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Bluetooth® Classic vs. Bluetooth® Low Energy: What's the Difference?

In the world of wireless technology, Bluetooth® has been a game-changer, enabling us to connect our devices effortlessly. But not all Bluetooth is created equal. In this blog post, we’ll explore the differences between classic Bluetooth and Bluetooth® Low Energy to help you understand how products that utilize the Bluetooth Low Energy standard will enhance the listening experience.

Bluetooth Classic vs. Bluetooth® Low Energy

Before we dive into the advantages of Bluetooth Low Energy for audio applications, let’s briefly compare the two technologies:

  • Bluetooth Classic is the traditional Bluetooth technology you’re likely familiar with. It’s been used for years for audio streaming, transferring files, and connecting devices like speakers and headphones. Bluetooth Classic is known for its relatively higher power consumption, which can be a limitation, especially for battery-operated devices.
  • Bluetooth Low Energy, as the name suggests, is designed for low power consumption. It excels in applications where conserving battery life is crucial. Bluetooth Low Energy is already commonly used in fitness trackers, smartwatches, hearing aids, and other listening devices. 
Advantages of Bluetooth® Low Energy for Audio Applications

Now, let’s explore how products utilizing Bluetooth Low Energy Audio will enhance the listening experience:

  1. Extended Battery Life: One of the most significant advantage in audio devices is their ultra-low power consumption – hearing aids, headphones, and speakers can operate for extended periods on a single charge or battery. Users can enjoy their music or conversation without the constant worry of running out of power.
  2. Low Latency: Bluetooth Classic normally has a significant associated latency, which is fine for listening to music or having a phone call but causes problems when you’re listening to live content, such as a speech and trying to lip-read, or hearing a mix of acoustic and Bluetooth audio simultaneously. LE Audio allows much lower latency, which enables a whole range of new use cases. 
  3.  Improved Audio Quality: LE Audio included a new audio codec, LC3, which is a significant improvement from the SBC codec which was standard in Bluetooth Classic. Previously, to benefit from lower latency or high-quality audio you were reliant on both devices supporting third party codecs. Listening tests showed that the new codec provides better sound quality even at much lower data rates which means everyone gets these benefits as standard. 
  4. Broadcast Audio: Everyone is used to the idea of pairing two Bluetooth devices before being able to use them together. LE Audio adds Auracast™, which allows a single transmitter to broadcast to an unlimited number of receivers simultaneously without an unwieldly pairing process. This unlocks a whole new world of audio sharing possibilities. 
  5. Futureproofing: As technology advances, Bluetooth Low Energy is poised to keep up. Updates and enhancements can be delivered remotely through smartphone apps, ensuring that users have access to the latest features and improvements in their audio devices. 
The new technology, Auracast™, utilizes Bluetooth Low Energy to broadcast audio to an unlimited number of participants. Auracast™ will support improved audio quality, low power consumption, seamless connectivity, and user-friendly features to transform the listening experience for hearing aid users, headphones, and other audio products.
The exact availability and usability of Auracast products is uncertain and dependent on individual manufacturers. However, they are expected to hit the market in 2024-2025. As technology continues to evolve, we anticipate more innovations that enhance our experiences – the future of wireless audio looks promising, and Bluetooth Low Energy is at the forefront of this transformation.

In our next blog, we’ll explore how Auracast technology will work in assistive listening products.

The Bluetooth® word mark and logos are registered trademarks owned by Bluetooth SIG, Inc. The Auracast™ word mark and logos are trademarks owned by Bluetooth SIG, Inc. Any use of such marks by Listen Technologies Corporation is under license. Other trademarks and trade names are those of their respective owners.
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