How to Connect Bluetooth Headphones to Switch: Docked or Handheld

Using Bose Bluetooth headphones with Nintendo Switch
Using Bose Bluetooth headphones with Nintendo Switch

Everything you need to seamlessly connect Bluetooth headphones to Nintendo Switch. Plus, some hacks to improve your audio experience.

Nintendo did not offer Bluetooth audio connectivity to Switch users for the longest time. But this finally changed with a September 2021 firmware update.

Yet, the feature is still not exactly perfect, and connecting Bluetooth headphones to Nintendo Switch is not straightforward.

Even worse, you may encounter new issues after pairing, like audio lags, trouble connecting wireless controllers, and no Bluetooth mic support.

Don’t lose hope just yet! We’ll show you exactly how to connect your Bluetooth headphones to Nintendo Switch. And, walk you through the limitations of Nintendo’s Bluetooth audio feature and discuss some tips to overcome them. Let’s get started!

Can You Connect Bluetooth Headphones to Nintendo Switch?

Using Bose Bluetooth headphones with Nintendo Switch
Using Bose Bluetooth headphones with Nintendo Switch

Yes, you can use Bluetooth headphones on Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite, due to the 13.0 system update.

Before the upgrade, the Switch’s Bluetooth connectivity was only available for its wireless controllers and had no room for Bluetooth audio support.

You could only use wired headphones with the Nintendo Switch through the console’s 3.5 mm headphone jack. Or, be required to use a Bluetooth transmitter.

But thankfully, that’s now all in the past.

Now, you can simply update your Switch to the latest OS to get Bluetooth functionality.

This applies to all Switch models, including the OLED model.

How to update your Nintendo Switch or Switch Lite

Your Nintendo Switch or Switch Lite must operate on system version 13.0 or later to offer Bluetooth audio connectivity.

Follow these steps to check and update your Nintendo Switch:

  1. From the HOME menu, select System Settings.

    System Settings on PS5.
    System Settings on PS5.
  2. Scroll down and select System.

    'System' highlighted.
    ‘System’ highlighted.
  3. Select System Update. The device will first check to see if an update is available. If it is, the download process will proceed automatically.
    The current version of your Nintendo Switch is displayed right under the System Update button.

    'System Update' highlighted.
    ‘System Update’ highlighted.

How to Connect Bluetooth Headphones to Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite

Before connecting, ensure that you only have up to two wireless controllers paired with your Nintendo Switch.

When you’re ready, follow these steps to connect both devices:

  1. Initiate pairing mode on your headphones.
    The pairing process may vary based on your headphones’ model. For example, with Bose headphones, you need to slide the power button all the way up to the Bluetooth symbol and hold it there until you hear “Ready to pair.”
  2. Go to System Settings from the Nintendo Switch Home menu.
  3. Go to Bluetooth Audio and select Pair. This initiates a search for available Bluetooth audio devices.
  4. Select your Bluetooth device to pair.
The procedure described above also works on the Nintendo Switch Lite and Bluetooth earbuds like AirPods. If your headphones disconnect or won’t pair, consider restarting the console and repeating the abovementioned steps.

Bluetooth Audio Limitations on Nintendo Switch

While the built-in Bluetooth audio support gives you freedom from wires when using your console, it has flaws. Here’s a breakdown of some of its limitations:

Number of wireless controllers

The Nintendo Switch can only connect to two wireless controllers at a time. Nintendo also indicates that a single pair of Joy-Con controllers counts as two.

If you are playing a two-player game with Bluetooth headsets, you’ll both have to turn your Joy-Con controller to the side for a comfortable grip. Alternatively, you could both use the Nintendo Switch Pro controller for a better feel of the buttons and more comfort.

Number of Bluetooth devices

You can only connect one Bluetooth headset at a time. The Switch system can save up to 10 Bluetooth devices. So, if you’ve reached this limit, you’ll have to remove a saved device before adding a new headset or wireless controller.

No local communication support

Bluetooth headphones will not work when local wireless communication is active. Therefore, you can’t use Bluetooth headphones when playing a local multiplayer game.

No Bluetooth mic support

The Nintendo Switch disables your headphones’ microphone by default, as it does not support Bluetooth mics. While most Switch games typically don’t support mic audio, this can still be a huge bummer if you’d like to use your headsets to communicate with other players via voice chat.

However, using a dongle with a built-in microphone could provide a way around this.

Audio lag

You may experience audio lag with some Bluetooth headsets as Nintendo Switch utilizes Bluetooth 4.1 instead of more recent versions.

Furthermore, the Switch’s built-in Bluetooth audio only supports the SBC codec. The latency of the SBC codec ranges between 200-300 ms, which is higher than most other codecs. So, the delay between the on-screen action and audio can be quite noticeable and might create a frustrating gaming experience.

Pro Tip: Use a single pro controller instead of two Joy-Cons to reduce the audio lag. Alternatively, you could get a Bluetooth 5.0 and aptX support adapter to eliminate the audio lag.

Can’t track lost controllers

Lastly, when Bluetooth audio is connected, you can’t use the ‘Controllers’ menu to find lost controllers or change grip/order.

How to Connect Bluetooth Headphones to Switch Using Different Bluetooth Adapters

Nintendo Switch in docked mode
Nintendo Switch in docked mode

While the Nintendo Switch’s built-in Bluetooth feature is a welcome addition, some users may want to opt for Bluetooth adapters or dongles. Here are a few benefits of doing so:

  • You can use more than two wireless controllers simultaneously.
  • You can use Bluetooth headphones over a LAN connection.
  • No audio lags.
  • Bluetooth mic support for voice chat(depending on adapter).
If you’re looking for a cost-effective buy, go for an adapter or dongle that also works with other consoles, like PS4/5 or Xbox.

There are different ways to use Bluetooth adapters with Nintendo Switch, depending on the type of adapter you have. Let’s discuss each of them below!

Using a USB-A Bluetooth adapter

The USB-A Bluetooth adapter is great when using your Nintendo Switch in docked mode. Usually, the Nintendo Dock has a USB-A port and works with Bluetooth headsets that already come with a USB dongle and third-party USB-A dongles.

Unfortunately, this method won’t allow you to use your headset mic or game chat.

Follow these steps to learn how to connect Bluetooth headphones via USB-A:

  1. Initiate ‘pairing mode’ on your headphones.{📹}
    The exact process depends on the brand, model, and type of device. With most headphones, like in the case of SONY WF-1000XM3, you only need to press and hold the power or Bluetooth button until the light flashes red and blue. Remember to read your manufacturer’s guide for the best results.
  2. Insert the adapter into the USB-A port on your Nintendo dock.
  3. Press the Bluetooth/power button for a few seconds until the light changes color.
    The process may vary depending on your chosen adapter. If you’re using a Bluetooth adapter that originally came with your headphones, the two should automatically connect once you’ve plugged in the adapter.
  4. You’ll see a notification on your screen saying that the USB audio mode is active.

    USB audio mode in Switch in Docked mode
    USB audio mode in Switch in docked mode

Using a USB-C Bluetooth adapter

The Nintendo Switch has a USB-C port at the handheld device’s middle bottom. A USB-C Bluetooth adapter is great for portable gameplay. You can even use the game chat with the right Bluetooth audio adapter while your Bluetooth headphones are connected.

Here are the steps to connect Bluetooth headphones to Switch using a USB-C adapter:

  1. Get yourself a Guilikit Route Air Pro Bluetooth Adapter or any compatible Bluetooth adapter. This is compatible with PC, Mac, PS4, and Nintendo Switch.

    Guilikit Route Air Pro Bluetooth dongle
    Guilikit Route Air Pro Bluetooth dongle
  2. Insert this into the USB-C port of your Nintendo Switch.

    Plugging USB-C Bluetooth adapter to Nintendo Switch
    Plugging USB-C Bluetooth adapter to Nintendo Switch
  3. If your Bluetooth adapter comes with a mic, plug that in the 3.5mm auxiliary port.
    Unfortunately, Bluetooth adapters do not support headset mics. But with this workaround, The sound input plugged into the 3.5mm port will allow you to communicate in the game chat.

    Plugging mic to 3.5mm port in Nintendo Switch
    Plugging mic to 3.5mm port
  4. Turn on your Bluetooth adapter.
    You can do this by holding down the button at the bottom of the transmitter for about five seconds or until the light starts flashing.

    Turn on Bluetooth adaptor
    Turn on Bluetooth adapter
  5. Switch your headphones to pairing mode.
    There are different ways to do this depending on your headphone model. If unsure, refer to your manufacturer’s guide.

    Putting headphones in pairing mode
    Putting headphones in pairing mode
  6. A few seconds after turning your headphones to pairing mode, the headset and the audio transmitter should connect automatically. An audio prompt will indicate a successful connection.

    Bluetooth headphones connected to Nintendo Switch
    Bluetooth headphones connected to Nintendo Switch

Using a 3.5mm Bluetooth adapter

Another way to connect wireless headphones to Switch is to use a Bluetooth dongle with a 3.5mm jack.

This tutorial features the Ugreen Bluetooth 5.0 Transmitter. We selected this since it has dual audio connectivity technology that allows you to use two headsets simultaneously. It also features aptX LL technology and an 8-hour built-in 120 mAh battery.

Here’s how you can connect your Switch via a 3.5mm Bluetooth adapter:

  1. Initiate pairing mode on your headphones.
  2. Press and hold the multifunctional button on the transmitter for three seconds. A white light should flash every five seconds.

    Holding down the multifunctional button of Ugreen Nintendo Switch Bluetooth Adaptor
    Holding down the multifunctional button
  3. Plug the audio transmitter into the 3.5 mm audio jack. Then, press the multifunction button twice to initiate pairing mode, indicated by red and blue lights flashing alternately.

    Pair bluetooth headphones to Switch
    Pair Bluetooth headphones to Switch adapter
  4. When connected, the white light on the transmitter will flash every 10 seconds.

    Successful pairing
    Successful pairing

How to Use Bluetooth Headphones on Switch Without Buying a Dongle

Connecting your Nintendo Switch to a laptop or PC allows you to use your Bluetooth headset without a dongle nor some of the limitations.

It will let you use more than two controllers and Bluetooth headphones when playing via a LAN connection, but this method will still not enable mic input or game chat.

Here’s what you will need:

This works with both handheld and docked modes. However, it works better when docked since the wires may get in the way when in handheld mode.

Follow these steps:

  1. Plug the AUX cord into your Nintendo Switch and laptop.

    Aux cable connected to Switch and laptop
    Aux cable connected to Switch and laptop
  2. Choose Line-in.

    Choose Line in
    Choose Line in
  3. Turn on your headphones’ and laptop’s Bluetooth. Then, connect your Bluetooth headphones to your PC or Mac.

    Connect Bluetooth headphones to laptop
    Connect Bluetooth headphones to laptop

For a video illustration of how to do it, refer to this Youtube tutorial.

Alternatively, you can also connect your docked Nintendo Switch to the TV, then connect your headphones to your TV. If you’re not sure how, read our guide on how to connect Bluetooth headphones to a TV.

Best Bluetooth Adapters for Nintendo Switch

If you’re looking for the best Bluetooth adapters or Bluetooth dongles for Nintendo Switch, check out the list below:

Homespot Bluetooth Audio Transmitter

Homespot Bluetooth Audio Transmitter (From: Amazon)
Homespot Bluetooth Audio Transmitter (From: Amazon)

The Homespot Bluetooth Audio Transmitter was exclusively made for the Nintendo Switch. It has a high fidelity audio streaming feature that works with both headphones and speakers.

Compatibility: Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite.

Features:

  • Stream audio to two headphones simultaneously
  • Has a built-in microphone

It is advisable to remove your Switch’s protective casing before using this device as it may prevent the USB-C port from fully inserting.

This device does not have a USB-C pass-through charging port. Furthermore, you cannot use the adapter while your Switch is in dock mode.

Genki Bluetooth Audio Transmitter

Genki Bluetooth Audio Transmitter (From: Amazon)
Genki Bluetooth Audio Transmitter (From: Amazon)

The Genki Bluetooth Audio Transmitter offers dual headphone connectivity technology, making it great for multiplayer games.

Compatibility: Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Switch Lite, PS4, Android, iOS, Windows PC, and Mac.

Features:

  • Allows two headphones to connect to one adapter simultaneously
  • Comes with an audio adapter, boom mic accessory, and USB adapter for dock mode
  • Has a USB-C pass-through charging port, which lets you charge your device while playing.

UGREEN Bluetooth 5.0 Transmitter

UGREEN Bluetooth 5.0 transmitter (From: Amazon).
UGREEN Bluetooth 5.0 transmitter (From: Amazon).

The UGREEN Bluetooth 5.0 transmitter fits into the 3.5 mm headphone jack. It offers Bluetooth 5.0 transmission making it a great choice if you wish to prevent audio lag. Like the Genki Bluetooth adapter, it also offers dual headphone connectivity.

Compatibility: Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite.

Features:

  • Allows two headphones to connect to one adapter simultaneously
  • Adopts the aptX low latency codec to eliminate audio lag
  • Supports several audio codecs (aptX LL, aptX, SBC, and AAC) for greater headphone compatibility and audio quality.
You cannot use the UGREEN adapter when your Switch is in Dock mode. It also does not provide mic support.

Conclusion

With these tips, you can now reclaim your freedom. No more tangled wires, frayed cables, or fall-offs caused by accidental wire sweepages. You can now enjoy a freer and wider range of motion compared to using wired headphones while playing with your beloved Nintendo Switch.

Of course, this wouldn’t be possible without a decent wireless gaming headset. If you’re still looking for one, check out our list of the most recommended wireless gaming headsets today.

We hope these tips helped you achieve a great Switch wireless headphone experience. If you tried any of these tips, make sure to leave us a comment below. Also, if you want to add more hacks, feel free to share them. We love hearing from you!

Leave a Reply