Bluetooth developer Open Interface announced today that it has a new lossless audio codec that leaves the existing A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile) standard in the dust. The codec is called SoundAbout Lossless and promises low-latency, low-complexity, multichannel Bluetooth audio, without compromising audio fidelity. Open Interface's Chief Operating Officer Rick Romatowski ran a demo of the new Bluetooth codec at our CNET offices last week, and we were definitely impressed. Jasmine France and I viewed a few scenes from House of Flying Daggers and were blown away by both the sound quality and the undetectable latency introduced by the Bluetooth transmission (as low as 2 milliseconds).
The codec will be available for manufacturer evaluation within the next few months. There's good reason to be optimistic that this new Bluetooth audio streaming standard will be widely adopted in a short time. The SoundAbout Lossless codec doesn't require any additional hardware on the part of Bluetooth product manufacturers, it just needs to be flashed onto the product's Bluetooth chip in lieu of the A2DP protocol. It doesn't hurt that Open Interface already supplies the embedded Bluetooth software for companies like Apple, Logitech, Philips, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sharp, and Sony.
Headphone and home theater manufacturers will likely be the first to adopt the new wireless technology, with mobile phones and MP3 players soon to follow. Experiments have already been done using the new codec to communicate to multichannel surround sound speakers.