Truly wireless earbuds have exploded in popularity, delivering convenience, excellent features, and often excellent sound at different price points. Now, Qualcomm has new chips for truly wireless earbuds that promise better battery life and active noise cancellation.

Announced this week (via The Verge), Qualcomm has revealed its new QCC514x and QCC304x chipsets for truly wireless earbuds. These new chipsets still support Qualcomm’s TrueWireless Mirroring tech which pushes audio to one main earbud and then mirrors that over to the other earbud.

These new chips are focused on “hybrid ANC” (Active Noise Cancellation) and also improving battery life. A more power-efficient design should lead to better battery life on all earbuds using these new chips. Samsung, notably, announced chips with a similar goal this week.

As for noise cancellation, these chips could, in theory, deliver active noise cancellation even on cheap truly wireless earbuds. The built-in hardware also supports “leak-through” audio similar to the transparency modes on current ANC headphones. Qualcomm explains:

The new SoCs also boast integrated Hybrid ANC technology. The dedicated ANC hardware integrated in the SoC enables super-low latency leak-through of the outside environment to allow for truly natural awareness of the surroundings, making ANC not just for airplane use, but applications in sports, office environments and other places throughout the user’s day.

The QCC514x and QCC304x SoCs are also optimized to deliver leading power consumption under various use cases, with up to 13 hours’ playtime based on 65mAh battery, depending on settings and other factors.  Now, with ANC enabled, there is minimal impact on battery life, allowing consumers extended battery life for enjoying sound on international flights or long periods at the office. Additionally, the extended playtime on the device allows for the shrinking of the battery used in the charging case and a more compact design that readily fits in a pocket.

We should start seeing new earbuds using these chips in the coming months on new truly wireless earbuds, hopefully with models that offer active noise cancellation. The only major difference between the two chips is that the QCC514x supports wake words for voice assistants (such as “Hey Google” for Assistant).

New Ultra-Low Power Bluetooth Audio SoCs From Qualcomm Improve Truly Wireless Sound

Cutting-edge Qualcomm TrueWireless Mirroring Technology designed by Qualcomm elevates the consumer listening experience

MAR 25, 2020 |SAN DIEGO Qualcomm Technologies International, Ltd., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, today announced its next generation of ultra-low-power Bluetooth Systems on a Chip (SoCs), designed to deliver outstanding truly wireless support with innovative Qualcomm TrueWireless™ Mirroring technology. Optimized for use in true wireless earbuds and hearables, the Qualcomm® QCC514X (premium tier) and Qualcomm® QCC304X (entry/mid-tier) SoCs are designed to enable improved robustness and connectivity, increased battery life  and comfort, integrated dedicated hardware for Hybrid Qualcomm® Active Noise Cancellation (Hybrid ANC), Voice Assistant support and premium wireless sound and voice quality.

Customers rely on us to help them deliver premium sound with long battery life and robust truly wireless connectivity, even in congested environments, and this exciting new Qualcomm TrueWireless Mirroring technology is designed to deliver on those vital features when using wireless earbuds and headphones,” said James Chapman, vice president and general manager, Voice, Music & Wearables, Qualcomm Technologies International, Ltd.  “We have added voice assistant support at all tiers as well as integrated digital Hybrid ANC without compromising power consumption which further allows these new SoCs to deliver amazing experiences.”

Building on the success of the breakthrough QCC5100 and QCC30xx series SoCs, these new solutions now support the innovative Qualcomm TrueWireless Mirroring technology. With Qualcomm TrueWireless Mirroring, one earbud is wirelessly connected to the phone via Bluetooth while the other bud mirrors the connected bud and is engineered to deliver a rapid swap under several scenarios. For example, if the user removes the connected bud from their ear, the mirroring bud is designed to take over the connection to the phone, to avoid any interruption of streaming music or an active voice call with no action required by the user. Qualcomm TrueWireless Mirroring is also engineered to manage a single Bluetooth address so only one “device” shows up when the user is pairing their earbuds to a phone.

The new SoCs also boast integrated Hybrid ANC technology. The dedicated ANC hardware integrated in the SoC enables super-low latency leak-through of the outside environment to allow for truly natural awareness of the surroundings, making ANC not just for airplane use, but applications in sports, office environments and other places throughout the user’s day. The QCC514x and QCC304x SoCs are also optimized to deliver leading power consumption under various use cases, with up to 13 hours’ playtime based on 65mAh battery, depending on settings and other factors.  Now, with ANC enabled, there is minimal impact on battery life, allowing consumers extended battery life for enjoying sound on international flights or long periods at the office. Additionally, the extended playtime on the device allows for the shrinking of the battery used in the charging case and a more compact design that readily fits in a pocket.

At the premium tier, the QCC5141 offers dedicated support for Always on Voice (wake-word) activation for multiple voice ecosystems. For entry/mid-tiers, the QCC304x family offers push-button voice activation for multiple voice ecosystems, enabling OEMs to add voice assistant capability more quickly and cost effectively. By adding this support to entry/mid-tier SoCs, Qualcomm Technologies International, Ltd.is helping OEMs bring voice assistant capability to lower cost segments for the first time on single chip solutions, making it possible for voice to become a more widely pervasive feature across a greater range of price points.

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