Bluetooth LE Audio spec has just been finalized with various features coming to Bluetooth 5.2 and compatible products launching later this year. Apple is already ahead of the curve and has released a new AirPods Max beta firmware that enables support for the updated LC3 codec.
LC3 codec (Low Complexity Communication Codec) enables audio to be transmitted at lower bitrates without any drop in quality. This is a major improvement and will ensure that not only calls but any form of audio requires lesser data to be transmitted, which should also help with power savings.
AirPods Max show noticeable improvements with LC3 code, part of Bluetooth LE Audio
While it’s unclear if all existing AirPods models will be upgraded to the new Bluetooth 5.2 features, Apple has already released a beta firmware that enables Stereo LC3 for HFP. This has been confirmed by @marajobsession on Twitter:
AirPods Max on 5A282B pic.twitter.com/ufbdFDwaYD
— george (@marajobsession) June 17, 2022
The result of this LC3 update is that the audio quality is already considerably better on the AirPods Max.
After enabling that, quality seems to improve, at least from my member’s
The 2nd Pro’s sound quality will improve more, i think it’s from the new SiP when the driver still the same size (no massive redesign like AirPods 2 to 3 to have a big change of drivers)
— ShrimpApplePro 🍤 (@VNchocoTaco) June 18, 2022
The improvements to Bluetooth 5.2 will be noticeable on true wireless earbuds like AirPods. AirPods Pro 2 are expected to feature Bluetooth 5.2 which should enable them to transmit audio at higher bitrates, avoid desync issues, and require lesser energy which should result in longer battery life.
Bluetooth 5.2 also features support for Auracast Broadcasts, which should make it easy to connect multiple headphones to the same device, as well as connect it to audio sources as easily as connecting to Wi-Fi networks. This would be possible by scanning for the networks, scanning QR codes, or taping NFC tags. This feature could be useful in public spaces like museums.
Many manufacturers would be releasing new products with Bluetooth 5.2 later this year. It is clear that the likes of Apple and Sony will also update existing devices with new Bluetooth 5.2 features. Apple has already released a beta firmware for AirPods Max, while Sony mentions on its website that Linkbuds S are compatible with Bluetooth LE Audio and a firmware update will be released this year.