Nintendo announced surprise that Bluetooth audio support has come to the Switch via a software update. The ability to use Bluetooth headphones to listen to game audio has been a glaringly missing feature since the console launched in 2017, so it’s great to finally have it – although there are some limitations.
According to a Nintendo support article, you are limited to using two wireless controllers if you have a Bluetooth headset connected. The system also doesn’t support Bluetooth microphones, which isn’t necessarily surprising given that Nintendo’s proprietary voice chat system relies on an app on your phone. Still, it’s a shame for people who play games with their own built-in voice chat capabilities.
People went to great lengths to get wireless audio on their Switch (we even said it would be a great selling point for a Switch Pro): there have been accessories that acted as Bluetooth audio adapters, and some headsets like the SteelSeries Arctis 1 became Wireless. supplied with a dongle that took advantage of the Switch’s support for USB wireless headphones.
However, having Bluetooth audio built in is a big deal (especially considering that Nintendo’s Pro Controller, unlike many others, doesn’t have a headphone jack). Even with the limitations mentioned above, the feature seems to be well supported – Nintendo says the Switch can store up to 10 connected devices and says it should work with both the regular Switch and the Switch Lite.
My colleague Jay Peters was able to connect his AirPods Pro to the base Switch (not Lite) without much difficulty. In the settings menu there is a section for ‘Bluetooth Audio’ and you can pair your headphones there by following the instructions.
The AirPods Pro worked well in a few rounds of WarioWare: do it together, without noticeable delay — something that is especially important for WarioWare’s fast, nervous microgames. Jay also reports that after a cold boot, his AirPods Pro paired almost immediately after reselecting them in the settings menu.
However, Sean Hollister’s second-generation Switch (also not a Lite) had trouble finding and connecting to any Bluetooth device. He tried it with an Arctis Pro Wireless, first-generation Amazon Echo Buds, the Wyze Buds Pro, a Bluetooth adapter for the Bose QC25, and even an LG TV, but none of them would pair with his Switch. The game system spat out the message “Cannot find Bluetooth audio devices” even after repeated attempts and multiple reboots. We’ll let you know when he fixes it.