The presence of a large number of wireless headphones and the absence of the traditional headphone jack on most new devices has changed the way people listen to music, in the last couple of years. Bluetooth-powered wireless audio products have flooded the market. Now, things are about to get even better with a new version of Bluetooth, aimed towards making wireless audio even better. LE (low energy) Audio will be baked in Bluetooth to add a bunch of new features for wireless audio streaming.

At CES 2020, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) announced what it calls the next generation of Bluetooth audio, LE Audio. The new standard will enhance overall audio performance over a Bluetooth connection, add support for more hearing aids, and add new useful features.

While Bluetooth has had a low-energy mode since 2012, wireless audio devices with higher power needs always ended up using more bandwidth. With a low-energy mode for audio, wireless audio devices will end up consuming lesser battery while being capable of doing a lot more. LE Audio will allow wireless audio transmission over the low-energy spectrum using a new compression algorithm.

LE Audio will still maintain high-quality audio output while transmitting audio over the low-energy spectrum. New devices built using the upcoming Bluetooth standard will be able to double their existing playtime. Devices could also end up getting more compact over the year as battery sizes can be reduced due to performance gains.

The new standard will also include multi-stream audio support. Right now, truly wireless earbuds use a single-stream connection which can cause performance issues. With LE Audio, truly wireless earbuds and other audio sink devices will be able to offer a better stereo imaging experience. Switching between multiple audio sources is also promised to get better.

LE Audio will enable Broadcast Audio, letting users broadcast audio to one or more devices at the same time. ‘Bluetooth Audio Sharing’ can be personal or location-based, letting people share audio with those around them and large public locations can also broadcast audio to a large number of users to improve their visitor experience. LE Audio will also add support for hearing aids. Manufacturers will be able to build Bluetooth-powered hearing aids that can make lives easier for those suffering from hearing loss.

Bluetooth SIG says specifications for LE Audio will be released in the first half of 2020.


Will OnePlus Concept One be the most exciting announcement from CES 2020? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.

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