If you’re looking for a completely wireless home theater system (our guide), you’ll probably consider adding bluetooth to your receiver at some point. There are many different bluetooth receivers on the market. not all are intended for home theater sound, so you should know what you’re looking for before you hit the order button.
To add bluetooth to an a/v or stereo receiver, you can use a wireless bluetooth adapter. These devices come in a variety of price points depending on the quality you need and are easy to use.
Adding bluetooth to your home theater system, including your TV (our guide), can allow you to DJ right from your phone. you can also play from a number of other devices, including laptops and some smart home devices.
how to install a bluetooth receiver
There’s a lot more detail on what to look for in a Bluetooth receiving unit, and how to deploy it below, but first, it’s good to know just how simple these can be to install. The good news is these steps are very simple, and will be the same for any Bluetooth receiver you find.
1. choose the team
The first step will be to review the following information and gain some confidence in the hardware you have chosen. however, after choosing a receiver, you can be sure that the installation is virtually the same from unit to unit.
here is a very simple bluetooth audio adapter (on amazon) that will work perfectly with pretty much every receiver out there.
2. connect the bluetooth adapter to the receiver
Next, you’ll need to actually connect the two devices using the red and white A/V cables that will come with the adapter. These are also known as RCA cables, and there will only be two of them because of the limitations of Bluetooth technology – it will only carry two channels of sound. We have more details on what sound channels are and how to think about them if you need it, but the bottom line is this is a serious limitation.
however, the cables will be easy to install: match the red and white rca cables to the bluetooth adapter’s red and white output ports, then connect the other end of the cables to the red and white rca input ports of your receiver.
3. connect a device to the bluetooth adapter
With your computer connected, you’re ready to make the wireless connection. turn on the bluetooth adapter and connect it to your audio source via bluetooth, using the pairing method specified by the adapter manufacturer.
It should be as simple as turning on the unit and looking for it in your phone or computer’s bluetooth pairing menu, but be sure to check the manual if you don’t immediately see it as an option.
4. turn on and test
Now that everything is connected, you’re ready to turn on the receiver and test everything. you may need to change the receiver’s input to the channels you plugged the rca cables into, so if you don’t hear anything at first, check your receiver’s manual for instructions on how to change the input.
choosing the right team
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first, make sure you have a bluetooth receiver with output jacks that match the input jacks of the channel you intend to use on your stereo or a/v receiver. if you don’t have one or can’t find a match, get the appropriate converter cable.
In addition to usb connections, bluetooth receivers have almost universal analog audio output. If your stereo or a/v receiver only has digital inputs, you may need to purchase a converter unit that plugs into the wall.
There are generally two types of bluetooth receivers: battery-powered and wall-mounted. Battery powered units are typically used for auxiliary input of car radio systems. they look nice because they have less wires. but they can come at the cost of having to recharge or replace batteries.
wall receivers are generally better for a home theater system. they may require you to extend your surge protector, but it’s worth it. once you have it set up, there is virtually no maintenance.
a high quality bluetooth adapter option
one of the biggest problems with bluetooth for audio will be the strength of the signal. If you want the best hardware you can get to try and mitigate potential issues with bluetooth wireless signals, you want a unit like the avantree oasis plus bluetooth 5.0 transmitter receiver (on amazon).
Bluetooth 5 will be critical for signal strength, and this unit also does triple duty as a bluetooth transmitter and receiver (learn more about bluetooth 5 in our full guide).
so it solves your receiver problem, while adding more functionality by routing sound to other devices, like from your TV to a pair of wireless headphones.
a cheaper option
Fortunately, bluetooth technology is fairly well understood at this point and quite cheap to implement. Units like this esinkin bluetooth audio adapter (on amazon) can take your bluetooth signals and convert them to left and right channel sound without actually breaking the bank.
This option is limited by the low number of channels, but that’s the bargain of bluetooth convenience: that wireless signal simply can’t carry all the channels.
bluetooth is primarily intended for the transmission of signals between portable devices, presented to the public primarily through wireless headsets. Although many modern home theater systems offer bluetooth connectivity, it should be one of your last resorts for wireless audio streaming.
bluetooth is primarily designed so you can connect personal devices without headphone cords or other cables getting in the way. it’s most common for connecting to a car audio system, portable speaker, or other audio devices that you expect to be nearby when you use them.
bluetooth only has a range of 30 feet. you can use it for a playlist on your phone, but depending on how far you want to travel with it, you might be out of luck. bluetooth 5 promises three to ten times this range.
However, this requires that both the receiver you buy and the device you want to connect it to have Bluetooth 5. Although it’s been available since 2017, it’s still mostly available on top-of-the-line devices.
Granted, you probably don’t need more, but bluetooth is only capable of playing two-channel stereo sound. In the unlikely event that you want to transmit 3.x or 5.x audio to your receiver, your sound will be compressed into two channels. there is no way to get 3.x or higher audio from a bluetooth receiver.
another drawback is the circuitry of a bluetooth receiver. basically there are no bluetooth receivers that transmit a digital audio signal that most home theater systems would be able to receive.
As a result, you’re taking a digital signal from your device (already lossy), translating it to a bluetooth signal (even more lossy), and translating it to an analog signal (lossless). it can go further, translating back to a digital signal in your home theater and then back to an analog signal to your speakers.
two ways to configure a bluetooth receiver
but there are actually two ways to connect a bluetooth receiver to your home theater system. which one you choose will depend on how you intend to use it. this can determine the equipment you need. so determine which method you are using first before you start shopping.
separate channel (safer way)
The safest way to set up a bluetooth receiver is to connect it to its own channel’s audio inputs on your receiver. Once you have selected an input channel, connect the left and right channels of the bluetooth receiver to the corresponding input channels. with the appropriate cables.
This will allow you to select the input channel and play music from any device that can connect to bluetooth. When testing your sound levels, connect to bluetooth with the volume on your device turned down. start playing music and turn the volume up to full if it’s not too loud.
The advantage of this method is that the sound is routed through your home theater’s processing. this means that it will be controlled by the master volume. so let’s say you’re having a party where people are fighting over bluetooth. you don’t have to worry about someone blasting everyone’s eardrums with their blasting beats at full volume.
ht bypass (better sound)
some a/v or stereo receivers come with a separate ht (home theater) bypass. this allows you to bypass the preamp stage and send your sound directly through the power amp to the left and right speakers and subwoofer. the advantage here too is that you don’t get a muddy crossover from the center and rear speakers.
This is risky because your drive does not do any processing. that means your volume control comes entirely from the volume of the audio itself. so if you accidentally connect with your phone at full volume, it could damage your speakers.
then, by now, you’re probably in a good position to make a decision. You can get a bluetooth audio adapter, connect your device and start living the dream of wireless audio. you may be limited to two channels, but that’s the price you pay for the elegance of fewer cables.