Auracast Pairing – What Is It and Why It’s So Revolutionary

Bryn De Kocks | June 10, 2024 7:41 am

Auracast is the latest in wireless multi-speaker pairing technology, ushering in the next generation of Bluetooth speakers. Its main benefit is its broad pairing support, which theoretically could allow all future Bluetooth speakers (with Auracast support) to be paired together.

Multi-speaker pairing is a feature offered by many of the market’s top Bluetooth speakers, yet until recently, this had mostly been achieved using proprietary technology that limited the number of speaker models that could be paired together. Even similar models from the same manufacturer aren’t always able to be paired.

Auracast is different because it is the first standard multi-speaker pairing technology that is made for global compatibility. In theory, this could let users pair their JBL speaker with one from Sony or Ultimate Ears for example. At its core, Auracast offers this capability, but with the technology still in its infancy, there are still questions as to how manufacturers will use this technology.

The Key Benefits of Auracast

  • A global standard for wireless pairing
  • Supports TWS and general multi-speaker pairing
  • Low latency
  • One-to-many communication

Facilitating Broadcast Communication

Perhaps the most important talking point around Auracast is its broadcast methodology. Historically, Bluetooth speakers used each other to broadcast their audio. If you paired multiple speakers together in a multi-speaker pairing, one speaker would act as the master and the rest as slaves, a concept familiar to anyone who’s worked with studio lighting. In this relationship, the main speaker (master) connects directly to the source device, and other speakers in the connection are then paired to the master speaker and not the source device.

Auracast changes this entirely. With Auracast each speaker in the chain directly connects to the source device’s broadcast, reducing latency and offering broader support. This has far-reaching implications as it means you could cast Bluetooth audio from a single source and have dozens of people all connect to the same audio source with an Auracast speaker. Setting up a silent disco would be as simple as having anyone with an Auracast-supported pair of headphones connected to the audio source.

Auracast’s Relationship With LE Audio

LE Audio (Low-Energy Audio) is a feature of Bluetooth, with the transmission protocol first introduced in version 5.2. It incorporates a focus on efficiency which results in benefits in sound quality and latency.

While Auracast isn’t a result of LE audio, the two technologies work together to create an efficient high-quality sound experience that improves on the shortfalls of historic Bluetooth versions. 

Bluetooth works by transmitting packets of data to the speaker from the source device (a phone for example). The smaller these packets can be compressed without losing data and the more data that’s able to be transferred, the better the sound quality potential. Low-energy audio is extremely efficient in its compression and transfer of this data.

A Perfect World vs. Realistic Concerns

The ideal implementation of Auracast would be a broad adoption from manufacturers, replacing their proprietary connection methods with Auracast, in such a way that it allows for cross-brand pairing. 

Adopting this approach, manufacturers could offer unparalleled support to speaker owners who wouldn’t feel as though they are tied down to one brand and trapped within an ecosystem. They could buy speakers based solely on their merit and not be manipulated into settling for something else for the sake of pairing support.

While a broad, globally supported wireless technology may sound like something that will cause sales to drop for dominant brands, this isn’t necessarily true. We must acknowledge the fact that many large brands, such as JBL, have already gone through multiple iterations of multi-speaker pairing technologies. This means that when a customer upgrades their speaker, they may already lose pairing supported to their previous model.

This all sounds marvelous, and it could be. However, there are still some concerns around the potential implementation compared to the likely implementation.

Us audio industry types have already been discussing amongst ourselves how brands may limit the potential of Auracast to drive sales, at the cost of user experience. While Auracast lays the foundation for a global pairing standard, it is possible and likely for some manufacturers to limit the type of connectivity one can achieve using the technology.

This could be done by developing a proprietary technology that uses Auracast as the backbone but incorporates it in other ways to offer brand-specific functions which are then only supported by speakers within their ecosystem.

JBL Are The First Out of The Gate

JBL is the first large audio company to introduce Auracast across its main releases. In 2024, the company released the Go 4, Clip 5, PartyBox 120, PartyBox 320, PartyBox Ultimate, and Xtreme 4 – all supporting Auracast and for the first time ever, all able to connect to each other.

It’s anticipated that they will continue to use this method for several years to come, as it’s expected that Auracast will evolve with future Bluetooth versions, further improving latency and overall efficiency.

Auracast Into The Future

It’s a bit of a waiting game at this point, and we do not doubt that other large brands are working tirelessly with their engineers to best utilize this technology in their upcoming releases. Ultimate Ears is a close competitor to JBL, and it will be interesting to see if UE’s expected upcoming releases will include Auracast.

As new Bluetooth versions come out, we expect to see Auracast remain a supported technology for at least the next 5 years. We’re just in the beginning of this journey and the potential is massive, not just for Bluetooth speaker consumers but for all types of industries, ranging from medical devices to airports and more.

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Author: Bryn De Kocks

Bryn has worked in the field for several years, writing in-depth speaker reviews for various audio publications. His work has historically focused on headphones and Bluetooth speakers, while incorporating his understanding of the Bluetooth speaker market to help educate potential buyers.

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