Later this year we will see the launch of the next generation Sonos flagship speaker, the Sonos PLAY:5. Judging from the specifications, the speaker still lacks Bluetooth connectivity that some of us yearn to connect the speaker to smartphones and tablets.
The lack of Bluetooth connectivity plagues the Sonos family with many in the discussion boards and community venting their frustration at the company for choosing to leave something as common as Bluetooth and AirPlay compatibility out of their speakers.
Being able to connect via Bluetooth allows the sound system to be used for games and apps such as YouTube. Companies like Samsung, Bose, LG and Naim include Bluetooth support as standard.
Sonos is able to wirelessly play your iTunes® music, direct from your iPhone®, iPad® or iPod touch®, to any room in your home via the Controller app but having Bluetooth connectivity does go beyond that.
So if you have a considerable investment in a Sonos multi-room system already and not looking to ‘rip’ it up and start again, here are a couple of options for you to add Bluetooth connectivity to the system.
UPDATES: Apple AirPlay 2 and Sonos Move
You can now Apple AirPlay from your iOS devices e.g. iPad or iPhone including YouTube video and Netflix movies directly to Sonos speakers. Update your speakers via the Sonos app and you will instantly have support for AirPlay 2 on your Sonos.
Also, Sonos has finally released a speaker with Bluetooth connectivity. You can now get Sonos Move, a portable and durable battery powered wireless speaker for indoor and outdoor use. While it supports WiFi and Apple AirPlay 2, it also supports Bluetooth, the first Sonos speaker to do so.
This does not mean that it is able to share your Bluetooth source with the entire network of speakers. Bluetooth support is local to Sonos Move. This leaves all the other Sonos speaker and system as a whole with no inherent support for Bluetooth.
How to Add Bluetooth Connectivity to Sonos
So how does one add Bluetooth support to their network of speakers, stream from one Bluetooth source to all (in party mode) or select speakers in the house? Here are your options.
OPTION 1: Use the Auxiliary Input (only on PLAY:5 or Sonos Five) and a Bluetooth receiver
The PLAY:5 (both first and second generation) or Sonos Five (third generation) has an auto-detecting 3.5 mm audio line-in connection. This can be used to connect a Bluetooth receiver that outputs analogue sound to the speaker. These receivers are relatively cheap to buy and easy to set up. Some come with rechargeable batteries, other require a power supply from a USB port or wall power adapter.
Once connected and paired with the smartphone or tablet, start you app and listen to the sound on the speaker. You can control the volume both from the mobile device and Controller app. We have taken to list these relatively cheap Bluetooth to Audio receivers below to make it easier for you.
You can then select Line-in as the source from the Controller app and choose to listen to it on PLAY:5, other PLAYER (speaker) or group of PLAYERs (speakers) for this source.
Now, instead of a standard Bluetooth Receiver, consider a smart, connected device such as the Amazon Echo Dot or the Google Home Mini, both offering Bluetooth streaming from mobile device and WiFi connectivity for direct Internet streaming. More on this later.
OPTION 2: Get Sonos CONNECT and a Bluetooth receiver
Using the analog audio input on the CONNECT, connect to the Bluetooth receiver’s audio output. This acts as an external audio source. Pair your smartphone or tablet to the receiver using Bluetooth and play your music or audio on any or all Sonos players in your multi speaker system.
CONNECT lets you choose which PLAYER or group of PLAYERs to use. This can be Sonos PLAY:1, PLAY:3, PLAY:5, Sonos One and other Sonos speakers for TV such as the Beam, Playbase, Playbar and Sub.
Again, instead of a standard Bluetooth Receiver, consider a smart, connected device such as the Amazon Echo Dot or the Google Home Mini both offering Bluetooth streaming from mobile devices and WiFi connectivity for direct Internet streaming. See bottom of the post for more information.
Bluetooth Receivers with Analogue Output
The limitation of course is that the auxiliary or line-in connection is only present in the PLAY:5. Owners of PLAY:3 and PLAY:1 cannot apply OPTION1 and will need OPTION2. In any case, you would need one of the following Bluetooth receivers. Use the links below to access the individual product pages on Amazon.
1Mii B06 Plus Bluetooth Receiver – 3.5mm or RCA
The most complete Bluetooth Receiver in terms of connectivity options, the 1Mii B06 Plus has both RCA and 3.5mm stereo jack output. It also comes with onboard sound processor to add 3D sound effect with a dedicated button on the controls. Switching 3D surround sound on changes the LED power indicator from blue to green.
But, what is really important is it supports Bluetooth 4.2 for high fidelity transmission with aptX and aptX low latency. A power adapter is included and upon connection the receiver will turn on and automatically connect to the previously pair device saving you time. For controls there is a dedicated power switch and a big pause play button in the middle of the unit.
Finally, Dual Bluetooth connectivity feature allows for pairing of up to two Bluetooth devices simultaneously and to switch between them.
Range: 164ft (50m) line-of-sight in open air and up to 50-70ft (20-30m) indoor
Logitech Bluetooth Audio Receiver Adapter – 3.5mm or RCA
The Logitech Bluetooth Audio Receiver adds wireless connectivity to home stereo systems that do not support Bluetooth. it is easy to setup and will automatically reconnect to your devices when in range. It even supports Multipoint Bluetooth allowing for pairing of up to 2 Bluetooth source so you can switch between devices to stream audio wirelessly.
Pairing is super easy, simply press the Bluetooth pairing button, search and connect to the device on your phone initially. Once connected, the device will automatically reconnect when in range. It comes with both RCA and 3.5mm stereo output, perfect for powered speakers or full size AV receiver and Amplifier. A powere adapter is supplied with the receiver.
- Technology: Bluetooth 3.0 A2DP technology
- Distance: up to 50 feet 15 m line-of-sight range
- Audio Output: RCA or 3.5mm socket, RCA to 3.5mm cable and power cable included
- Power Source: Power supply included
esinkin Bluetooth Audio Adapter – 3.5mm or RCA
On first look both esinkin and Logitech Bluetooth audio adapters look the same. The only difference is the logo. The esinkin version also supports Multipoint Bluetooth to pair up to 2 devices simultaneously and switch between them. For outputs, it also comes with both RCA and 3.5mm socket. In fact, like the Logitech offering, the RCA to 3.5mm cable, power cable and adapter are included. Even the front blue accent lighting near the bottom of the box is the same.
Bose Bluetooth Audio Adapter – 3.5mm, RCA and OPTICAL
Do not mistake this for the Bose SoundTouch Wireless Link Adapter. The Bose Bluetooth Audio Adapter is a Bluetooth receiver to send audio signal to smart speaker or home stereo so you can play music from your pair device wirelessly.
On the other hand, the Bose SoundTouch Wireless Link Adapter is a transmitter that when connected to a media player (CD player, PC output) or home theater’s optical, AUX or RCA output, transmits signal audio wirelessly to Bluetooth enabled speakers.
These work very differently so be sure to get the right one for your application. To add Bluetooth connectivity to a Sonos Play:5 you will need a Bluetooth receiver.
- Technology: Bluetooth 4.0 technology with A2DP audio streaming and aptX® technology, which streams CD-quality audio using your aptX®-enabled device. Pair up to 8 Bluetooth devices, and switch among three at any time.
- Distance: 30 feet (10 meters)
- Audio Output: Optical out and 3.5mm socket (only use one at a time). Optical cable, 3.5 mm audio cable, 3.5 mm female-to-RCA cable and USB-to-USB micro-B cable for charging.
- Power Source: USB charging, power adapter included
Harman Kardon BTA-10 Bluetooth Audio Adapter – 3.5mm or RCA
Use this audio receiver to stream music from your mobile device to a powered speaker or AV receiver via Bluetooth. The Harman TrueStream connectivity offers quality connection from the source device to the speaker. It is both compact and lightweight and will remember up to 8 different Bluetooth devices to easy pairing. A blue LED indicator light is used to show when it is in pairing or searching mode and when it is connected.
- Technology: Bluetooth 2.1+ EDR with A2DP, Harman TrueStream connectivity ensures the highest-quality connection.
- Distance: 10 meters line of sight
- Audio Output: choice of 3.5mm or RCA phonos cables – both supplied with the unit.
- Power Source: power adapter included
Want to remove the hassle of pairing, the TP-LINK HA100 supports NFC for quick pairing with other NFC enabled mobile devices. A separate duplicate tag is included allowing for flexibility of pairing either by tapping on the unit itself or on the tag. This is great for in-car use if you wish to conceal the receiver. The tag can be stuck on the dash or rear seat to allow passenger to quicky pair their device.
The unit also supports up to 20 meters range or 66 feet double that of standard receivers. But that is not all, with a CSR chip onboard, it supports Bluetooth 4.1 and A2DP v1.2 technology for top quality wireless music performance. While it only comes with a 3.5mm output a cable adapter is included to connect to a device with RCA input. Also, it can be charged using a standard USB charger or via the included power adapter.
- Technology: Bluetooth 4.1, compatible with all A2DP stereo Bluetooth devices with NFC – NFC
- Distance: Transmits up to 20 meters (66 feet) away, within direct line of sight – BETTER DISTANCE
- Audio Output: Connects to any stereo supporting 3.5mm or RCA jacks, 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable, 3.5mm to RCA cable, USB cable included.
- Power Source: power adapter included
HomeSpot NFC-enabled Bluetooth Audio Receiver – 3.5mm or RCA
Finally, we have a Bluetooth Audio Receiver which is also NFC-enabled from HomeSpot. Like the TP-Link offering, you can quickly tap and pair as well as tap to connect to the receiver quickly from an NFC enabled phone. For wireless connectivity, it supports Bluetooth 4.0 (A2DP profile) and can remember up to 8 last paired devices.
The unit comes with a single 3.5mm output but a 3.5mm to 3.5mm and a 3.5mm to RCA cable adapters are included. For power, use the USB cable to connect to an in car USB charging port or to the supplied adapter. And, like the TP-Link unit, it has a line of sight receiving range of up to 66 feet.
- Technology:Bluetooth 4.0 supports auto-reconnect function; (connects automatically to the last paired device during power up); with NFC for tap and pair and tap and connect support. – NFC
- Distance: Transmit up to 20m – line of sight – BETTER DISTANCE
- Audio Output: 3.5mm headphone socket, Aux-to-RCA audio cable, 3.5mm – 3.5mm Aux-out audio cable
- Power Source: USB charging cable with power adapter included
Next, we look at in-car bluetooth receivers with built-in battery. The receivers above are of the desktop variety and require separate power adapters to work. The following Bluetooth receivers however are more compact and come with its own rechargeable battery. This offers the flexibility of not only using it at home but in the car or on the go. The latter is as a Bluetooth receiver for wired headphones.
Smart Music Streaming Choices
Here we look at the Amazon Echo Dot and the Google Chromecast Audio or Google Home Mini; both offering Bluetooth streaming from mobile device and WiFi connectivity for direct Internet streaming with analogue output to hook up to either the Sonos PLAY:5 or the Sonos CONNECT.
Amazon Echo Dot – EDITOR’S FAVOURITE
The baby version of Amazon’s popular voice activated smart speaker. It can connect to devices using your home WiFi or Bluetooth. The Echo Dot allows you hands-free convenience as it can hear you from across the room. Even when the environment is noisy, the seven microphones and beam-forming technology lets it pick up on your voice using the far-field voice recognition. Use this to access Alexa Voice services and stream music from your favourite service.
Amazon Echo Dot features a built-in speaker. You can also connect to your own speakers or headphones over Bluetooth or through a 3.5 mm audio cable to deliver stereo sound to the Sonos PLAY:5 or Sonos CONNECT (and in turn to any Sonos speakers).
The Chromecast Audio is the music version of the Chromecast for the big screen. it is a small media streaming device that plugs into the AUX input of your speaker or amplifier. In our case, this would either be the Sonos PLAY:5 of the Sonos CONNECT. You can then start casting music to the speaker over WiFi. So, it’s not quite a Bluetooth dongle as such, so no pairing involved but it does let you stream your favourite music from supported app. You can also use the Chromecast app available for iOS and Android.
UPDATE: The Google Chromecast Audio is no longer available. Choose instead the Google Home Mini below.
Cast from your iPhone, iPad, Android phone or tablet, Mac or Windows laptop or Chromebook to the Sonos speakers and control your tunes from your device. Access songs, radio stations and podcasts from apps like Spotify, Google Play Music, Deezer, Vevo, TuneIn and other apps here.
The Google Home Mini is a smart speaker with Google Assistant built in. Use voice to play music, listen to audiobooks, or stream shows, movies and more to your TV with Chromecast. It does not have a physical audio output like the Amazon Echo Dot but it can connect to other Bluetooth speakers. Pairing a Bluetooth speaker with Google Home Mini boosts the volume and sound quality compared to what you get from the onboard speaker.
Multi-room Speakers with Bluetooth and WiFi
If you are new to the whole multi-room music system and really can not do without Bluetooth connectivity then consider one of the multi-room speaker systems that also support Bluetooth.