Finding cameras and mobiles capable of taking excellent photographs is quite simple these days, but they still always leave room for improvement. And is that one of the programs that have been used for a long time is the photo and image editor for PC, necessary for various reasons and it is worth making the best use of it. Therefore, today we present to you some of the best photo editors for PC with Windows 10, macOS or Linux.
All of us as users, at some point we have had to do some retouching to a photo or an image; many times using only programs that are already pre-installed, to make simple modifications. But that has changed with the need for much more complex edits, as well as the ability of programs to carry them out.
Among the variety of programs that exist, we are not going to feel comfortable with all of them. That is why we will recommend to you some of the best photo editors for PC that you can get and try. Most are free, easy to use, and feature-rich. Anyway, if you have any additional recommendations, you can always leave them in the comments.
What Is an Image Editor for PC?
An image or photo editor for PC is a program used to improve and readjust the parameters of image files that are stored on the computer. These files can be from photos and drawings to renderings or graphics; and each of its tools allows you to modify colors, sharpness, contrast, shapes, size and more parameters.
The tools to edit photos are increasingly common and are present in each of the computers. Even a simple program like Paint is an image editor for PC that can fulfil useful functions for amateur users. And it happens that one of its main benefits is that in most cases they are very easy to use.
Photo editing is a practice that we see all the time, everywhere. On web portals, in magazines, in the media and even by fans on social networks. Come on, we have even edited a selfie or a photo that we liked, to improve them.
With a photo editor, or anyone can turn a work into something of high quality. But, even with how easy it is to learn to use these programs, you need some knowledge about the best photo editors for PC to achieve expected results. Since not all bring the same tools, nor do they serve the same purpose.
You Need a Basic, Online or Professional Photo Editor
Today, we can find a wide variety of programs for users of all kinds, each one with a greater or lesser aptitude for dealing with technology. And precisely, with the best photo editors for PC, exactly the same thing happens.
We are going to find some much more complete and professional alternatives, as well as there, are simple options that are only limited to the basic settings. The first thing you should ask is, why do you need to purchase the image editor? Keep in mind that just because a photo editor has too many built-in features, it doesn’t necessarily make it the best for you.
If what you want is to make simple and small adjustments, color adjustments, contrast, apply filters, watermarks or you want to make memes, you should not complicate too much. A fairly basic PC photo editor can be more than enough. You can even opt for an image editor that works on the web, for quick edits without installing anything on your computer.
However, the situation changes when you must make more advanced adjustments to achieve a high-quality result. While a simple photo editor has limited functions and an intuitive interface, a professional photo editor is much more complete. Not only will you find new functions, but there are also other methods for these types of edits.
In this Top, we will break down the best photo editors for PC according to the scope of their functions, so that you can determine which one best suits your needs. And in case the budget is important, you should know that most of our recommendations here have a free version that will allow you to know its functions. Let’s see them.
Best Basic Photo Editors
As we have already mentioned, there is a wide variety of free programs that can be very useful, but since nobody wants to have useless applications installed on their computer, I will limit myself to mentioning the most popular and best valued by users.
Anyone can use them to retouch their photos since the interface is simple and does not need much prior knowledge. Some have a more updated interface than others, as well as additional functions. However, they do have the basics anyway, and we cannot expect entirely professional results.
The first application that I recommend may not be the best of all, but it comes pre-installed in Windows 10, and it is the one that the system uses to open the images by default. It is a program that also has a simple, totally free photo editor. Its main advantage is that it receives constant updates, with a friendly interface.
Although we generally use it as a photo viewer, it offers some extra features that serve as an image editor for PC. From the “Edit and create” section, we can switch to an interface that allows cropping and rotating photos; Another function is to add filters, colours, and effects. As well as there is a function focused on adjusting the color and clarity.
The edits that are made are simple, but Windows 10 also offers us the possibility of Drawing, adding 3D effects and even placing an animated effect on the photos. And if for some reason it is insufficient, the system itself recommends the Paint 3D tool.
It is a fairly stable program to edit images very easily. Although it is one of the longest circulating among users, its regular updates have allowed it to keep up with current needs. Besides being free, it is also one of the easiest to use, with enough features to achieve professional editions.
The options they offer are for viewing and editing photos. With this program we can modify the size, brightness, contrast, colors and shapes in the image; as well as it is also possible to add effects, texts, templates, frames and much more. But PhotoScape has not limited to still images, as it has functions to assemble collages and edit gifs.
Its wide variety of predefined effects, together with the simple interface it shows, make it an excellent free alternative for any user to be able to edit photos as if they were a professional. It also has a paid version, which offers some extras and you can install it very easily both on Windows and on your macOS.
This is a photo editor for PC, which is mainly focused on facilitating computer screen captures to designers and editors, all this in a fast way. It also brings an editor to retouch the capture, without the need to resort to another external program.
It has a number of functions that integrate quite well into the Windows 10 taskbar and works in the background. With easy setup, snapshots can be taken full size or in a specifically designated area on the screen. But it also has several additional functions for editing images.
It is a free tool, although you can always acquire the license to have all its professional functions. From this tool, you can also edit all kinds of images very easily. It also has a variety of accessories, there is the possibility of saving photos in the cloud and highlights its customizable interface for simpler use.
Even though Photoshop is one of the best PC photo editors that we can use today, it can be quite complicated to handle. However, and fortunately, there are some simple and quick alternatives that can get you out of any trouble.
First, we have the Photoshop Elements tool , a program designed by Adobe that is focused on editing photos, at a less complex level. It has a large number of very intuitive functions, which allow us to improve the photos through artificial intelligence that guides us through the edition. It also has additional functions to recover images and videos, but you must bear in mind that it is not a free option.
On the other hand, if you want a simple and free alternative, we can take advantage of the Photoshop Express tool . It is a program capable of performing a large number of basic adjustments to cut, rotate or link photos. It also supports its own AI-based auto-checker for easy editing and offers a variety of filters.
Photoshop Express has an online version for instant editing, without downloading or installing any files. Although its functions are very basic, it is still an excellent tool for users who want to make professional edits without knowing much about the subject.
This is a much more complete version of the well-known Paint tool, which does not sacrifice its simple interface. Although it does not reach the level of Photoshop tools, it is an excellent alternative for inexperienced users, who are looking for a free photo editor for PC.
The simplicity of this program allows its execution in devices with little power. But in addition to the more basic features that we see in other editors, it also has certain important functions. Some of these are the history of actions, the support of layers and the possibility of applying effects or retouching photos quickly.
Although it is primarily aimed at novice users, Paint.NET brings a number of plugins designed by its developer community. These plugins are used to access a few more advanced functions, such as the ZOOM 3D for image recomposition. You can download it in Windows 10 totally free.
This is a powerful photo editor for PC, developed by Wondershare and available for Windows versions. An excellent alternative to editing images in a simple way, with a variety of interesting functions, all completely free. Although it is worth noting that if you don’t get your own license, the photos will have a noticeable watermark.
The Fotophire tool is made up of a series of blocks with very specific functions; that facilitate editing at a professional level without the need for great technical knowledge. The first is the Photo Editor, focused on editing filters, textures, colors, framing and other basic aspects.
We also have the Photo Cutter blocks, to eliminate the background of the photographs quickly when making photomontages; together with the Photo Erased function, which is used to edit and erase unwanted elements that are present in the image.
Finally, we have the latest features that have been incorporated. There is the Photo Maximizer, a complement that allows you to enlarge or zoom the photo without reducing quality and detail; and Photo Focus, to adjust colors, sharpness and blur to our liking.
This alternative offers the most basic functions, which are not always the best when editing photos on the PC. Paint 3D offers us some additional tools to the original version, which can be used to make quick and easy edits; even if you don’t expect too much from this app.
Perhaps it is not the best, but it is important to keep them in mind, considering that they are free and in most cases, they are already installed with the latest version of Windows 10.
Best Photo Editors on the Web
To have an image editor for PC, you don’t always need to download and install a tool. There are many free alternatives that you can use online, which are simple but with professional functions in most cases.
The greatest advantage of these tools is that you can take advantage of them from any device, at any time and without restrictions or additional costs. In addition, it will not take up space, which is appreciated when the computer does not have much internal memory.
A free image editor for PC, offering a good set of tools. It is used for simple photo editing, design making and even creating collages. All of this primarily intended for ordinary users who just want to do good editing, but it doesn’t work too much for professional purposes. Unless you purchase a license.
It is the top recommendation because it offers a variety of extra features, which cannot be found in other of the best photo editors for PC. To use it, it is only necessary to access its website , upload the image and start editing.
The BeFunky tool is one of the best photo editors for PC that you can use from a browser. It is a free, intuitive and quite a complete editor, although its paid version offers some additional functions for users looking for something more professional. It also has a version for Android that is quite useful.
In general, this image editor is divided into 3 sections, which facilitates its use by less experienced users. The first is the editor with the main functions, the second is a tool for making collages and the third is dedicated to graphic design. Although it does not reach the level of Photoshop, it is still a professional, complete and easy-to-use alternative.
It is not exactly a photo editor for PC, since this tool focuses much more on the elaboration of infographics . However, it is used to create and edit photos through designs already created or even through our own resources, from scratch.
It is a useful website to develop advertising campaigns and content for social networks, with a wide number of functions and tools that it leaves at our disposal. And while we can take advantage of its free license with registration, you always have the Pro alternative, which brings other interesting features. As an alternative app, we have PicMonkey, a very similar tool.
We can’t list the best photo editors for PC online, not to mention a favorite of many users. Personally, it is also one of my favorites, because in addition to reminding Photoshop a lot, from the outset it offers you the option to choose between 2 versions. We have the PIXLR X for novice users, with a simple interface, and PIXLR E, for professionals.
Both versions have editing tools for retouching photos through the web, as well as artificial intelligence that allows better results than expected and supports practically all types of image formats. We can open PSD projects, created by Photoshop without problems.
With a much more visual design, the I Love IMG program presents a wide variety of tools for editing images through the web. Each of its functions is divided to facilitate users’ work, making it an excellent free and intuitive alternative. Although its Premium version is not expensive at all, and it offers more functions.
It has direct tools to compress, crop, resize, rotate and even convert the image to other formats, or from HTML. In addition, its basic editor is present to adjust color, lighting, frames, filters and more. It even has a straightforward feature to quickly create memes and add watermarks.
If you are looking for a way to make quick edits instantly from the browser on your PC, this is the right option for you. It is a program with all the basic functions, necessary for simple edits. It does not need any type of installation or registration, you just have to access its website and then upload the photo from your computer or through a URL.
Its interface is quite intuitive and it is in Spanish, which is another benefit. Once the photo is loaded, in the left panel we can find a series of functions. In addition to the most common ones for editing brightness, colors and sharpness, we also have alternatives to create frames, place texts or superimpose images.
The extra functions are unlocked in its Pro version. But at least, you will be able to use the free version in an unlimited way and without problems with watermarks or damages in your editions.
We cannot forget the popular tool to store our photos and videos for free, and almost unlimited, that Google provides us. In this cloud service, we find a simple photo editor that can solve more than one problem.
Its functions are focused on retouching, cutting and editing the photos from its app, both on the PC and on the mobile. Its artificial intelligence is capable of making the process much easier by making recommendations for automatic improvements. We can’t expect miracles from this tool, but with its wide popularity and scope, it’s an alternative worth keeping in mind.
Best Professional Photo Editors
Although the programs mentioned so far are very useful, complete and even simple tools, they can sometimes fall short; This happens especially when we need to have as many functions as possible for a professional edition.
Advanced editing features can be present in a large number of programs. Here I will present you with the most popular and best-valued alternatives, to carry out any type of edition and achieve the result you want. Not all the options are paid, we can even find free options that offer spectacular finishes.
The best photo editor for PC that you can use today, with the best ratings and general acceptance is Photoshop. A tool developed by Adobe , which implements a variety of functions to do practically anything with photos and images.
It offers options for retouching, editing, removing or adding objects, playing with shapes and colors, filters, frames and a host of possibilities. One of the main benefits is that year after year it is updated with new features, allowing you to get more and more of it. This versatility makes it an excellent tool for users who depend on a professional PC photo editor, which can also be installed on any System.
Its biggest drawback is that, due to the large volume of functions it implements, it has become a somewhat complex program for all users. The interface is not simple at all and requires a bit of practice and prior knowledge to be able to use it properly. Also, it’s a bit of a pricey payment tool, but it really does offer everything it is worth.
The best professional photo editor for PC is closely followed by GIMP. A program that is characterized by offering many of the tools that we have in Photoshop, with the advantage that it is free, open-source and a little easier to use. In addition, it is in Spanish and is supported on different systems, whether Windows, macOS or Linux.
As an image editor for PC, it offers a variety of functions and plug-ins for editions superior to other free programs. That has allowed its interface to be customizable, to the point where we can have it as similar to Photoshop; although, for obvious reasons, there are fewer functions compared to the other payment options.
However, we are talking about a free tool for professionals , which supports multiple platforms and is updated quite regularly. Even with its medium learning curve due to its slightly complex interface, it has good support and a large community of users who take advantage of its functions. An option that you must take into account.
This is another professional PC photo editor that we can use for free. Despite not being as popular as GIMP, it works very well for all those users who have some experience with photo editing and want to use better functions than the basic alternatives, without having to spend on options like Photoshop.
Krita is a program oriented mainly in drawing, illustration, graphic design and digital painting. With its tools, you can create all kinds of illustrations, comics and a variety of artistic material. It is also a very versatile and intuitive open-source application.
Being a free alternative, it may not be able to satisfy all the needs of each user, it falls a little short at times. But for illustrators it comes in handy, being a photo and image editor for PC that is worth knowing. And being designed for all systems , you can easily edit on any device without any problem.
Another competition for Photoshop tools, with very complete functions and which has made good progress in recent years, is the Capture, One image editor. It is a program characterized by the customization options it offers.
It supports different formats for editing, including camera profiles to edit RAW photos easily, something necessary for all types of photographers, both professionals and amateurs. Even allowing you to edit the interface and the add-ons that can be used, you can adapt the program to a much more user-friendly design. Although it is still a complex alternative.
Not only is its design modern, but it also surpasses the Adobe app in speed and capacity. And being mainly oriented to photography, we have various functions for HDR, layers and color profiles, noise reduction, among other editing options. But you should keep in mind that their license is the most expensive on the list.
An image editor for PC that has been on the market for almost the same time as Photoshop, and in addition to being its direct competition, it shares a fairly similar interface. We can say that the Paintshop Pro program is located in an intermediate point between Photoshop and GRIMP, with a variety of functions for editing; which despite not being free, is much cheaper.
It has options to adjust all kinds of elements in the photos, in addition to allowing any type of change and correction. It brings support for working with layers, HDR support, supports RAW format and offers the classic drawing tools found in other professional programs.
Although its popularity does not reach the level of Photoshop, it is an image editor for PC that you can take advantage of a lot; especially because of its cheaper license and you can use the 30-day free offer to see for yourself everything this program has to offer.
Rather than being an image editor for PC, this tool is a fairly complete Photoshop extension, mainly focused on being a support for professional photographers and editors. Being multiplatform, it makes it a very flexible alternative.
This program is focused on the final retouching and finishing of the photos. It allows modifying a series of parameters quickly, with a simple and quite complete interface. However, its usefulness is limited to the final retouching of the photos, since it has somewhat limited functions. It is a plug-in that fits well with the popular Adobe tool, to facilitate editing.
It has an advanced artificial intelligence system, a large number of controls for the tool and has a Spanish version. In addition, even with its simple interface, you can get a variety of integrated tutorials that explain the best way to use Lightroom. If you are a professional and you work a lot with Photoshop, this is an extension that you should not miss.
Auto Change Wallpaper on Android Automatically
Many Android smartphone owners don’t want to be commonplace. Having a device that is the same as the others, which works the same as the others, behaves the same as the others or that looks like any phone that can be found in an operator’s store, is not ideal for many people.
Therefore, the customization tips for Android devices end up being very successful. For those users who can’t (or don’t want to) spend money on buying a new device or swapping out the current model for a more modern one, a simple change in the way visuals are presented can make a big difference to the experience of daily use.
Therefore, in this post, we will show how you can automatically change the background of your Android smartphone, with the help of an official Google application.
After all, everyone has a wallpaper installed on their smartphone right now, and, perhaps out of laziness, we haven’t changed that wallpaper as much as we’d like.
With the tutorial in this publication, you will configure your mobile so that the wallpaper changes automatically, every day. Something comfortable that saves you time.
And without depending on your daily intervention. Also, these changes will occur based on the preferences you set. The setup process itself is quite simple and unknown to many people as they need this little-talked-about add-on from Google.
How to change the wallpaper automatically
To perform the trick, you need to download the Google Backgrounds app. It has a very useful feature that allows you to change Android wallpapers automatically, every day.
And it is not a feature that is so hidden from users, but most do not even know about this function, have not even heard of it, or even do not know where it is located on the smartphone.
To configure this feature, simply follow the steps below.
1. Download and install the Google Wallpapers application from the Play Store.
3. Select the item for the daily wallpaper and configure how you want the backgrounds to download.
Please note that the wallpaper will change every day and the wallpaper will be downloaded via Wi-Fi unless you specify otherwise. At some point in the future, these wallpapers will repeat as all the images within the category you chose were saved to your smartphone.
You can switch between categories to change funds.
Clever. With this little tutorial, you will be able to make the automatic change of wallpapers on your mobile in a matter of seconds. The Google Wallpapers app is completely free, ad-free, and weighs only 2.3 megabytes, so you shouldn’t have to worry about internal storage.
This way, you will forget about changing the wallpaper and seeing new images every day.
Types of Keyboards: Advantages and Disadvantages
The 100% keyboard
Full-size keyboards are typical computer keyboards. They have four different areas separated by spaces with a total of 105 keys in the ISO (European) format.
- On the left we have the area with the letters.
- In the middle the navigation area (arrows, page turn, etc.).
- On the right we have the numeric keyboard.
- At the top we have the function keys and the escape.
There are also keyboards that are larger than a normal Full Size because they have macro keys on the sides. Some even have screens …
1800-Compact layout keyboards have the same number of keys as a full-size keyboard, but the layout is slightly more compact:
- The arrow keys, instead of being separated, are below the Enter key.
- The other navigation keys become above the numeric keypad.
TKL (Tenkeyless or 80%)
TKL keyboards are the second most popular keyboards. They are like full-size keyboards, but without the numeric keypad.
Explanation of the name Tenkeyless:
As we will see later, the numeric keyboard or numpad is known as Tenkey. In English, adding the suffix less indicates its absence. So Tenkeyless means no numeric keypad, literally.
The TKLs are very popular because even being smaller than the Full Size they have all the alphanumeric, navigation and function keys in their normal position, so the learning curve is minimal.
Its size is around 80% to 87% of the Full Size , which has some advantages:
- The first and most important is that they allow you to adopt a more ergonomic position in front of the keyboard.
- There is more space for the mouse.
- They are easier to store and transport.
They are known as 75% keyboards those that have a certain key layout that allows them to obtain a size that varies between 70 and 75% of a full-size keyboard. Of course, they keep the top row complete with the function keys and the escape
The 60% size keyboards, in addition to ditching the number pad and navigation keys, also lack the top row of function keys.
The functionalities of these missing keys can be accessed through the Fn key usually located at the bottom right of the keyboard. To activate the function of the F1 key we will have to press the Fn key + 1.
60% keyboards, while saving significant space and weight, have a considerable learning curve.
40% keyboards are the smallest keyboards that are still relatively usable.
The 40% keyboards also dispense with the row dedicated to numbers, leaving only the letters and modifiers. The numbers must be accessed through the Fn key or with special keys.
Tenkey (numeric keyboard or number pad)
Dedicated numeric keyboards usually have 21 keys: the normal numeric keys plus the keys with special functions Escape, Tab, and so on.
How Does A Bluetooth Headset Work
In this post about wireless headphones, we are going to try to clear up concerns in relation to their operation, mainly for all those who try to understand something beyond its simple use to listen to music.
This is something very interesting that helps us to have more information when buying a wireless headset and know what to take into account.
In the same way, we are going to talk about a feature that several models of headphones today include in order to provide better practicality in everyday use: wireless headphone technology called Bluetooth.
In recent times, wireless technology in headphones gained a significant following thanks to smartphones that lost the P2 (3.5mm) input for the headphones. At the same time, there was a greater popularization of the most affordable headphones from Chinese companies, which is why today it is simpler to buy a Bluetooth headset.
In today’s market, we find more than one type of wireless headphone technology, although the most popular and efficient today is Bluetooth. Due to this, we will analyze below what Bluetooth technology is, how it works and how it is applied in the audio of our headphones.
How Bluetooth Technology Works
Bluetooth wireless technology uses radio waves to connect different types of gadgets such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets.
Bluetooth makes use of radio frequencies, more specifically the 2.45 GHz frequency, and as this frequency band is widely used, it is a requirement to ensure in some way that Bluetooth does not suffer interference and that it does not produce them either. For which, they took advantage of the communication by FH-CDMA (Frequency Hopping – Code Division Multiple Access), which allows the moderation of the interference indices, dividing the frequency into 79 channels (or 23, subject to each country).
Differences between Bluetooth 4.2 and 5.0
The first thing we notice in Bluetooth 5 is that the range was optimized. While version 4.2 has a range of up to 50 meters in an open environment and up to 10 meters in an indoor environment (with walls), version 5 manages to provide a range of up to 200 meters in an open area and up to 40 meters in a closed environment.
This increase in range potential is due to the fact that Bluetooth 5 provides a changing transmission speed. It manages to use 4 levels of data transmission and is regulated according to the requirements of the gadget being used.
You can automatically switch between the following transmission speeds: 2 Mbps, 1 Mbps, 500 kbps, and 125 kbps. The lower the data rate, the greater the distance reached in data transmission.
For example, smartwatches do not need to send a large amount of data and consequently accept a transmission speed of 125 kbps, providing a range of up to 200 meters in an open environment. However, when a large continuous stream of data such as 1 Mbps or 2 Mbps is required as is the case with wireless headphones, for example, the range is greatly reduced. But do not worry, Bluetooth 5 will allow you to walk quietly throughout your house without great losses depending on the kind of Bluetooth you use (which is different from the Bluetooth version).
The second feature that stands out in Bluetooth 5 is battery saving. It manages to standby for a longer time and consume less power than its past generation (4.2). This is made possible by the enhancement of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology that was introduced in Bluetooth 4.0. It was created thinking about applications that require low data transfer (less than 1 Mbps) and for that, it uses the GFSK (Gaussian Frequency-Shift Keying) modulation system.
Finally, another feature that draws attention to version 5 of Bluetooth is the ability to transmit data in a single packet. In Bluetooth 4 this rate is 31 bytes per packet, while in Bluetooth 5 this value increases to 255 bytes per packet.
How to use Bluetooth 5.0 on technology devices
You will need a smartphone, tablet, notebook or other devices that support Bluetooth 5.0 and a headset that supports that version of Bluetooth. Both devices must be compatible with the technology to be really used, otherwise, the mobile will use an older Bluetooth version.
To make it possible to adjust Bluetooth to the most varied types of devices and purposes, the maximum range of the technology has been divided into four classes:
Class 1: Maximum power 100 mW (milliwatts) range up to 100 meters;
Class 2: Maximum power of 2.5 mW, range up to 10 meters;
Class 3: Maximum power of 1 mW, range up to 1 meter;
Class 4: Maximum power of 0.5 mW, range of up to 50 centimetres.
Bluetooth profiles are protocols that define what functions can be performed by devices that have Bluetooth.
There are currently around 40 different profiles, but some of these are found more frequently on devices that have this technology. The most relevant Bluetooth profiles for us will be presented below:
Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP)
This profile is responsible for transmitting audio from one Bluetooth device to another. It is used by all Bluetooth headphones and speakers today. Before the creation of this profile, Bluetooth audio was very grainy and only headsets were used for phone calls. The Bluetooth modules that support the A2DP profile have in them a set of audio codecs that can be executed according to the hardware capabilities. These codecs are designed to balance the needs for power use, audio processing, and sufficient data rates according to what is required.
Headset Profile (HSP)
This profile provides the ability to stream audio through the microphone to answer calls, and adjust the sound volume level. It is used together with the A2DP profile to be able to transmit the audio of the voices.
Handsfree Profile (HFP)
This profile gives the Bluetooth device the ability to make hands-free audio calls in cars or smartphones. Add features such as accepting, rejecting or ending a call without needing to touch, for example, on the mobile phone to execute the command.
Audio / Video (A / V) Remote Control Profile (AVRCP)
This profile allows the user to control the music or sound of the Bluetooth device by performing functions such as play/pause, forward / backwards; beyond controlling the volume. It is generally used in conjunction with the A2DP profile to enable sound transmission and control.
The codec determines how Bluetooth will transmit data from the source to the headphones. Encodes and decodes digital audio data in a specific format. Thinking of an ideal situation, the data is transmitted through a high fidelity signal at the specified minimum bit rate. This will use less band while maintaining good playback quality, better distance capacity, and better headphone battery life.
Before we begin, it is important to say that to get the quality of the desired codec, both the source and the headphones must have support for that codec. Furthermore, it is also necessary to know the meaning of some terms to make it easier to read about the codecs below.
Basic codec terms
- Sample rate (Hz): is the number of data points per second in an audio file. You need two samples to accurately capture any frequency, so the audio is sampled at least twice the limits of human hearing (approximately 20 kHz). The sampling frequency of the CD is 44,100 Hz, which means that with every second of sound, 44,100 measurements of the signal’s voltage variation are taken. In this way, the higher the sampling frequency, the more accurate the representation of the signal. A higher sample rate means a larger file size.
- Bit depth (-bit): is the number of bits saved for each audio sample. A sample represented by only one bit could receive only two values: “0” or “1”. On the other hand, a representation with 3 bits could receive 8 different values (23 = 8): 000, 001, 010, 100, 110, 101, 011, 111. A CD has a resolution of 16 bits, which allows a binary resolution with 65,534 (216) values. A higher bit depth records a signal more accurately. A higher bit depth multiplies the file size.
- Bit rate per second (kbps): generally measured in kbps or Mbps. That’s the amount of audio data transferred per second, in our case via Bluetooth.
SBC codec (Low-complexity sub-band codec)
The simplest existing codec is the Low Complexity Subband Codec (SBC). It is present in all Bluetooth devices that have the A2DP profile, being a universal codec. Its transfer rates reach up to 345 kbps, enough to play compressed MP3 files. So in case you want high-fidelity audio, don’t expect too much from this codec.
AAC (Advanced audio coding) codec
The AAC codec was developed by Bell Labs, Fraunhofer Institute, Dolby Labs, Sony, and Nokia. It is the standard format for iPhone, iPod, iPad, Nintendo DSi, Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation 3. It is compatible with PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Wii, Sony Walkman, Android and BlackBerry.
The codec can provide a data transfer rate of up to 250 kbps. But despite having slightly lower performance, AAC is widely praised among compression algorithms and is considered a breakthrough over the SBC codec.
Apple has chosen to adopt the AAC codec for all its devices, in addition to the SBC codec, which is a requirement to have the Bluetooth A2DP profile. Apple Music streams with AAC natively, making it the best choice for an AAC or ALAC file library. For best results, you should pay attention not to use your iPhone to stream other compressed audio formats. The compressed files in MP3 or Ogg Vorbis format Spotify must be decoded by the iPhone and then encoded in AAC before they are transmitted to the headphones.
The aptX codecs were developed by Qualcomm with the aim of offering a quality that was close to that of a CD, offering a rate of 16bits / 48KHz with a data transfer rate of up to 352 kbps. Even in this way, aptX still adds lossy file compression, compromising the final sound quality.
The aptX HD was created specifically to obtain higher resolution audio and fewer losses than the first version. It is a codec capable of reaching a speed of 24bits / 48kHz in LPCM (Linear Pulse Code Modulation) with a data transfer rate of up to 576 kbps. This already provides significant gain compared to aptX or SBC in terms of sound quality.
To decrease audio latency in Bluetooth headphones, aptX Low Latency was created, thus enhancing gaming and video experiences. It is a codec that has a latency of fewer than 40 milliseconds with a data throughput of up to 420 kbps.
And finally, to improve the battery consumption of the headphones, Qualcomm has developed the aptX Adaptive codec that changes the data transfer speeds according to what the file that is being played requires. This codec supports a data transfer rate of up to 420 kbps.
Sony, in order to achieve the best sound quality in the Bluetooth headphone market, has created its own codec called LDAC. It has the ability to vary the bit rate according to the definition of the song and is capable of maintaining a speed of 96KHz / 24bits with a data transfer rate of up to 990 kbps. This data transfer speed is almost twice that of aptX HD and three times that of SBC. Fortunately, in the case of LDAC, it is possible to find non-Sony Bluetooth devices that support this codec. In this way, you will be able to obtain an audio quality superior to the aptX HD codec.
Hiby has recently developed its own codec, Ultra Audio Transmission (UAT), to overcome all the barriers of the existing ones, including Sony’s LDAC, and has managed to achieve a sampling rate of 192 kHz with a data transfer rate of 1200 kbps. There are still few devices compatible with this technology, but it is something surprising and that raises the quality that we have in our Bluetooth headphones even more.
How to use the best possible audio codec
Even in the case of Bluetooth 5.0, you will need a smartphone, tablet or laptop, and a headset that supports the desired codec (either aptX, LDAC or UAT). Both devices will need to be compatible with the technology to be really used, otherwise the mobile will use the SBC or AAC codec, which are inferior in terms of audio quality when compared to the other codecs mentioned.
Bluetooth does not support high-quality audio when the microphone is in use
When only the earphone is used to listen to some sound, the A2DP profile is activated and consequently, you are able to use codecs such as aptX HD, aptX Low Latency, LDAC, etc.
However, when you need the microphone, the Bluetooth profile will change to HSP (Headset Profile) or HFP (Handsfree Profile) and this will cause the audio quality to drop sharply because Bluetooth does not have enough bandwidth to maintain the audio quality and at the same time send data from the microphone.
This problem of lack of data transmission capacity can be improved with the use of Bluetooth 5.0 which has several improvements in terms of speed and data transmission capacity.
Apple W1 chip
Apple has a chip inside their headphones with a specific audio codec that can only be used on Apple devices. In case you do not have, for example, an iPhone and want to pair the AirPods on your Android smartphone, you will not get the same sound quality.
Also, if you have a better Bluetooth headset than Apple’s with support, for example, the LDAC or aptX HD codec, and you want to connect to an Apple device, it will unfortunately not be possible to benefit from these codecs. Your headset will use the SBC and AAC codecs which are simpler and low in quality compared to the other currently existing codecs.
Advantages and disadvantages of wired and wireless headphones
After all that has been talked about, you may have realized that Bluetooth technology in wireless headphones is by no means simple, requiring a lot of engineering and skill from both the source and the headphones themselves. All the development of Bluetooth versions and profiles, plus audio codecs, comes at a great cost.
In addition to having a cost in terms of technology built into the Bluetooth device, we still have the cost of the battery to keep the hardware working, the Bluetooth radio wave receiving antenna and the integrated chip with DAC and amplifier inserted inside the Bluetooth headphones. .
Unfortunately, this raises the price of a good wireless headset considerably. So do not fall into the mistake that cheap headphones of this type will offer you good quality since it is a challenge to balance the cost of Bluetooth technology with the sound quality of the headphones and with the quality of the materials used in the headset. manufacturing.
The Bluetooth headset, despite its high cost, makes it much easier to play sports by listening to music or a podcast, watching movies without disturbing others, or simply studying. All this without cables. However, if you prioritize sound quality above all else, it is interesting to consider the alternative of wired headphones over Bluetooth, since this technology has its limitations.
In terms of audio quality, regardless of the value, we still have some compression and degradation of the audio in headphones that work with Bluetooth technology compared to those with a cable. It also adds the audio latency problem that many wireless models, depending on the codec and the version of Bluetooth, still have.
In short, the wireless headphone market is constantly evolving and getting better and better. In the meantime, it will only be possible to obtain higher quality at a high cost, so it is important to weigh priorities.
In the future, the cost of the technology is likely to decrease, as well as an improvement in it. Meanwhile, you will hardly achieve the sound quality of a wired headphone. Just look at the headphones from the best manufacturers, none who intend to produce the best headphones in terms of quality are using Bluetooth technology. By contrast, all aspiring headphones have cables.
Does the device affect the quality of the Bluetooth audio?
If we were using the same audio codec, it will not affect the audio quality to use a different mobile phone (or laptop or tablet), model. This occurs because the function of the Bluetooth signal transmitting devices is only the transmission of the digital signal that has to be converted to the Analog signal so that the headset can emit sound.
Conversion of the transmitted digital signal (via an audio codec such as aptX HD or LDAC) and further amplification occurs within the Bluetooth headset, via an integrated circuit board that has a DAC and a system amplification.
That is if your smartphone has support for the aptX or LDAC codec and your Bluetooth headset has to support the same codec, the headset will sound the same even if you use another phone model (which also has support for the same codecs).
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