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Bluetooth aptX HD from Windows 10 PC to Topping D50s

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#1
I just received a D50s, and it's working well with coax input from a Node 2 (which does not have Bluetooth aptX HD capability). This question is about which Codec is in use for Bluetooth input from a PC:

1) My high-end Windows 10 Pro laptop (up to date) says it has Bluetooth 5.0, but nothing I can find (even on the Lenovo and Microsoft forums) tells me whether the driver is capable of aptX HD.
2) The D50s (when set to Bluetooth input) does not appear to tell you which of the various Codecs is being used. (I haven't actually tried it yet.)
3) There is at least one Bluetooth dongle for PCs to send aptX HD (Avantree BTDG-60 tells you via cryptic flashing lights which Codec is in use), but I don't want to spend the money if I don't need to.
4) I understand that I can connect the PC to the D50s via USB (computer has USB 3.1 and "Thunderbolt 3" -- USB-C), but there are times when that isn't convenient.

Is there any way to tell, once a Bluetooth connection is established between PC and D50s, which Codec is being used (without shelling out for an expensive dongle)? -- JClarkW
 

WondrousHippo

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#2
I think unless your laptop says it specifically supports aptX HD, it just supports aptX. Regrettably, dongles are the way to go to guarantee aptX HD.
 

Jimmy

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#3
As far as I know Windows 10 does not support aptx HD, just regular aptx, the simplest solution would be to buy a transmitter that supports optical input (if your laptop has the respective output) and aptx HD.

Bluetooth 5.2 has been released with the new LE audio and LC3 codecs, that supposedly improve on all the existing technologies in many areas, but it will require new hardware and software, new products may start to show later this year, and I hope Microsoft will support it.
 

Vincent Kars

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#4
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Thread Starter #5
Thanks, All, for the helpful information -- I may buy the Avantree BTDG-60 (now only $45 on Amazon) and will report if so. -- JClarkW
 
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#6
soo, there is no Win10 LDAC 24bit/96kHz dongle?
that would be unfortunate ¯\(°_o)/¯
 
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Thread Starter #7
I think unless your laptop says it specifically supports aptX HD, it just supports aptX. Regrettably, dongles are the way to go to guarantee aptX HD.
Hey, WondrousHippo (and others) -- I just struck out on the Avantree BTDG-60, which turns out to be compatible with USB 2.0 but not to play well USB 3.1. My high-end Windows 10 Pro laptop has only USB 3.1 and "ThunderBolt 3" (USB-C, I think) ports. So does anyone know of other Bluetooth dongles that support aptX HD, identify the Codec being used, and are compatible with the newer USB specs? -- JClarkW
 
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#8
Hey, WondrousHippo (and others) -- I just struck out on the Avantree BTDG-60, which turns out to be compatible with Bluetooth 2.0 but not to play well BT 3.1. My high-end Windows 10 Pro laptop has only BT 3.1 and "ThunderBolt 3" (USB-C, I think) ports. So does anyone know of other BT dongles that support aptX HD, identify the Codec being used, and are compatible with the newer BT specs? -- JClarkW
I do not follow what you mean by "... compatible with Bluetooth 2.0 but not to play well BT 3.1. My high-end Windows 10 Pro laptop has only BT 3.1 ..." Do you mean USB instead of Bluetooth and BT? In any case, I believe that Avantree model does not support AptX HD, and I am skeptical it would accept a USB PCM input. Its USB 2.0 port if any is likely for charging only.

Your Windows 10 Pro laptop is unlikely to provide AptX HD BT transmission unless it specifically lists that capability. I was surprised that Win 10 does support AptX, according to the Helge Klein blog that Vincent Kars linked to (though not the LL or HD versions). My understanding is that to get AptX HD BT transmission, the computer or device needs a Qualcomm CSR8675 chip onboard. The newer Qualcomm QCC5100 series chips also support AptX HD while consuming less power, but only as receivers per my understanding. So you will have to use an external BT transmitter with your laptop. I guess most people stream from their phones via BT with SBC codec to a BT receiver in their music system, such as in the D50s, and don't worry about or know about getting AptX HD quality.

The availability of Bluetooth transmitters providing AptX HD or better codecs unfortunately remains limited, even though several high quality AptX HD and LDAC BT receivers are available. I have bought three generations of AptX HD BT transmitter, starting with the first gen where the build quality and reliability was somewhat poor. The latest gen is pretty decent, and I bought two such transmitters last year. If you search for "AptX HD" on Amazon, you will get some 13 pages of hits, many if not most of them false positives. Before AptX HD came along (and even after, to deliberately confuse buyers I feel), BT transmitters were titled and/or advertised as "AptX LL for HD audio", so several of the hits you get give you only LL and not HD. There are perhaps three basic models that are re-branded by different sellers, but seem identical, sometimes down to the pics of happy families. For example, the following two:

Giveet, no battery ; Giveet, with battery .

Last year, I got both the "no battery" one listed above, and I got another with a battery similar to the "battery" one listed above but with a different branding. The one without the battery is less than two-thirds the size of the other one. They both work well for me. Most of the units are priced around the same ($35 to $40), but the ones I listed seem to have a slightly better Amazon user rating than the others, perhaps because the seller provides better service and support. Do not get the models without an antenna or two; the antenna enables a larger transmission range. These units which can be used as either transmitter or receiver, provide both 3.5mm AUX analog as well as digital optical S/PDIF TosLink for both input and output. You can search Amazon for "usb to optical audio adapter", and you will come up with some possible small and economical solutions on connecting your laptop to the above BT transmitters. Or you might use an external sound card attached to laptop via USB, with TosLink output. However, I have not investigated this. I use an HDMI audio extractor between my Blu-ray player and my TV, to get a TosLink optical output to the input of the "no battery" BT transmitter, and power the latter by USB from a phone wall charger. Last year, I was using a Topping D10 driven via USB from my desktop computer, and using the D10's TosLink optical output (there is also a Sabaj or perhaps SMSL model with a similar output) to the "with battery" BT transmitter's input, and continuously powering the latter with USB from a phone wall charger as well. After a recent change of address, I cannot find the D10 hidden in one of many boxes, so I now use the analog headphone output of my desktop amp (fed by a DAC fed via USB by my computer) to get an input to the 3.5mm analog input port of the BT transmitter. I pair each BT transmitter with a separate Radsone ES100 (bought them before there was even a single user review on Amazon) that I use to drive earphones. Both digital and analog connections work well for me, and give me high-enough quality sound while freeing me to move around. I get visual confirmation through the lit indicators of both the transmitter and the ES100 that the BT connection is via the AptX HD codec.

If you cannot find a small usb-to-optical converter to function as the D10 did in my setup, then you might consider a high-quality USB dongle DAC like the HiDizs S8 / Tempotec Sonata or a Meizu which both reviewed well here on ASR, and cost about $30. Use it as a USB DAC on your laptop, and use its 3.5mm headphone out as input to the BT transmitter. An overkill option (and more expensive) would be to use a HiDizs AP80 Pro or HiBy R3 Pro as a USB DAC on your laptop, and these DAPs already have AptX HD and even LDAC capability to transmit to your D50s, so you could skip the Giveet BT transmitters I listed above. IIRC the HiBy has two-way BT, you would have to check about the AP80 Pro.

As member "Jimmy" posted above, Bluetooth 5.2 will bring big improvements to audio standards, and hopefully simplify the convoluted signal routing I described in the preceding.
 
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Thread Starter #9
I do not follow what you mean by "... compatible with Bluetooth 2.0 but not to play well BT 3.1. My high-end Windows 10 Pro laptop has only BT 3.1 ..." Do you mean USB instead of Bluetooth and BT? In any case, I believe that Avantree model does not support AptX HD, and I am skeptical it would accept a USB PCM input. Its USB 2.0 port if any is likely for charging only.
...
An overkill option (and more expensive) would be to use a HiDizs AP80 Pro or HiBy R3 Pro as a USB DAC on your laptop, and these DAPs already have AptX HD and even LDAC capability to transmit to your D50s, so you could skip the Giveet BT transmitters I listed above. IIRC the HiBy has two-way BT, you would have to check about the AP80 Pro...
Dear JustAnandaDourEyedDude -- First let me apologize for the stupid mix-up between BT and USB that you call out in the quote above. I just corrected that -- maybe a bad idea since people may now wonder why you were asking about it.

Second, from all I can find out, the Avantree BTDG-60 acts as an external USB sound card and does transmit aptX HD as well as LL, ordinary aptX, FastStream, and SBC. (Their own specs don't mention HD for some reason, but it has an HD or LL priority switch right on it and display lights that will indicate HD.) This unit appeared perfect until I saw an Avantree reply to one or two Amazon reviews, which admits that it can have problems with USB 3.1.

A couple of interesting quotes from manufacturer responses to Amazon reviews:

"The DG60 is an aptx website certified USB Bluetooth audio dongle supporting aptX HD via Bluetooth transmission. However, due to technical limitations, the current Bluetooth chipset unfortunately only supports USB audio data in 16bit instead of 24bit. We are working on a solution to improve the audio quality to 24bit for users like yourself. Once this new solution launches in a few months time, we will provide a free upgrade / exchange to all users with this issue."

"Do you plug DG60 into USB3.0 port on your computer? if so, could you please try to plug it into USB2.0 port, see if it will auto reconnect the last paired device or not?"

Thanks for all your other suggestions; you've evidently already been down this path. Given the Avantree product, it's surprising that others aren't making something similar but more up-to-date. And you are right that, without an optical output on the laptop, my only high-quality option is USB. Since I really wanted something like a dongle that's highly portable with the laptop (long range is not really required), I don't think many of them will work, but the last one (also quoted above) sounds promising.

Failing that, maybe what I really need is a long USB cable directly to the D50s, though I don't know the limitations with HR audio data... -- JClarkW
 
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#10
Second, from all I can find out, the Avantree BTDG-60 acts as an external USB sound card and does transmit aptX HD as well as LL, ordinary aptX, FastStream, and SBC. (Their own specs don't mention HD for some reason, but it has an HD or LL priority switch right on it and display lights that will indicate HD.)
You are right, it does transmit aptX HD as well. I did not see that in the marketing blurbs in the Amazon product description when I looked earlier, and the listed specs for the black in-stock version did not list the capability (I see that the grey unavailable version does list it). I see the bit about the priority switch now that you've pointed it out.

This unit appeared perfect until I saw an Avantree reply to one or two Amazon reviews, which admits that it can have problems with USB 3.1.
A couple of interesting quotes from manufacturer responses to Amazon reviews:
"Do you plug DG60 into USB3.0 port on your computer? if so, could you please try to plug it into USB2.0 port, see if it will auto reconnect the last paired device or not?"
Yes, I have had the USB version issue before. The problem is that Windows can get confused by a USB 3.1 connection and fail to load the USB 2.0 "usb2audio.sys" driver (the name may be not quite right) when an audio app (even its own Windows Media Player) needs it. Audio over USB, at least for PCM, seems to not need bandwidth greater than that provided by USB 2.0, and all audio over USB is done using the usb2audio.sys driver. In one case, I solved the problem (lack of any sound at all) by unplugging from a USB 3.1 port and plugging into a USB 2.0 port on my desktop, which I realize is not an option for you.

In another case, though, I found by accident that switching from a USB 3 cable (rated for 5 Gbps data transfer) to an older USB 2 cable (rated for only 480 Mbps data transfer) solved the problem even with plugging into the same USB 3.1 port. Apparently, there is a chip setting in the newer cable that signals its higher capability to the host. So perhaps a short (6 in or 1 ft) USB 2.0 M-to-F extender cable would do the trick for you in conjunction with the Avantree BTDG-60. Such a cable might exist on Amazon, but they are getting rarer. Even if it did work, it decreases the portability factor a bit, but you could tape the BTDG-60 to your laptop shell or lid to avoid having it dangle. Along the same lines, you might still find on Amazon some short (like less than an inch long) single body USB 2.0 M-to-F extender that might also fool Windows. Some of them are meant to provide a right angle turn, others to enable thicker connectors to be used. I use some small unibody extenders like that to enable a USB C charging cable to plug into a device's micro-USB charging port. Not sure if any of these would indeed fool your Win 10 OS into believing that a USB 2.0 device has been connected to your 3.1 port or TB port, and you would also need to buy the BTDG-60 to find out I guess.

Thanks for all your other suggestions; you've evidently already been down this path. Given the Avantree product, it's surprising that others aren't making something similar but more up-to-date. And you are right that, without an optical output on the laptop, my only high-quality option is USB. Since I really wanted something like a dongle that's highly portable with the laptop (long range is not really required), I don't think many of them will work, but the last one (also quoted above) sounds promising.
This Avantree is a new development, and the first in a new class of BT transmitters - USB dongle with audio (not data) streaming. Glad you posted about it on ASR - I would not have known about it otherwise. I have not looked for new transmitters in over a year, as I find the ones I have meet my needs for now. But the BTDG-60 sounds like an excellent convenient product that would shrink my transmission chain a lot. Hopefully, there will soon be competing USB devices from other manufacturers as well. All the previous BT transmitters seem to have been targeted mainly at users needing to send audio from the optical or RCA audio outputs of their TV to BT headphones to avoid disturbing family members.

The HiBy R3 Pro and HiDizs AP80 Pro suggestions are just speculations on my part. Quite possibly, even likely, when used as a USB DAC, the Bluetooth transmission functionality may be turned off, as the makers probably never envisioned this particular use case as a BT transmitter using a different source than the DAP itself.

Failing that, maybe what I really need is a long USB cable, though I don't know the limitations with HR audio data...
Sounds like you want the laptop to not be weighed down by attached devices, so as to move it around freely while you use it, but you want to connect it to a stationary D50s and rest of stationary audio system, not something you'd take with you to some other place.
 
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Thread Starter #11
...Yes, I have had the USB version issue before. The problem is that Windows can get confused by a USB 3.1 connection and fail to load the USB 2.0 "usb2audio.sys" driver (the name may be not quite right) when an audio app (even its own Windows Media Player) needs it. Audio over USB, at least for PCM, seems to not need bandwidth greater than that provided by USB 2.0, and all audio over USB is done using the usb2audio.sys driver. In one case, I solved the problem (lack of any sound at all) by unplugging from a USB 3.1 port and plugging into a USB 2.0 port on my desktop, which I realize is not an option for you.

In another case, though, I found by accident that switching from a USB 3 cable (rated for 5 Gbps data transfer) to an older USB 2 cable (rated for only 480 Mbps data transfer) solved the problem even with plugging into the same USB 3.1 port. Apparently, there is a chip setting in the newer cable that signals its higher capability to the host. So perhaps a short (6 in or 1 ft) USB 2.0 M-to-F extender cable would do the trick for you in conjunction with the Avantree BTDG-60. Such a cable might exist on Amazon, but they are getting rarer. Even if it did work, it decreases the portability factor a bit, but you could tape the BTDG-60 to your laptop shell or lid to avoid having it dangle. Along the same lines, you might still find on Amazon some short (like less than an inch long) single body USB 2.0 M-to-F extender that might also fool Windows. Some of them are meant to provide a right angle turn, others to enable thicker connectors to be used...

Sounds like you want the laptop to not be weighed down by attached devices, so as to move it around freely while you use it, but you want to connect it to a stationary D50s and rest of stationary audio system, not something you'd take with you to some other place.
Thanks for the valuable tips about USB 3.1 with USB 2.0 cables!

If you do try the Avantree BTDG-60, please let me know how it works out for you.

You are right that the D50s is "tethered" between a Node 2 and my integrated amp. -- JClarkW
 
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#12
Depending upon which PC you have, it may be capable of aptX HD with a different BT driver. PC manufacturers often use the hardware across all or many lines due to savings in economies of scale, but do not include the driver to save licensing costs they have to pay to Qualcomm should they print the trademarked CODEC name.

In my case, I have a Dell Inspiron 15 that does not advertise aptX support, however I installed the BT driver from a higher end Dell laptop that does advertise it, and that enabled aptX HD support. When I connect to an aptX or aptX HD compatible BT receiver, I see a notification telling me which CODEC is in use.

So, there may be a simple and free work-around...
 
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Thread Starter #13
...In my case, I have a Dell Inspiron 15 that does not advertise aptX support, however I installed the BT driver from a higher end Dell laptop that does advertise it, and that enabled aptX HD support. When I connect to an aptX or aptX HD compatible BT receiver, I see a notification telling me which CODEC is in use
...
Thanks, Steve, for the suggestion -- This laptop is a Lenovo P1 Gen2, which is near the top of their Thinkpad line. I suppose other Lenovo models might claim aptX-HD... How do you get the notification of Codec in use? Is that a feature of the driver, because the Topping D50s apparently won't tell me. -- JClarkW
 
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#14
Thanks, Steve, for the suggestion -- This laptop is a Lenovo P1 Gen2, which is near the top of their Thinkpad line. I suppose other Lenovo models might claim aptX-HD... How do you get the notification of Codec in use? Is that a feature of the driver, because the Topping D50s apparently won't tell me. -- JClarkW
The driver notifies me in Windows when it connects to the receiver.
 

Berwhale

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#15
In theory, you can use a Shanling M0 as a USB DAC and Bluetooth transmitter to connect to the D50s (and both support AptX HD and LDAC)...

http://en.shanling.com/article/108

I have both devices, i'll see if I can get them to connect.

*edit* It works. First, you connect the M0 to the D50s via Bluetooth. Then you connect the M0 to our PC. My M0 is set to LDAC(Auto), so I assume this is the codec being used, but I have no way to verify. The M0 reports it's in 48KHz/24bit DAC mode, D50 shows PCM 96Khz. Sounds play fine from Windows, but there is a little bit of a delay, this is not generally an issue for music listening, but may be too much for music production, gaming or watching video.

20200621_175806 (Medium).jpg
 
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Thread Starter #16
In theory, you can use a Shanling M0 as a USB DAC and Bluetooth transmitter to connect to the D50s (and both support AptX HD and LDAC)...

http://en.shanling.com/article/108

I have both devices, i'll see if I can get them to connect.

*edit* It works. First, you connect the M0 to the D50s via Bluetooth. Then you connect the M0 to our PC. My M0 is set to LDAC(Auto), so I assume this is the codec being used, but I have no way to verify. The M0 reports it's in 48KHz/24bit DAC mode, D50 shows PCM 96Khz. Sounds play fine from Windows, but there is a little bit of a delay, this is not generally an issue for music listening, but may be too much for music production, gaming or watching video.
Berwhale -- Thanks very much for checking this out! It isn't even very expensive, and it will serve another function of replacing the laptop's internal DAC for my wired speakers or phones. Maybe this is the way to go... -- JClarkW
 

Berwhale

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Berwhale -- Thanks very much for checking this out! It isn't even very expensive, and it will serve another function of replacing the laptop's internal DAC for my wired speakers or phones. Maybe this is the way to go... -- JClarkW
Yepp, the M0 is a reasonable and tiny DAP and DAC in it's own right. For your use case, you have the added bonus of being able to stream directly from a microSD card in the M0 without the laptop being in the loop at all.

I had a quick look at the non-DAP devices from Shanling and Fiio (UP2/4, BTR3/5, etc.) to see if there was a cheaper way than using an M0. Unfortunately, none of them seem to offer Bluetooth transmission. I guess this makes sense as they are not designed to be music sources.
 
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Thread Starter #18
In theory, you can use a Shanling M0 as a USB DAC and Bluetooth transmitter to connect to the D50s (and both support AptX HD and LDAC)...

http://en.shanling.com/article/108
...
Berwhale -- I looked at the article and more generally at the Shanling site, but I can't find anything about aptX-HD, just the very cryptic statement you linked to:

"2. Added new ways of connectivity for Bluetooth and USB:
- Bluetooth USB Transport
- USB Bluetooth transmitter
For new functions 1 and 2, more information can be found in separate PDF file, included alongside firmware."

The PDF file referred to doesn't add anything to this. Where did you find the Bluetooth specs? -- JClarkW
 

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#19
You are correct, I just assumed it supported AptX-HD, but it doesn't. The options are LDAC-HQ, LDAC-Normal, LDAC Auto, AptX, AAC and SBC. I have always used LDAC Auto - LDAC HQ offered no audible benefit to me and the connection was definitely more fragile than Normal or Auto.

Do you have a particular need for AptX-HD? In theory, LDAC is superior, in practice it probably makes little difference.
 

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One other thing I should mention that may be of interest... My DAC and Amp sit under a glass monitor shelf with only a few mm of clearance (see previous pic in this thread). This means that I can't use the D50s stock Bluetooth antenna without obstructing sockets on the back. So i've removed the stock antenna and I am using an external one instead. The antenna I am using is the sort that come with some motherboards, I guess any 2.4Ghz antenna would work just as well.
 
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