Bluetooth earphones are undeniably convenient, but they’re no match to wired earphones in terms of audio quality. That doesn’t mean to say all wired headphones are superior to Bluetooth headphones. It’s just that there’s only so much data you can transmit over Bluetooth. Bluetooth isn’t great at transferring a large amount of data at a fast speed. 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’ll find support for on most Bluetooth earphones. They’re also called lossy codecs because they significantly compress the data, with the goal being stability and speed over audio quality. Then there are proprietary codecs such as aptX and LDAC that deliver higher 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 range of Bluetooth audio codecs, but that’s only one part of the story. In order to use a specific codec, it needs to be supported by both, your Android device and your earphone/headphone/speaker as well.
To check 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 Adaptive
- aptX TWS
If you have a Samsung phone, you may also get Samsung Scalable Codec, a proprietary codec that’s only compatible with select Galaxy phones and Galaxy Buds series earphones.
To find out which audio codecs your Bluetooth device supports, refer to the product box or visit the manufacturer’s website.
How to change the Bluetooth codec for the best performance?
Changing the Bluetooth codec may enhance the sound quality, reduce latency and improve stability. To get the most out of your Bluetooth earphones, you should always use the best codec offered by your device — anything other than SBC will be 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 & devices or Connected devices.
- Tap on the gear icon that appears next to your connected Bluetooth device.
- Here you’ll see a toggle called HD audio. Enable it to make sure you’re using the best codec available.
Note that some OEM skins omit the “HD audio” wording and just list out the name of the codec.
- Go to settings > About phone.
- Keep tapping on the “Build number” until you see “You’re a developer now” 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 supported by your headphones, such as aptX, aptX HD, or LDAC. In recent versions of Android, codecs that aren’t supported by your Bluetooth device are grayed out. Some older versions will let you select any codec. However, it won’t make any 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 be getting the best sound and latency that your headphones are capable of delivering. But if you follow the steps above, you can get the best possible sound and performance out of your device.