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Rockin’ Out Wirelessly with Bluetooth

A while back I did extensive research (even for me) on desktop speakers, and found amazing quality at a price that was still affordable in the Studiophile AV40 kit from M-Audio. Great for a multimedia production machine, or any other place where you need really good sound…if you can be tethered. So, worked great for a desktop, but as I began to want to use these awesome speakers with my laptop, I just found them annoying. Great sound…but unless I was willing to do something unseemly with wires across the room, there was no way to enjoy them with music from my laptop while lounging on the couch. A Bluetooth epiphany followed by several Google searches highlighted some interesting options…the first of which I’ve tried was the Rocketfish Bluetooth Music Receiver (RF-BTR212).

The idea behind devices like the Rocketfish Bluetooth Music Receiver is to leverage your standard, non-wirelessly equipped speakers with an intermediary device to bridge a Bluetooth connection. With this bridge in place, any Bluetooth enabled device can make use of the existing speakers or stereo equipment. This means you don’t have to buy speakers specifically catering to your Bluetooth needs; for much less, you can just add the Bluetooth capability. Pretty cool…in theory.

The good: plug-in the standard 3.5mm connector from the speakers into the Rocketfish unit, connect the power, and a little flashing light indicated the Music Receiver was in pairing mode ready for a device to connect. Quickly scanned for Bluetooth devices from my laptop, selected the discovered Rocketfish device, allowed Windows to install the proper device driver, and the connection was automatically set as my default audio destination. Started hearing cool little Windows sounds immediately. A good sign.

The not-so-good: Excited, I went straight to iTunes and picked my favorite Led Zeppelin tune to rock…got some static…realized that the now-default-audio-device was jacked to max volume on my laptop…turned that down…still static, so hit pause. Hit play again and suddenly the sweet, sweet sounds of Page, Bonham, Plant and Jones poured out of the M-Audio AV40s. Nice…for a while. Then got a bit of static…a disconnect really…then it resumed on its own. It did this back-and-forth for a while until it finally disconnected and wouldn’t reconnect without a full power cycle on the Rocketfish unit. Reconnected, and it’s played pretty well for a bit now…with intermittent and momentary disconnects here and there following no clear, diagnosable pattern.

For $49.99 plus tax, I’m inclined to call the Rocketfish RF-BTR212 a loser, as the disconnects will get old quickly. Why Rocketfish in the first place? Well, it’s what Best Buy had in-store in the category. A quick Amazon search showed several other options that are rated much higher by users. Going to keep this setup for a day or two more, but for $15 less, I can get something that has received rave reviews and is…well, cheaper.

Amazon order for an alternative has been placed. Stay tuned.

Update 9/5/14: My Brightech BrightPlay Home HD Bluetooth Audio Receiver arrived from Amazon. Quick setup…plugged in to an available outlet. Self-contained little unit, so only cable is the one coming from speakers for output. Quick config very similar to Rocketfish device. No nasty static in initial play…have had one disconnect after hours of play…standard, occasional Bluetooth interference issues I suspect. For less money than the Rocketfish, this is a pretty cool little device.

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