Nintendo released the Switch in 2017, with one of its headlining features being its ability to operate as a hybrid console — an on-the-go portable unit when desired or, using the included docking system, a full-blown TV experience. An audio jack is included for wired headphones, but what about when you want to take your experience wireless with Bluetooth? Here’s how to connect Bluetooth headphones to your Nintendo Switch for a fantastic gaming experience, whether you’re on the bus or in your living room.
Selecting a Bluetooth adapter
Unfortunately, when Nintendo designed the Switch, they didn’t include compatibility with Bluetooth headphones. While the console’s Joy-Con controller uses Bluetooth to connect with the unit, the system will not pair and stream audio over a wireless Bluetooth controller. As a result, you will need an adapter to use with the system. Two routes to take are purchasing an adapter that plugs into the Switch’s USB port or an adapter that uses the 3.5mm audio jack.
We recommend the USB port option, as manufacturers have begun making slim devices that attach to the bottom of the Nintendo Switch console. Our favorite accessory fromGuliKit, the Route Air, plugs discreetly into your USB-C port; the company even includes a USB-C to USB-A adapter if you wish to use the Bluetooth functionality while your system is in the official Nintendo docking station. For those concerned with latency and audio quality, the GuliKit accessory even supports aptX-LL streaming for under 40ms of delay.
While bulkier, you may opt for an adapter that connects to your 3.5mm audio jack; the benefit here is that you can use it with any other audio devices that you might own. Our recommendation for this category is theTaoTronics Bluetooth 5.0 Transmitter, which can even act as a receiver if you ever wish to ordain a pair of your standard wired headphones with Bluetooth technology.
How to connect Bluetooth headphones
Using the GuliKit Route Air Bluetooth Adapter
If you’ve decided to pick up this USB-C based option, the setup is quite simple and involves you plugging the tiny device into your console. For more detailed instructions, follow the steps given below:
Step 1: Engage the Bluetooth pairing mode on your headphones — this process may vary, and it is best to check with your headphone manufacturer for details.
Step 2: Plug the Route Air device into the USB-C port on the bottom of your Switch. If you are using the console in its docking station, use the included adapter to plug it into one of the Switch Dock’s side USB-A ports.
Step 3: Hold the A pairing button until the LED light flashes white. (The B pairing button is reserved for a second set of headphones you may want to use.)
Step 4: The LED will remain stable once connected.
Using the TaoTronics Bluetooth 5.0 Transmitter
If you wish to use the TaoTronics Bluetooth 5.0 Transmitter and Receiver, start by ensuring that the unit is charged. Unlike the previous USB-C method, the TaoTronics unit will need to be recharged; it is rated to last for up to 10 hours of use.
Step 1: Ensure the Switch on the TaoTronics unit is set to TX Mode (Transmitter Mode).
Step 2: Plug the TaoTronics transmitter into your Switch’s 3.5mm audio jack.
Step 3: Hold down the power button for five seconds to power on the unit; the LED lights will slowly flash blue.
Step 4: Engage the Bluetooth pairing mode on your headphones — this process may vary, and it is best to check with your headphone manufacturer for details.
Step 5: To enter pairing mode, tap the power button twice; the LED lights will flash red and blue when pairing mode is achieved.
Step 6: Once paired, the indicator will become solid blue.
Troubleshooting Switch Bluetooth issues
Jaron Schneider / Digital Trends
Issue: My USB Bluetooth adapter isn’t working
First, ensure that any lights on the adapter are lit up to indicate the device is receiving power. Once you have confirmed the device is working, use the steps above to attempt the Bluetooth pairing process. If you are using the GuliKit Route Air, there are two pairing buttons to store two different Bluetooth headphones or speakers; ensure you select the same letter you used to pair your device when you wish to connect.
Problem: My 3.5mm Bluetooth Transmitter isn’t powering on
Most Bluetooth Transmitters, such as the TaoTronics unit recommended above, will need a separate power source. Ensure that the battery of your unit is fully charged before attempting to pair with your Switch. When the TaoTronics Bluetooth 5.0 Transmitter and Receiver is fully charged, the LED will turn off.
Issue: My headphones are paired, but I can’t hear anything
Start by re-attempting the pairing process. If you still can’t hear anything, ensure that the Switch volume controls are turned adequately. Additionally, test another pair of Bluetooth headphones to verify that the issue is not the headphones themselves.