Bluetooth LE Audio Promises Seamless Audio Sharing

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) announced earlier this week that it had finalized the specifications for LE Audio, the next generation of Bluetooth coming later this year. Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) Audio is set to address many of the wireless technology’s shortcomings, including power usage and audio sharing.

Bluetooth has become pretty much ubiquitous these days, but it’s generally a technology most users love to hate. Pairing and latency issues are just the tip of the iceberg, though a company like Apple went as far as creating its own SoCs to improve that. Not being able to seamlessly share your audio with other people has been another source of frustration, though Bluetooth LE’s Auracast capability should finally change that.

“LE Audio adds Auracast broadcast audio, a new capability that will enable an audio source transmitter (e.g., a smartphone) to broadcast one or more audio streams to an unlimited number of audio receivers (e.g., earbuds, speakers, hearing aids, etc.),” the Bluetooth SIG explained. In practice, this means being able to share your audio to multiple Bluetooth-enabled devices at the same time. However, the Bluetooth SIG already imagines how this Auracast technology is going to “unmute” the public space.

The possible public use cases for this Auracast technology go from the useful (listening to boarding announcements in airports) to the potentially intrusive. “In public places, Auracast broadcast audio could unmute screens that were previously silent, allowing interested watchers to easily join the television’s audio broadcast using their personal Bluetooth devices without disturbing others,” explained Jim Liao, Marketing Director of Realtek Semiconductor Corp.

In addition to Auracast broadcast audio, Bluetooth LE will also provide higher audio quality while using less power thanks to a new LC3 codec. This will also allow manufacturers to create smaller hearing aids and other audio peripherals that are less intrusive, but existing form factors could also get better audio quality and battery life.

If the first Bluetooth LE products are expected to ship later this year, the Bluetooth SIG hinted that there’s probably going to be some fragmentation between “LE Audio” and “Classic Audio” products. “Support for Classic Audio will not be mandatory for LE Audio devices. It will be up to product developers to decide which versions of Bluetooth audio their solution supports,” the organization explained in a separate FAQ.

If you’re wondering if your current Bluetooth headphones could get support for Bluetooth LE, the Bluetooth SIG explained that “existing Classic Audio products could be compatible with LE Audio source products.” However, manufacturers will likely find it better if you purchase a new product that supports LE Audio out of the box.

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Conversation 7 comments

  • madthinus

    Premium Member
    15 July, 2022 - 4:18 pm

    <p>Has Bluetooth ever delivered anything seamless other than frustration?</p>

    • Laurent Giret

      Premium Member
      15 July, 2022 - 4:22 pm

      <p>Lol. I’d say that Apple "fixed" Bluetooth with its AirPods, I don’t remember ever having pairing issues etc. </p>

    • wright_is

      Premium Member
      16 July, 2022 - 1:00 am

      <p>I switched to BT headphones about 6 years ago, on my Windows Phone and my Nexus 6. I still had wired headphones, but I rarely used them. The biggest problem was, I’d keep ripping them out of my ears, as they got tangled up in the dog’s lead. </p><p><br></p><p>I had some problems with my car’s BT audio, but a free update from the manufacturer sorted that out. I don’t think I’ve used a wired headset on my phone for over 4 years now. </p><p><br></p><p>I will say, I switched from Samsung Galaxy Buds+ to Apple AirPods Pro this year and the quality difference, in the delivered audio is incredible. The AP Pros provide a much richer and fuller sound, I was hearing details I’ve never heard in music that I’ve listened to thousands of times over the decades on Hi-Fi, Walkman, CD Walkman, computer speakers, high quality headphones (400€ Sony’s). It rekindled an interest in music – and that is before we talk about the 3D stuff, which I thought was a gimmick, but actually works surprisingly well.</p>

  • Jim Lewis

    15 July, 2022 - 5:52 pm

    <p>For those of us that are older and have hearing deficits, BT LE Audio promises to bring big improvements in the functionality of hearing aids such as increasing their battery runtime because of greater streaming energy efficiency, as Laurent noted. Also, if hearing aid OEMs truly bought into the new standard, hearing aids should work with any third-party auxiliary device whereas right now part of the hearing aid racket is that useful devices like remote microphones or TV streamers require the purchase of an expensive proprietary auxiliary device from the same OEM that you bought your hearing aids from.</p>

  • JH_Radio

    Premium Member
    15 July, 2022 - 9:08 pm

    <p>Traveling recently I’m very grateful for the American app on my phone. but I think the phone gets t the information after it is anounced, so there’s a delay.</p><p>This would be very useful in airports for me with a siveer to profound loss that can’t otherwise understand anything being said in airports.</p><p>I wish aids would support qualcomm snapdragon sound, so i could get lossless BT. but then they’d also need to have better frequency response too.</p><p>John</p><p><br></p>

  • Daekar

    15 July, 2022 - 10:21 pm

    <p>I like the idea of being able to broadcast to multiple speakers without having to juggle the weird multipairing limits. Better battery life is always welcome too. I assume that this will really work best when all devices support the new system, so it will be years before enough of my devices die for it to really be a thing in our house. </p>

  • VMax

    Premium Member
    16 July, 2022 - 5:00 am

    <p>&gt; <span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">The possible public use cases for this Auracast technology go from the useful (listening to boarding announcements in airports) to the potentially intrusive. “In public places, Auracast broadcast audio could unmute screens that were previously silent, allowing interested watchers to easily join the television’s audio broadcast using their personal Bluetooth devices without disturbing others,”</span></p><p><br></p><p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">I don’t think this person is saying it would literally unmute a screen, but that multiple people who *wanted* the audio could get it via headphones, while everyone else wouldn’t have to be bothered. I wouldn’t consider that intrusive.</span></p>

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