Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), the industry group that creates the Bluetooth wireless standard, on Tuesday announced the completion of its latest specification: Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) audio. Like Bluetooth LE, Bluetooth LE Audio focuses more on power efficiency than the classic version of Bluetooth. It seeks to provide better audio quality than standard Bluetooth and introduces new features.
With today’s announcement, it’s time to take a look at Bluetooth LE audio and what this means for the tech gadgets of the future.
bluetooth LE audio release date
There are no Bluetooth LE Audio products available yet, and release dates are difficult to ascertain as they are based on different vendors. However, in its announcement, Bluetooth SIG said that the first consumer offerings “are expected to hit the market in the coming months, and Bluetooth SIG expects LE Audio product availability to increase as we approach the holiday season and the end of the year.” reach.”
Bluetooth SIG today announced the full set of specifications for Bluetooth LE Audio. This is great news because when it first announced Bluetooth LE Audio in January 2020, the expected spec release date was in the first half of 2020. Apparently, Bluetooth LE Audio was “the largest specification development project in the history of Bluetooth SIG”. According to a statement from Mark Powell, CEO of Bluetooth SIG.
The industry group also said today that companies may qualify to add Bluetooth LE audio support to their products.
Why Bluetooth LE Audio?
Today’s Bluetooth devices either use a form of standard Bluetooth, such as Bluetooth 5.2, also known as Bluetooth Classic, or Bluetooth LE, which prioritizes power efficiency. Bluetooth Classic, however, has been more attractive for audio devices like wireless headphones over Bluetooth LE. This is because standard Bluetooth can reach higher throughput by more frequent continuous radio use, as explained by Nordic Semiconductor, a Bluetooth SIG member whose products include the Bluetooth LE Audio SDK. Bluetooth LE, in contrast, uses its radio for the shortest possible time in order to save power.
Bluetooth LE audio standardizes the way audio is transmitted over Bluetooth LE by using a new block-based transform codec called the Low Complexity Communication Codec (LC3). The codec delivers better audio quality than the Bluetooth Classic’s sub-band codec (SBC), while continuing the power-efficiency focus of Bluetooth LE.
For example, Bluetooth SIG states that while Bluetooth Classic’s SBC codec will typically encode a 1.5 Mbps audio stream to a 345 Kbps (0.345 Mbps) stream, Bluetooth LE audio can compress the same stream at 160 Kbps (0.160 Mbps). And boasts of better audio. Quality than bluetooth classic.
As explained by audio publication SoundGuys, the SBC codec ranges from 345-240 kbps. The bar graph below compares the perceived loss – from very annoying (1.0) to imperceptible (5.0), as defined in BS.1116-3 of the ITU-R. [PDF]—for SBC and newer LC3 codecs.
You can see the Bluetooth SIG’s claims via the bar graph below, which claims that the Bluetooth LE Audio delivers audio quality that’s considered to be better than the Bluetooth Classic at the same or even lower data rates.
You can also hear the Bluetooth SIG’s perceived difference in audio codec performance.
When Bluetooth SIG first announced Bluetooth LE Audio, it said it expected the introduction of LE Audio products to support Bluetooth Classic to ensure backwards compatibility with devices lacking LE Audio.