Hardware Mac Software

How do I improve Bluetooth speaker sound quality on my Mac?

improve Bluetooth speaker sound quality
Mac music: get the best Bluetooth audio quality

I’ve been using a set of Creative T30 speakers for my MacBook, connected over Bluetooth, for a couple of years now. They sound great and support aptX codec, which delivers improved audio quality over a Bluetooth connection.

The aptX standard requires the connecting device to support it too. The iPhone doesn’t but, until recently, I didn’t realise that the MacBook did. Which is great, as that means the speakers will be connected automatically via aptX, right? Sadly not. And there are some hoops to jump through to change this.

Follow the steps below to improve Bluetooth speaker sound quality on your Mac.

How to check which codec is being used

Whether speakers or headphones, its quite easy to check which codec is being used on your MacBook:

  • Hold down the “option” key and click on the Bluetooth icon in your taskbar, followed by the device in question

  • The menu that appears should state “Active Codec”, followed by the name of the codec in use

  • If the default codec is in use, this will state “SBC”. This was the case for my speakers. The MacBook also supports aptX and AAC

How to improve Bluetooth speaker sound quality

Now we come to the tricky bit of using the aptX codec on your Mac. By default, the MacBook doesn’t have the option to do this but, via an Apple utility named Bluetooth Explorer, it can be achieved.

Downloading and installing Bluetooth Explorer

  • You’ll need to download Additional Tools for Xcode, which can be found here, and this will contain Apple’s Bluetooth Explorer utility. Downloading will require a free Apple Developer account, if you don’t already have one

  • Once downloaded, open the downloaded file

  • Open the Hardware folder

  • Drag the Bluetooth Explorer program to your Applications folder

Using Bluetooth Explorer

  • Open Bluetooth Explorer from your applications list

  • The Bluetooth icon will appear in the dock but you won’t see a window. However, you should see the toolbar changes to show “Bluetooth Explorer” in the top left

  • In the toolbar, click on Tools and then Audio Options

  • The following window should appear:
  • You can now tick “Force use of aptX” and “Enable AAC” (if appropriate)

  • Restart the Bluetooth connection to your audio device or reboot your Mac to update the codec

Now read this: How do I record my Mac screen?

About the author

David Artiss

Works for Automattic Inc., the company behind WordPress.com and Tumblr. Tech geek, international speaker and occasional PC Pro podcaster. Lover of Lego and video games.

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