I recently bought the ToothFairy App and noticed that it has an option to enforce the AAC codec. The difference in sound quality is remarkable.

How can I tell which is being used between iOS and AirPods?

  • I've edited this to be how to tell. Please go ahead and ask a different question for how to force things and any other related, but different questions. – bmike Dec 12 '19 at 16:04
  • Wikipedia pages of iTunes, Apple Music, AirPods and popular codecs can be worth checking. – anki Dec 12 '19 at 16:11
  • @ankii Thanks. I didn’t find anything relevant so far. As described in the article, I wouldn’t be surprised if iOS changes the coding during playback depending on whether the microphone is being used or not. – n1000 Dec 12 '19 at 16:15

You can't tell which codec is used on iOS, but AirPods use SBC or AAC. On macOS, you can check which one is in use by going to the Bluetooth menu, clicking on your Airpods with the "Alt" key pressed.

Bluetooth menu screenshot

  • What was the codec used in the source material when you checked this? I remember back when AirPlay was AirTunes (on the Airport Express router) Apple simplified things by decoding sound at the source, recompressing it losslessly using ALAC (Apple's version of FLAC), and shipping THAT to the Airport Express. That way no matter what the source, the AE only ever had to deal with ALAC. I haven't been able to pin it down, but I think AirPods do AAC and ALAC. – God of Biscuits Feb 28 '20 at 4:21

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