Nordic Semiconductor Launches new Bluetooth LE Audio Evaluation Platform

January 23, 2020 Tiera Oliver

Nordic Semiconductor has launched an LE Audio Evaluation Platform in partnership with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) stack developer, Packetcraft. The LE Audio solution demonstrates the benefits of 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.

According to the company, 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), 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 such Bluetooth LE Audio products as wireless speakers, over-the-ear headphones, and true wireless 'ear buds'. 

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'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.

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

The LE Audio Evaluation Platform is designed to operate in either source (i.e. 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. 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.

For more information, please visit: https://www.nordicsemi.com/News/2020/01/Nordic-launches-a-Bluetooth-LE-Audio-Evaluation-Platform

About the Author

Tiera Oliver, edtorial intern for Embedded Computing Design, is responsible for web content edits as well as newsletter updates. She also assists in news content as far as constructing and editing stories. Before interning for ECD, Tiera had recently graduated from Northern Arizona University where she received her B.A. in journalism and political science and worked as a news reporter for the university's student led newspaper, The Lumberjack.

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