SoundFilter: Can I make passive bookshelf speakers wireless?
January 8, 2014 12:13 PM   Subscribe

I have an aging stereo with decent speakers that I'd like to somehow convert so that I can stream music from my phone or computer. Is this possible? Details and pictures inside.

I have an aging RCA stereo system (here). The receiver unit is in bad shape. Every time I turn it on it lets out a loud whir that hiccups every now and then and just sounds pretty bad. I think it's nearing the end of its life. In addition, the receiver is just heavy and big and I want to throw it out. But the speakers sound great. I'm not an audiophile, but I have at least mildly discerning ears, and I think that these speakers are definitely worth holding on to.

The problem is, I have no way of using them without the receiver unit. Each speaker connects to the unit via these wires, which makes them useless to me without the receiver. But I'd like to continue using them after I toss it.

So here's what I want. I'd like to be able to stream from my iPhone, iPad, or Macbook, over Bluetooth or WiFi, to a device which will then play the audio through these speakers. I've looked at the Airport Express and Apple TV, but if I have these units, how do I connect the speakers to them? Is that even possible? I'm willing to get fairly involved with this, but I'd like to keep my costs down as far as possible.

Sorry for the non-technical language. I have no idea what I'm doing. If you do, help!
posted by rensar to Technology (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You'd need another receiver or amplifier to power the speakers. Then you would send audio to that amp/receiver using something like an airport express. It's possible you could get a receiver that is already equipped to receive audio from computers and portable devices.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 12:18 PM on January 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

It looks like you just need an amplifier with bluetooth built-in. I found this one on Amazon, there may be cheaper out there, but this looks like it would do the trick.
posted by TwoWordReview at 12:21 PM on January 8, 2014

Should be a fairly straightforward project... Search for a speaker amplifier, preferably used. You shouldn't need to spend more than forty or so bucks just to drive a couple of speakers. Then order a bluetooth music receiver like this one. You may need a 3.5mm female to RCA adapter depending on the inputs on the speaker amp.
posted by Willie0248 at 12:21 PM on January 8, 2014

Possible setups: The Onkyo TX-8050 would be a single-unit solution. A TX-8020 + an Airport Express (or like device) would also do what you want.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 12:22 PM on January 8, 2014

Best answer: I'd probably look for a cheap Class T amplifier like this one and a Bluetooth audio device like this one That has RCA jacks. An airport express or Apple TV would work instead of the Bluetooth adapter, paired with an 1/8th inch to RCA cable to connect it to the amplifier. But at least the non-apple Airplay end points I've tried have all been hopelessly bad, and Bluetooth is cheaper anyway, so that's where I'd start.
posted by wotsac at 12:55 PM on January 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I use this to provide power and wireless link to my Emotiva UOM 6.2 speakers at my outdoor pavilion. Works good for me.
posted by white_devil at 4:05 PM on January 8, 2014

Best answer: Hey rensar, I have a system I'm very happy with, that I've posted about here two or three times (like here).

What you are asking for is simple. You just need:

Mac -> Airport express -> Small, simple amp -> speakers.

The Airport Express has a standard audio miniplug. If the amp has RCA inputs, for example, you just go to and find a cable that has a miniplug on one end and RCA jacks on the other.

Feel free to ask or send a photo if you need any clarification.
posted by Alaska Jack at 4:14 PM on January 8, 2014

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