How to Set Up Bluetooth Audio on a Nintendo Switch -- and Why it's Worth Doing

Yes, you can use the headphones you want.

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
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  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Scott Stein
2 min read
A nintendo switch, a pair of Bluetooth earbuds and the Bluetooth Audio options screen

Bluetooth audio on the Switch is easy to set up and works pretty well so far, with a few limits.

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for a long time, Bluetooth audio was one of the much-requested features on the Nintendo Switch. Finally, in late 2021, it became available through a software update. Now, Bluetooth audio works on all Switch models, including the OLED-screened Switch. It was always kind of shocking that the Switch never supported Bluetooth audio. But now it's here, and it's good, but there are things to keep in mind.

First, if you haven't updated the system since late 2021, you need to install the latest version of the Nintendo Switch OS in the Switch settings. When you do, there's a feature in System Settings called -- you guessed it -- Bluetooth Audio.

The Nintendo Switch's Bluetooth Audio options screen

Note the fine print on the limits of Bluetooth audio on Switch.

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Pairing a Bluetooth headset was easy, at least when I tried with my AirPods Pro. Set your headphones into pairing mode, have the Switch look for the device and hey, they're connected. It should work with any other Bluetooth headphones you try, too. 

Nintendo switch searches for bluetooth headphones
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Once paired, audio plays like you'd expect. In handheld mode, it's great because no wired headphones are needed. It's even better in docked mode, where -- finally -- you can play on a TV and listen privately without bothering anyone.

A pair of Airpods connected to a nintendo switch

There they are.

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Of course, before Nintendo added this feature, there were third-party Bluetooth audio adapters that did the same thing with a dongle. Those still could come in handy because they don't interrupt any normal Nintendo Switch functions. Because using Bluetooth audio on the Switch does have some drawbacks. 

First, it doesn't work with microphones for in-game chat. The audio is output only, no input. And, only two wireless controllers can be paired while using Bluetooth audio. Normally, you could connect up to eight individual Joy-Con controllers. That's fine because I don't do in-game chat and when I'm playing by myself I'll only ever use a maximum of two Joy-Cons at once. But the limitations may annoy some.

An onscreen list explains the limits of Bluetooth audio on the Switch

So far I haven't had issues, but I've only started trying it out.

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I found a little lag putting the Switch to sleep when the headphones were paired. Nintendo warns some lag could happen, so maybe it's best to unpair before turning off the Switch. Nintendo also says audio lag could happen, but things sounded fine to me. I played Spelunky 2, WarioWare: Get It Together and Super Monkey Ball, all of which are quick-response twitchy games and audio didn't seem out of sync or annoying. 

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