How to Add Bluetooth to Any Old Pair of Speakers

We love Bluetooth and all its possibilities. Once the domain of dorky headsets, Bluetooth is now in mice, keyboards, phones, computers, tablets, fitness trackers, and so much more. One of the best applications we’ve seen, however, is Bluetooth audio.

Bluetooth audio is simply the ability to pair your device, be it a phone, tablet, computer, or other, to a speaker or speakers for pure wire-free listening enjoyment. Bluetooth speakers are a big seller nowadays, and you’ve likely seen commercials for various models such as the Beats Pill or the Jawbone Jambox. We’ve had the pleasure of reviewing a Braven model and even have a full-on guide to portable Bluetooth speakers.

Unfortunately, a good Bluetooth speaker is going to set you back between $150-$200. There are others that can be had for less, but what you’re really paying for is the convenience of not being tethered by a wire. You’re not going to get a whole lot of bass or oomph from one speaker about the size of a pint can of beer.

That’s not to say a Bluetooth speaker isn’t worth considering if you’ve got money set aside for such luxuries, but we suspect most people still have an old set of desktop speakers sitting there, or even a real stereo with auxiliary inputs. The great thing about these, other than that they’re already paid for and play music just fine, is that they can easily be upgraded to accept streaming Bluetooth audio for well under $50.

Tiny Receiver, Huge Possibilities

Bluetooth receivers pair with any Bluetooth-enabled device, allowing you to stream everything, from anywhere, to your very non-portable speakers. It’s so cheap and easy, you’ll wonder why you didn’t think of it before.

We decided to test out the Nyrius Songo wireless Bluetooth receiver, which can be had for as little as $25 on Amazon. We don’t recommend this particular receiver over any others, we’re more interested in the ease and viability of this type of solution. We recommend you do a little research before making your own purchasing decisions.

The actual receiver is pretty tiny, in fact, it’s smaller than a standard square Post-it® note.

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Bluetooth receivers can come with a variety of outputs and features depending on your needs. Some might have optical audio connections, others sport RCA plugs for left and right channels. You can pair via Bluetooth, or for a little more money, some models come with NFC for instant tap-to-pair abilities.

This receiver is pretty barebones, though it doesn’t really need to be fancy. A simple LED on the front tells us when it is paired to a device. On the back is a 5V USB power connector, and a 3.5mm stereo output.

The setup is simple. Plug the device into a power source, connect it from the audio out directly to your speaker’s audio cable or an auxiliary input.

With that done, the only thing left to do is to pair it. This particular model can store up to eight different audio sources.

When the device is plugged in, it will automatically broadcast its identifier. Simply open the Bluetooth settings on your preferred device, and connect. On a low-end receiver such as this, you can only pair one device to it at a time, so if you want to switch sources, you must first disconnect the currently  paired device.

A Pairing Primer

We were able to pair all of our devices to the receiver with no problems. Whenever we wanted to pair a new one, we’d just disconnect the device by turning off its Bluetooth or disconnecting. After that, it was a simple matter of just opening the Bluetooth controls on the new device and pairing or reconnecting it to the receiver.

Pairing with an iOS device:

Open the settings, tap “Bluetooth” and then tap the receiver to pair or reconnect to it.

Pairing with an Android device:

Open the settings, tap “Bluetooth” and then tap the receiver to pair or reconnect to it.

Pairing with OS X:

Open the Bluetooth system preferences (use Spotlight, it’s faster), and click on the device to pair it.

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From thereon, you can reconnect using the Bluetooth system preferences, or you can click on the Bluetooth symbol on the menu bar.

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Pairing with Windows:

If you’re using Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, the easiest way to pair any Bluetooth device is through PC Settings -> PC and devices -> Bluetooth. Tap or click the device and then “Pair.”

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If you want to do this via the Control Panel (such as on Windows 7), click “Devices & Printers” and then “Add a device.”

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Windows will search for available devices and printers. When the device in question appears, tap it to pair.

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Using Bluetooth devices on Windows is kind of a pain. There doesn’t appear to be an easy way to disconnect and reconnect devices. With everything else, if there’s no obvious way to disconnect from a device, then one only needs to turn off Bluetooth for a moment. Windows, however, only gives users the option to remove the device, which mean you have to re-pair it when you want to use it again.

Yes but, How Does it Sound?

We should probably be skeptical of something smaller than a deck of cards (seriously, this thing is tiny), but it works really well. Sound quality obviously will depend on the music source (streaming service? lossy? lossless?) as well as the actual sound system. That said, it was fairly impossible to tell the difference between playing music while attached by wire, or magically beaming it through the air from up to 33 feet away.

Granted, this is not an audiophile’s solution, though nicer equipment probably evens the playing field a great deal. That said, just about everyone probably has an old pair of speakers with maybe even a subwoofer, which surely sounds a far cry better than the tinny little speakers on their phone or tablet.

We’d like to hear it from you now. Knowing that many of you have perfectly serviceable stereo systems and desktop speakers lying around, do you or have you considered adding a Bluetooth solution to them? If so, how’s it working for you? Speak up in our discussion forum and tell us about it.

Matt Klein is an aspiring Florida beach bum, displaced honorary Texan, and dyed-in-wool Ohio State Buckeye, who fancies himself a nerd-of-all-trades. His favorite topics might include operating systems, BBQ, roller skating, and trying to figure out how to explain quantum computers.