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How to Add Bluetooth to Any Older Music System

High-quality audio systems, like the Logitech Z906 (on Amazon), are expensive and can last for decades, so you might already have a system and are curious if you can add Bluetooth compatibility and take it into the 21st century. Fortunately, you are not alone in this sentiment, and many people have faced this problem and found solutions that are simple and don’t diminish the audio quality.

You can add Bluetooth to any older music system by purchasing a Bluetooth adapter. There are several options for this that range from cheap and simple to more expensive and higher quality. Setup is usually easy, and most systems can transmit high-quality audio.

If you are interested in retrofitting your old speakers (or protecting them from outside elements which we have a guide on), there are a couple of more complicated solutions out there. For example, If you aren’t too keen on Bluetooth, you can still purchase products that will add modern functionality to your old speakers. To discover how to retrofit your old speakers read on.

Recycled Older Speakers into Streaming Units

If you are looking to recycle old speakers into streaming units, you can use a couple of methods. Some require the addition of streaming units that plug and play, while some are more involved. Remember that many of these following options may need a little more tech know-how than using a Bluetooth adapter. Some techniques even take advantage of either a Raspberry Pi or Arduino board setup to add streaming capabilities. 

Using a Music Streamer

These devices are meant to connect to your amp/receiver and add modern connectivity to your system. This is an excellent option if you have already found the perfect speaker and amplifier combo and don’t want to sacrifice this matchup. A music streamer will help integrate your system into the modern era and help create a future proof solution to your Hi-Fi music needs.

Here are a couple of popular music streamers:

  • The Sonos Port (on Amazon) – Sonos has made a name for itself in the high-end audio market, and their solution to the old speaker problem is no exception. 
  • The Bluesound Node 2i (link to Amazon) – This is another excellent option for music streaming. The award-winning Node 2i can access multiple streaming services, internet radio stations, and network storage devices. 
  • The Echo Link (from Amazon) – Amazon’s solution to the Hi-Fi streaming issue comes packed with features and has Alexa voice compatibility.

Using a Smart Amplifier

If you want to replace your amplifier entirely, then a smart amplifier will be the perfect solution. These combine all the features of a music streamer while at the same time offering the amplification needed to power passive speakers. This is an excellent solution if you have older speakers and no amplifier.

Here are a couple of great options:

  • The Sonos Amp (on Amazon) – Another great addition from Sonos, this amplifier is a music powerhouse that allows you to stream across multiple devices and has the power needed to pump into a massive speaker system. 
  • The Bluesound Powernode 2i (Link to Amazon) – This unit is similar to the other option by Bluesound but contains a powerful amplifier. 
  • The Echo Link Amp (on Amazon) – Much like Bluesound, Amazon has taken their original Echo Link and added an amplifier. Enjoy additional features like voice commands and interconnectivity with other Alexa devices. 

Using a Raspberry Pi or Arduino Board

If you are looking for a cheaper option and have a little patience, you can customize a streaming unit custom to your system. This will require some additional components and a little bit of tech knowledge. 

For this solution, you will need either a Raspberry Pi (on Amazon) or an Arduino Board (link out to Amazon). As you can probably guess, you will need to find a specific tutorial on how to set up these mini-computers to work with your system. You will need to be comfortable working with small parts and maybe even have a little coding knowledge. But even for the tech novice, this can be done and can even be a fun project. 

For Raspberry Pi, you will need to source some additional software. For more information on this solution, follow this tutorial. Using an Arduino board can be a bit more involved than the Raspberry Pi solution, but you can find information here if you are up to the task.

Using an Adapter to add Bluetooth Functionality

How to Convert an Older Speaker with a Bluetooth Adapter

To take you through the setup process for one of these Bluetooth adapters, we will focus on the most popular and most well-reviewed adapter: The AudioEngine B1.

Steps to set up your Bluetooth adapter for your audio system:

  1. Unbox your unit and make sure you have all the right wires for set up.
  2. Connect your B1 to a power outlet using the included adapter. 
  3. Connect the RCA cables to the output section of the B1.
  4. Find the input for RCA on your receiver or amplifier. 
  5. Connect the RCA cables.
  6. You should see the pairing indicator on the front of the device start to blink. This means you are in pairing mode.
  7. From your smartphone or other device, find your Bluetooth settings.
  8. Search for nearby devices.
  9. You should find the AudioEngine B1 on the list.
  10. Once connected, you should see the flashing indicator light turn solid. This means you have successfully connected.
  11. You should now be able to stream music over your new Bluetooth connection.

What Features Will You Miss

While this is an excellent option if you want to use your old speakers with Bluetooth functionality, it is not without drawbacks. Here are some of the things you may miss when you add Bluetooth to your system:

  • You can’t easily network dozens of speakers from one source. This means that surround sound or multi-room audio setups won’t work as well. 
  • You are also limited on channels, so even if you could connect them all, you will have issues relying only on the left and right connections available with the RCA connection.
  • While Bluetooth is a reasonably robust communication protocol, it can still have issues with interference, causing audio dropouts or degradation.

So if you are interested in setting up a whole-home system with Bluetooth compatibility, you may want to consider a modern system. These will come equipped with all the functions you are looking for but without all the drawbacks of a retrofitted system. The Sonos Port, for example, is a great way to provide a Bluetooth connection without sacrificing the benefits of your home audio system.

All in all, if you have some old speakers laying around that you want to put to work, then adding Bluetooth connectivity through an adapter is a great way to take those speakers into the modern era. If you have a whole system you want to upgrade, then purchasing a streaming device or a smart amplifier is your best bet. Regardless of which option you choose, wireless audio is only a short installation away.