Skip to main content

Smart speakers are about to get an IQ bump thanks to new Qualcomm chips

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Sure, the world of smart speaker chips isn’t as argument-inducing (or as exciting to the general public) as video game graphics cards or even smartphone processors, but it has a massive impact on the way you interact with and enjoy our favorite music, podcasts, and various other smart devices in your home.

Without the right chip, asking Siri, Alexa, or Google to tell you the weather or play your favorite artist would be a futile task. Well, smart speakers, soundbars, and more are about to get a massive IQ bump thanks to a new chipset developed by Qualcomm called the QCS400.

Designed from the ground up, the new chipset includes faster voice processing with better background noise filters, lower power consumption, and built-in support for object-based audio technology like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.

That means that any speakers with the new chip installed will be able to integrate more easily into modern home theater systems and that smart soundbars are about to get a lot easier to integrate into various multiroom smart speaker setups.

That, plus faster audio processing onboard means that streaming music will be easier and more reliable than ever, and should enable manufacturers to focus even more on improving audio quality in smaller devices using advanced digital signal processing.

“These new [systems on a chip] raise the bar on both feature integration and power performance for smart audio compared to our previous technology. This will help manufacturers to more easily overcome significant technical challenges and build smarter speakers and assistants with more intuitive voice UI, connected user experiences and exceptional sound quality,” Rahul Patel, senior vice president and general manager of connectivity at Qualcomm, said in a statement. “The next generation of smart audio products must be robust, highly interoperable, feature-rich, and smart, yet extremely power efficient.”

So far, interest seems hot: Qualcomm representatives we spoke to about the new chipset stated that while they couldn’t make any official announcements, they have been in contact with several large technology companies about using the new chipsets, estimating that the first speakers and soundbars to use the technology could hit the market by the end of 2019.

Editors' Recommendations

Parker Hall
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Parker Hall is a writer and musician from Portland, OR. He is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Oberlin…
Soundcore’s new Motion speakers are tough little portables with hi-res sound
Anker Soundcore Motion 300 in black.

Anker Soundcore Motion 300. Anker Soundcore

Anker Soundcore has two new portable and rugged Bluetooth speakers that fall under the Motion family of products: the $80 Motion 300 and the $60 Motion 100. The metal-clad speakers come in three color choices and feature support for hi-res audio. They will be available later this fall -- you can buy the Motion 300 on October 9 (black only), with the other two colors coming in November/December. The black version of the Motion 100 will be available in November, with its two other colors coming in early 2024, according to Anker.

Read more
Sonos Move 2: Sonos’ biggest portable speaker gets a big update
Sonos Move 2 in olive.

Sonos has unveiled the latest version of its Move portable smart speaker -- the Move 2. It looks nearly identical to the original Sonos Move, yet contains several updates that bring it in line with the company's recently released Era 100 and Era 300 speakers. The Move 2 has been priced at $449, a $50 increase over the previous model, and will be available starting September 20, 2023, in a wide selection of countries. The Move 2 replaces the first-gen speaker, though Sonos will continue to sell the original Move while inventory remains, so you may want to keep an eye open for some deep discounts.

At a distance, you can't tell the Move and Move 2 apart, well, unless the Move 2 shows up in its new color option -- olive. The Move 2 is a hair bigger, but it still weighs the same 6.61 pounds. Sonos has kept the same rubberized no-slip base as well as the integrated carry handle on the back. As with the original, the Move 2 is built for the outdoors with an IP56 rating for dust and water resistance.

Read more
JBL’s retro-style wireless speakers could spark serious envy among Sonos fans
JBL Authentics 300.

JBL Authentics 500. JBL

JBL has long dominated the portable Bluetooth speaker market with its rugged and great-sounding Clip, Flip, and Charge speakers, but apart from a few smart soundbars, it has never taken a serious shot at Sonos' wireless multiroom crown. Until now. Today, JBL has launched a family of three retro-style portable wireless speakers it calls the Authentics. With prices that range from $330 to $700 and a huge list of Sonos-like features -- including Dolby Atmos -- it's clear that JBL is no longer content to just be the wireless speaker you take to the beach. The Authentics will be available to buy starting September 17; here's everything you need to know.
The new JBL Authentics
JBL Authentics 300. JBL

Read more