Back in the days when Bluetooth audio was new, the sound quality of a pair of wireless and wired headphones was very different. Those differences have since narrowed, and prices of premium wireless audio products have fallen. Today, a decent pair of bluetooth earphones can be bought for less than Rs. 5,000 for good audio performance out of the box.

But there’s a small, quick, easy, and to help you get more out of your wireless and earphones with your Android smartphone – tweaking the Bluetooth codec. Follow the steps below to learn how to improve Bluetooth audio on your Android smartphone for free.

What is a bluetooth codec?

Before we get into the steps, let us briefly explain the concept of Bluetooth codecs. Bluetooth relies on a specific program or “code” to compress data from the source device for quick and seamless wireless transfer, and then decompress the data on headphones or speakers. Different codecs function differently, and some newer and more advanced codecs are able to transmit more packets efficiently.

The most commonly used Bluetooth codec is SBC (Subband Codec), which is considered a universal standard and is present on almost all Bluetooth devices today. However, there are newer and more advanced codecs, including AAC (Advanced Audio Coding), Qualcomm aptX, and Sony LDAC.

Bluetooth is getting better, but wireless audio has a long way to go

How does it work?

Many Android smartphones allow you to adjust the codec in use, starting with Android Oreo. The operating system usually selects the SBC codec by default, but in some cases you can change to a better codec if available. For example, when using a smartphone powered by a Qualcomm and a pair of headphones that support the aptX or aptX HD codec, the smartphone will automatically select the better codec.

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At other times, switching codecs is a manual process. Remember that headphones or speakers also need to support the codec to work properly. Fortunately, this is an easy process for Android 8.0 Oreo and higher.

What codec should I choose?

It depends on which codecs your Bluetooth headphones support, and this is something you should consider before buying new wireless headphones. Support for high-quality codecs such as Qualcomm aptX and Sony LDAC is ideal, but generally limited to high-end headphones and earphones.

In addition to SBC, many affordable headphones support the AAC codec. In these cases, manually switching to AAC can improve the audio quality of the headphones, as AAC is a more advanced codec than SBC. For high-end headphones, switching to Qualcomm aptX or Sony LDAC will greatly improve the sound quality. While aptX is automatically activated on many Android smartphones, LDAC must be activated manually in most cases.

How to Change the Bluetooth Codec on an Android Smartphone

Here’s how to change the Bluetooth codec used by your Android smartphone and improve audio quality:

  1. If not already done, activate the developer options on your entering your Android smartphone’s > About Phone/About Device > Quickly tap your phone’s build number seven times. This will enable developer options on your smartphone, giving you access to more tweaks and settings for your device.This Developer options allowable Once the menu is activated.
  2. Pair your bluetooth headphones and connect them to your Android smartphone.
  3. inside Developer options under scroll down to Bluetooth Audio Codec and click it.
  4. Choose one of the codecs other than the default SBC option. If your headset supports the codec, it will use the selected option and improve the sound quality.
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Which are the best budget bluetooth earphones and earphones in India? We discuss this on Orbital, our weekly tech podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.