Bluetooth LE Audio will make wireless headphones last longer and sound better

Bluetooth LE Audio was revealed at CES 2020
(Image credit: Bluetooth SIG)

Bluetooth accessories — particularly wireless headphones and speakers — might be getting serious improvements thanks to some upgrades under their shells. At CES 2020, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG for short) revealed Bluetooth LE Audio, the latest version of the wireless transmission standard. 

LE Audio will allow batteries to last longer, as it's operating on the Bluetooth Low Energy radio technology. Bluetooth LE Audio also features a new audio codec: the Low Complexity Communications Codec (LC3), which brings high-quality sound at a low-power cost to devices. 

The SIG quotes Manfred Lutzky, head of Audio for Communications at the German firm Fraunhofer IIS, as saying "LC3 will provide improvements in audio quality," even with files with a "50% lower bit rate."

Lutzky also noted that developers will be able to leverage this power savings to allow smaller products to last longer on a single charge — or allow for smaller chassis' with less bulky batteries.

Those improvements might reap serious rewards for hearing aids. The SIG says that category is also getting Bluetooth connectivity soon — which will be a big deal for hearing TVs from across the room. 

Bluetooth LE Audio also allows for one audio device to broadcast to multiple gadgets, so you can share the tunes you're listening to. Those traveling together can also use this trick to listen to a movie at the same time — making flights a little more collaborative.

While CES is filled with a ton of gadgets that operate independently from one another, a piece of Bluetooth news may leave more of an impact than any of the cool-looking concept designs on the show floor.

The SIG says we should expect Bluetooth LE Audio and LC3 to roll out within the next two years.

Be sure to check out our CES 2020 hub for the latest news and hands-on impressions out of Las Vegas.

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.