What market challenges have these solutions addressed?
Nordic Semiconductor has developed solutions that lay a solid foundation for wireless audio transmission applications. Examples of use include true wireless stereo (TWS) applications, such as earbuds and headsets, as well as more specialized audio products such as hearing aids. LE Audio products have significantly higher sound quality in wireless audio at nearly half the power used in Bluetooth® Classic Audio, so doubling the playback from the same batteries.
Key to this achievement is the LC3, LE Audio’s Low-Complexity Communication Codec, one of the most advanced audio codecs available today. It offers tremendous flexibility and includes everything from speech to high-quality audio. By supporting sample rates of 8, 16, 24, 32, 44.1 and 48 kHz and sample resolutions of 16, 24 and 32 bits, LC3 can encode speech and music at different bit rates. This flexibility in bitrate allows developers to trade sound quality for power consumption to extend or reduce battery life.
In addition, extensive listening testing by the Bluetooth SIG has shown that LC3 provides better audio quality than previous Bluetooth audio codecs at all sample rates, with equal or better audio quality at half the bit rate.
Among LE Audio’s many features, broadcast mode allows broadcasting one or more audio streams to an unlimited number of end devices. Nordic Semiconductor’s range extender allows audio to be transmitted wirelessly over distances of up to one kilometer.
Other applications include end devices that can broadcast audio from a normally muted public screen to a receiver in public venues such as gyms or enable live translation in multiple different languages simultaneously in a conference room or movie theater. LE Audio also supports a new generation of assistive listening systems.
What are the most promising features for Auracast™ broadcast audio and LE Audio?
Nordic Semiconductor has been involved in the development of the Auracast™ standard from the start. We were so impressed with Auracast™ broadcast audio’s potential we designed the nRF5340 SoC for all Auracast™ roles. We’ve included several useful audio features in this SoC, including those with capabilities to better synchronize audio streams and transfer audio data. nRF5340 Audio DK supports developments using all Auracast™ features.
There are obvious use cases, such as broadcasting and sharing audio from cell phones, tablets and TVs, as well as headphones and earbuds, but everyone has those in mind.
“I’m impressed with LE Audio’s potential to provide improved sound quality and longer battery life.”
Another area where Auracast™ broadcast audio has potential is the replacement of audio induction loops in public places. Auracast™ broadcast audio can transmit audio to multiple devices simultaneously, which can be useful for providing audio information in public places such as museums, airports or train stations. There are many very interesting broadcast use cases. I hope we will see some really innovative products in this segment.
The most promising new use cases for LE Audio are those that require low power consumption and low latency audio streaming. One of the most impressive features of Le Audio is its ability to support multiple audio streams, making it well suited for group listening and conference calling applications. .
In addition, LE Audio is designed to work well with hearing aids, which can provide improved sound quality and longer battery life.
Overall, I’m impressed with LE Audio’s potential to provide improved audio quality and longer battery life, while still being able to support multiple audio streams and connect to a variety of devices, making it a versatile technology for different usage situations. LE Audio’s potential to replace audio induction loops in public places is also a niche but interesting use case for this technology.
What new LE Audio based developments will Nordic Semiconductor explore in the future?
Nordic Semiconductor already supports all features and roles of LE Audio and provides hardware, software, firmware and development tools to facilitate product design. We will continue to work with our customers to bring LE Audio and Auracast™ broadcast audio products to market.