithms that compress audio into small packets for faster wireless transmission. SBC and AAC are the two common codecs that you will find support for on most Bluetooth earphones. They are also called lossy codecs because they compress the data significantly, aiming for stability and speed over audio quality. Then there are proprietary codecs like aptX and LDAC that deliver faster transmission rates and lower latency, but are only available on expensive headphones.
How to check supported Bluetooth codecs on your Android phone?
Android natively supports a wide variety of Bluetooth audio codecs, but that’s only part of the story. To use a specific codec, it must be supported by both, your android device and also your earphones/headphones/speaker.
To view the list of supported Bluetooth codecs supported on your Android device, go to Settings > Developer Options > Bluetooth Audio Codec.
Most Android phones support the following Bluetooth audio codecs:
- aptX HD
- aptX Adaptive
- aptX TWS
If you have a Samsung phone, you can also get Samsung Scalable Codec, a proprietary codec that is only compatible with certain galaxy phones and Galaxy Buds series earphones.
Please refer to the product packaging or visit the manufacturer’s website to find out which audio codecs your Bluetooth device supports.
How to change the Bluetooth codec for the best performance?
Changing the Bluetooth codec can improve sound quality, reduce latency and improve stability. To get the most out of your Bluetooth earphones, always use the best codec offered by your device – anything other than SBC is considered better. Here’s how to do it.
There are two ways to change Bluetooth codecs on your Android phone:
- Connect your Bluetooth headphones to your Android smartphone.
- Go to Settings > Bluetooth and devices or Connected devices.
- Tap the gear icon that appears next to your connected Bluetooth device.
- Here you will see a switch called HD Audio. Enable it to make sure you’re using the best codec available.
Note that some OEM skins omit the wording “HD audio” and list only the codec name.
- Go to Settings > About phone.
- Keep tapping the ‘Build number’ until you see ‘You are now a developer’ or ‘Developer settings enabled’.
- Go to Developer Settings and scroll down to ‘Bluetooth Audio Codec’.
- Click on it to see the list of available Bluetooth codecs.
- Select a high-quality codec that your headphones support, such as aptX, aptX HD, or LDAC. In recent versions of Android, codecs that are not supported by your Bluetooth device are grayed out. Some older versions allow you to select any codec. However, it makes no difference unless your headphones support it.
While some smartphones automatically select the best available codec when you connect Bluetooth headphones/speakers, some take the conservative approach and opt for the SBC. That means you might not get the best sound and latency your headphones can deliver. But if you follow the steps above, you can get the best possible sound and performance from your device.