Qualcomm has unveiled two new Bluetooth audio systems-on-a-chip (SoC) aimed for use in true wireless headphones. The QCC514X and the QCC304X are ultra-low-power chips designed for mid-tiered and entry-level headphones, respectively, with both supporting Qualcomm's TrueWireless Mirroring technology.
This technology allows just a single earbud to connect wirelessly to a handset via Bluetooth, which the other 'bud can then mirror. This allows the user to remove the connected 'bud and still continue listening without interruptions via the mirrored one.
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The new chips also feature active noise cancellation (ANC), which could make the feature standard in the more affordable true wireless 'buds that end up using these chips. They also bring better battery life to the table – offering up to 13 hours of playback based on a 65mAh battery, according to Qualcomm – and could enable the use of ANC for extended periods without making a huge impact on battery life.
Qualcomm says that the noise-cancellation tech (dubbed "hybrid ANC") also allows for "leak-through" for outside noise, which seems to be equivalent to the transparency (or ambient) modes available on the current crop of more premium noise-cancelling headphones. This means that headphones using the new Qualcomm chips will allow external sounds to pass through the 'buds so users know what's happening around them.
The chips also bring voice assistant support with them, but this is where they differ from each other. The more premium QCC514X features always-on voice support, while the entry-level QCC304X has push-button voice activation. Either way, the new SoCs could see voice assistant support become more accessible on low-cost earbuds.
So if you've been hankering after a set of Apple AirPods Pro or Sony's WF-1000XM3 true wireless 'buds, you may want to wait as these new Qualcomm chips will soon be making their way into upcoming headphones and could save you a pretty penny.