Bluetooth SIG introduces LE Audio with a new LC3 codec and support for Multi-Stream Audio, Hearing Aids, and Audio Sharing

Bluetooth SIG introduces LE Audio with a new LC3 codec and support for Multi-Stream Audio, Hearing Aids, and Audio Sharing

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At the ongoing CES 2020 trade show, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has announced a few new capabilities for the wireless technology. These new features will be rolled out with supported devices later this year under the LE Audio moniker and will enhance audio performance over Bluetooth, add support for hearing aids, and enable multi-stream audio and audio sharing.

Audio transmission over Bluetooth will soon support two operation modes — LE Audio will operate on the Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) radio, while the Classic Audio will operate on the Bluetooth Classic radio (BR/EDR). As the name suggests, Bluetooth LE Audio will allow devices to transmit sound across the low-energy spectrum. However, it will make use of a new compression algorithm, called the Low Complexity Communication Codec (LC3), that will maintain the same high audio quality that you get from Bluetooth at the moment. Thanks to this, manufacturers will be able to develop devices that offer nearly twice the current playtime without sacrificing on the audio quality.

In a statement regarding the new codec, Manfred Lutzky, Head of Audio for Communications at Franhofter IIS, was quoted saying, “Extensive listening tests have shown than LC3 will provide improvements in audio quality over the SBC codec included with Classic Audio, even at a 50% lower bit rate. Developers will be able to leverage these power savings to create products that can provide longer battery life or, in cases where current battery life is enough, reduce the form factor by using a smaller battery.” Along with the new codec, Bluetooth LE Audio will allow users to transmit multiple independent, synchronized audio streams between an audio source and one or more audio sink devices. The updated tech also includes support for hearing aids, which is expected to promote Bluetooth hearing aids that bring all the benefits of Bluetooth audio for people with hearing impairment.

On top of all that, LE Audio will also add broadcasting support to Bluetooth devices which will allow users to broadcast one or more streams to an unlimited number of audio sink devices. Thanks to this feature, users will soon be able to share their music with others by connecting multiple Bluetooth earphones with the same device. The report further adds that Bluetooth Audio Sharing can both be personal or location-based, with users getting the option to share their audio with others around them or share the audio at public venues. However, all of these new features are well into the future as the Bluetooth SIG has revealed no specific date for the launch of supported devices. The report just states that Bluetooth specifications that define LE Audio are expected to be released throughout the first half of 2020, with no word on the launch of supported devices. For more information on Bluetooth LE Audio, you can follow the source linked below.


Source 1: BLE Audio Page
Source 2: Bluetooth SIG Press Release