Qualcomm announces 3rd-gen S5 & S3 Sound platforms

AH Qualcomm Logo (2)

Qualcomm has just announced the third generation of the S5 and S3 Sound platforms used in Snapdragon Sound. These sound offerings not only promise audio enhancements, but also accessibility. Also, as is tradition nowadays, Qualcomm also threw around the word “AI”. To quote, users can expect “almost 50x more AI power” from the new Sound Platforms. The 3rd-gen S3 is also going to improve budget audio gear, bringing it up to par with flagship products in some aspects.

What is Qualcomm introducing in the new Sound platforms?

Qualcomm’s 3rd-gen S5 and S3 Sound Platforms will drastically improve wireless audio gear. The S5, which is the more premium of the two, will now have a better DAC. DACs are digital-to-analog converters, and affect how good a device’s audio output is. The 3rd-gen S5’s new DAC will lead to crisper, richer sound with a wider range of audio reproduction.

Also, the new S5 Sound Platform will have a whopping 40% lower noise floor. The noise floor in audio gear is the sum of unwanted signals – like electronic interference – producing unwanted noise. The lower the noise floor, the less static you hear when no sound is being played. Qualcomm is also bringing its latest and greatest adaptive active noise cancellation to the S5 Sound Platform. On the accessibility side, the 3rd-gen S5 will also feature hearing loss compensation.

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Qualcomm’s S3 Sound Platform is often found in budget audio products. What’s exciting is that the 3rd-gen S3 will now feature the Qualcomm Voice & Music Extension Program, like the S5. This will allow budget audio gear to ship with features usually only found in more expensive offerings. These include echo cancellation, spatial audio, and health tracking of varying kinds; like heart-rate monitoring. All things that will make for even more amazing Bluetooth audio gear.

What does AI bring to the table?

Text and image generation AI models are the rage nowadays. There are also audio-focused AI models that can mimic voices. Qualcomm has found some smart uses for AI in its Sound Platforms, and these are sure to become standard very soon. As reported by TechRadar, AI will intelligently filter through wanted and unwanted noise for ANC. This means manufacturers and users could design custom noise cancellation filters. Imagine a filter for cancelling out background traffic noise, but not the sound of ongoing conversations.

Two other ideas put forward by Qualcomm for AI use in its Sound Platforms revolve around microphone use. The first use case is for the audio gear to only listen to your voice in a crowded space. So, if a user is on a call, the microphone will intelligently transmit only their voice. The second use case builds on the first one; AI being able to understand spoken commands. Touch controls are still a contentious talking point in audio circles. Qualcomm wants its Sound Platforms to allow users to control their audio gear via their voice.

The 3rd-gen S5 and S3 Sound Platforms from Qualcomm are exciting stuff for audiophiles. Bluetooth has had its fair share of criticism, most of it not entirely undeserved. But advancements like these bring us closer to a world where wireless audio is just as good, if not better than wired.

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