Nordic Unveils Bluetooth LE Audio Evaluation Platform

Nordic Semiconductor in partnership with San Diego-based Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) stack developer, Packetcraft, has released a Bluetooth LE Audio Evaluation Platform. The platform demonstrates the benefits of LE Audio and is designed to support the new 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. It 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 SoC, audio IC leader 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 Bluetooth LE Audio products such as wireless speakers, over-the-ear headphones, and true wireless ‘ear buds’.

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 LE Audio link. The Platform also features Cirrus Logic’s SoundClear for up-link noise reduction and echo cancellation, playback enhancement, voice control, and hearing augmentation. It also 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 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 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. Its nRF52832 SoC combines a 64 MHz, 32-bit Arm Cortex M4F processor with a 2.4 GHz multi-protocol radio, and 512kB Flash memory with 64kB RAM. It is supplied with Nordic’s S132 SoftDevice, a Bluetooth 5-certified RF software protocol stack.