The Bionik BT Audio Sync Dongle Fixes Nintendo’s Switch Shortcoming
Why is it that the Switch uses Bluetooth for controllers, but can’t use Bluetooth headphones? Inconsistent explanations add up to dissatisfaction among users. The Bionik BT Audio Sync aims to solve this problem, however, cheaply and effectively.
The gadget is a dedicated Bluetooth dongle that draws power from the Switch’s USB-C port, eliminating the need to charge it, as is the case with some solutions that use the headphone jack. The dongle hangs out beneath the screen, out of the way of your hands and most other accoutrements, though it won’t work with protective cases.
A couple of smart additions to the design makes using it even easier: a pass-through USB-C port for playing while charging, and a USB-A-to-female-USB-C cable, for plugging the unit into the dock. It’s necessary because with the bottom-mounted dongle installed, it won’t fit into the standard dock.
Connection is fairly straightforward. Hold down the pairing button for a few seconds until the orange LED flashes rapidly, then put your Bluetooth headphones into pairing mode. The pairing process itself is a bit hit-and-miss with no screen feedback, but two or three tries should be enough to get most headphones or speakers to connect. Once paired, the connection is reestablished immediately. As a bonus, I didn’t notice any great drop in battery life when the Audio Sync was active.
When playing with several different sets of wireless headphones, I noticed the usual very short delay (2-5 milliseconds would be my guess) between the onscreen action and the sound, in both portable and docked modes. Music and sound effects were exactly as I expected them to be, though on rare occasions either the left or right channel would cut out for a split second. All in all, fairly typical performance for Bluetooth.
$40 seems like a lot to pay to fix a shortcoming that Nintendo should have addressed itself. But if you’ve invested a lot into a pair of nice Bluetooth headphones for your phone or laptop, it’s a pretty reasonable upgrade. I appreciate the simplicity of the package, and the pass-through port and included USB cable for use when docking. Overall, it’s probably as good a solution as you can get, short of Nintendo supporting Bluetooth officially.
Note: The BT Audio Sync was tested on the original Switch, but it should work fine with the recent hardware upgrade. It may not be compatible with the new Switch Lite hitting the market in a few weeks, as that design uses a different plastic body.