Become a MacRumors Supporter for $50/year with no ads, ability to filter front page stories, and private forums.

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
58,677
22,292


All four new iPhone 14 models and the second-generation AirPods Pro include support for Bluetooth 5.3, according to Apple's tech specs for each device, but the status of LE Audio support for the devices remains unclear at this time.

airpods-pro-2.jpg

LE Audio, which can be supported on any device with Bluetooth 5.2 or higher, is a low-power audio streaming specification that would have several benefits for devices within the Apple ecosystem. Earlier this week, we outlined five benefits that LE Audio could have for AirPods Pro in particular should Apple support the specification:
  • Improved audio quality: LE Audio includes a new low-power audio codec called LC3 that provides improved audio quality compared to the classic SBC codec, even at a 50% lower bit rate, according to the Bluetooth SIG.
  • Longer battery life: With the low-power LC3 audio codec, AirPods Pro would have longer battery life for audio playback.
  • Multi-stream audio: LE Audio would enable the transmission of multiple synchronized audio streams between a source device like an iPhone or Mac and the AirPods Pro. This would allow for an individual left and right AirPod to each have its own Bluetooth audio connection with a device supporting LE Audio for improved reliability.
  • Connect many pairs of AirPods to an iPhone at once: LE Audio would allow for many pairs of AirPods to simultaneously connect to an iPhone, iPad, Mac, or other device with Bluetooth 5.2 or higher. Apple already has a feature that allows an iPhone or iPad user with AirPods to share audio with another person with AirPods, but the feature does not work with more than two pairs of AirPods.
  • No switching between iPhone and Mac required: LE Audio would allow AirPods to connect to multiple source devices like an iPhone and Mac simultaneously, eliminating the need to switch the AirPods between devices.
Apple's press releases and tech specs pages for the iPhone 14 and new AirPods Pro do not appear to make any mention of LE Audio or the benefits listed above, leading us to believe that LE Audio might not be supported on the devices currently, but we've reached out to Apple for confirmation. In July, the organization behind Bluetooth said it anticipated availability of products with support for LE Audio to ramp up by the end of 2022.

Given that iPhone 14 models and the new AirPods Pro have Bluetooth 5.3 chipsets, it is possible that Apple could enable LE Audio with a software/firmware update in the future should the devices not currently support the specification.

Article Link: iPhone 14 and New AirPods Pro Support Bluetooth 5.3, Status of LE Audio Unclear
 

vtboyarc

macrumors 6502a
Jan 12, 2011
769
757
Omaha
Interestingly, the only devices announced today that don’t use Bluetooth 5.3 are the new Apple Watches.
 

symphony

macrumors 68000
Aug 25, 2016
1,935
2,260
Sounds like I have to upgrade all my devices to reap these benefits, including my expensive Mac Studio 🥺
 

BBCWatcher

macrumors regular
Jan 28, 2008
128
88
Maine
My understanding is that Bluetooth 5.2 (or higher) requires implementation of LE Audio with the LC3 codec — that they're mandatory parts of Bluetooth 5.2+ conformance, at least for audio-related devices. (For Bluetooth keyboards and mice, no.) Implementation of the LC3plus codec is optional. So when Apple declares "Bluetooth 5.3" in earphones and iPhones that means they support LE Audio with LC3. Otherwise they couldn't be labeled "Bluetooth 5.3."

Apple presumably doesn't want to shout about LC3 from the rooftops because the net real-world impact is that Apple's new AirPods Pro 2s are improved mostly for non-Apple devices that support Bluetooth 5.2 or higher, i.e. mostly Android devices. With these devices Apple is providing an upgrade from SBC to LC3, a big jump in quality. AAC and LC3 are much more similar in terms of sound quality, with diminishing returns thereafter (LDAC, LC3plus, etc.) So does Apple want to say, "Our new AirPods Pro 2 are more significantly improved for the latest Android smartphones because we finally upgraded the base codec from SBC for non-Apple devices (that don't support AAC)"? No, not directly.😀

It remains to be seen whether AirPods Pro 2s use LC3 or AAC (or something else?) with iPhone 14s. With non-Apple Bluetooth 5.2+ devices the AirPods Pro 2 should use LC3. AirPods Pro 2 reviewers should be able to confirm all this fairly quickly. We'll see!
 
Last edited:

_Spinn_

macrumors 68040
Nov 6, 2020
3,332
7,487
Wisconsin
My understanding is that Bluetooth 5.2 (or higher) requires implementation of LE Audio with the LC3 codec — that they're mandatory parts of Bluetooth 5.2+ conformance, at least for audio-related devices. (For Bluetooth keyboards and mice, no.) Implementation of the LC3plus codec is optional. So when Apple declares "Bluetooth 5.3" in earphones and iPhones that means they support LE Audio with LC3. Otherwise they couldn't be labeled "Bluetooth 5.3."

Apple presumably doesn't want to shout about LC3 from the rooftops because the net real-world impact is that Apple's new AirPods Pro 2s are improved mostly for non-Apple devices that support Bluetooth 5.2 or higher, i.e. mostly Android devices. With these devices Apple is providing an upgrade from SBC to LC3, a big jump in quality. AAC and LC3 are much more similar in terms of sound quality, with diminishing returns thereafter (LDAC, LC3plus, etc.) So does Apple want to say, "Our new AirPods Pro 2 are more significantly improved for the latest Android smartphones because we finally upgraded the base codec from SBC for non-Apple devices (that don't support AAC)"? No, not directly.😀

It remains to be seen whether AirPods Pro 2s use LC3 or AAC (or something else?) with iPhone 14s. With non-Apple Bluetooth 5.2+ devices the AirPods Pro 2 should use LC3. AirPods Pro 2 reviewers should be able to confirm all this fairly quickly. We'll see!
That would explain why Apple didn’t call this out more.
 

gtg465x

macrumors 6502a
Sep 12, 2016
748
873
My understanding is that Bluetooth 5.2 (or higher) requires implementation of LE Audio with the LC3 codec — that they're mandatory parts of Bluetooth 5.2+ conformance, at least for audio-related devices. (For Bluetooth keyboards and mice, no.) Implementation of the LC3plus codec is optional. So when Apple declares "Bluetooth 5.3" in earphones and iPhones that means they support LE Audio with LC3. Otherwise they couldn't be labeled "Bluetooth 5.3."

Apple presumably doesn't want to shout about LC3 from the rooftops because the net real-world impact is that Apple's new AirPods Pro 2s are improved mostly for non-Apple devices that support Bluetooth 5.2 or higher, i.e. mostly Android devices. With these devices Apple is providing an upgrade from SBC to LC3, a big jump in quality. AAC and LC3 are much more similar in terms of sound quality, with diminishing returns thereafter (LDAC, LC3plus, etc.) So does Apple want to say, "Our new AirPods Pro 2 are more significantly improved for the latest Android smartphones because we finally upgraded the base codec from SBC for non-Apple devices (that don't support AAC)"? No, not directly.😀

It remains to be seen whether AirPods Pro 2s use LC3 or AAC (or something else?) with iPhone 14s. With non-Apple Bluetooth 5.2+ devices the AirPods Pro 2 should use LC3. AirPods Pro 2 reviewers should be able to confirm all this fairly quickly. We'll see!

Since Apple Music uses AAC by default, switching to LC3 could actually reduce audio quality when using AirPods with Apple Music, since it would require the stream to be re-encoded, which always reduces quality. Maybe if you set Apple Music to stream lossless, then the lossless re-encoded to LC3 might surpass the quality of AAC without re-encode.
 

ZZ9pluralZalpha

macrumors regular
May 28, 2014
130
163
I don’t quite understand why LC3 keeps being measured against SBC. AirPods have always used the AAC Bluetooth codec because SBC is barely better than listening to the hold music on a call. The pertinent question is, does LC3 deliver any quality or technical improvement over AAC, or should we predict that Apple will move directly to some other solution like an AirPlay-based structure?

(Edited because my original text was essentially asked and answered by post above)
 
  • Like
Reactions: amartinez1660

AdriftAtlas

macrumors member
Oct 27, 2016
43
34
I kind of wonder if LC3 would allow better sounding FaceTime calls especially with SharePlay. From what I understand, mSBC is currently used whenever the Airpods are used in headset mode.
 

brynsmith23

macrumors regular
Jan 24, 2007
154
92
Australia/NZ
I'll be holding off for now until this is cleared up, overall i like the improvements.

I can only assume that they will release a new Max and are waiting until then to implement LE audio via an update.

Surely they aren't going to wait until Gen 3 Pro to implement LE audio.....
 

Kaptajn Haddock

macrumors 6502
May 10, 2007
308
141
Denmark
Why the fuzz about LE Audio compatibility, when they will use AAC for music? LC3 may sound better than SBC (which sounds like cr**) for calls, but I am more interested in better sound quality for music. I would be more interested if Apple would support AptX Adaptive, which should have a higher bitrate than AAC, and hence (in theory) a better sound.
 
Last edited:

zerolight

macrumors 6502a
Mar 6, 2006
512
99
Glasgow

amartinez1660

macrumors 65816
Sep 22, 2014
1,362
1,295
LE Audio would allow AirPods to connect to multiple source devices like an iPhone and Mac simultaneously, eliminating the need to switch the AirPods between devices.
Just for use as a data point: me personally I like to switch from device to device as I’ll rarely have any need for listening to 2 or more things at the same time. I do like that when hitting play on media on one device pauses and switches the headphones from the other previous sources.
If this idea is kept the same just a lot more responsive, then great.

Sounds like I have to upgrade all my devices to reap these benefits, including my expensive Mac Studio 🥺
Time to upgrade!

Joking, from the commenters afterwards, looks like LE Audio might not be all the craze compared to the AAC audio that apple uses over Bluetooth already…
Worst case, maybe Bluetooth 5.3+ USB stubs will come available in the future… although I do like infinitely the convenience of apple products that have everything bundled inside (network, mic, speakers, Bluetooth, WiFi, webcams, you name it…) ready to go without a single driver needed to be installed by the user (people still have issues with installed WiFi or Bluetooth cards or dongles on their desktops at times).
 
  • Like
Reactions: caribbeanblue

Schnort

macrumors regular
Oct 24, 2013
179
28
What I would like is that a music connection and a voice connection can be maintained at the same time. Basically, allowing stereo + mic instead of switching between stereo and mono headset mode.

It's irritating to have all of my system noises disappear when I join a teams/zoom/facetime call.

I'm not sure I'd really be excited about having two sources hook to my earbuds at once. I'd never be sure where the sound was coming so I could go and shut it up.
 

prajaybasu

macrumors newbie
Sep 8, 2022
1
3
Since Apple Music uses AAC by default, switching to LC3 could actually reduce audio quality when using AirPods with Apple Music, since it would require the stream to be re-encoded, which always reduces quality. Maybe if you set Apple Music to stream lossless, then the lossless re-encoded to LC3 might surpass the quality of AAC without re-encode.
That is a common misconception. Using any codec on Bluetooth requires re-encoding of a song. Because Apple Music's sound need to be mixed in with other apps and notifications, keyboard sounds, etc. So Apple Music already decodes that AAC. You cannot send multiple AAC streams and play them back at once on the AirPods, the iPhone needs to mix them.

Lossless over Bluetooth sounds great. I find it equal to wired in most cases. And most codecs when played with lossless actually sound good even with the current Bluetooth. aptX and Apple's AAC are going to be very hard to beat. What LC3 will beat AAC in is complexity and therefore battery life.

Now what you said is partially true though. AAC is by far the best codec when it comes to being re-encoded multiple times, it fares much better than MP3. Especially Apple AAC.
 

Zanton68

macrumors 6502
Sep 24, 2012
277
177
UK
Any details about call quality ? I’ve had three pairs of the current AirPods Pro and, unless I’m in a quiet environment, callers all say “the sound quality is really bad”. If I switch to using the handset or normal AirPods, there is no problem, the call quality is fine. I’ve tried all the tricks, changing settings, different phones, nothing fixes it. In my experience, AirPods Pro are terrible for phone calls. Hope the new ones fix this.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Maxis and nawr

gtg465x

macrumors 6502a
Sep 12, 2016
748
873
That is a common misconception. Using any codec on Bluetooth requires re-encoding of a song. Because Apple Music's sound need to be mixed in with other apps and notifications, keyboard sounds, etc. So Apple Music already decodes that AAC. You cannot send multiple AAC streams and play them back at once on the AirPods, the iPhone needs to mix them.

Lossless over Bluetooth sounds great. I find it equal to wired in most cases. And most codecs when played with lossless actually sound good even with the current Bluetooth. aptX and Apple's AAC are going to be very hard to beat. What LC3 will beat AAC in is complexity and therefore battery life.

Now what you said is partially true though. AAC is by far the best codec when it comes to being re-encoded multiple times, it fares much better than MP3. Especially Apple AAC.

Thanks for correcting me. Didn’t even think about the system sounds that need to come through, which would obviously require that everything be re-encoded.
 
  • Like
Reactions: iMaffo
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.