Question: Is there a way to connect my old receiver to Bluetooth headphones or Bluetooth speakers, so we can listen to the headphones wirelessly inside, or send music outside to my porch? If it is possible, what Bluetooth headphones would you recommend for my wife and I, and what Bluetooth speaker to use outside? — A.K., South Bend, Indiana
Answer: In the past few weeks I have received perhaps two dozen variations of this question. It is very easy to send Bluetooth signals from an old piece of equipment, as long as it has a headphone output or tape output — also called a tape loop.
Start with a $34 TaoTronics Bluetooth 4.1 transmitter-receiver, set to transmit mode. It comes with a headphone connection and an RCA connection. The best way to connect it is to use the receiver’s tape output, using the RCA connections. If your receiver does not have a tape output, or if the tape output is in use, plug it in to the receiver’s headphone output. You will need a 3.5mm to ¼-inch adapter to use it with older receivers.
Once connected, anything played by the receiver, be it FM, CD, TV or a turntable, will be transmitted over Bluetooth. Follow the pairing instructions to connect headphones and speakers to the transmitter. It can connect to two devices simultaneously, so you can have two headphones, two speakers, or one set of headphones and one speaker.
Here are some headphone and speaker choices, spanning a wide price range.
• For only $35, the Mpow 059 headphones are surprisingly good, come in a wide variety of colors and are quite comfortable. See xmpow.com.
• The Hiearcool L1 headphones provide great sound and active noise cancellation for only $69. I heard these recently and loved them, and apparently the rest of the world loves them, too. Amazon has 775 reviews posted, and 98 percent of the reviews are 5 stars. That is by far the most impressive showing I have seen for any product of any type, in any price class. See them on amazon.com.
• Audio-Technica’s $149 ATH-SR5BTBK and $299 ATH-DSR7BT headphones are top choices at their respective price points. I am especially fond of the ATH-DSR7BT, which has sound reminiscent of expensive planar headphones. See audio- technica.com.
• The new OontZ Ultra speakers are so outstanding that it makes speaker decisions something of a binary choice. It’s either an OontZ Ultra model, or something expensive, exotic and really high-end. The weatherproof $49.99 OontZ Angle 3 Ultra and $119.99 OontZ Angle 3XL Ultra sound better than most competitors with high-end brand names, but sell for a fraction of the price. They are weatherproof, have long battery life, can be used in pairs and have tremendous Bluetooth range, making them ideal for your application. See theoontz.com.
• If you do want the Rolls-Royce and are willing to pay for it, check out the $799 Soundcast VG7. The VG7 produces beautiful, powerful, full-range sound that is radiated over 360 degrees, providing an extremely immersive experience. It is weatherproof, built with the highest standards of material and workmanship and features indoor and outdoor modes to tune its sound to the environment. I will write more about the Soundcast VG7 next week. In the meantime, you can see it at gosoundcast.com.
Holiday product highlights: My annual holiday gift guide has a price limit of $100, so between now and the end of the year I will feature some more expensive products as the second part of the column. Some of them already have been featured in this column, some are new. Stay tuned.