Bluetooth technology is fast becoming something we simply can’t live without. But what do you do if you have speakers or a whole stereo system without Bluetooth connectivity?
Perhaps you’re into classic, high-quality sound systems, or just already have all the speakers you need for the next lifetime. In that case, you might end up feeling a little left out or even jealous of Bluetooth-compatible systems.
But no more!
I’m going to teach you how to turn a regular speaker into a Bluetooth speaker. And I’m sure you’re pleasantly surprised and tickled pink by just how easy it is and how affordable this upgrade can be, too. So with just a few steps, you can join the wonderful world of wireless connections that Bluetooth provides.
Adding Bluetooth to a Speaker: Easy as 1-2-3!
It really couldn’t be easier to upgrade a regular speaker to a Bluetooth speaker. All you need to do is follow these three steps:
- Buy a Bluetooth receiver.
- Connect the Bluetooth receiver to your speaker or stereo system.
- Pair your device with the receiver and play your music.
Next, let’s look a bit at the different types of Bluetooth receivers out there and the different ways to connect Bluetooth receivers to normal speakers, home stereos, and even car stereo systems.
Connecting a Bluetooth Receiver to Your Stereo System
While buying yourself a Bluetooth receiver is easy and pairing a phone, tablet, or another device to it is a piece of cake, connecting it properly can be a challenge.
Why is that?
Well, because there are different ways to connect to different things. If you want to know how to turn a regular speaker into a Bluetooth speaker, you first have to know what type of speaker it is that you’re converting. The main difference that we’re concerned with here is whether you have an active or a passive speaker.
Connecting to an Active Speaker
In electrics and electronics, anything that is active has its own power. So, speakers that you have to plug into the wall are active because they must be actively powered to work. This can also include speakers that take batteries or are rechargeable.
Most computer speakers are active, drawing power via USB or a power adapter, and have their own amplifier components built-in; therefore, they don’t need to be connected to an external amplifier.
Bluetooth receivers can be plugged right into active speakers, and it’s basically plug-and-play from there. In general, active speakers will have either 3.5mm audio ports (normal) or RCA ports (those red and white-tipped cables) sometimes.
To get these speakers Bluetooth ready, all you have to do is choose the right cable or connector. Then simply plug the Bluetooth receiver into the speaker IN port. Presto! You now know how to convert a regular speaker into a Bluetooth speaker.
Connecting to a Passive Speaker
Passive speakers don’t have their own in-built power source. Instead, they draw power through the input lines that connect them to an amplifier. These speakers can’t amp up the signals that come in – they need an amplifier to do that.
Therefore, if you have an amp and passive speakers, you have to connect your Bluetooth receiver to the amp and not the speakers themselves. The amp will boost the signal before sending it on to the speakers.
Types of passive speaker connections
Most amplifiers have multiple types of ports, like RCA and 1/8” (3.5mm) audio. However, you may find that in a lot of classic equipment, the audio port is ¼-inch and not 1/8-inch.
If this is the case, you may need a 1/8” to ¼” adapter to plug in your receiver. RCA cables, however, are one size fits all. So, you can always run straight into RCA ports if your Bluetooth receiver has RCA outputs.
I would recommend using RCA-OUT to RCA-IN, rather than mixing RCA to audio jacks. This may mean you need to buy an extra but really inexpensive RCA cable to connect your system to Bluetooth.
Connecting to Car Stereo Systems
Car stereo systems usually use passive speakers, as most home stereo systems do. Therefore, you can just connect your Bluetooth receiver to the stereo IN port and get started. Normally this is an audio port (either 1/8” or ¼”).
While there are really cheap Bluetooth receivers that connect to car stereos via radio frequencies, they’re usually poor quality, unreliable, and prone to nasty static. Therefore, not recommended.
Choosing the Best Bluetooth Receiver
Bluetooth receivers range in price from about $20 up to $100. For most uses, a simple and cheap receiver will do the trick just fine. However, if you want a more robust and durable receiver, or have special uses for your receiver, you may need to shell out a few more dollars to get the device you need.
Next, I’m going to illustrate the different types of receivers out there by using real examples of products you can easily purchase today. We’ll start with the cheapest and most basic and work out way up.
If you already have some great speakers or a beautiful HiFi and you want to add Bluetooth connectivity to it on the cheap, this little box has all you need. It’s powered by a 5V adapter, so you do need to place it somewhere where there’s an outlet or power bar nearby.
Once it’s powered on, you can connect it to either your receiver or speakers directly. The box has both RCA left and right outs, as well as a single 1/8” (3.5mm) audio jack. You can send the signal out through either, but it depends on what you’re playing into. They provide a 3.5mm audio to RCA cable, which means you can go out or in through either system.
As for reception
This box has a range of about 30-40 feet, although it doesn’t do extremely well around corners and with thick masonry walls. But in a normal house, it should pick up a signal clearly coming from the same floor.
I’d love to see a USB charger on this device, but otherwise, it works really well. It pairs easily with any device – too easily sometimes. If you don’t remove the receiver from your device, it will continue to pair automatically whenever it’s left on. But for about $25, you can’t really go wrong here.
This tiny Bluetooth receiver from Anker is only 1” x 2” in size but manages to do the job of a bigger receiver. It comes with a 3.5 mm audio cable or a stiff double-male 3.5 mm plug which helps you plug it into any system that has a 3.5 mm input.
You can pair two devices at once here, so that’s convenient if you like to play music from different sources or you enjoy a bit of stereo battling. The range, though stated as 30 feet, is not great when we get close to that threshold. However, this receiver is designed primarily for use with car stereos that lack Bluetooth, and for that, the range is perfectly fine.
This receiver charges through micro-USB and can hold a charge for up to 12 hours. However, if you use it while it’s charging, you get an annoying beep to remind you it’s plugged in, so that’s not ideal. I can see this little receiver fitting well into any car or powered speaker to instantly convert it to Bluetooth.
If you need a longer range or a stronger connection for your Bluetooth receiver, you might want to consider the 1Mii B06Pro. This is a powerful receiver with two antennas that can collect a signal from 197-foot (60m) away line-of-sight or 50-70 feet (20-30m) indoors and around walls and other obstacles. In other words, it’s fit for your mansion.
Supporting Bluetooth 5.0 and the AptX codec, this thing connects easily and stays connected. Unfortunately, like the Esikin, it’s a bit too tenacious. It will stay connected and always receive your audio if it’s on. So, you have to forget it from your Bluetooth list.
Powered by a 5V adapter and connecting to your stereo or speakers via included digital optical, RCA, or 3.5 mm audio cables, you get good sound quality here and very low latency.
The Anytek Wireless Bluetooth 5.0 Stereo Amplifier System is a Bluetooth receiver on steroids. It not only receives a Bluetooth signal, but it can also power that signal through passive speakers as any amp can. As a 200W amplifier for under $50, this machine does a heck of a lot.
It takes Bluetooth connections, SD cards, and USB inputs. You can connect passive speakers to the unit and power them along. You also get different EQ modes for listening to different types of input like videos, speech, and music. The range of the Bluetooth is limited to about 30 feet, but that should be fine for most home stereo systems.
The real benefit here is that if you don’t have a receiver/amp, but you have some great passive speakers kicking about, this simple machine gives you a Bluetooth-compatible stereo system instantly.
Looking for Some Great Bluetooth Gear or Super Speakers?
We can help you with that. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Solar Powered Bluetooth Speakers, the Best Bluetooth Speakers With Radio, the Loudest Portable Bluetooth Speakers, the Best Bluetooth Speakers with Light Show, and the Best Bluetooth Speakers with Alarm Clocks you can buy in 2021.
Also, take a look at our detailed reviews of the Best Sonos Speakers, the Best Smart Speakers, the Best Wireless TV Speakers, the Best Powered Speakers, the Best Bookshelf Speakers Under $200, the Best 7.1 Home Theater System, and the Best Floor Standing Speakers currently on the market.
How to Turn a Regular Speaker into a Bluetooth Speaker – Conclusion
Now you know how to turn regular speakers into Bluetooth speakers – it’s easy as pie! All you need to do is get yourself an appropriate Bluetooth receiver that suits your needs and find the best way to connect it. Either directly to an active speaker or to an amplifier if you have passive speakers.
That’s it – a tiny investment in a receiver will bring your stereo equipment into the 21st century. This is one of the cheapest and most convenient upgrades you can make to any older stereo system. With the convenience of Bluetooth, you can listen to music, TV and film, and any other audio quickly and easily from your phone to your booming sound system.
Until next time, happy listening.