10 ways to play your smartphone music out loud
Get great sound at home or on the go
Ralph Graves is one of Crutchfield's blog editors, and part of the company's social media team. He writes about home audio/video gear, specializing in Apple-related and wireless technologies. Ralph holds a master's degree in music composition, and his works have been released on various labels. He's served as product manager for an independent classical and world music label, produced several recordings, and worked extensively in public broadcasting. Since 1984 he's hosted a weekly classical music program on WTJU, and is also active as a blogger and podcaster.
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These days, your smartphone’s your entertainment center. You can play music stored on your phone or from any number of music apps, enjoy streaming services, listen to Internet radio stations from around the world, and more. When you try to share all that great music with your friends, though, your smartphone’s tiny speakers just can’t do it justice -- or in some cases, even play it loud enough to be heard. Take heart. Here are 10 easy ways to bypass those teeny speakers and let the music out.
The Bose® SoundLink® Mini Bluetooth® speaker II lets you take your music anywhere you go.
1. Portable Bluetooth® speakers — Bluetooth speakers are about the simplest solution. They work with virtually all smartphones (and tablets). Some even let you connect more than one device simultaneously so you and your friends can take turns as DJ. Portable Bluetooth speakers come in all shapes and sizes.
Shop Crutchfield’s selection of portable Bluetooth speakers
2. Non-portable Bluetooth speakers — Bluetooth speakers in the home are just as simple to use as their portable counterparts. And because just about every portable device has Bluetooth, your friends can share tunes from their smartphones or tablets when they come over. A small Bluetooth speaker in a spare bedroom can make your guests feel right at home.
Shop Crutchfield’s selection of non-portable Bluetooth speakers
3. Computer speakers (via headphone jack) — The same desktop speakers you use for your computer can also deliver great sound from your smartphone. Just plug the connector into your phone’s headphone jack and enjoy. A great solution for a workspace, home office, or den — wherever your computer lives.
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4. Home theater receivers — Most new home theater receivers make it easy to play audio (music and video soundtracks) through your component audio system. The simplest way is to connect your smartphone to your receiver’s auxiliary input via a stereo minijack-to-RCA adapter cable. If your receiver has a MHL-compatible front-panel HDMI port, you can connect your compatible Android smartphone to it via a cable and control it with your receiver’s remote. Some receivers also have Apple AirPlay® or Bluetooth, so you can wirelessly stream music from your iPhone® or Android™ smartphone.
Shop Crutchfield’s selection of home theater receivers with built-in Bluetooth
Most wireless multi-room audio systems — such as the Samsung Shape — have a control app for your smartphone.
5. Wireless multi-room audio systems — If you have a wireless multi-room music system, such as Sonos, Korus, or Samsung Shape™, you can stream music from your smartphone (Apple or Android) through it. So you can enjoy your music in any room you’ve installed a system component in — through home audio speakers. Some, such as the Bose® SoundTouch® Wi-Fi music system, let you stream from your iPhone via Apple AirPlay.
Shop Crutchfield’s selection of multi-room audio systems
Options for iPhones® and other Apple devices
6. AirPlay wireless powered speakers — These systems let you stream music not only from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, but also from computers running the current version of iTunes®.
Shop Crutchfield’s selection of powered speakers with AirPlay
The MartinLogan Crescendo is compatible with both Apple AirPlay and Bluetooth.
7. Speaker systems with built-in iPhone docks — These powered speaker system offer two advantages for the iPhone user. First, they offer all the convenience of other wireless AirPlay speaker systems. Second, you can dock your iPhone to the system and play music through the system while your phone recharges.
8. Network digital music players — Network digital music players have the ability to stream music from your computer, networked hard drives, and the Internet. And some come with Apple AirPlay so you can add your iPhone’s music to the mix.
Shop Crutchfield’s selection of network digital music players with AirPlay
9. Digital-to-analog converters (DACs ) — DACs provide superior signal processing for connected devices, such as computers and CD players. Some include Apple AirPlay or Bluetooth for wireless streaming from your iPhone. Others have a built-in iPhone dock, so you can make a wired connection for even better sound. And some let you connect via a USB cable.
Shop Crutchfield’s selection of iPhone-compatible DACs
10. Wireless iPhone transmitters — Some powered speaker systems use proprietary wireless technologies that transmit uncompressed signals for better sound quality. Most of these systems offer dongles that can be attached to your iPhone so you can stream from your device through the system. Some allow you to connect their signal receiver to a speaker system or component through auxiliary input, so you can stream wirelessly through even non-Bluetooth or Airplay components.