Smartphone Hi-Fi is like a prairie fire, rushing across the smartphone prairie, burning fiercely and ending sadly.
If you want to look for the time when mobile phone Hi-Fi suddenly went downhill, it must be September 7, 2016. On that day, Apple released the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, which were popular around the world, and directly canceled the 3.5mm headphone jack on the body. This move undoubtedly poured cold water on the music mobile phones that were enthusiastically promoting "mobile phone Hi-Fi" at that time.
The era of mobile phone Hi-Fi suddenly came to an end overnight.
Instead, there are AirPods, Apple’s first TWS true wireless headphones. After cutting off the headphone cord, it became one of Apple's most popular accessories in history, and it also sparked the popularity of true wireless headphones around the world. Most smartphone manufacturers also followed the trend and canceled the 3.5mm headphone jack in a very short period of time, embracing TWS true wireless headphones.
Cutting off the headphone cable and using wireless Bluetooth, which seems advanced but has an extremely low bit rate, is a pursuit of convenience, but it is actually a compromise on sound quality.
On social media in 2023, the behavior of using wired headphones to listen to music has become a unique retro trend.
▲ Wired headphones are retro and trendy. Pictures from: TikTok, Instagram, Xiaohongshu
But many times, instead of saying that we miss wired headphones and the "extremely advanced" 3.5mm headphone jack, it is better to say that we still miss the high-fidelity sound quality of wired headphones.
Ai Faner has always believed that sound quality should be a required course for true wireless headphones. After completing the lightweight and wireless wearing experience and the long-lasting battery life of a compact size, it is time for true wireless earphones to go back to their roots and regain the required course of sound quality.
The prerequisite for wireless to be better than wired is to have lossless transmission.
I have an expensive streaming music membership on my phone and am downloading lossless audio source files with larger file sizes, but at this time, the TWS headphones are still playing heavily compressed "lossy" sound.
For TWS headsets, the audio transmission protocol is equivalent to the wire connecting the headset and the mobile phone. If Bluetooth audio decoding is compared to a highway, the higher the transmission bit rate number means the road is wider and flatter, and the speed limit is higher.
As a standard that can be accurately quantified, it directly affects the sound quality performance of TWS headphones.
However, compared with the popularity of TWS headsets, the development of Bluetooth audio protocols seems too slow. This has also made it impossible for the "invisible audio cable" of TWS headsets to be real, and the Bluetooth transmission rate that has been developed for many years has still not been fully realized. Unlock lossless sound quality.
▲ Picture from Android Authority
The widely used SBC and AAC audio encodings have a maximum code rate of only about 320kbps, which is equivalent to the jpg format in pictures and is a lossy product of efficient compression.
The aptX family, led by Qualcomm, is an audio codec with higher specifications than SBC and AAC, and is widely used by Android models. Supports transmission of 48kHz/16bit audio, with a maximum bit rate of 352kbps. Later, versions with different specifications such as aptX HD and aptX-adaptive evolved, and the rate was increased to 576kbps, entering the category of high-definition audio decoding.
The well-known LDAC encoding is led by Sony and was added to the Android 8.0 open source project in 2017. Its Bluetooth wireless transmission rate can reach 990kbps, which is 3 times improved compared to the 328kbps SBC, which basically meets the needs of wireless transmission. Hi-Res audio needs.
LHDC encoding, which has similar performance to LDAC, has also become popular in the past two years and supports the transmission of 24bit/96KHz high-resolution audio with a maximum transmission rate of 1000Kbps.
Even though the birth of LDAC and LHDC are labeled as "lossless", they can still only achieve two-thirds of the CD quality bit rate of 1411.2kbps. In fact, it is still difficult to guarantee the lossless transmission of CD-level music.
In order to achieve truly lossless high-definition audio transmission, the upper limit of wireless audio coding and decoding standards urgently needs to be refreshed.
Therefore, as my country's first high-definition wireless audio codec standard, L2HC covers the transmission bit rate to 64~1920kbps for the first time. With stronger wireless transmission capabilities, it can support 96kHz/24bit high-definition audio transmission.
This means that L2HC can theoretically reach a maximum rate of 1920kbps, exceeding the critical point of 1411.2kbps required for CD lossless. It is currently the only wireless audio codec standard that exceeds the bit rate requirements for CD lossless sound quality transmission. In terms of speed, L2HC can indeed be said to be "far ahead" of LDAC and LHDC.
With higher-speed wireless audio coding and decoding standards, terminal manufacturers are required to complete the implementation and closed-loop of hardware products. You must know that Huawei, which has been particularly good at "connection" for many years, is not only a core contributor to L2HC, but L2HC was also the first high-definition audio codec format independently developed by Huawei.
Therefore, it is no surprise that Huawei FreeBuds Pro 3, which has been pre-sold, has naturally become the first product equipped with L2HC 3.0 wireless audio codec.
Judging from the parameters, the maximum audio transmission rate of Huawei FreeBuds Pro 3 has been directly increased from 990kbps of the previous generation to 1.5Mbps, directly exceeding the bit rate requirements for lossless transmission of CD-quality music.
In addition to increasing the amount of information transmitted by the audio source, Huawei FreeBuds Pro 3 also uses StarLight connection core technology – Polar code technology for the first time, which doubles the anti-interference capability and makes the invisible headphone cable thicker. This means that users wearing Huawei FreeBuds Pro 3 can enjoy a music listening experience beyond CD quality for more time.
It can be said that Huawei's unique Polar code technology depicts the story of "wireless wins over wired" more completely and convincingly.
▲ Picture from: Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash
Previously, I had to cross the road at the Shibuya intersection in Japan, the busiest in the world, transfer at the Guangzhou Metro Tiyu West Road Station, and even watch the projection light fireworks show in front of the castle in Shanghai Disneyland with over 10,000 tourists and other scenes where the crowds were like mountains and seas. I have experienced TWS earphones experiencing temporary disconnection and noise due to signal interference.
In fact, if LDAC is in the "Connection Priority Best Effort" mode, it will switch between 330kbps/660kbps/990kbps bit rates depending on the environment. In order to maintain a relatively stable connection even in complex signal scenarios, the audio There will also be a relatively significant drop in quality.
On the other hand, even if we turn on "Sound quality preferred", LDAC may not always be able to maintain the high bit rate transmission of 990kbps. Due to factors such as signal interference during movement, the bit rate will also decrease. Come to experience Caton.
After a period of experience, I found that in some scenes with a large number of people and a complex signal environment, Huawei FreeBudsPro 3 can indeed maintain CD-level lossless high bit rate and stable transmission. Not only will the audio not be perceived in the lossless transmission state, There will be no sound delay or disconnection, achieving a stable and interference-free listening experience comparable to wired headphones.
From this point of view, Huawei FreeBuds Pro 3 can solve the problem of being unable to provide high-fidelity lossless audio transmission in the TWS true wireless form that has become a mainstream listening habit. It has the best of both worlds (portability) and sound quality.
The final battle for the popularization of noise reduction is call noise reduction
While emphasizing sound quality, noise reduction is also a very important evaluation criterion for the TWS headphone category. But just as the depth of noise reduction is about to reach the limit of human ears, one thing that is easily overlooked, but has actually become a pain point, is the call quality of true wireless headphones.
For compact true wireless headsets, it is necessary to ensure good call quality and convey clear human voices through the microphone to the other end of the phone.
As we mentioned above, in crowded and noisy scenes such as Shibuya Crossing, Guangzhou Tiyu West Road Subway Station, and Shanghai Disneyland, it used to be quite difficult to use TWS headsets to answer/make calls. The difficult thing is that the ambient sound around you may be amplified and transmitted to the other party's earpiece, but your voice is drowned by the noise.
Therefore, the final outcome of the noise reduction competition is not peak depth, but call noise reduction. Therefore, to achieve good call noise reduction, we need to rely on stronger computing power and more advanced algorithms.
Based on the previous generation single-channel DNN call noise reduction algorithm, FreeBuds Pro 3 has been upgraded to a multi-channel DNN algorithm. In a simple analogy, it is like the rear single camera module of a mobile phone, which has evolved into a multi-camera module to apply different applications in different scenarios. focal length and work together.
Specifically, the multi-channel DNN call noise reduction algorithm can perform frequency-band noise reduction based on the multi-channel information picked up by the VPU and the three pickup microphones. At the same time, combined with AI dynamic fusion technology, the frequency-band noise reduction is more accurate and can retain more The vocal details are enhanced by 5dB in call noise immunity in noisy environments such as high-speed trains, subways, and airports.
This 5dB improvement directly brings the distance between the two parties of our call much closer.
In order to realize this "Silent Call 2.0" function, Huawei FreeBuds Pro 3 uses a chip whose specific model has not been disclosed yet, but it is said to be the most powerful chip in the TWS field. This allows Huawei FreeBuds Pro 3 to operate in noisy environments. It can also truly convey human voices in any environment.
After experiencing it, we realized that this should be an "artifact" that can be used to participate in online meetings anytime and anywhere. Compared with the previous generation FreeBuds Pro 2, the noise filtering of Pro 3 is more accurate. It also sounds more friendly and natural, and can basically ignore the influence of ambient noise most of the time.
Perhaps Huawei's product research and development is based on the large number of urgent meeting needs Huawei employees have every day. Just like what we have experienced before, after the Hongmeng car machine and PC work together, you can hold meetings and demonstrate PPT in the car.
It is worth mentioning that the call noise reduction of Huawei FreeBuds Pro 3 is based on the device side and is not limited to the system platform or specific models. It can also support most third-party software, including WeChat, Changlian, and QQ. , Tencent Conference, Zoom and other mainstream software.
It is difficult but correct to achieve true lossless sound quality in true wireless earphones
In the past, the popularity of true wireless was based on convenience and ignored sound quality. In the face of the "real necessity" of convenience, sound quality has become a "false necessity". But we believe that for products that can be called “flagship headphones”, sound quality is not only indispensable, but should also be placed at the top of the priority list.
After all, the market needs hundreds of yuan-level true wireless headphones to meet the needs of early adopters; it also needs thousand-yuan flagship products to meet the ultimate listening needs.
In the "2022 Audio Product Use Status Survey Report", nearly 60% of the respondents hope to obtain high-resolution and lossless sound quality; and more than 60% of consumers believe that lossless sound quality will determine their purchasing behavior, and are even willing to pay for lossless sound quality. Pay more for sound quality.
Consumer behavior is also changing. Now we can clearly judge that the future evolution direction of TWS is to continue to break through the upper limit along the two major tracks of sound quality and noise reduction, with the purpose of satisfying consumers' needs when watching videos, playing games, and mobile phones. Increasingly demanding listening needs when working and listening to music. "Lossless" wireless transmission is undoubtedly an important breakthrough point.
Huawei FreeBuds Pro 3 brings the industry's first 1.5Mbps lossless sound quality, which not only sets a new high bit rate for true wireless Bluetooth headsets, but will also lead the wireless audio industry from "high definition" to "lossless". In Yu Chengdong's words, this is undoubtedly "way ahead".
Huawei's decision to push forward wireless audio codec standards is like trying to "reconnect" the cord that AirPods cut. It is also like building a more spacious and smooth cross-sea bridge for the TWS headset industry, trying to achieve true wireless success. In terms of headphone form, it regains the lossless sound quality like wired headphones.
Of course, Huawei is not building a bridge just to cross it alone. During the experience of Freebuds Pro 3, Huawei's product team revealed to Ai Faner that the new generation of L2HC will follow an inclusive and open road like LDAC. In the future, this set of wireless transmission protocols will be open to other manufacturers and developers. They are open. At the same time, they also hope that more industry partners will be willing to cross this bridge together.
It's just that when the bridge was completed and opened to traffic, Huawei, which shouted "way ahead", could be seen running at the front.
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