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Not every device comes equipped natively with Bluetooth, but the best Bluetooth audio receivers are a quick and easy way to play music using some of your older devices that rely on RCA or 3.5mm connectivity without having to anchor your phone with a wired connection.
These Bluetooth receivers are discrete and remarkably easy to set up. Connect them to your speaker or other output device using an RCA or 3.5mm audio cable and plug in the receiver to a power source and you're good to go. Some of these models even come equipped with an onboard battery, allowing them to operate independently of a dedicated power source for up to 10 hours in some cases.
If you're curious and are wondering exactly what is Bluetooth, our guide to Bluetooth basics can fill you in. Otherwise, our list below will help you bring some connectivity to your disconnected setup.
With a range of more than 33 feet, the Etekcity wireless Bluetooth 4.0 receiver is a standout choice for homeowners looking to add a little versatility to their home audio experience. Capable of working with Bluetooth 4.0 compatible speakers, the Etekcity also provides connectivity via A/V, RCA and 3.5mm inputs. With 10 hours of battery life per charge, the .6-pound unit can be fully re-charged and ready for round two in around two hours. Measuring just 6.3 x 3.7 x 2.2 inches, the Etekcity is incredibly compact, making it ideal for just about any environment (including wireless streaming music to your vehicle's sound system).
With a range of almost 100 feet, the Audioengine B1 Bluetooth music receiver is a superb choice for wirelessly playing music. With the capability of connecting to any stereo receiver, amplifier or powered speaker in your home, all you need is a simple RCA or optical cable connection. Once connected, sync your smartphone or tablet to the Audioengine and you’re ready to jam. The receiver takes its audio experience seriously with the inclusion of the AptX codec that allows for near-studio quality music production. That means deeper bass and more dynamic range, all of which make for an outstanding Bluetooth receiver choice that’s compact enough at five ounces to fit just about anywhere.
The Bose wireless audio system is a ready to rock right out of the box. Capable of connecting to just about any type of electronics, including computer speakers, stereo systems, home theaters and more, the Bose even has Wi-Fi connectivity for a direct link to the brands SoundTouch speaker line for a boosted audio experience. Fortunately, all those device options are matched with plenty of audio options as well for Bluetooth streaming, including Spotify, Pandora and Amazon Music. Music is directly controlled from the downloadable smartphone app and, with saved presets, you can jump right to the song or album you want instantly.
Featuring a streaming music range of up to 50 feet, the Logitech Bluetooth audio adapter for streaming is a sure-fire addition to your home or office. The Logitech is full of features right off the bat, including multipoint Bluetooth connectivity, which provides for a simultaneous connection of both your smartphone and tablet (and you can choose which device is currently streaming audio). Setup is a cinch with the Logitech remembering each paired device and requiring just a single button press for a new connection. Producing sound is just as easy as the setup by enabling a connection to any PC speaker, home stereo system or any A/V receiver using an RCA or 3.5mm input. It weighs 2.9 ounces and measures .9 x 2 x 2 inches.
If your car doesn’t support Bluetooth, check out the Aukey Bluetooth receiver with three-port USB. Setup is a snap. Just plug the receiver into the car stereo via the AUX (auxiliary) port, insert the charger into the cigarette lighter or 12V input and you’re done. Pairing your device is just as easy by placing the Aukey into sync mode and going into the Bluetooth menu on your smartphone and pairing just as you would any other Bluetooth device. Once connected, roll the windows down and play some tunes or let your friends do so since the Aukey supports up to three users at once. Additionally, the Aukey powers off with the car and, once turned back on, automatically links to the last connected device. Beyond music, the Aukey also doubles as a Bluetooth speakerphone utilizing the microphone in the receiver unit and the car’s speakers for inbound conversation.
If you’ve been itching for hands-free calling via your home audio system, make that wish a reality with the Aukey Bluetooth receiver. Capable of connecting to any existing wired stereo system, speaker or headphone, the Aukey works with a slew of devices, including both iPhones and iPads, as well as all types of computers. And pairing is simple. Just connect the Aukey to your smartphone or tablet as you would any other Bluetooth device. Weighing 6.4 ounces and measuring 4.5 x 4.3 x 1.8 inches, the Aukey allows the user to accept an incoming call with a simple press of the function button. Once connected, you’ll find a crisp, clean sound via the built-in microphone that easily frees up both hands to go about the rest of your home or office work.
Different types of receivers are suited to different needs. Some are designed to plug into an outlet and stay in the same place all the time — most likely to add functionality to an at-home record player or an old speaker system in your house. The other type of receiver is meant for on-the-go use like in your car or on the beach, and those receivers are often intentionally tiny. One drawback of travel-friendly version's small size is they usually only fit a 100–300 mAh battery — leaving you with sub-par battery life and the need to carry an external charger.
Luckily, we’ve tracked down this TaoTronics model, a Bluetooth receiver that offers nearly 20 hours of battery life, double the battery life of most of its competitors. Beyond battery life, you’ll also get all the requisite features of a receiver like 10 meters of range, multiple pairing options, and both transmit and receive functions (depending on which direction you need to go).
The StarTech BT2A is a jack-of-all-trades adapter, bringing together a solid combination of connectivity, range, and sound quality without necessarily excelling in any particular field. This model will reliably connect with any Apple or Android device and even features NFC compatibility for easy pairing.
The range of the BT2A is sufficient enough to cover a large living room and can connect to your audio device via 3.5mm, RCA, or even Toslink optical cables. While it can't operate independently from its dedicated power supply for a no-frills Bluetooth receiver, the StarTech BT2A fits the bill nicely.
Boasting a whopping 10 hours of battery life on a single charge, our top pick is the Etekcity Bluetooth Reciever. With exceptional connectivity and a diminutive form factor, this adapter is a quick and simple way to add wireless connectivity to nearly any device. Unless you absolutely need an RCA connection for your device, in which case the Logitech Wireless Bluetooth Adapter makes for an excellent alternative.
Portability - Do you intend on hooking up your new Bluetooth receiver to your car stereo, cinema system, or headphones? Ensure your solution is small enough for travel if you want to bring it with you on the go. Additionally, check the power supply as some units are designed to work only in cars, while others will use a standard AC wall adapter or batteries.
Audio inputs - If you’re using a Bluetooth receiver in your car, you’ll most likely be fine with a single 3.5mm AUX input jack. However, if you are considering hooking up your adapter to a cinema system, you might want to search for a solution that supports RCA inputs.
Audio quality - Bluetooth isn’t always about high quality. If you want the best possible sound, search for a device that supports the AptX codec for high-quality streaming from many Android phones, Macbooks, and PCs.