The Nintendo Switch finally got on the bandwagon and is allowing Bluetooth audio. We still don’t have Bluetooth mic support, but this is a start at least.
1: You need to make sure that your Switch is running version 13.0 of the firmware. To do that, you’ll want to open the System Settings from the Home menu, and then scroll down in the left-hand sidebar to the “System” Section, and there under “System Update” button is the version number your Switch is currently running. If you’re not running version 13 or newer, then you’ll want to connect to the Internet and get that update by hitting the “System Update” button.
2: Once you have it installed, you’ll see the “Bluetooth® Audio” button just 2 items above the “System” menu in the Settings. Click on that, and you’ll note there are a few requirements, namely that you can only have a max of 2 wireless controllers connected. This means you can have either 2 Pro controllers, or 2 Joy-Cons (or 1 pair of Joy-Cons) connected to your Switch. Anymore and your Switch will not connect to your headphones.
3: On your AirPods you’ll want to put the AirPods in the case and hold down the pairing button on the back of the case. You should see the LED light either on the front of your AirPods case or inside flash white, depending on what model you have. This means it is in pairing mode.
4: Set the AirPods near your Switch, and on the Switch hit “Pair Device”. The Switch will scan for devices and then show a list of options, though it may take a while for it to appear, because the Switch seems to be on the slower end of Bluetooth pairing devices. I think it’s trying to populate the entire list before showing it to you rather than show things as it detects them.
5: After about a minute or two it will show the list of devices that it sees, in this case the AirPods. Select your AirPods name on the Switch, and hit the A button to connect. After a few seconds, it’ll say connected, and you should see the name of the headphones and their volume in the top left corner.
Troubleshooting and Other Tips
Now if you want to adjust the volume you can use the buttons on the top of the Switch in handheld mode, or press and hold the Home button on your controller/right Joy-Con to bring up a side bar that will let you adjust the volume.
If you find the earbuds aren’t that loud even with the volume up, you may want to go into the System Settings, scroll back down to System, and then near the bottom of the right screen, check if “Lower Max Headphone Volume” is enabled or not. You can turn this setting off to allow the headphones to go full volume, or turn it on so you don’t accidentally rupture your eardrums.
One last note is some people are reporting audio lag between action on screen and when they hear the accompanying audio. Your results may vary, but it seems the Switch doesn’t have much support for low-latency protocols. So in the meantime your best bets are the limit the number of Bluetooth and other devices that might be interfering. So docked is going to be better than undocked, using a single Pro controller or a single Joy-Con is better than using a pair of Joy-Cons linked together, and (even if this is about using the AirPods), using a unified Bluetooth headset, such as the AirPods Max, rather than independent earbuds such as the basic AirPods that I’m using in this video.