How do I select Bluetooth audio codec on Android?

Bluetooth audio codecs allow wireless headphones, earbuds, speakers, and other devices to transmit compressed audio over Bluetooth connections. The codec determines how the audio data is encoded and decoded between source devices like smartphones and wireless audio receivers like headphones.

Different codecs use varying compression algorithms, bitrates, and other methods to optimize audio quality, latency, and power consumption. Choosing the right codec can have a significant impact on your listening experience. The main Bluetooth audio codecs include:

  • SBC – Low complexity codec that all Bluetooth audio devices must support. Offers basic quality.
  • AAC – More advanced codec used by Apple devices. Improves on SBC quality.
  • aptX/aptX HD – Proprietary codec from Qualcomm focused on lower latency and better quality.
  • LDAC – Sony’s high resolution codec capable of near lossless CD-quality audio.

Understanding the differences between these codecs will help you select the right option to maximize Bluetooth audio quality on your Android device.

Check Android Version

To take advantage of high quality Bluetooth audio codecs like aptX and LDAC, you’ll need a minimum Android version of 8.0 Oreo. Older versions of Android do not support these advanced codecs by default.

To check which Android version you have on your device:

  1. Go to Settings > About Phone.
  2. Look for Android Version or Software Version.
  3. This will show the Android version number, such as 9, 10, 11, etc.

If your Android version is lower than 8.0, you may not be able to enable aptX or other advanced codecs unfortunately. You’ll be limited to lower quality SBC codec support.

To enjoy the highest quality Bluetooth audio, upgrade to at least Android 8.0 Oreo or newer if possible. Many devices can upgrade to newer Android versions through system updates.

Enable Developer Options

To access the advanced Bluetooth codec settings on Android, you first need to enable Developer options. Here’s how to do it:

Open the Settings app and select About Phone. Scroll down and tap on Build Number 7 times. You’ll see a message that Developer options have been enabled.

Go back to Settings and you’ll now see Developer options. Tap on it to open the menu. Enabling developer options grants access to settings that are useful for troubleshooting apps and system issues (

With Developer options enabled, you can now access the Bluetooth audio codec selection.

Select Bluetooth Audio Codec

To select the Bluetooth audio codec on Android, first enable Developer options by going to Settings > About phone > Software information and tapping Build number 7 times. Then go to Settings > System > Developer options and scroll down to the Bluetooth Audio Codec section.

Here you can select different codec options:

  • SBC – This is the mandatory default codec all Bluetooth devices support. It provides basic audio quality at a bitrate up to 328kbps.
  • AAC – This codec provides better audio quality than SBC, at similar bitrates. But device support varies.
  • aptX – Developed by Qualcomm, this codec improves audio quality and reduces latency. It requires support on both transmitting and receiving devices.
  • aptX HD – An enhanced version of aptX that supports high definition 24-bit audio up to a bitrate of 576kbps.
  • LDAC – Developed by Sony, this codec can stream 32-bit/96kHz audio at bitrates up to 990kbps. It requires support on both devices.

Try selecting different codecs and pairing with your Bluetooth headphones or speakers to see which provides the best audio quality.

Pair Headphones/Speakers

To pair your Bluetooth headphones or speakers to your Android device, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings > Connected devices > Bluetooth on your Android device.
  2. Make sure Bluetooth is turned on. Tap the toggle to turn it on if needed.
  3. Put your Bluetooth headphones or speakers into pairing mode. Refer to the device’s manual for specific instructions.
  4. Your headphones/speakers should show up in the “Available devices” list. Tap the name to pair.
  5. You may get a pairing code popup. Verify the codes match between your Android device and headphones/speakers. Then confirm to pair.
  6. Once successfully paired, your headphones/speakers will connect automatically in the future when Bluetooth is on.

Before pairing, check the headphone/speaker specifications to verify it supports the Bluetooth codec you want to use like aptX or LDAC. If the device only supports basic SBC codec, you may get lower quality audio.

Verify Codec in Use

After connecting your Bluetooth headphones or speakers, you’ll want to confirm which audio codec is actually being used. There are a couple ways to check:

In Developer options, go to Settings > Developer options > Bluetooth audio codec. This will show the codec in use when you have a device connected. For example, it may show “aptX” or “SBC” depending on what your headphones support.1

You can also view the codec in use within your device’s Bluetooth settings. Go to Settings > Connected devices > Bluetooth. Tap the settings icon next to your connected headphones or speaker. Then look for the “Codec” option which displays the codec in use.2

This allows you to verify that your intended high-quality codec like aptX or LDAC is actually being utilized after connecting your headphones or speakers.

Codec Compatibility Issues

Sometimes the expected high-quality Bluetooth audio codec may not actually be used, even if enabled on both devices. This is often due to compatibility issues between the phone and headset.

Troubleshooting tips include:

  • Check manufacturer documentation for codec support details for both devices.
  • Try repairing/forgetting and re-pairing the Bluetooth devices.
  • Update to the latest firmware on both devices.
  • Try switching the preferred codec in developer settings.
  • As a last resort, consider getting different headsets that specifically support the desired codec.

Codec support limitations exist because different Bluetooth versions and chipsets have varying capabilities.

For example, older phones may lack support for advanced codecs like aptX or LDAC even if they exist on the headset side. Similarly, cheaper headsets may only support basic SBC codec.

Consult your device manuals and online resources to verify codec capabilities before purchase.

Impact on Audio Quality

The choice of Bluetooth audio codec has a significant impact on audio quality. This is because different codecs use different bitrates, sample rates, and encoding algorithms to compress the audio signal before transmitting it wirelessly.

The most basic Bluetooth codec is SBC, which stands for Subband Coding. SBC uses a bitrate up to 328 kbps and can support 16-bit/44.1kHz audio signals, which is equivalent to CD quality. However, the heavy compression used by SBC reduces audio quality, especially at lower bitrates. SBC audio can sound dull or washed out compared to a wired connection.

To improve upon SBC, Qualcomm created the aptX codec. aptX uses both time and frequency domain encoding to achieve better quality at the same bitrate. There is also an aptX HD version that supports 24-bit/48kHz high resolution audio. Overall, aptX provides better sound quality compared to straight SBC, with clearer vocals and instrumental separation.

The AAC codec used by Apple also provides better quality than SBC, using advanced psychoacoustic models to discard audio data that is less perceptible to human hearing. However, audiophiles often debate whether AAC or aptX sounds better.

Sony’s LDAC codec aims for the highest quality Bluetooth audio. LDAC can support 16-bit/44.1kHz, 24-bit/48kHz, 24-bit/88.2kHz, and even 32-bit/96kHz hi-res audio signals at up to 990 kbps. However, achieving the maximum 990 kbps connection over Bluetooth is not always reliable. Still, LDAC provides the potential for superior wireless audio quality when conditions are ideal.

In summary, LDAC and aptX HD offer the best Bluetooth audio when available. AAC and aptX also outperform basic SBC. However, audio quality ultimately depends on the specific headphone or speaker implementation as well.

Battery Life Considerations

Higher quality Bluetooth codecs like LDAC can have a significant impact on battery life due to their higher bandwidth requirements. According to a report by SoundGuys (, LDAC can use over 2x more power compared to the standard SBC codec. This is because LDAC can transmit at up to 990kbps compared to SBC’s max of 345kbps.

Users on Reddit ( also note experiencing much faster battery drain when using LDAC versus SBC or AptX on their headphones and phones. One user reported their LDAC battery life dropping from around 30 hours to just 10 hours when switching from SBC.

To balance audio quality and battery life, it’s recommended to try using a mid-range codec like AptX HD which offers good quality at 576kbps. You can also set LDAC to a lower bitrate mode like 660kbps which provides excellent quality while using less power than 990kbps. Disabling LDAC when not listening to music can also help conserve battery life.


To select and enable the preferred Bluetooth audio codec on Android:

  • Check your Android device version to see what codecs are supported (newer Android versions support advanced codecs like aptX and LDAC).
  • Enable Developer Options if not already enabled.
  • Under settings for Bluetooth Advanced in Developer Options, choose the desired codec.
  • Pair your headphones or speakers via Bluetooth.
  • Under Bluetooth Settings or your paired device settings, verify that the selected codec is in use.

The Bluetooth audio codec used has a significant impact on audio quality. Advanced codecs like aptX, aptX HD and LDAC support higher bitrates that allow for better quality audio reproduction. However, both your device and headphones/speakers need to be compatible with a given codec in order to use it.

There is a trade-off between higher quality codecs and battery life. More advanced codecs will consume more battery power during playback. If battery life is a concern, using SBC or aptX may result in longer battery life versus using aptX HD or LDAC.

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