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Bluetooth everywhere

By Jean-Claude Elias - Mar 17,2016 - Last updated at Mar 17,2016

Bluetooth (BT) transmitters, receivers, stereo systems and audio is everywhere now.

Once underestimated and neglected by audio purists as a low-grade means of wireless music transmission, often associated with poor resolution MP3 files, BT has finally made the grade and has won the recognition it deserves. It can truly transmit and playback high-quality music. It all depends on how you use it and what kind of signal you feed it with in the first place.

Its only limitation is the range it can cover, typically up to a maximum of 10 metres in open area. There doesn’t seem to be currently any plan in the industry to extend this range. If you can live with that — most people can — then it is no limitation at all. Freeing you from cables and instantly interconnecting BT devices is what it is about; not a minor point; convenience exemplified.

Bluetooth audio doesn’t just transmit MP3; it transmits any music format you send over it. So if you playback original non-compressed wave sound, like for example from an industry-made audio CD, you’ll hear excellent audio quality. And if your MP3 files are made of top grade 320Kbps MP3, as opposed to 128Kbps, you’ll still benefit from superior sound.

The acknowledgement of the quality of BT and the fact that virtually all smartphones, laptops and tablets sport BT connectivity, it has all made an audio standard to take seriously.

The last two years have brought countless BT add-ons, mainly in the form of transmitters and receivers, allowing you to retrofit older equipment.

Assume you like to play music from your smartphone on an existing, wired stereo set at home. You’ve always enjoyed the full-bodied sound of the real 100-watt amp and big, no-compromise speakers. But these are cabled, how are you going to send the music to them from your smartphone? Surely not by connecting an ugly cable all across the living room!

Just buy a BT receiver, connect it to one of the inputs on the back of the amp and send music to it from your smartphone, tablet or laptop. Et voilà. You get the best of both worlds: the wireless audio transmission of your smartphone, and the superior audio experience of your big stereo system. Belkin, Avantree, Logitech and Mediabridge are some of the manufacturers making excellent receivers, and it will not cost you more than JD15 to JD30 a piece. If you want to connect the BT receiver to a 1000-watt set and blast the music to the entire neighbourhood now you can.

Similarly, if the device on which your music stored doesn’t have BT, like an old laptop for instance, or a full-size desktop computer, you can add a small BT transmitter to it. It’s as easy, convenient and inexpensive as a receiver.

A big advantage of BT receivers and transmitters is that they are fool proof, instantly set and don’t require high-tech knowledge or programmes at all to install. Just plug them in and playback the music. It’s zero hassle. This alone is a huge incentive.

Given all these advantages, manufacturers have also come up with some esoteric BT solutions. Whereas the widest choice of small BT speakers consists of one small cabinet, delivering mono sound, now makers like GraceAudio and JBL offer true stereo in two separate speakers’ cabinets, like the real thing. This is invaluable if you playback classical music or jazz, for instance.

As for Bose, they still make these incredible small BT speakers that deliver sound that belies their size and weight. The company’s SoundLink Mini weighs a mere 650g, sits in the palm of your hand and generates a sound that you’d swear comes from a speaker 10 times bigger, with genuine bass that is good enough to drive a dancing party. Oh, and the battery lasts for up to 15 hours on one charge. This is convenience that is hard to beat.

 

Again, with the incredible variety of BT speakers on the market, the new possibility to add simple receivers and transmitters to music devices who don’t come so-equipped, the now available stereo BT dual cabinet speakers, and last but not least the genuine high resolution sound you get if you know how, there is virtually no limit to BT, expect for its 10-metre distance constraint.

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