Until now, all Bluetooth audio used Bluetooth Classic since the Bluetooth 2.0 and 3.0 days. Bluetooth 4.0 introduced Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) over a decade ago, but since its release there have been no official solutions for audio over BLE. All that changed today with the release of Bluetooth Low Energy Audio (LE Audio) and the new LC3 codec.
First announced in 2020, the LE Audio specification is now complete. After a significant delay due to the pandemic, today’s finalization of the specification means that manufacturers can now start adding support for the standard to their devices and that the first compatible products should begin to be available before the end of the year. it says Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG).
Improvements between Bluetooth Classic and LE Audio
As the names suggest, Classic Audio works with the Bluetooth Classic radio, while LE Audio works with the Bluetooth Low Energy radio. LE Audio will not only support the development of the same audio products and uses as Classic, but will also introduce exciting new features that promise to improve its performance and enable the creation of new products and use cases.
LE Audio will improve Bluetooth audio performance, add support for hearing aids and introduce the Auracast streaming service , an innovative new way of using Bluetooth with the potential to once again change the way we experience audio and connect with the world. world around us.
The expected arrival of Auracast will allow multiple audio devices to be connected to a single source . For example, it will be a reality to pair two pairs of headphones with a single phone, or to pair multiple headphones with a single TV located in a public space such as a gym.
LE Audio 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 be one of the most significant advances for users of hearing aids and hearing implants. Engineers from the European Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (EHIMA) have contributed their specialist knowledge to enhance the audio experience, especially for the hearing impaired.
As a result, within a few years, most new phones and televisions will be equally accessible to users with hearing loss.
New LC3 codec
LE Audio will include a new high-quality, low-power audio codec, the Low Complexity Communications Codec (LC3). By providing high quality even at low data rates, LC3 will give developers great flexibility, allowing them to make better design trade-offs between key product attributes such as audio quality and power consumption.
Developers will be able to take advantage of these power savings to create products that can provide longer battery life or, in cases where current battery life is sufficient, reduce the form factor by using a smaller battery. LC3 means much higher audio quality at the same bitrate as the previously available SBC codec and even slightly better audio quality at less than half the bitrate.