The new Bluetooth LE Audio standard includes the LC3 audio codec, which is more efficient than the current SBC codec. It also brings the new Auracast streaming feature to easily connect multiple devices to the same audio source.

It’s been two years since the initial announcement, but the Bluetooth LE Audio specifications are finally complete. This has just been announced by the Bluetooth SIG (Special Interest Group), which is responsible for standardizing the standard. The aim of this advancement is to improve the sound quality, save energy and share the connection more easily. Bluetooth LE Audio uses the core of the standard updated in version 5.2.

The two-year delay is largely due to the pandemic, but the Bluetooth SIG hopes the first products will be available before the end of the year. For example, Marshall has indicated that its latest home speakers can benefit with a simple firmware update.

A more powerful audio codec

The first element of Bluetooth LE Audio is the new audio codec LC3 (Low Complexity Communications Codec), more efficient than the aging SBC codec. This is generally neglected in favor of AAC or aptX, which are more efficient. According to initial tests, the LC3 codec offers significantly better sound quality than the SBC at the same bit rate. The advantage of the LC3, however, is that it offers the same sound quality as the SBC at half the bit rate, which means half the power consumption. This significantly increases the autonomy of the devices. We will therefore have to distinguish between classic Bluetooth audio and Bluetooth LE audio, even if the two technologies can coexist. The new standard will also improve the connection of true wireless headphones. This is because each earbud has its own independent Bluetooth connection to the source device. The broadcaster can send multiple synchronized audio streams, the maximum number of which depends on the desired audio quality.

A new feature for Bluetooth audio transmission

The other aspect of Bluetooth LE Audio is the ability to connect multiple audio devices to the same source (broadcast). This new feature is called Auracast. It will be possible to search for a source as we can currently search for a Wi-Fi network.The standard also provides for a connection via NFC or using a QR code.

Auracast broadcast
(c) Bluetooth SIG

In the example above, airport announcements, Taylor’s laptop or Amir’s phone can be selected as the audio source. In addition, each receiver can control the volume independently. This function can therefore be used in public places, but also to share music from the same source (smartphone, tablet, computer, TV, etc.).

Finally, Bluetooth LE Audio enables the development of a new category of Bluetooth hearing aids that use less energy and can therefore be even smaller and more discreet than existing models.

On paper, the Bluetooth LE Audio standard is very promising, but we have to wait for the arrival of products that can use it both in transmission (smartphone, tablet, laptop) and in reception (headphones, headphones, speakers), to see if those promises are kept.

Source :

Bluetooth GIS

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