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Bluetooth® for home and car audio

Wireless music, no network required

Heads up!

Welcome to this article from the Crutchfield archives. Have fun reading it, but be aware that the information may be outdated and links may be broken.
Bluetooth logo

Bluetooth wireless technology has become a standard feature for smartphones and tablets. But if you’re only using Bluetooth connectivity to link your smartphone to an earpiece, then you’re not taking full advantage of this versatile and easy-to-use wireless technology.

Your Bluetooth enabled device can be connected to portable speakers for on-the-go music listening. For high-quality sound at home, there are powered speaker systems and home theater receivers with Bluetooth built in.

Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth speaker

The Bose® SoundLink® Mini Bluetooth® speaker II makes your smartphone or tablet the life of the party.

The basics

Bluetooth has a range of about thirty feet. The signal goes straight from the sending device to the receiving device. No network or password required.

Bluetooth connections are usually one-to-one. That is, a Bluetooth receiver can only be connected with one device at a time. So if you’re streaming music from your tablet to a Bluetooth speaker, for example, you can’t do some impromptu mixing by also playing music from your smartphone through the same speaker.

Easy connection between two devices

The first step is to “pair” the devices. Make sure both devices are on, and use the sender (smartphone, tablet, or computer) to find the receiver in its menu of detected Bluetooth devices. Selecting it causes the two devices to be paired — your device knows where to send its signals, and receiver recognizes it as a signal source.

Pairing devices is usually a one-time procedure. The devices should remember and automatically find each other. And usually you can pair a receiver with up to eight different portables. The receiver “remembers” the paired devices, which can be handy for systems used by several people. So, for example, everyone in your home with a smartphone can use the Bluetooth speaker system in the family room without having to go through the entire pairing process every time.

Advanced connection options

Although a Bluetooth receiver may have up to eight pairings stored, you normally have to break the connection with one sending device before another can use the system. Some newer portable speaker systems allow for simultaneous pairing of two or more devices, so you can quickly alternate from source to source.

JBL Xtreme

The JBL Xtreme can be simultaneously paired with up to three different devices in Social Mode (smartphone not included).

The first device still needs to stop streaming before another one can take over the speaker. But you don’t have to go all the way through the sign-off/sign-on procedure, making the transition from one source to the other nearly instantaneous. This is a great feature for parties, as it allows several people to share the music on their devices in quick succession.

NFC — Near Field Communications

Some Bluetooth enabled devices and audio products use NFC, which enables a quick connection without having to go through the process of pairing. If both your portable and the speaker system or receiver has NFC capabilities, you can make an instant connection just by bringing your portable close to (or in some cases, touching), the other component. Shop Bluetooth speakers, headphones and car receivers with NFC.

Hands-free calling

One of the most common applications of Bluetooth is hands-free mobile phone operation. Most Bluetooth portable headphones have built-in microphones and controls so you can receive calls and have phone conversations through them. Shop Bluetooth headphones and headsets.

Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats2 Wireless

Bluetooth headphones, like the Beats by Dr. Dre® Powerbeats2 Wireless headphones, don't need an extra cord to connect them to your smartphone.

Many car stereos also have built-in Bluetooth for hands-free calling in your vehicle. And if necessary, you can retrofit your car stereo system with a Bluetooth car kit. Shop Bluetooth car audio products.

Parrot MKi9100 Bluetooth car kit

The Parrot MKi9100 Bluetooth kit for car audio includes a Bluetooth receiver, steering wheel controller, and microphone for hands-free calling.

Several Bluetooth portable speaker systems come with built-in microphones, and can also let you accept calls through them. This effectively turns the system into a wireless speakerphone. Shop portable Bluetooth speakers with speakerphone capability.

Harman Kardon Esquire 2

The Harman Kardon Esquire 2 can serve as a speakerphone for hands-free conversations (smartphone not included).

Wireless music streaming

Portable Bluetooth speakers and desktop speaker systems let you stream music from these devices without needing to make a wired connection. And since any audio your device plays can be streamed, you can enjoy not just the songs stored on your player, but also Internet radio stations, online music services, as well as soundtracks from videos and games.

Regular Bluetooth can deliver good quality sound, and there technological enhancements that can make it even better. The data encoding technology aptX®, for example, retains more of the detail of the source material, resulting in higher quality audio from compatible systems. Bluetooth 2.0+EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) is another way to send more detailed and less compressed audio to a receiver, ensuring fuller and more natural sound.

B&O Play Beolit 15 by Bang & Olufsen

The B&O Play Beolit 15 uses Bluetooth aptX audio coding for greater sonic detail with compatible devices.

While both the sending device and the receiver need to use aptX (or Bluetooth 2.0+EDR) in order for these higher quality signals to transfer, you don’t have to worry about compatibility. If either the sender or receiver doesn’t use one of these technologies, the system defaults to regular Bluetooth and you can still enjoy your music.

Shop receivers, speakers, and headphones with Bluetooth aptX

Bluetooth connectivity at home

It’s now easy to stream wirelessly from your smartphone or tablet to a home theater system via Bluetooth. Many home theater receivers have built-in Bluetooth capability. And for older systems, there are Bluetooth adapters that plug into your home theater receiver. Almost all of the receivers and receiver adapters use aptX technology (outlined above) for high quality audio. Shop home theater receivers with built-in Bluetooth

Pioneer VSX-530 5-channel home theater receiver

The Pioneer VSX-530 home theater receiver has built-in Bluetooth for wireless music streaming from a smartphone or tablet.

Bluetooth powered speaker systems come in a variety of can deliver sound quality that rivals component systems. These systems can be ideal solutions for audiophiles who want a small system for office, den, or apartment.

Audioengine B2 Powered Bluetooth speaker

The Audioengine B2 powered Bluetooth speaker gives you exceptional room-filling sound.

Shop Bluetooth home speakers

Bluetooth connectivity on the go

Bluetooth streaming is admirably suited for portable listening. Just pull out your portable speaker, and start streaming music from your smartphone or tablet. What could be easier?

UE Roll

With a smartphone and a portable Bluetooth speaker — such as the UE Roll — you can have music just about anywhere (smartphone not included).

Shop portable Bluetooth speakers

If you're into extreme sports or outdoor activities, you'll probably want a portable Bluetooth speaker that can handle a little rough-and-tumble. There are plenty of portable speakers available that are built to be shock proof, dust-resistant, and water-resistant. Some are even completely waterproof. Shop weather-resistant portable Bluetooth speakers

JBL Flip 3 Splash-proof portable Bluetooth speaker

JBL Flip 3 is water-resistant, making it a great choice for poolside or outdoor use.

  • Steven F from Slidell

    Posted on 3/12/2019

    Can a Factory installed stereo head unit with Bluetooth connect to a portable Bluetooth speaker?

  • Scott from Lansdale

    Posted on 9/9/2016

    What is effective BT indoor range (receiver to speaker)? Does wall density impair BT transmission? I'm disappointed that these Important factors are not addressed.

  • KEN from Home

    Posted on 5/9/2015

    Can more than one blue tooth capatable boom swimmer speakers be paired to the same source simultaneously without losing the signal to one or the other?

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