Since macOS still uses a single audio codec for all types of headphones, Bluetooth audio on Mac has always been finicky. On Bluetooth headphones, this can make the audio sound poor. The majority of headphones support advanced audio codecs such as AAC and aptX. When attached to a Mac, however, they can use the SBC codec.
We're not sure why, but with modern Macs, some headphones switch to the AAC codec. We'll show you how to force macOS to use AAC or aptX codecs with supported Bluetooth headphones in this post. This will ensure that your Bluetooth audio on Mac is of the highest quality.
Enabling AAC Codec & aptX on Mac
On macOS, the AAC and aptX codecs are both eligible, but they may not be supported by default. On macOS, there are two ways to force-enable these codecs. To make the changes, you can either use the Bluetooth Explorer software or a series of basic Terminal commands.
Using Bluetooth Explorer
Except for the most recent edition, Big Sur, this method works for all macOS models. Using the Bluetooth Explorer app, you can allow aptX or AAC on your Mac.
- To begin, go to Apple's Developer Downloads website and download the Additional Tools for Xcode 11.4 package.
- To open the contents of the.dmg file, double-click it. In the Hardware folder, look for Bluetooth Explorer.
- On your Mac, drag Bluetooth Explorer to the Applications section.
- After launching the app, go to the Menu bar and choose Tools.
- Choose from a variety of audio options.
- Check the boxes that say Allow AAC and Force use of aptX.
- Close the window.
To see if it worked, turn Bluetooth on and off on your Mac, then add your Bluetooth headphones and play a song. Now, in Bluetooth Explorer, go to the Menu Bar and choose Tools, then Audio Graph. To detect what codec is being used, look at the bottom of the graph. If your headphones support aptX, you'll notice that macOS has switched to the aptX codec.
If the above method does not function, type the following commands into Terminal to allow aptX and AAC on your Mac.
- Open Terminal on your Mac.
- Type the launching command to activate aptX.
- Type the following command to activate AAC:
- In Terminal, run the following command to check that the changes were made.
The aptX and AAC codec values should now be present. Toggle Bluetooth off and on again, then attach your headphones. When playing an audio file, use Bluetooth Explorer's Audio Graph to see what codec is being used.
Using the appropriate codec on Bluetooth headphones would increase audio quality while also reducing latency. The aptX and AAC codecs are simple to allow on your Mac, and you can use either tool on most versions of macOS. We've also put it to the test on Macs running macOS Big Sur and M1. With this tutorial, we hope you were able to boost Bluetooth audio on your Mac.