Qualcomm’s latest Bluetooth chips could bring ANC to lower-cost earbuds

Ruben Fields
March 26, 2020

That's because of new Qualcomm Bluetooth chips that mean true wireless technology and active noise-cancellation (ANC) can come to earphones at a much lower cost. Now popular ANC earbuds are the Apple AirPods Pro, with 4.5 hours of battery life and Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2, which last up to 7 hours. That's great, and it's a feature that's mostly missing from budget truly wireless earbuds.

Qualcomm says that the noise-cancellation tech (dubbed "hybrid ANC") also allows for "leak-through" for outside noise, which seems to be equivalent to the transparency (or ambient) modes available on the current crop of more premium noise-cancelling headphones. This integration could mean that we will be seeing more affordable earbuds with integrated earbuds in the future, although major brands have yet to comment at the time of writing.

Both the QC514x and QC304x support Qualcomm's "TrueWireless Mirroring Technology" making it easier for the user to use both the earbuds as a stereo pair, or use a single earbud if they so desire. The other earbud mirrors the connected one, and if a user removes the connected bud from their ear, the mirroring bud can quickly take over the connection without any interruption. While the QCC304x provides push-button activation (meaning you'll have to physically push a button to activate voice control), the QCC514x is able to initiate voice control through a wake word, ie. the wearer saying "Alexa" or "Hey Google".

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The Sony WF-1000XM3 retails for RM949, although that price has been heavily discounted since.

The chips also bring voice assistant support with them, but this is where they differ from each other.

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