Nintendo Switch Bluetooth audio support arrives and it’s awful

By Steven Rondina


Sep 15, 2021

Reading time: 4 min

While Nintendo is gearing up for the release of the OLED Switch, that doesn’t mean the company is abandoning the standard Switch models. A major update has come out, allowing users to use Bluetooth audio devices including headphones and speakers with the Nintendo Switch.

The long-awaited feature finally arrived in the 13.0.0 system update on Wednesday, allowing users to enjoy a fully wireless experience on the go and the ability to play silently when playing docked. Unfortunately, Nintendo’s reluctance to roll out wireless headphone support stemmed from concerns over connectivity and stability issues and it seems that those fears were justified.

Depending on the user’s playing preferences and hardware, it may result in some serious troubles when playing certain games. Here’s everything you need to know about the Nintendo Switch and its Bluetooth headphone functionality.

How to connect Nintendo Switch to Bluetooth headphones

In theory, connecting the Nintendo Switch to a Bluetooth listening device is incredibly simple. Here’s how to do it:

  • Update Nintendo Switch firmware to 13.0.0 or better
  • Go to Switch system settings
  • Open “Bluetooth Audio”
  • Select “Pair Device”
  • Activate pairing on Bluetooth device
  • Sync device with Nintendo Switch

While this sounds easy, results have unfortunately been generally inconsistent. There have been numerous individuals on social media demonstrating troubles with getting their headsets or earbuds to sync with the Nintendo Switch, with the feature working or failing seemingly at random even under the same conditions.

Users have demonstrated that even if a connection fails, they can just do the same exact thing over again and get it to work sometimes. It’s unclear what causes these connectivity troubles and whether Nintendo is working on any kind of fix. Unfortunately, this is far from the only problem when it comes to Nintendo Switch Bluetooth functionality.

Nintendo Switch Bluetooth audio not working for many

Many Nintendo Switch users are reporting a wide variety of issues regarding the new Bluetooth audio functionality. These troubles include delay in playing audio from Switch, input lag, random un-pairing, increased Joy-Con drift, and controllers not working.

Switch users have long had issues with Joy-Con connectivity when playing with a docked Switch, since being near other electronic devices can cause dropped inputs. Using Joy-Cons on a docked Nintendo Switch device while using Bluetooth headphones seems to cause a similar problem. So far, there isn’t any sort of fix for these troubles but there are some band-aids that can be applied in lieu of a cure.

How to fix Nintendo Switch Bluetooth audio lag

Audio lag in Bluetooth devices connected to a Nintendo Switch can be remedied by using a Pro Controller instead of Joy-Cons and shutting off any nearby electronic devices that could interfere with the connection.

Numerous people have demonstrated significant audio delay when it comes to the Nintendo Switch. This largely seems to be associated with Joy-Con controllers, and can be partly dealt with by moving to a Pro Controller. Joy-Cons are functionally the same as using two separate pro controllers, so using one pro controller instead of two Joy-Cons allows the audio to have less lag. Moving the speaker or headphones closer to the Switch can have a similar effect.

That said, even under ideal conditions, this may not fix things. It may be a permanent problem with the Nintendo Switch or it may be something that can be fixed later on. Either way, for the time being it seems as though games that rely on audio cues shouldn’t be played using Bluetooth audio devices.

How to fix Joy-Cons when using Bluetooth audio

Troubles with Joy-Cons when using Bluetooth audio devices can usually be fixed by plugging the Joy-Cons into the Switch or moving very close to the Switch.

There have been a number of different issues reported when it comes to Joy-Cons being used while using Bluetooth speakers or headphones. These issues include dropped input, increased Joy-Con drift, and broken motion controls. Unfortunately, there isn’t really an effective fix to these issues.

Even at the best of times, there are serious troubles with Joy-Cons being unable to deal with even small amounts of interference from other devices. Though different audio devices seem to have different levels of impact on Joy-Con input, it doesn’t seem as though there is any way around it and even moving closer to the Nintendo Switch console might not actually help.

It’s strongly recommended that pliers that are using a Bluetooth audio device use a Pro Controller instead of Joy-Cons if they are encountering issues with their inputs.


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