Here's why your next Bluetooth headphones should have better sound and better battery life

Next-gen Bluetooth to offer better sound quality and improved battery life
(Image credit: Sony)

We've just had a peek at the future of wireless headphones, and it looks very bright indeed. The spec for next-gen Bluetooth wireless technology has been confirmed, and it will offer improved sound quality and better battery life. Sign us up.

The spec comes from the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (Bluetooth SIG), which is a global community of 36,000 companies responsible for setting the technology's standards. 

Now the spec is set, companies can start releasing Bluetooth headphones, speakers and hearing aids that use Bluetooth LE.

So what's new? Taking pride of place is the new LC3 codec. This means better-quality audio at lower data rates. Which, in the words of Bluetooth SIG, "will bring tremendous flexibility to developers, allowing them to make better design tradeoffs between key product attributes such as audio quality and power consumption".

In other words, expect higher quality audio with improved battery life.

The SIG says this greater power efficiency will also allow devices to be smaller (presumably because they could use smaller batteries), so expect wireless headphones – and wireless earbuds especially – to become titchier, more comfortable and less intrusive.

Another innovation is Auracast broadcast audio. This lets source devices like smartphones broadcast one or more audio streams to an unlimited number of audio receivers (like earbuds, speakers and hearing aids). This means you could share your music library with every headphone-wearer in your train carriage, or people in public places could watch TV together using wireless headphones, and without broadcasting the sound to everyone nearby.

So when will we see such next-gen Bluetooth headphones? According to the Bluetooth SIG, compatible products will start appearing in the coming months, with production ramping up in time for winter. Bring it on. 


Best wireless headphones

Get up to speed: Bluetooth 5.0: everything you need to know

aptX HD Bluetooth: What is it? What devices and headphones support it?

Consult our check-list of 7 things to consider before buying a Bluetooth speaker

Joe Svetlik

Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.