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Qualcomm Commits to Sound Quality in Next-Gen Audio Gadgets

by May 03, 2019
Qualcomm QCS400

Qualcomm QCS400

Qualcomm says your next wireless speaker system will be smarter, faster and sound even better thanks to its new QCS400 series System-on-a-Chip (SoC). Its new chips will appear in the next generation of wireless, smart speakers, soundbars and A/V receivers designed by various well-known brands. Although Qualcomm has long provided the guts to many of our favorite gadgets and low-cost speaker systems, this time around the chip-maker says it’s taking particular interest in sound quality. And that should be music to the ears of anyone that has ever been stuck listening to the wretchedly tinny sound coming from too many portable speaker systems today.

Qualcomm promises improvements in other areas too, including energy efficiency, speed and compatibility as it looks to solve many of the common problems experienced with today’s wireless and smart speaker systems. The issues it built the new 400-series to overcome includes response time, lag, voice recognition and voice-UI interface difficulties. But the chip-maker told Audioholics that with this generation of chips, it wants to be known for providing best-in-class sound quality for manufacturers and OEMs. The QSC400 series is packing goodies like Dolby Atmos, aptX, high-res audio and DDFA digital amplifier support. The new series also offers multiple lanes of connectivity through WiFi and Bluetooth 5.1 and a new cutting-edge AI engine that Qualcomm says will let designers get creative with the next generation sound-gadgets.

Among the line are the QSC403, QSC404 and QSC405 dual core processors designed for smart assistants, smart speakers and entry-level soundbars or wireless speakers. These chips will improve voice interfaces and streamline processing with better noise cancellation with improved 4-mic far-field voice pickup. The chips also specialize in lower-power consumption bringing a potential 25-times the standby-time from its last round of SoCs, and promises almost no latency when you utter the wake-up command to your smart speaker.

At the high-end of the 400 series is the QSC407 a quad-core CPU with a 1.4Ghz DSP clock speed designed for wireless speakers, soundbars and A/V receivers. The chip supports Dolby Atmos, DTS X and aptX adaptive technologies and provides system designers up to 32 channels of audio post-processing. Like all the chips in the new 400 series, the QSC407 is also designed with low power consumption in mind to extend the battery life of your next device.

The entire 400 line supports Qualcomm’s new DDFA digital amplifier chip and all feature the new voice UI and AI engine. The chips were created to bring flexibility to system-designers that want to combine audio, connectivity and display features and open up possibilities for whatever new technologies are being dreamed up for the next generation of products and gadget ecosystems.

DDFA Direct Digital Feedback Amplifier

While the QSC400 series will provide the brains for the next generation of smart speaker systems, Qualcomm’s new CSRA6640 digital amplifier chip promises to bring the muscle. Each member of the 400-series processors is designed to work alongside the new Class-D amplifier chip with Qualcomm’s own DDFA technology. This new chip will deliver 40-watts of power into a single channel or 2-channels at 20-watts, not too shabby for a single chip that could get lost on your fingertip. The new digital amplifier is compatible with today’s high resolution audio demands with support for 32bit PCM up to 384KHz and DSD64/128 input along with high-res interpolation filters and equalizers.

Qualcomm’s new chips are expected to be seen in products launching as early as Q3 2019. Manufacturers including Denon, Sonos and Yamaha have made Qualcomm’s audio processing the heart of many of their products. The new chipset should be music to the ears of anyone who loves good sound. Qualcomm says improved audio quality is a focal point in its new chip’s design as the market continues to grow for inexpensive, portable and wireless speakers and other audio products. As digital and smart interactive capabilities swell across feature lists in all product categories, it’s good to see that sound quality hasn’t been forgotten and at least one chip-maker sees opportunity making good sound a key differentiator in its products.

About the author:
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Wayde is a tech-writer and content marketing consultant in Canada s tech hub Waterloo, Ontario and Editorialist for Audioholics.com. He's a big hockey fan as you'd expect from a Canadian. Wayde is also US Army veteran, but his favorite title is just "Dad".

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