Prudence Pitch

14:14 15/01/2020 |

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The Bluetooth group announce LE Audio to improve the performance of wireless listening accessories

(Tech) It’s worth mentioning up front that LE Audio will coexist with “Classic Audio”, the regular and enhanced data rate Bluetooth radio mode that is currently used in billions of devices worldwide. Developers will be able to choose between modes as appropriate to support their devices, including ones that rely upon the new standard to achieve smaller form factors than before.



Perhaps the most significant component of LE Audio is LC3, a new low-complexity communication codec that promises to outperform classic Bluetooth audio at lower bitrates. Whereas the older sub-band codec (SBC) compressed a 1.5MBps, 48KHz stream to 345Kbps, the Bluetooth SIG says, LC3 can compress the same 1.5Mbps data into perceptibly better-sounding audio at only 192Kbps.

The Bluetooth SIG is also catching up with the independent engineering efforts of some of its member companies by adding support for multi-stream audio, enabling the synchronized broadcast of multiple independent audio streams from one source device to one or more receivers, including separate left and right earbuds. Multi-stream audio, it says, will improve the quality of stereo imaging, which depends on ultra low latency to sound correct but may have previously suffered from lag when separate left and right earbuds or speakers had to communicate with each other.

A feature called Broadcast Audio will allow a single source device to share its audio streams to an unlimited number of receivers. This will enable Bluetooth-based audio sharing that can be closed and kept personal with a passcode or open and location-based, with a theater or gym sending audio to multiple listeners. A new pairing experience will be included to support Broadcast Audio.

LE Audio’s rollout process will begin with the release of updated specifications throughout the first half of this year and continue with shipment of new LE Audio-capable products thereafter. Since nearly 4 billion Bluetooth products ship each year, roughly one-quarter of which are audio accessories, it’s likely that the new standard will see at least some support by the end of 2020; venues supporting the Broadcast Audio feature are expected to debut over the next several years.


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