Bluetooth SIG Announces New Bluetooth Standard For Audio

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group said the new standard is called LE (Low Energy) Audio and is designed to enhance the Bluetooth audio experience. It is a separate standard from Bluetooth 5.0 and includes a Broadcast Audio feature.

In 2019, professional audio manufacturers claimed their latest Bluetooth gear met professional standards. This included headphones for professional audio monitoring.

While attention has been focused on Bluetooth 5, LE Audio is a new and separate standard designed only for audio. LE Audio uses a new high-quality, but low-power audio codec called Low Complexity Communications Codec (LC3), the Bluetooth SIG said. The new codec is designed to improve performance and reduce power consumption.

One new feature of LE Audio is Broadcast Audio, which is essentially universal audio sharing. This will allow for a device to broadcast multiple audio streams to different Bluetooth devices, such as headphones and earbuds. For instance, in a studio it could be used for a wireless headphones or allow one iPhone to transmit audio to three different pairs of earbuds.

The Bluetooth LE Audio standard creates a universal system for audio, expanding to a wide range of headphones and devices. Apple, a member of the Bluetooth SIG, has already enabled its own audio standard for earphones.

The Bluetooth SIG said that location-based audio sharing also means places such as “airports, bars, gyms, cinemas and conference centers” can offer shared Bluetooth audio features that “augment the visitor experience.”

Building on its low power and multi-stream capabilities, LE Audio adds support for hearing aids. The standard will enable the development of Bluetooth hearing aids that bring all the benefits of Bluetooth audio to the growing number of people with hearing loss.

LE Audio will enable the transmission of multiple audio streams. The Bluetooth SIG says that developers can use this multi-stream feature to improve performance of wireless earbuds and make it easier to switch between multiple paired devices.

The Bluetooth specifications that define LE Audio are expected to be released throughout the first half of 2020, the Bluetooth SIG said. 

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