EPOS is already focused on delivering high performance, low latency wireless audio for gamers. Find out how our engineers are helping redefine wireless gaming for the future.
It’s easy to take wireless technologies for granted. After all, transmission without cables has been with us since the birth of radio communications at the very end of the 19th century, and developed rapidly over the next 100 years. Bluetooth emerged at the very end of the 20th century as several companies, all working individually to develop short range radio data communications, came together to form a “Special Interest Group” (SIG), realizing that collaboration would be the most effective way to ensure compatibility between a wide variety of equipment that needed to be connected.
As a broad-based standard, Bluetooth was necessarily something of a “jack of all trades” wrapped up in a set of well-balanced compromises, which is why – despite its huge success and many advantages – it’s not suitable for every wireless function. For some purposes, higher bandwidth is needed; or more robust security protocols; or lower power consumption.
For wireless gaming audio, there are several factors which need to be accommodated. The most significant is the need to minimize latency in the audio chain – the lag between the explosion you see on screen and hearing the resulting sound. To send audio wirelessly to a headset, for example, requires the data to be compressed into a format for transmission, sent, received, checked, uncompressed, converted back to an analogue waveform and delivered to the headset speaker system. Well-tuned Bluetooth Classic connections take up to 200ms to carry out this task, which introduces a jarring and unacceptable delay between what you see on screen and what you hear in your headset; in fact, any delay of more than 40ms will be increasingly noticeable.
Reducing delay calls for custom technologies
For this reason, EPOS uses a variety of customized wireless technologies that better serve the needs of gamers than basic Bluetooth audio. The GSP 370, for example, uses a specially tuned, ultra-low latency connection that is also very power efficient at the headset end, giving rise to an exceptional 100-hour battery life. The GSP 670 also features a customized low latency connection, but adds in Bluetooth compatibility for linking to other devices such as a phone or tablet – a solution chosen to suit the requirements of the gamer who needs to be connected at all times and doesn’t want to remove a headset to take or make a phone call.
If you add miniaturization to the challenges, then the bar is set even higher. The EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid gaming earbuds also feature a dedicated low-latency connection from game to earbuds that utilizes aptX LL technology, whilst also offering the alternative of a standard Bluetooth audio connection for non-gaming purposes.
Illustration: From visual to auditory input when gaming. EPOS, part of Demant A/S, is a member of Bluetooth SIG defining the gaming specs standards in the future, aiming to get the lowest latency possible. GTW 270 utilizes aptX for true wireless gaming.
The future of Bluetooth and low latency gaming
At EPOS, we are always pushing the boundaries of technology to deliver the best possible results for the gamers who use our products. We are proud members of the Bluetooth SIG, helping define the wireless gaming specifications of the future, and the Bluetooth LE Audio standard introduces a host of new features which will enable many improvements to wireless audio for gaming. LE refers to the new “Low Energy” Bluetooth radio standard, which not only offers improvements in terms of energy consumption but also adds many other features made possible by these efficiency gains.
For example, LE Audio will enable excellent low latency performance while maintaining battery life and broad compatibility across devices that support the new standard. Significantly, this can be achieved while supporting multiple audio streams across multiple devices in both directions. For example, as a gamer you could enjoy ultra-low latency wireless audio to your headset from your gaming console or PC, while chatting with your friends via your smartphone, both devices simultaneously connected to the same headset.
Alternatively, you and a friend might both be playing a multiplayer game in the lounge while there’s a baby asleep in an adjacent room. When playing on a console supporting Bluetooth LE Audio’s new broadcast feature, you can both receive the same audio from the game into your own headsets, while also being able to voice chat individually through the game’s communication system with friends playing in a different location.
While wired connections still deliver the highest possible performance, many gamers are looking for more flexibility, some of which can only be delivered wirelessly. At EPOS, we are focused on delivering the best possible solutions for as many use cases as possible. Through our own Research and Development program, and as active participants in industry groups such as the Bluetooth SIG, EPOS not only uses cutting edge technologies but has a hand in creating and defining what they can deliver in the future.