Multiple people, multiple Bluetooth speakers: how to even?
March 9, 2019 8:43 AM   Subscribe

My partner and I each have a phone and we share a couple of Bluetooth audio devices in our household: one speaker and one headset. I find that pretty much *every* time I want to use Bluetooth it takes at least a minute: first to make sure I have my phone set up to choose the right audio peripheral, and then to also make sure I have the audio peripheral set up to connect to the right source (a process which takes only a second when using an old-fashioned cord).

Note: it's not a question of "pairing", we already have both devices paired to both phones. It's a question of reconnecting to a device you're already paired to. The internet has been surprisingly useless on this question (though I see lots of advice on pairing, which is not the issue here). Does everyone living in a household just learn to tolerate this delay, or am I missing something?
posted by splitpeasoup to Technology (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
What you're doing is the bluetooth equivalent of plugging in the wire. I don't know of any way the phone to predict which device to output to or for the speaker/headphones to predict which device to be expecting input from. While I'd be delighted to be wrong, I don't think you're missing anything. Everyone just sort of accepts it or ends up buying additional devices so they don't have to worry about it.
posted by Apoch at 9:49 AM on March 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

I also thought I might be missing something because setting up music to play on a Bluetooth speaker takes so long! I don’t think we are missing anything. My solution was one I found unexpectedly when someone got us a google home. Now there is no pairing time and button pushing and other none sense, it’s just, “hey google, play music.”
posted by amy.g.dala at 10:01 AM on March 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Nope, that’s just how it is. Relevant XKCD

Bluetooth really only works well when you mainly use one source and one destination. As soon as you add more options on either end it gets annoying and finicky.

I will say some devices sync and connect more reliably than others. E.g. my Anker brand speaker almost instantly connects to the last device that used it when it powers on, if that device is also on and in range. It’s hard to tell until you own a given product, though nowadays some people will mention this in reviews or in promotional material (the Anker was billed as connecting fast/easily)
posted by SaltySalticid at 10:34 AM on March 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

We do not share Bluetooth devices - if it's paired to my partner's phone and also mine, it'll suck, so we only pair each thing to a single input source. We also don't have very many bluetooth devices - I have a speaker, keyboard, and mouse; she has a speaker, assorted headsets, and a keyboard.
posted by bagel at 11:09 AM on March 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

This is in part the reason we moved to a central media-server. We repurpose old phones as permanent-paired-media ports. All the media gets served on our HTPC and then distributed from there. There are windows based solutions to this, but honestly, osx's 'home sharing' function seems to work really well.
posted by furnace.heart at 11:40 AM on March 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

I feel your pain, Mr. Dash and I both have phones paired to our (one) car. The only thing I've noticed, after two phone switches in the last 6 months, is that order seems to matter. I was having trouble getting the car to re-recognize my phone, which was last added, until I erased all devices from the car, added mine first, then added Mr. Dash's phone. Now it seems to recognize my phone more easily. So you could try starting over, and adding yourself first to the devices you use most frequently.
posted by Dashy at 1:08 PM on March 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

This might be a non-answer, but this is why we switched to Sonos speakers at home.
posted by third word on a random page at 1:16 PM on March 9, 2019

If you're using those small portable speakers (as I do) and like them, get one speaker for each phone. I know, I can't believe that's the answer either.
posted by xammerboy at 11:14 PM on March 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

I use my noise canceling headphones with multiple devices. This situation has frustrated me more than a few times, but I have found a quasi-solution.

**Just to avoid the confusion of what I am about to write, we will assume your device is a phone, and the peripheral is a speaker. **

Before you power up your speaker, open up the Bluetooth settings on your phone. Press on the speaker in the list of previously paired devices. This will have the phone attempt to connect to the speaker. Now turn on the speaker. Your phone actively trying to connect to the speaker during power up will bypass the previously connected device pairing and connect immediately.

*This is from experience, not any official knowledge on how Bluetooth handles priority.
posted by wile e at 12:13 PM on March 10, 2019

« Older Oh my god, I hate my hair   |   Tenant insurance question Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.