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How to set up Bluetooth audio on Nintendo Switch -- and why it's worth it

Finally, you can use the headphones you want.

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

Scott Stein/CNET

The most-requested feature on the Nintendo Switch suddenly became available overnight: Bluetooth audio now works with the latest software update on all Switch models, including the upcoming OLED-screened Switch. It was always shocking that the Switch never supported Bluetooth audio and now that it's here... it's good? But there are things to keep in mind.

First, you need to install the latest version of the Nintendo Switch OS in the Switch settings. When you do, there's a new feature in System Settings called -- you guessed it -- Bluetooth Audio.

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

Scott Stein/CNET

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. 

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Scott Stein/CNET

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.

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There they are.

Scott Stein/CNET

Of course, there already are Bluetooth audio adapters that do 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.

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

Scott Stein/CNET

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.