Le Audio

What is LE Audio and Its Role In Modern Bluetooth Speakers

LE Audio (Low-Energy Audio) is a protocol that efficiently transmits high-quality audio. Using a Bluetooth codec called LC3, it reduces the buckshot approach of traditional Bluetooth signals that would be sent out to a reasonably broad area with little targetted specificity. In LE Audio, the connection is more efficient, allowing for high-quality audio transfer without using the same amount of power that historic Bluetooth protocols require.

LE Audio Summarized

  • Uses a targetted isochronous channel approach
  • Sends data more efficiently in precise packets
  • Uses LC3 to compress audio efficiently while retaining high-quality
  • Allows multiple devices to receive the same audio via Auracast
  • Low-latency audio

We’re still in the infancy of LE Audio, and even though we’ve begun to see the technology introduced into flagship speakers, the next five years are likely to see remarkable progress on the low-energy audio front. Because of increased efficiency, we will see manufacturers able to choose whether to focus on reducing their speaker size or increasing their battery life.

With the improved efficiency comes the ability to harness more playtime from a single battery charge. This is an advancement we’ve already seen put into practice, with several of JBL’s next-generation announcements boasting marked improvements to battery life while retaining a similar design. Where size is more critical, a manufacturer could opt to decrease the battery size to make the speaker more compact.

Real World Applications

LE Audio’s advent has broad implications beyond simply listening to music, opening up exciting new potential for hearing aid development. This is owed largely to both the efficiency and the low latency. IR and RF have remained popular for hearing devices due to the historical limitations of Bluetooth latency; this is particularly true for wireless TV speakers. Still, with LE Audio, the latency can range between 10ms and 30ms, making it viable for video audio without sync issues.

Similarly, LE Audio will likely result in more Bluetooth devices for gamers. The challenge, similar to that with wireless TV speakers, has been the sync issues between visual and audio that came from latency limitations.

The latest wireless soundbars have already implemented LE Audio to create a low-latency home audio experience. This is likely to continue as we look forward, with the likelihood of Auracast multiroom support becoming prevalent.

Auracast Support

In short, Auracast is a method of wireless audio broadcast that is made possible with the new advances in Bluetooth technology. It uses the LE Audio protocol to broadcast in a way that doesn’t limit the amount of listeners in the same way that regular Bluetooth does. Traditionally, you’d need to use Wi-Fi to share music wirelessly across your house to different rooms. With Auracast, multiple devices in the area can all receive the same audio, all while using Bluetooth.

The Evolution of Bluetooth LE To LE Audio

While Bluetooth LE has been around since 2011, the low-energy protocol didn’t support audio transfer, and it was only in 2019 that LE Audio was introduced with the release of Bluetooth 5.2.

In 2020, LC3 was introduced. LC3 was built on the backbone of LE Audio and added support for high-quality audio with low energy usage. It is this codec that made LE Audio as we know it today the powerhouse that it is. 

2022 saw the finalization of LE Audio specifications and introduced Auracast to the world.

Today LE Audio has moved away from being an exciting glimpse into the future and has evolved into a primary consideration for speaker manufacturers worldwide. These new revolutionary changes in design are slowly making their way onto the market. In a few years, we expect LE Audio and Auracast support to be mandatory in speaker releases.

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Written by
Bryn De Kocks

Bryn De Kocks is the lead editor for Audiostance, as well as one of our trusted reviewers. He has more than 15 years of experience in online publication and stands firm in being transparent with both the benefits and drawbacks of the products he reviews. Outside of editorial work, Bryn has been an avid online gamer and casual digital music producer since his teenage years, bringing his understanding of audio and especially headphones to the table. His daily driver is a humble pair of Fidelio X2HRs powered by a Fiio E10K. In his spare time he enjoys nature photography.

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