Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Ask an Expert

Bluetooth Audio Is Not Lossless

Bluetooth audio demystified. Find out what SBC, LC3, AAC, aptX, LDAC, and LHDC audio codecs do and if they are lossless.

Sr. Headphone Editor, W. Jennings, speaks with eCoustics Founder, Brian Mitchell, about the various ways wireless audio works over Bluetooth.

The Bluetooth standard has gone through many iterations over the years. Currently, the Bluetooth version is up to 5.4.; but that only tells part of the story.

Sending audio over Bluetooth requires music to be encoded/decoded between the source and receiving devices. This is typically handled by one of two audio codecs that are part of the Bluetooth specification: SBC or LC3. Each uses lossy compression to ensure digital audio can neatly fit in within a Bluetooth wireless “pipe.”

Standard Codecs

SBC (Subband Codec) debuted in 2003. It was the original way audio was sent over Bluetooth. It is now referred to as Bluetooth Audio Classic and nearly every Bluetooth device is able to use this method as a fallback.

LC3 (Low Complexity Communication Codec) arrived in 2020 with Bluetooth 5.2. It may be referred to as LE Audio. “LE” stand for low energy. LC3 is more advanced than SBC and should offer higher audio quality.

Proprietary Codecs

There are numerous proprietary audio codecs which claim improvements in a number of areas; faster data rates, lower latency, and lower energy rates. Consumers are familiar with AAC (Apple), aptX (Qualcomm), LDAC (Sony), LHDC (Savitech), and the Samsung Seamless Hi-Fi Codec.

The downside of the proprietary codecs is that they are brand specific and often only work within a single brand. They also require licensing fees, which can add to the cost of products, if third-party brands decide to support them.

Why is Bluetooth Audio Not Lossless?

Despite all the available audio codecs, the bandwidth available over Bluetooth is not fast enough to consistently transmit at 1.411 mbps, which is the speed required to transmit Red Book CD at 16-bit/44.1kHz losslessly.

Let’s take a deeper look at Bluetooth in 2023 and where it might be in a few years.

Watch the full video on YouTube or click play above.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like


Lenbrook Media Group partners with HDtracks to create a streaming music service for audiophiles featuring AIRIA by MQA Labs codec.


There is a surprising amount to like in Final's wireless noise cancelling headphones which are now on sale well below $100.

Digital Music Systems

Marantz releases two all-in-one solutions for streaming digital music from one box. Find out if the M1 or M4 is right for you.

New Products

At $399, Bose SoundLink Max is a rugged portable Bluetooth Speaker that is ready for your summer of adventures in 2024.

New Products

At $349, FiiO has added Bluetooth to their original SP3 desktop speakers along with some connectivity options audiophiles will appreciate.

Digital Music Systems

At $329, WiiM Ultra is the company's top-of-the-line digital music streamer which adds a touchscreen, HDMI ARC and a subwoofer out.

New Products

For 2024 VIZIO is introducing seven new soundbars priced from $99 to $499 that easily attach to the bottom of a TV.

New Products

At only $199, Atlantic Technology's first portable Bluetooth speaker sports a robust 60-watt amplifier and 15 hours of battery life.


ecoustics is a hi-fi and music magazine offering product reviews, podcasts, news and advice for aspiring audiophiles, home theater enthusiasts and headphone hipsters. Read more

Copyright © 1999-2024 ecoustics | Disclaimer: We may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

SVS Bluesound PSB Speakers NAD Cambridge Audio Q Acoustics Denon Marantz Focal Naim Audio RSL Speakers