What is Bluetooth LE Audio and what’s in it for you?

wireless earbuds

Many people use Bluetooth on their smartphones to send files and link external devices, such as speakers and smartwatches. Bluetooth LE Audio is a new Bluetooth variant that we will hear more about in the future. But what is it and what will it do later?

The most important thing to know about Bluetooth LE Audio is that there is an improvement in the audio field. This is especially an improvement for anyone who ever uses wireless headphones. Bluetooth SIG, the non-profit organization behind the standard, claims that there is an audio quality improvement of fifty percent. For this purpose, a new codec is used, namely Low Complexity Communications Codec (also known as LC3).

This codec is able to pack and send data more efficiently over a wireless connection. Nobody also loses out with Bluetooth LE Audio, compared to the normal Bluetooth. No new frequency is used, it consumes the same amount of data and no extra energy is needed.

That Bluetooth logo says nothing about the final sound quality you get; it can be pretty lousy with mismatched codecs!

Bluetooth LE Audio: more improvements

Using a technique called Bluetooth SIG Multi-Stream Audio for Better Earbuds, Bluetooth LE Audio is able to connect a smartphone or other smart device to multiple earplugs. That means that both your wireless earplugs will soon be paired with your phone. Not just one, while the other takes over the connection (which sometimes causes problems).

In addition, there is Broadcast Audio for Audio Sharing. This allows a source device – such as your smartphone – to broadcast something to an unlimited number of devices. For example, with a large group of friends you can all listen to the same music or podcast on the train, for example.

But museums can also take advantage of this, for example, by offering audio tours to a group of people via one device. Or how about a silent disco where you can bring your own headphones? Airports could send messages via Bluetooth. And so there are many more possibilities with Bluetooth LE Audio.

Furthermore, we may soon encounter hearing aids with Bluetooth LE Audio. Not only do those devices help with listening, you could also call them.

The specifications for Bluetooth LE Audio are not yet complete and are expected in the second quarter of 2020. If the upgrade is available soon, you still need the right hardware to take advantage of it. Unfortunately, existing hardware, such as headphones, does not have to count on a software upgrade, you will probably have to buy a new one.


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