Bluetooth to multiple speakers?
June 12, 2018 12:56 PM   Subscribe

I'm working on setting up outdoor speakers for my backyard. I've got two different sets of speakers that I want to pair together using Bluetooth. Both sets of speakers receive Blueooth, but I can only connect my phone to one set at a time. Is there a "bluetooth router" hub device that would network the speakers together? I would use SONOS but they don't seem to make an outdoor speaker option.
posted by ZackTM to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I think it is not trivial to get the timing right, and in fact Apple had a fair amount of difficulty getting the two EarPods to play in correct sync

There’s an app called AmpMe that syncs music playback over a bunch of iOS and Android devices and can also use Bluetooth devices (they say they have a big database of latencies) but I don’t think it can drive more than one Bluetooth receiver per iOS/Android device. If you have a bunch of old iPads lying around this might be a solution though
posted by aubilenon at 1:11 PM on June 12, 2018

This is a feature of the UltimateEar speakers. I have a couple of UE Rolls that I've tried to do this with, and it doesn't work too well (though that may be a function of distance). But yeah, I think lag is going to get in the way as well.
posted by natabat at 1:12 PM on June 12, 2018

A possible solution: get one bluetooth receiver, the kind with a headphone jack so you can add bluetooth to the aux input of your car stereo; Then, get an FM transmitter -- the kind you use to add aux to a car stereo by broadcasting on an FM channel -- and connect the two with a female-to-female connector. Then, each speaker is plugged into a little portable radio, tuned to the frequency that the FM transmitter is on. It's not perfect, but it does allow playing a bluetooth device through multiple speakers. Powering the bluetooth/fm unit may take some tinkering, though.
posted by AzraelBrown at 1:24 PM on June 12, 2018

Bluetooth doesn't really do this. There are some Bluetooth codecs that are aimed at low latency, but to my knowledge, nothing aimed at syncing multiple targets that's in the standard.

As natabat mentioned, UE speakers have a proprietary way of doing this, and devices with Apple's Airplay, Google's Chromecast, or devices like a Sonos Connect will let you create a multi-room group of speakers that use their own technology to sync up. The cheapest way to do it reliably might be to get a couple Chromecast devices used or on the cheap and connecting them to the speaker aux jacks, if they have them.
posted by mikeh at 1:51 PM on June 12, 2018

Yeah, there are technical reasons why this is hard to do. Mostly with ensuring the sound is coming out of all the speakers at exactly the right moment.

Speakers with Chromecast enabled and other wifi based solutions can do this. For example, the JBL Link 10 and Link 20 are "portable, waterproof and smart" per JBL's marketing copy.

Anyway, you already have speakers. If they have line-in and you get wifi coverage in your yard you could buy a couple Chromecasts Audio and do it that way.

Finally, this post claims you can do it from a Mac:
On the MAC Turn on bluetooth and pair and connect to each speaker you want to use. Once all are connected open the Audio Midi Setup app found in the Utilities folder in the App directory.

In the lower left corner click on the '+' and create a Multi-output device.

Your connected bluetooth devices should be listed. Tick each one that you want to use.

Open System Preferences, click on Sound (the speaker icon) and choose the Multi-output device.

Open iTunes and play your tunes.

The MAC will output to all connected bluetooth speakers.

If you want to play with volumes, left/right output volumes, mute etc then go back to the Audio Midi Setup app and click on the little triangle to the left of your Multi Output Device description and a drop-down will open showing the controls for each device. You can type in volume percent value or dB in the boxes or tick/untick boxes to mute the speaker or left/right channels.
I have not tried that so I dunno if it works.
posted by GuyZero at 1:51 PM on June 12, 2018

Apparently Airfoil does this as well but again I have not used it.
posted by GuyZero at 1:52 PM on June 12, 2018

Another possibility I spotted online (so no direct experience with it). Being confined to its native app may well be a deal breaker (it would be for me).
posted by AwkwardPause at 2:06 PM on June 12, 2018

I have a TaoTronics Bluetooth transmitter that can pair to 2 headphones at once, should work with speakers as well.
posted by doctord at 10:18 PM on June 12, 2018

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