Everything You Need to Know About LE Audio

Table of Contents

What is LE Audio?

LE Audio is a new audio technology standard introduced by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) in 2020. It is based on Bluetooth low-energy 5.2 and uses an ISOC (isochronous) architecture. LE Audio introduces the innovative LC3 audio codec algorithm, which offers lower latency and higher transmission quality. It also supports features such as multi-device connectivity and audio sharing, providing consumers with a superior audio experience.

Advantages of LE Audio compared to Classic Bluetooth

LC3 Codec

LC3, as the mandatory codec supported by LE Audio, is equivalent to SBC in classic Bluetooth audio. It is poised to become the mainstream codec for future Bluetooth audio. Compared to SBC, LC3 offers:
  • Higher Compression Ratio (Lower Latency): LC3 offers a higher compression ratio compared to SBC in classic Bluetooth audio, resulting in lower latency. For stereo data at 48K/16bit, LC3 achieves a high-fidelity compression ratio of 8:1 (96kbps), while SBC typically operates at 328kbps for the same data.
  • Better Sound Quality: At the same bitrate, LC3 outperforms SBC in audio quality, especially in handling mid-to-low frequencies.
  • Support for Various Audio Formats: LC3 supports frame intervals of 10ms and 7.5ms, 16-bit, 24-bit, and 32-bit audio sampling, an unlimited number of audio channels, and sampling frequencies of 8kHz, 16kHz, 24kHz, 32kHz, 44.1kHz, and 48kHz.

Multi-Stream Audio

  • Support for Multiple Independent, Synchronized Audio Streams: Multi-stream audio enables transmission of multiple independent, synchronized audio streams between an audio source device (e.g., smartphone) and one or more audio receiving devices. The Continuous Isochronous Stream (CIS) mode establishes low-energy Bluetooth ACL connections between devices, ensuring better True Wireless Stereo (TWS) synchronization and low-latency, synchronized multi-stream audio transmission.

Broadcast Audio Feature

  • Broadcasting Audio to Unlimited Devices: The Broadcast Isochronous Stream (BIS) mode in LE Audio allows an audio source device to broadcast one or multiple audio streams to an unlimited number of audio receiver devices. BIS is designed for public audio broadcasting scenarios, such as silent TV listening in restaurants or public announcements in airports. It supports synchronized audio playback on each receiving device and enables selection of specific streams, like choosing a language track in a movie theater setting. BIS is unidirectional, saves data exchange, reduces power consumption, and opens up new possibilities previously unattainable with classic Bluetooth implementations.

Limitations of LE Audio

LE Audio has advantages such as high audio quality, low power consumption, low latency, strong interoperability, and support for multi-connections. However, as a new technology, it also has its limitations:
  • Device Compatibility Issues: Due to the multitude of companies in the industry, the standardization and adoption of LE Audio face challenges, leading to compatibility issues among different LE Audio products.
  • Performance Bottlenecks: The high complexity of the LC3 and LC3 plus codec algorithms places certain demands on chip processing power. Some chips may support the protocol but struggle to handle the encoding and decoding processes efficiently.
  • Limited Supported Devices: Currently, there are relatively few devices that support LE Audio. Although flagship products from mobile devices and headphone manufacturers have started to introduce LE Audio, complete replacement will still require time. To address this pain point, Feasycom has innovatively introduced the world's first Bluetooth module that supports both LE Audio and Classic Audio simultaneously, allowing for innovative development of LE Audio functionality without compromising the user experience of Classic Audio.

Applications of LE Audio

Based on the various advantages of LE Audio, especially the Auracast (based on the BIS mode), it can be used in multiple audio scenarios to enhance users' audio experiences:
  • Personal Audio Sharing: The Broadcast Isochronous Stream (BIS) allows one or more audio streams to be shared with an unlimited number of devices, enabling users to share their audio with nearby users' headphones using their smartphones or tablets.
  • Enhanced/Assistive Listening in Public Spaces: Auracast not only helps provide wider deployment for hearing-impaired individuals and improve the availability of assistive listening services but also expands the applicability of these systems to consumers with varying levels of hearing health.
  • Multilingual Support: In places where people of different languages gather, such as conference centers or cinemas, Auracast can provide simultaneous translation in the user's native language.
  • Tour Guide Systems: In places like museums, sports stadiums, and tourist attractions, users can use their earbuds or headphones to listen to tour audio streams, providing a more immersive experience.
  • Silent TV Screens: Auracast allows users to listen to the audio from a TV when there is no sound or when the volume is too low to hear, enhancing the experience for visitors in places like gyms and sports bars.

Future Trends of LE Audio

According to ABI Research's predictions, by 2028, the annual shipment volume of LE Audio-supported devices will reach 3 million, and by 2027, 90% of smartphones shipped annually will support LE Audio. Undoubtedly, LE Audio will drive a transformation in the entire Bluetooth audio field, extending beyond traditional audio transmission to applications in the Internet of Things (IoT), smart homes, and other areas.

Feasycom's LE Audio Products

Feasycom has been dedicated to the research and development of Bluetooth modules, particularly in the field of Bluetooth audio, leading the industry with innovative high-performance modules and receivers. To learn more, visit Feasycom's Bluetooth LE Audio Modules. Watch our LE Audio demonstration on YouTube.
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