Nordic Semiconductor Launches Bluetooth LE Audio Evaluation Platform

January 8 2020, 00:10
Nordic Semiconductor announced it has launched an LE Audio Evaluation Platform in partnership with San Diego, CA-based Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) stack developer, Packetcraft. The LE Audio solution demonstrates the benefits of High-Quality Wireless LE Audio and is designed to support the new LE Audio specifications that are expected to be released by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) during the first half of 2020.

Current Bluetooth wireless audio solutions employ classic Bluetooth technology, but LE Audio introduces a new high-quality wireless audio solution based on Bluetooth LE radios. LE Audio promises lower power consumption than classic Bluetooth audio, significantly extending battery life, brings better audio quality and enables the development of devices capable of both wireless data transfer and audio streaming. The technology also supports broadcast for audio sharing.

Nordic’s LE Audio solution comprises a hardware reference design based on the company’s nRF52832 Bluetooth LE System-on-Chip (SoC), Cirrus Logic’s CS47L35 smart codec with an integrated low power Audio DSP, Packetcraft’s Bluetooth LE host stack and link layer supporting LE Audio, and an LE Audio Software Development Kit (SDK). The platform allows developers to start evaluating the technology for such Bluetooth LE Audio products as wireless speakers, over-the-ear headphones, and true wireless earbuds. 

The LE Audio Evaluation Platform is designed to operate in either source (for example, audio source, voice call headset source, and peer-to-peer call) or sink (audio playback, headset playback, and peer-to-peer call). A pair of devices (source and sink) is required to complete an end-to-end LE Audio link. Nordic’s LE Audio solution also features Cirrus Logic’s SoundClear for uplink noise reduction and echo cancellation, playback enhancement, voice control, and hearing augmentation. 

The evaluation platform incorporates an acoustic connector that can accommodate up to six microphones or two speakers, a 3.5-mm headset jack, a 3.5-mm source jack, and a USB connector for charging, debug (using Nordic development tools), and acoustic tuning (using the Cirrus Logic WISCE platform). When wirelessly streaming audio from a source device to wireless (sink) earbuds, the LE Audio Evaluation Platform extends battery life by around 40 percent compared to contemporary off-the-shelf classic Bluetooth solutions.

Nordic is a market leader in Bluetooth LE solutions and the release of the company’s LE Audio Evaluation Platform represents the company’s entry into the new LE Audio segment. The solution enables engineers to take advantage of the superior quality, power and use-case enhancements of LE Audio using Nordic’s mature hardware, software, and development tools.
Nordic’s LE Audio solution is designed to support the new LE Audio specifications expected to be released by the Bluetooth SIG during H1 2020.
“Classic Bluetooth audio provides a satisfactory wireless sound solution, but LE Audio offers significant enhancements. It is destined to be an exciting new sector and Nordic plans to play a key role through the supply of leading LE Audio solutions,” says Kjetil Holstad, Director of Product Management at Nordic Semiconductor. “The launch of the LE Audio evaluation platform is the first step in this journey.”

“Nordic’s class-leading nRF52 Series SoC is an ideal wireless foundation for an LE Audio solution. By featuring Cirrus Logic’s CS47L35 smart codec we are ensuring the platform also meets the highest possible audio performance criteria.”

“We are excited to partner with Nordic Semiconductor on its innovative LE Audio Evaluation Platform. The platform has enabled Packetcraft to develop one of the world's first demonstrations of audio sharing via LE Audio broadcast,” says John Yi, founder and CEO of Packetcraft. “Packetcraft is dedicated to providing leading-edge Bluetooth technology and delivering new specification features like LE Audio early to our customers.”

Nordic is a pioneer of ultra low power wireless technology and was a key contributor to the Bluetooth LE specification, and the market leader in the supply of Bluetooth LE solutions. Nordic’s development tools abstract away the complexities of RF engineering allowing non-expert RF developers to quickly prototype wireless innovations. The nRF52832 SoC combines an 64MHz, 32-bit Arm Cortex M4F processor with a 2.4GHz multiprotocol radio, and 512kB Flash memory with 64kB RAM. The SoC is supplied with Nordic’s S132 SoftDevice, a Bluetooth 5-certified RF software protocol stack. 

Packetcraft is a leading Bluetooth LE technology company, delivering software and services that are commercially-proven and qualified. Packetcraft’s Bluetooth LE software comprises multiprotocol controller with Bluetooth Link Layer and IEEE 802.15.4 MAC, Bluetooth Host stack and GATT profiles, and Bluetooth mesh profile and models. |
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