To use Bluetooth headphones on the switch – Connect AirPods to the Nintendo Switch

To use Bluetooth headphones on the switch – Connect AirPods to the Nintendo Switch

Image: Nintendo Life

A firmware update for the Nintendo Switch has made it possible to use wireless headphones directly with the console (without the need for an external third-party dongle or solution for using Apple AirPods, Powerbeats, and other popular Bluetooth headphones with the system.

In this Nintendo Switch Wireless Headphone Connection Guide, we will walk you through the steps to connect your AirPods to the Switch and look at how to adjust the switch’s maximum headphone volume to your liking. It will also look at some common Bluetooth audio issues and offer potential solutions.

Nintendo Switch Bluetooth Headphone Connection Guide

In this Switch wireless headphone guide, we look at how to connect Bluetooth headphones to the Switch, as well as some common issues that arise and questions you may have.

Note: We have used AirPods as an example throughout this article (as these are the Bluetooth earphones we have), but the vast majority of information below will apply to any Bluetooth wireless headphones, headphones or other audio devices you may own.

Let’s start with the basics …

How to connect Apple AirPods to switch

Navigate first to ‘System settings’ on the main screen (the second circular icon from the right along the bottom) and scroll down to ‘Bluetooth audio’ in the left column.

Note – To make sure your switch is up to date with the latest firmware- the Bluetooth audio update came with version 13.0.0- to check the system version, scroll down to the bottom of the left “System Settings” column to ‘System’. Just below ‘System Update’ it should show your ‘Current System Version: XX.X.X’.


Press ‘Add device’ and the system will start searching for detectable Bluetooth audio devices. When prompted, make sure the Bluetooth device (headphones, speakers, etc.) is in a visible state and not locked to another device.

For Apple AirPods, for example, this means you have to put the AirPods in their case, open the lid and hold down the button on the case until it starts pulsing with a white light (other variants of Bluetooth headphones may have a different method to enter a visible mode – see the instructions from your specific headphones or earphones).

Once the console has identified it, select the device to pair the console with your headphones. Finished work!

How do I adjust my headphone volume on the socket?

Hold down the Home button (right Joy-Con) and a menu will appear allowing you to adjust the volume of the connected headphones (as well as the screen brightness).

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Can I use wireless headphones with my switch in Docked mode?

Yes.

We switched form handheld to dock for handheld mode again without BT sound interruption or interruption.

Nintendo Switch Bluetooth Audio Problems Frequently Asked Questions

Wired headphones are so 20th century
Wired headphones are so 20th century (Image: Nintendo)

Anyone with experience with Bluetooth audio devices has probably encountered connectivity issues at some point. It is probably good to remember that Bluetooth was never originally intended to transmit intense data-heavy sound, and problems can arise for various reasons.

In this section, we present common problems that arise with solutions and explanations. We update this guide with more questions and solutions.

My AirPods do not connect to the Switch

If your headphones do not appear visible on your switch, or if they do not connect even though they were previously paired with your switch, their connection to another the device may prevent them from pairing with your console.

For example, if your AirPods are connected to your iPhone, they will not be able to connect to your switch. In that case, you will disable Bluetooth on your phone (on an iPhone you can swipe up from the bottom and tap the Bluetooth icon to quickly disable BT without going to Settings).

I put my switch into sleep mode and now my AirPods are not connecting again

If you play and then press the Standby button to go into sleep mode, your headphones are disconnected from the switch.

If you assume you have not repaired them with another device, Bluetooth headphones should automatically reconnect to the Switch – depending on the AirPods you use, you may need to remove them from your ears briefly to reconnect (re) register (we found this necessary with our AirPod professionals).

It’s too quiet! How do I make my headphones louder on the Switch?

Some people experience very low volume with AirPods and other Bluetooth earphones on the Switch.

Although it seems that the maximum volume is always lower than for other audio devices (we switched to wired Apple earphones to test and found the maximum volume noticeably higher – uncomfortable then, but of course your mileage will vary here), you have possibly ‘Lower maximum’ Headphone volume ‘enabled.

The ‘Lower Maximum Headphone Volume’ option is found in the ‘System’ settings rather than in the ‘Bluetooth Audio’ section (at the bottom of the column in the System Settings main menu) and is designed to prevent accidental hearing damage.

5. Nintendo Switch lower maximum headphone volume off

If you have this enabled, simply tap the option to disable it (if you have enabled parental controls, enter your PIN to unlock it – check the included Nintendo Switch parental controls app to find your PIN, if you have forgotten it.

With ‘lower maximum headphone volume’ disabled, we found the sound comfortable at full volume using AirPods and of course easier to hear with AirPod Pros’ noise reduction enabled. However, the maximum volume when using Apple AirPods seems to be noticeably quieter than other brands.

We will update with more information after more tests.

I can not connect controllers while using Bluetooth headphones

This is one of the limits that Nintendo highlights – a maximum of two controllers can be connected to a console while Bluetooth audio is in use.

For two players using a single Joy-Con each, you’re fine. However, if you are playing in Tabletop mode and someone wants to use e.g. A Pro Controller, a small message pops up reminding you that:

Up to two wireless controllers can be used during Bluetooth audio.

It should be noted that multi-switch local multiplayer playback also disables Bluetooth audio.

Can I use my Bluetooth microphone for voice chat?

No, unfortunately this is another limitation. Nintendo expressly states that:

Bluetooth microphones cannot be used.

Why does the sound lag behind the action on the screen?

Bluetooth may have become an industry standard for quickly transferring data between devices, but it’s not the best when it comes to high quality audio, and you may notice some audio delay.

Creation time will vary depending on your device. As an example, while using AirPods, we found the sound of Sonic’s jump (in Sonic 2) not heard until the character approaches the top of the jump. The sound delay is noticeable and can have a negative effect if a game’s sound is crucial to gameplay.

Playing something like Cadence of Hyrule, for example, which relies on precise button presses at a stroke, would be difficult. In other games, however, you may not even notice the sound delay. It all depends on what you play and how sensitive you are.


We hope you found this guide useful. We’ll update it over time, so if you have any questions or suggestions, drop them in the comments below and we’ll do our best to resolve them.

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