Oppo's hi-res audio chip could finally make wireless earbuds sound as good as wired

Oppo MariSilicon Y illustration
(Image credit: Oppo)

Oppo may have set a new standard for wire-free hi-fi (and crucially, earbuds), after it unveiled a new Bluetooth chip it claims is capable of lossless hi-res audio.

Developed in-house, the company says its new MariSilicon Y SoC can transmit 24-bit/192kHz audio, which is above the bit depth and sampling rate of CDs – a feat that Oppo says is a first for the industry. 

Oppo claims the new chipset is able to increase Bluetooth bandwidth by a massive 50% compared with the highest spec Bluetooth SoCs that are currently on the market. 

The MariSilicon Y SoC chip is also said to be among the first Bluetooth audio devices to support new encoding standard L3C, alongside established codecs such as Sony's proprietary LDAC solution, LHDC, L2DC, L3C, AAC, and (good old vanilla) SBC. 

The Chinese consumer electronics giant made the announcement at its annual Inno Day showcase event earlier today. 

Oppo also revealed the chip’s personalized audio capabilities, with its onboard processing allowing for a Music Extraction feature which uses AI to isolate the sound of specific stems in a song, such as vocals, drum, bass and other instruments. A Spatial Rendering feature meanwhile allows listeners to tweak the sound's spatial location information after the sound has been isolated.

Oppo Marisilicon Y demo video screengrab

(Image credit: Oppo)

Analysis: Oppo chip breakthrough might be a wireless tipping point for audiophiles 

Genuine lossless wireless audio has been something of a holy grail for both manufacturers and hi-fi enthusiasts ever since the introduction of Bluetooth at the turn of the century.

SoC (system on chip) makers have up until this point tended to focus on reducing energy use and increasing range when it comes to Bluetooth audio (and the Bluetooth SIG itself has recently been focusing on the audio-sharing feature Auracast, which is part of Bluetooth 5.2), all of which is somewhat shying away from providing the required bandwidth needed to achieve what audiophiles would consider fully-fledged high resolution audio.

Able to offer a Bluetooth data rate of up to 12Mbps, Oppo’s MariSilicon Y SoC looks set to finally open up that long wished-for world of wireless hi-fi.

Much will depend on codecs being able to harness the added bandwidth that this chip looks set to offer, but we could be on the brink of seeing hi-fi heads finally cast aside those wired cans in favor of some of the best true wireless earbuds – if they're built around this new chip, of course (which currently, none of our roundup is, because the Marisilicon Y has yet to make it into products). 

We can’t wait to see if the MariSilicon Y SoC chip lives up to its game-changing billing. In the meantime, you can find out how to up your audio game with our current list of the best wireless headphones

Kevin Lynch

Kevin Lynch is a London-born, Dublin-based writer and journalist. The author of Steve Jobs: A Biographic Portrait, Kevin is a regular feature writer for a number of tech sites and the former Technology Editor for the Daily Mirror. He has also served as editor of GuinnessWorldRecords.com and has been a member of the judging panel for the BAFTA British Academy Video Game Awards. Alongside reviewing the latest AV gear, smartphones and computers, Kevin also specialises in music tech and can often be found putting the latest DAWs, MIDI controllers and guitar modellers through their paces. Born within the sound of Bow Bells, Kevin is also a lifelong West Ham fan for his troubles.