How to improve Bluetooth audio on Mac

Bluetooth audio on Mac has always been finicky, as macOS always uses a standard audio codec for all kinds of headphones. This can make the audio sound bad on Bluetooth headphones. Most headphones come with support for advanced audio codecs such as AAC and aptX. However, they will end up using the SBC codec when connected to a Mac.

We’re not sure why this happens, but some headphones do switch to AAC codec with modern Macs. In this post, we’re going to show you how you can force macOS to use AAC or aptX codecs with supported Bluetooth headphones. This will ensure that you get the best Bluetooth audio on Mac.

Also see: Experiencing Bluetooth problems on your Mac? Try this

How to enable aptX and AAC codec on Mac?

Both AAC and aptX codecs are available on macOS, but may not be enabled by default. There are two ways to force-enable these codecs on macOS. You can either download the Bluetooth Explorer app to make the changes, or you can use a set of simple Terminal commands.

Use Bluetooth Explorer

This method works with all macOS versions, except for the latest version Big Sur. Here’s how to enable aptX or AAC on Mac using Bluetooth Explorer app.

1) First, you’ll need to download the Additional Tools for Xcode 11.4 from Apple’s Developer Downloads website.

2) Double click on the .dmg file to open its contents. Look for Bluetooth Explorer in the Hardware folder.

3) Move Bluetooth Explorer to Applications folder on your Mac.

4) Launch the app and then click on Tools in the Menu bar.

5) Select Audio Options.

Bluetooth explorer Audio Options

6) Check the boxes that say Force use of aptX and Enable AAC. Click Close.

force use aptx Bluetooth Explorer

To check if this has worked, toggle Bluetooth off and on on your Mac, connect your Bluetooth headphones, and start playing a song. Now, in Bluetooth Explorer, click on Tools in the Menu Bar and select Audio Graph. Check the bottom of the graph to check what codec is being used. If your headphones support aptX, then you should see that macOS is now using the aptX codec.

Use Terminal

If the above method doesn’t work, then you can simply input the following commands in Terminal to enable aptX and AAC on Mac.

1) Launch Terminal on Mac.

2) To enable aptX, type in the following command:

sudo defaults write bluetoothaudiod "Enable AptX codec" -bool true

3) To enable AAC, type the following:

sudo defaults write bluetoothaudiod "Enable AAC codec" -bool true

4) To verify that the changes have been made, enter the following command in Terminal:

sudo defaults read bluetoothaudiod
enable AAC_aptX Terminal

You should see that the aptX and AAC codec values are now 1. Once again, toggle Bluetooth off and on, and connect your headphones. You can check the codec being used via Bluetooth Explorer’s Audio Graph when playing an audio track.

Wrapping up

Using the right codec on Bluetooth headphones will not only improve the audio quality, but it will also reduce lag. It’s easy to enable the aptX and AAC codecs on your Mac, and you can use either methods on most versions of macOS. We’ve even tested this on the latest macOS Big Sur and M1 Macs. We hope you were able to improve Bluetooth audio on Mac with this tutorial.