It only took them four years, but Nintendo has finally added Bluetooth audio support to the Nintendo Switch in a new system software update – version 13.0.0. There’s a few other tweaks under the hood, but letting you use Bluetooth headphones and earbuds with your Switch is a long, long overdue feature.
Bluetooth audio now has its own section in the console’s system settings, letting you add and manage Bluetooth devices that aren’t game controllers. There are, however, some caveats.
Firstly, because the Switch uses Bluetooth for its connection to detached Joy-Con and other game controllers, you are limiting the number of Joy-Con you can connect when using Bluetooth headphones. The Switch normally supports up to 8 controllers, but this drops down to just 2 when also using wireless headphones as transmitting audio is seemingly quite a bit more bandwidth intensive. Each wireless Joy-Con counts toward that limit, so it’s a hard two controller limit. Of course, this doesn’t matter when playing handheld, as the Joy-Con connect physically to the Switch in that situation.
Nintendo Switch Bluetooth audio runs using the baseline SBC encoding format, which ensures the widest compatibility possible with Bluetooth headphones, but means that there can still be some upsides to using a Bluetooth audio dongle. These can support more modern and higher quality formats like AptX Low Latency, for example, and also output to multiple devices simultaneously, though they do take up the USB-C port on the bottom of the device.
Additionally, you cannot use Bluetooth audio when using local wireless multiplayer features, there’s no support for Bluetooth microphones, and Nintendo note there might be some audio latency, depending on the wireless headphones.
Beside that, some other background features and changes include the ability to update the dock (which is intended for the incoming Nintendo switch dock with LAN port), an option to maintain a wired connection when in Sleep Mode, a new process for Joy-Con calibration, and the ability to see if your Switch is connected to a 2.4Ghz or 5Ghz Wi-Fi network.
Here’s the full patch notes for Nintendo Switch System Software 13.0.0:
Bluetooth® audio support was added.
- Headphones, earbuds, speakers and other Bluetooth audio devices can now be connected to with Nintendo Switch consoles for audio output.
- Bluetooth microphones are not supported.
- Up to two compatible wireless controllers can be connected to the console while using Bluetooth audio.
- Bluetooth audio cannot be used while local wireless communication is active.
- Depending on the Bluetooth audio device, there may be some audio delay.
- For more information, see How to Add and Manage Bluetooth Audio Devices.
“Update Dock” was added under System in System Settings for Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch OLED model consoles, allowing for software updates to Nintendo Switch docks with a LAN port.
- Dock software updates are not available for Nintendo Switch docks without a LAN port.
- This feature was not added for Nintendo Switch Lite systems.
- For more information, see How to Update the Dock Firmware.
“Maintain Wired Connection in Sleep Mode” was added under Sleep Mode in System Settings.
- When this setting is enabled, consoles with wired internet connections will maintain internet connection even while in sleep mode. This allows for software and DLC to download to the console while it is in sleep mode.
- The setting is enabled by default.
- When this setting is disabled, the console will connect to the internet only periodically, which decreases power consumption.
Note: Consoles that are not updated to version 13.0.0 or later will behave as if this setting is enabled.
The method to initiate “Calibrate Control Sticks” in System Settings was changed.
- From System Settings, go to Controllers and Sensors, select Calibrate Control Sticks, then fully tilt the control stick in any one direction and keep it tilted for a few seconds to begin calibration.
Users can now view whether their wireless internet connection is using the 2.4GHz or 5GHz frequency band under “Connection status” after selecting Internet in System Settings.