How to Add Bluetooth to Home A/V Receiver


Add Bluetooth capabilities to your old stereo receiver quickly and easily with a Bluetooth receiver.

Introduction

Adding Bluetooth to an older home stereo is simple – all you need is a simple Bluetooth adapter. They’re designed for simple plug-and-play operation, with a host of features that can help bring out the most in your A/V setup. Anyone looking for a solution will find an abundance of options: expect to spend between $20 and $60 retail (all prices in USD) to add Bluetooth to your old A/V receiver.

Stop handing around that AUX cable, and start leveraging the wonders of modern technology 😃 You’ll find my present picks deeper in this post, or you can navigate to this link to begin exploring the wide range of available devices.

The Need for a Bluetooth Receiver

I’ve been spoiled rotten by Bluetooth, and I’d venture that many consumers are in a similar boat. Bluetooth is ubiquitous, with most modern devices supporting it out of the box. I canvassed the landscape for products that would provide Bluetooth audio streaming capabilities — an elegant solution that would allow anyone to turn their older home A/V receiver into a gadget capable of keeping pace with the latest consumer audio devices.

At one point, I thought that going with the shiniest new receivers on the market wouldn’t be a bad idea. However, there is a certain beauty that surrounds older A/V equipment, not to mention tremendous value. Instead of junking your old receiver (which probably has great components in it, right?), add a Bluetooth receiver to pick up your tunes through the air. I had several older home A/V receivers without Bluetooth, and this turned out to be a terrific upgrade to extend the capabilities of these faithful receivers.

Broad Overview of Bluetooth Receivers

Bluetooth receivers are available with a range of outputs and supported features. I cover them below.

For the home audio enthusiast, it’s important to buy a Bluetooth receiver that will pass high-fidelity signals to the A/V receiver. What to look for? You’ll want the cleanest output that your equipment can use, and that is typically found through digital audio output. By going digital, you bypass whatever digital-to-analog converter (DAC) the manufacturer of the Bluetooth receiver decided to put into their box — this work goes to your dedicated A/V receiver setup. My objective testing of the Belkin SongStream HD Bluetooth Music Receiver showed that the digital outputs were significantly cleaner than the analog output.

Audio fidelity and price generally go up as you move down the list owing to increased number of parts and complexity of the receiver.

  • Stereo 3.5mm
  • RCA
  • Digital
    • Digital Coaxial
    • Digital Optical (TOSLINK)

There are certain keywords that you are likely to encounter as you examine the features of individual Bluetooth receivers. Among them:

  • A2DP: Advanced Audio Distribution Profile; profile defining how audio can be streamed from one device to another over a Bluetooth connection; designed to transfer an audio stream in up to 2 channel stereo
  • aptX (formerly apt-X): high-fidelity audio streaming codec that is an extension of A2DP supported by some manufacturers which claims to offer CD-quality sound; to reap the benefits, both source and receiver must have support for aptX
  • Near Field Communication (NFC): set of standards for devices to communicate with each other by touching them together, or placing them in close proximity

Choose whichever works best for your setup. For the best audio quality over Bluetooth, choose a unit with digital output that supports aptX.

Current State of Bluetooth Receivers

Since this post was published, there has been a massive surge in the number of options to choose from. Time brought other players into the arena of high-fi Bluetooth home audio receivers, driving down prices across the board. If I were buying today, I’d look for a unit that features digital outputs and uses the aptX codec.

Bluetooth Receivers with Digital Audio Output

This link takes you to Amazon’s results for Bluetooth receivers with aptX and digital optical output, while this link takes you to results for receivers with aptX and digital coaxial output. I’ve highlighted a couple of options for your consideration below:

aptX + Digital Optical + Coaxial

HopCentury Bluetooth Music Receiver – aptX, Digital Optical & Coaxial as well as analog 3.5mm Outputs (Amazon.com)

aptX + Digital Coaxial

Yamaha YBA-11 Bluetooth Wireless Audio Receiver (MSRP $69.95, Amazon.com)

aptX + Digital Optical

Nyrius Songo HiFi BR50 – Bluetooth aptX Music Receiver with Digital Optical & 3.5mm Audio Output (Amazon.com)

Bluetooth Receivers with Analog Output Only

Some individuals may not need optical output, in which case there are many alternatives to the Bluetooth receivers mentioned above. This link takes you to Amazon’s results for Bluetooth receivers with analog output. Read on to see a few that I’ve picked for your consideration:

aptX + NFC

FosPower Bluetooth 4.0 Receiver (MSRP $24.99, Amazon.com)

MPOW Bluetooth 4.0 Receiver – aptX and NFC (MSRP $29.99, Amazon.com)

aptX

Brightech BrightPlay Home HD Bluetooth 4.0 Receiver – aptX (MSRP $50, Amazon.com)

A2DP + NFC

Brightech BrightPlay Live Bluetooth 4.0 Receiver – includes 3.5mm male-male cable and 3.5mm to RCA adapter (MSRP $40, Amazon.com)

HomeSpot Bluetooth Receiver with NFC (MSRP $39.99, Amazon.com)

A2DP

AmazonBasics Bluetooth 4.0 Audio Receiver (Amazon.com)

Logitech Bluetooth Audio Adapter (MSRP $28, Amazon.com)

My Personal Search for a Bluetooth Receiver

I personally purchased two different Bluetooth receivers.
The first Bluetooth receiver I bought was Belkin’s NFC-enabled SongStream HD Music Receiver (MSRP $59.99, Amazon.com).
Belkin SongStream HD Bluetooth Music Receiver
At the time, the Belkin SongStream HD Music Receiver was the only unit on the market that featured optical audio output. Needless to say, I picked it up, and was favorably impressed by what I received. You can read my review of the unit here. I’ve moved it between a couple of receivers, and it has served me well, working great with my various devices.

My positive experience with the Belkin unit led me to choose them once more when I picked up another Bluetooth receiver for an even older system. Because this system’s A/V receiver only had analog inputs, I went with the simpler Belkin F8Z492TTP Bluetooth Music Receiver (Amazon.com).

Some reviews of the Belkin F8Z492TTP Bluetooth Music Receiver panned the receiver’s range, which was hampered by a metal weight inside of the unit. I pried open the unit and removed this weight, allowing the receiver to shine. It delivered at the time, but there are now more competitive Bluetooth receivers. If you’ve made it this far, you’ve already seen my current picks!

Concluding Remarks

There is little reason not to do this now. Audio transmission through Bluetooth is here to stay, especially with Apple’s bold (and controversial) move to nix the headphone jack on its iPhone 7. The convenience of Bluetooth audio transmission is especially good for home A/V setups. I intend to write more articles on home A/V in the future.

Add Bluetooth to Home A/V Receiver #done

Interested in other ideas to improve your home A/V setup?
Check out how to make your home A/V setup better

Edits

20160915 Major changes to article flow, subheadings for receivers based on availability of features