Entertainment

Sonos buys Bluetooth audio startup to build better headphones

T2 Software was working on the new Bluetooth LE Audio standard; Sonos appears to be looking for an ad agency for its headphones launch.

Sonos staff during IPO

Sonos went public in 2018. Now it’s embarking on “one of the most ambitious projects in [its] history.”

Photo: Sonos

Sonos has acquired Louisville, Kentucky-based Bluetooth audio startup T2 Software, Protocol has been able to confirm. T2 Software had been working on implementations of Bluetooth LE Audio, a new standard that promises higher-quality audio over Bluetooth while also optimizing device battery usage — both key to building next-generation wireless headphones.

A Sonos spokesperson confirmed the acquisition, but declined to share any further details. “Occasionally, we will acquire teams, talent, and/or technology that augment our existing and future product roadmap,” the spokesperson said via email.

The company has yet to publicly announce its plans to branch out into the wearables market, but a recent LinkedIn posting suggests a launch may come later this year.

T2 Software was founded in 2018, and quietly joined Sonos in November. The startup was founded by Tim Reilly, a veteran Bluetooth expert who sold his previous company to Qualcomm. After working on Qualcomm’s wearables portfolio for a little over two years, Reilly founded T2 Software to focus on Bluetooth Audio. One of the T2 Software’s first clients was headphone-maker Bose.

More recently, T2 Software had been working on implementations of Bluetooth LC3, a dedicated audio codec for the new Bluetooth LE Audio standard. “The codec is designed to achieve high-quality audio at much lower data rates than the current [codec] used in Bluetooth audio solutions today, thus achieving lower power consumption,” T2 Software explained on its website, which has been taken down following the Sonos acquisition.

The codec also supports a number of advanced features that are not part of the current Bluetooth specs. For instance, it can send out multiple synchronized audio streams to headphones at the same time for better stereo pairing and more seamless integration of voice assistants.

Another new feature: Bluetooth LC3 supports broadcasting audio signals to multiple endpoints, which would allow people to stream the same music to multiple headphones, much like Sonos currently streams audio over Wi-Fi to multiple speakers.

Sonos has been quietly working on a headphones product for a number of years. Bloomberg first reported about the company’s efforts in this space in 2019, and a patent filing from 2020 revealed further details about the product.

Now, it looks like Sonos is getting closer to launching its headphones. Last week, Sonos VP of Marketing Pete Pedersen revealed on LinkedIn that the company was looking for a new ad agency to help with “one of the most ambitious projects in [its] history.”

Prospective agency partners were told that they should have experience in “launching a new brand/product/service in an established category,” “creating a new category for an established brand,” and “targeting a new audience/consumer segment” — all things that would match an expansion into the headphone space.

Sonos’ spokesperson declined to comment on any connection between the search and the company’s product roadmap.

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