OINA Releases SOUNDabout Lossless Codec for Bluetooth Wireless Stereo

Open Interface North America, a pioneer in Bluetooth technology and a premier provider of embedded Bluetooth solutions, announced the release of SOUNDabout(R) Lossless(TM), a lossless codec that brings audiophile quality to Bluetooth wireless audio by delivering perfect reproduction of streaming audio over a Bluetooth radio link. SOUNDabout Lossless is distinguished by its low latency, symmetric low complexity, and state-of-the-art compression ratios.

Perfect Reproduction
Until now Bluetooth audio streaming has used compression algorithms that selectively discard information, resulting in a loss in audio quality. SOUNDabout Lossless uses a proprietary, patent-pending lossless compression technique that retains all of the audio information. A decompressed audio stream is bit-for-bit identical to the original.

Low Latency
Low latency is critical for maintaining “lip-synch”; matching lip movements to the sound of the voice. When listening to audio on a movie or video clip, the audio should be no more than 40 milliseconds behind the video. SOUNDabout Lossless has an encoding latency under 10 milliseconds in all encoding modes, going as low as 2 milliseconds, allowing for highly accurate synchronization of sound and picture.

Symmetric Low Complexity
Low-complexity codecs use less computing power and are necessary on mobile devices, for which long battery life is critical. SOUNDabout Lossless uses a highly efficient algorithm that requires only 20MIPS for either encode or decode. This high-performance enables real-time transcoding from other formats.

State-of-the-Art Compression Ratios
The compression achieved by lossless codecs depends greatly on the audio content. Some audio tracks can be compressed by only 30% while others can be compressed by 60% or more. Compression ratios for SOUNDabout Lossless are comparable with lossless codecs such as ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) and FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec), neither of which achieves low latency.

“With SOUNDabout Lossless we are essentially redefining the standard for streaming audio over Bluetooth. In terms of audio quality there is nothing that can beat lossless compression,” says Greg Burns, OINA’s Chief Technology Officer. “Wireless stereo headphones, for example, can now have exactly the same performance as a wired headphone.”

SOUNDabout Lossless is designed for use in mobile phones, MP3 players, wireless headsets and headphones, speakers, car stereo systems and other Bluetooth A2DP implementations. While initially targeted to Bluetooth, SOUNDabout Lossless is radio agnostic.

“Our customers were asking for better stereo audio performance for their Bluetooth stereo devices,” comments Tom Nault, OINA’s Chairman and CEO. “We know Bluetooth has the bandwidth to deliver lossless audio, but none of the existing codecs met the requirements of low complexity (for battery performance) and low latency, so we developed SOUNDabout Lossless.”

SOUNDabout Lossless is currently implemented on the X86 and ARM7 TDMI and is available for evaluation. Other platforms, including Broadcom’s BCM2047, CSR’s BlueCore5-Multimedia, the Renesas SuperH(TM) Family and ST Microelectronics’ STA529BT, will be available for evaluation beginning in the next several months.

About Open Interface North America
Open Interface North America, based in Seattle, Washington, is a pioneer in Bluetooth technology and one of the first associate members of the Bluetooth SIG. The company is a premier provider of embedded software enabling Bluetooth wireless technology. Its Bluetooth software products and application solutions are used by many major companies worldwide.