Thankfully, it’s become a lot easier and more affordable lately.
Setting up a pair of wireless Bluetooth headphones with a Nintendo Switch used to be a multistep — and somewhat costly — process. First, you needed headphones, then you needed a Bluetooth audio transmitter that plugs into either your Switch’s headphone jack or the USB-C port on its bottom. Well, after nearly four years, Nintendo surprised us with a system update that finally enables said feature natively—no accessories required.
Some Bluetooth transmitters, such as Genki’s Switch adapter, may still be worth the investment if you want to be able to connect multiple headphones at once (the Switch only allows one set of headphones to be paired together). But if it’s just you and your Switch, the new process is no more complicated than pairing the headphones with your smartphone. That said, there are still some steps involved, which we’ll run through below.
put your headphones in pairing mode
On most pairs of Bluetooth headphones, you can enter pairing mode by pressing and holding the power button longer than it takes to turn on. Most models will make a separate chime or have LEDs that flash rapidly to indicate that pairing mode is active.
This feature isn’t limited to larger over-ear or on-ear headphones. You can also pair wireless earbuds, but the pairing process may be a little different for them. For example, you can easily pair Apple’s AirPods with the Switch, but you’ll have to open the case with the AirPods inside them and press the pairing button on the side of the case. If all else fails, check your headphones’ instruction manual or look up the process online.
Find the Bluetooth Audio Settings on Your Switch
From there, head to the Switch’s main menu where you can select a game and click the Settings icon at the bottom of the game library. It looks like a gear.
In the next window, scroll down the left-hand pane until you see “Bluetooth Audio”. Click on it, at which point your only option will be to click “Pair Device.”
Register your headphones with your Switch
With your headphones in pairing mode (and your Switch is now actively looking for them), their model name should populate on the Switch’s screen. When that’s done, click on the model name to start pairing your headphones or earbuds with your Switch.
When it’s successful, a window will pop up saying “connected to bluetooth audio”.
If you run into problems—such as if your Switch suddenly takes 30 seconds or more to wake up from sleep—my colleague Sean Hollister has the solution for you. Nintendo has also noted That by connecting the headphones via Bluetooth, your Switch will only be able to connect to two wireless controllers, while there are many other situations when you’re not paired. There may also be some audio latency, so what is happening in the game may not be entirely consistent with what you are hearing. In my brief experience trying it out, however, it didn’t sound too bad since I relied on third-party Bluetooth transmitters.