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 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.
How to Add Bluetooth Connectivity to Sonos
OPTION 1: Use the Auxiliary Input (only on PLAY:5) and a Bluetooth receiver
The PLAY:5 (both first and second 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 comes with rechargeable batteries, other require 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 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.
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 all Sonos players in the 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.
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. There is a dedicated power switch and a big pause play button in the middle of the unit.
- 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
Bose Bluetooth Audio Adapter – OPTICAL
- 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
- 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 are supplied with the unit.
- Power Source: power adapter included
- 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
- 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.
Mpow BH129 Bluetooth Receiver – IN CAR
The small Mpow in-car Bluetooth receiver brings Bluetooth connectivity to older car stereos that do not support this inherently. It can also be used for home and personal applications, enabling Bluetooth connectivity for speakers, amplifiers or wired headphones to receive music from a Bluetooh source such as your mobile phone. The onboard CSR Chip ensures CD-like quality music while the onboard battery lets you stream continuously for up to 15 Hours. It also comes with a built-in microphone for hands free call, the ability to connect up to 2 bluetooth sources, quick power-on (1 second) with power button and access to voice assistant on the smartphone.
AUKEY BR-C1 Bluetooth Receiver – IN CAR
This may look like a desktop variety but it is actually a very compact unit with on-board battery for continuous play time of up to 13 hours. It offers a simple single button operation and 3.5mm audio stereo output. The A2DP adapter supports hands-free calling with onboard microphone and includes both 3.5mm audio cable and 3.5mm to RCA audio cable as well as Micro-USB cable for charging. It is worth noting that it supports two paired Bluetooth devices simultaneously.
A compact Bluetooth car kit with hands free calling support using its onboard microphone. There is a single button to pause or resume the music. The unit comes with is own rechargeable battery for up to 6 hours of use. Distance can be a challenge as this is a small adapter and requires line of sight. Keep source device in a comfortable distance and stationary for smooth streaming.
- Technology: Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP for enhanced audio quality, support connect with two Bluetooth devices at the same time. The built-in microphone lets you make crisp, clean sound calls for hands free calling. – SPEAKER PHONE
- Distance: 10 meter line of sight, distance limitation
- Audio Output: headphone socket, 3.5mm to 3.5mm connector and 3.5 mm cable
- Power Source: Up to 6 hours of usage with a single charge, supports charging while playing. Charging cable included.
Mpow Streambot 2-In-1 Wireless Bluetooth Audio Music Streaming Switchable Transmitter and Receiver – IN CAR
Unlike the other Bluetooth devices listed here, which are mainly receivers, the Mpow 2-in-1 is a transmitter and receiver. For our purpose, you will use the receiver function to receive music our sound output from smartphone or tablet. Should you have a need to transmit wirelessly from a source, say an old cassette tape or Mini Disc player then use the transmitter mode. This however will require another receiver should you need to feed the music back to an amplifier or in our case the Sonos CONNECT of PLAYER:5.
- Technology: Bluetooth 3.0 A2DP and AVRCP Transmitter (TX) and Receiver (RX) with selector switch – DUAL FUNCTION
- Distance: up to 30 ft (10 meters) line of sight
- Audio Output: 3.5mm headphone socket. 1 x 3.5mm Audio cable included
- Power Source: Built-in rechargeable battery with 6 hours of use in receiving mode, and 8 hours of use in transmitting mode. Charging time approximately 2 hours. USB charge cable supplied.
In the same class as the AUKEY Portable Bluetooth receiver above, and the exact same electronics as the Mpow Streambot Mini below with the inclusion of extra control buttons to change the volume, play/pause music, or skip tracks with ease. Apple devices can even activate Siri with the click of a button. The built-in microphone lets you pick up calls and speak naturally.
- Technology: Bluetooth 4.0 receiver with EDR, Connect two Bluetooth devices at once, built-in microphone – SPEAKER PHONE
- Distance: 30 feet, (10 meter) line of sight (open space).
- Audio Output: 3.5mm headphone socket, 3.5mm to 3.5mm adapter and 3.5mm Audio Cable.
- Power Source: 7 hours of talk or play time, USB cable included. Standby time: 200 hours.
With only slight cosmetic differences compared to TaoTronics above, see print on play and pause button, the Mpower Streambot Mini uses the exact same core and electronics as the TaoTronics. It does however have a better recorded battery life of 10 hours.
- Technology: Bluetooth 4.0 Receiver A2DP, built-in microphone lets you pick up calls and for hands free calling. – SPEAKER PHONE
- Distance: up to 30 feet, (10 meter) line of sight
- Audio Output: 3.5mm phone jack, 3.5mm cable and 3.5mm adapter plug included.
- Power Source: Built-in battery with 10 hours battery life. Charge time: 1.5 hours. Standby time: 200 hours. USB cable included – BETTER BATTERY LIFE
Slightly a different profile, square instead of rectangle, with NFC support for tap to pair and tap to reconnect, the Etekcity Bluetooth Audio Receiver does have a certain appeal to it.
- Technology: Bluetooth 4.0 + EDR, Class 2 Receiver with NFC
- Distance: 33 feet (10 meters)
- Audio Output: 3.5mm socket, 1 x 3.5mm to 2RCA Cable and 1 x 3.5mm Audio Cable included
- Power Source: Rechargeable Battery (10 hours) with Lithium, 3.7V 200mAh battery, Charging time: 2 hours. USB charging cable and power adapter included. – BETTER BATTERY LIFE
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.