Bluetooth SIG took the CES stage to announce LE Audio, which includes a new Bluetooth codec that promises to improve efficiency and aid the deaf and hard of hearing. The Low Complexity Communications Codec (LC3) improves SBC streaming by facilitating a 50% improvement in audio quality.

This is great news for listeners who can’t afford premium headsets with aptX high-quality codec support, as the gap between SBC and aptX is reduced. Additionally, the greater efficiency lets high-quality files stream over low data rates, making it easier for developers to negotiate audio quality and power consumption when designing products.

Bluetooth Codec Comparison bar chart.

Bluetooth LC3 greatly improves streaming quality.

More than just consumer products benefit from LE Audio: Bluetooth hearing aids are afforded high-quality, efficient, multi-stream support. Multi-stream audio facilitates several independent audio stream transmissions between a smartphone and earphones. This means your average hearing aid isn’t just a hearing aid; LE Audio makes it a multifunctional device capable of streaming music while also functioning to keep you aware of your surroundings.

LE Audio also introduces broadcast audio for audio sharing, which lets anyone broadcast audio to share with an unlimited number of nearby Bluetooth devices. This means you can now simultaneously share what you’re listening to on your smartphone to your friends’ headsets. Not only does this afford personal benefit, but it enables venues to stream Bluetooth audio to inform visitors during an event. For instance, if you’re waiting at the airport, you may be able to subscribe to announcements that only pertain to your flight, filtering out extraneous distractions.

Bluetooth LE Audio runs on Bluetooth Low Energy radio and supports the development of the same products as Classic Audio. We’ll be sure to keep you posted on Bluetooth LC3 developments as we roll through the first half of 2020, when Bluetooth is expected to announce detailed specifications.

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LC3 greatly improves Bluetooth streaming quality.
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