HARBETH: User group ….. Is Bluetooth technology actually good enough for audio?

In discussion at Hamburg with a real expert (at chip level) on Bluetooth, I am now very suspicious about the high fidelity audio potential of Bluetooth. It would seem that the data rate is so low that by the standards we would all recognise as comfortable for truly high fidelity sound (say, CD Redbook 16 bit 44k) it falls far below that capability. This subject was brought up by me because I'm suspicious that there do not seem to me the usual overblown claims from the usual quarters about marvellous breakthroughs in Bluetooth implementation which have created a truly hifi sound capability from, what it would apprear are, a very limited number of IC vendors, with complex licensing arrangements.

User convenience is of course an entirely different matter, as is the need to have total compatibility with existing Bluetooth devices. HiFi sound was never conceived as a function in the Bluetooth spec: the consumer audio market has changed to embrace Bluetooth which it would not have done so years ago.

Does anyone know what the Bluetooth TX/RX bitrate is? For comparison, we can multiply for ourselves the CD data rate (round numbers): 44,000 (samples) x 2 (channels) x 16 (bit) = 1.4 mega bits per second for Redbook audio. Luxury indeed. If the Bluetooth data rate is below that, then factually the audio standard will be below that of CD, and how far below will be related somehow to the restriction of data representing the audio signal.

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