AptX vs SBC: What Is the Future of Bluetooth Audio?

So, Bluetooth.

From your car’s audio system to your wireless headset, Bluetooth is now everywhere. While using technology makes your life easier, it is important to know how the tech works.

That’s why AptX vs SBC is the hot topic of the Bluetooth town, and everyone has questions.

What are the pros and cons of these two codecs? Can one be better than the other? 

Read on to find out!

SBC—Low Complexity Sub-Band Codec

This codec (encoder and decoder) is the standard for Bluetooth audio. 

Back when hand-free calling was still an idea, the Special Interest Group (which maintains and develops Bluetooth) came up with this codec to transfer data quickly to headsets. They specify it for devices that fit the Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP).

SBC works on the sub-band principle. What it means is that the audio is broken up into pieces along its bandwidth, and these separate pieces are then encoded.

It is a lossy form of encoding, where some of the original audio is eliminated in order to reduce the overall size of the audio file.

Why the SBC works without too much loss is because it eliminates only those frequencies or sounds that human ears do not perceive within a sub-band.


  • Found everywhere, in all Bluetooth systems
  • Basic Bluetooth codec specified by SIG
  •  Works very well for audio transmission in calls and video games
  • Can go up to 342 kbps in resolution


  • Latency (around 100-150 ohm) when streaming video. The audio from the video file tends to lag.
  • Significant data loss.

AptX: Audio Processing Technology X

A proprietary audio codec from Qualcomm, it was made available freely to Android Oreo to be integrated into its sound system.

This is a low latency audio codec, with a higher resolution than SBC.

It makes use of Adaptive Differential Pulse Code Modulation to break up the audio file into four separate frequency bands and encode it afterward.

There are four or more versions of this codec: aptX, aptX HD, aptX Low Latency (LL), and aptX Adaptive. Their bitrate starts at 276 kbps for Adaptive and can go up to 576 kbps for the HD version.

For aptX, latency can be as low as 40 ohms. This low rate of latency is the reason why aptX is preferred to SBC these days.


  •  Extremely low latency can be achieved with aptX LL.
  • HD version gives extremely good quality audio.
  • Better in every aspect compared to SBC.
  • Available in newer versions of Android.


  • Not available on every device.

Final Verdict

Many might believe it is not fair to talk about aptX vs SBC, and they may be right. SBC is totally different from aptX, and a comparison seems a bit harsh.

But since Bluetooth is constantly evolving, it is necessary to learn more about it. And SBC and aptX are two of the most talked-about codecs when it comes to Bluetooth audio.

While SBC made Bluetooth audio possible, its time may be running out. AptX gives all that SBC promises. But the one thing it does not have is SBC’s all-around presence.

Yet, it is a growing technology that gives hope to audiophiles that Bluetooth may one day be able to deliver wired headset-like audio quality.

Here is to hope in technology. 

Vitaly Fedorov

Vitaly Fedorov is a seasoned audio technician and writer. After spending ten years in a studio team, I have decided to spread my knowledge to people in this domain. On this site, I work for headphone fixing or repair issues, that you’re thinking about fixing. Click on any article on my site and read the complete answer about that issue. I am excited to read your feedback.

Recent Posts