In a surprise announcement, Nintendo finally adds Bluetooth audio to the Switch

AdrielBruno

Posts: 11   +0
What just happened? Out of the blue, a tweet from Nintendo of America has unveiled the arrival of the highly anticipated Bluetooth audio feature for Switch consoles. What is intriguing is that it comes with a set of limitations that might make it seem somewhat unappealing to fans of Mario, Zelda and the rest of the Nintendo gang.

The Nintendo Switch has been on the market for over four years, and during all this time it remained without one highly requested feature: Bluetooth audio. Today that's changed all of a sudden...

Big N finally responded to the demands for Bluetooth audio connectivity. If you're a Switch owner and wanted to get rid of dongles for wireless audio experiences, rejoice. Then again, some fans might be disappointed, for the news are not all rosy and shiny. Unfortunately, the update is marred by a number of limitations, as listed below:

  • While using Bluetooth audio, you can only connect up to two wireless controllers. The Bluetooth audio device must be disconnected in order to allow three or more wireless controllers
  • Bluetooth audio is disconnected during local communication, this includes local wireless multiplayer sessions
  • You can save up to 10 Bluetooth audio devices on a Nintendo Switch system, but only one can be paired at a time
  • You cannot use Bluetooth microphones
  • There might be audio latency depending on the Bluetooth device being used

Since Bluetooth microphones are barred, voice chat on the Switch basically stays bound to the Nintendo Switch Online mobile application, with mandatory use of a smartphone or another mobile device. There is an alternative called Vivox, that started implementing voice chat for multiplayer games available on the Switch a few years ago however.

Permalink to story.

 

Fearghast

Posts: 452   +357
There is a pretty much a big caveat ... and that's the mentioned latency, which is not small by any means.
We will be lucky to hit less than 150 ms delay on most of the headphones, and any TWS will be like 300+ ms ... pretty late and IMHO unusable, BUT you can connect USB-C BT transmitter with AptX LL support and ... fix it.
 

Sausagemeat

Posts: 1,056   +877
This is annoying, It was only a couple of months ago that I bought headphones with a wire for my switch. I literally own nothing else with a headphone jack!
 

Plutoisaplanet

Posts: 572   +924
This is annoying, It was only a couple of months ago that I bought headphones with a wire for my switch. I literally own nothing else with a headphone jack!
There will probably be a lag in audio over BT, so for gaming you might still be better off with wired sound actually. Let me know if you test this, I'm curious about it!
 

DZillaXx

Posts: 418   +546
There will probably be a lag in audio over BT, so for gaming you might still be better off with wired sound actually. Let me know if you test this, I'm curious about it!

Considering how many people use the built in speakers of their crappy tv, I'm sure latency from the Bluetooth headphones is not an issue.

I have a pair of pretty decent sounding earbuds I've had for over a decade, but started to use bluetooth headphones for the freedom of not having a wire. Latency has yet to be a problem coming from a windows laptop, I'm sure from the switch is no different.

Audio performance will be good enough and you wont be able to tell if you have delayed audio. Unless you have headphones that have poor latency problems on all your other devices, but honestly that is probably rare on most bluetooth headphones even worth using. If you are rocking the walmart checkout lane budget headphones and are having issues, that is a you problem.
 

Sausagemeat

Posts: 1,056   +877
There will probably be a lag in audio over BT, so for gaming you might still be better off with wired sound actually. Let me know if you test this, I'm curious about it!
Ok so I just updated my switch and connected my Jabra Move headset to it and launched New Super Mario Bros U in handheld mode. I could not tell any obvious lag. Then I tried Diablo 3, also fine. So then I tried YouTube to see and the audio synced fine, maybe a very very slight lag but it wasn’t bad enough to ruin it. These headphones have a slight lag that feels about the same when connected to my iPhone 11 Pro Max. For Nintendo gaming it’s absolutely fine.

I wasted £20 on a set of wired headphones that I literally have no use for now! Also it’s made me wish this thing had Netflix etc. How the hell did it take Nintendo 4.5 years to add this!?
 

Fearghast

Posts: 452   +357
Ok so I just updated my switch and connected my Jabra Move headset to it and launched New Super Mario Bros U in handheld mode. I could not tell any obvious lag. Then I tried Diablo 3, also fine. So then I tried YouTube to see and the audio synced fine, maybe a very very slight lag but it wasn’t bad enough to ruin it. These headphones have a slight lag that feels about the same when connected to my iPhone 11 Pro Max. For Nintendo gaming it’s absolutely fine.

I wasted £20 on a set of wired headphones that I literally have no use for now! Also it’s made me wish this thing had Netflix etc. How the hell did it take Nintendo 4.5 years to add this!?
Any modern video platform uses latency compensation when playing something through BT - that's why you do not generally experience audio lag on your mobile phone while using TWS headphones.
Not to mention, latency for said headphones is most likely 200ms, at best - at least that's around the ballpark of Elite 85h.
+ There is build in slight audio delay in some games. So it's really hard to evaluate objectively for a lot of people.
 

hwertz

Posts: 87   +37
I'm not sure what Switch coming out 4 years ago has to do with giving Nintendo a pass or not on the Bluetooth chip -- Bluetooth has been around for 20+ years. That said, that'd be irrelevant -- classic Bluetooth has a couple speeds topping out at just over 2mbps; and Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) about 300kbps (but as the name implies much lower energy use... fitbits etc. use this.) I'm quite sure the Switch supports both modes at full rate.

This makes me wonder just how much throughput those controllers are using? I'm thinking they might be rather chatty, and there's just not enough airtime to go around to run 3 or 4 controllers + audio.
 

Tams80

Posts: 83   +55
4 years? That's it?
BT and wireless accessories have been around for far longer than that lol
I'm not sure what Switch coming out 4 years ago has to do with giving Nintendo a pass or not on the Bluetooth chip -- Bluetooth has been around for 20+ years. That said, that'd be irrelevant -- classic Bluetooth has a couple speeds topping out at just over 2mbps; and Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) about 300kbps (but as the name implies much lower energy use... fitbits etc. use this.) I'm quite sure the Switch supports both modes at full rate.

This makes me wonder just how much throughput those controllers are using? I'm thinking they might be rather chatty, and there's just not enough airtime to go around to run 3 or 4 controllers + audio.
Bluetooth has been crap for years too. It's only recently that sound quality has become decent and even less time since latency has become good.

Sure, it was there. I remember receiving a rather saucy pic (perhaps 360x360) from a friend. It took about fifteen minutes to send.

I'm using the Switch's Bluetooth btw. The latency isn't actually that bad at all, but the sound quality is terrible. I'm only putting up with it as external adapters interfere with the Joycons' connection.