Blumenstein Audio speakers now have Bluetooth Capability (and always did)!

How to add Bluetooth and Wifi Capability to your Blumenstein speakers:

Hook up your conventional passive speakers with speaker wires to any sort of stereo amplifier, receiver, integrated amplifier or home theater amplifier (fed by a wifi or bluetooth receiver with low level analog RCA or 1/8" Minijack outputs), a wifi/bluetooth based stereo amplifier that has speaker terminal outputs.  That stereo, speaker level output is also the only signal that it takes to run any Blumenstein passive subwoofer/outboard amp system as well.  You can use any additional source component(s) to your liking in the other inputs of a receiver or integrated amp - analog or digital.    And better than a Bluetooth all-in-one boombox or compact active speaker by far...

Welcome (back) to the world of all-analog audio connections and room acoustics (that never went away!)

Have you always wondered whether or not you should enter the world of passive/purist speakers and associated audio equipment but were unsure if hooking up your lowly smartphone via minijack, Bluetooth or WiFi to a separates system would pay back enough in the final sound quality?  

The answer is yes - upgrading from mass market active speaker designs to passive all wood speakers, either on bookshelves or out in the room on floorstands - whether or not you make the effort to hide all the cables - will drastically improve the sound quality of your music - no matter what you plug into your stereo or what other digital device trends might come along in the future.  And if you get speakers (and amplifiers) hooked up with premium cables that are designed to last, then you may see generations of digital devices go by before it is time to perform routine maintenance.

In my career, since I was a young kid, I have gradually travelled the world studying (and often performing free on site repairs) on people's stereo playback practices in all realms - DIY, car, boat, home, mansion, boombox, PA systems in Laos, Ultra Fi in Japan, dozens of goodwill speakers torn apart, rebuilt, and modified, in addition to the thousands of data points we get back from the enthusiastic clientele base of Blumenstein Audio.  Up to the present day I can report back that all across the world the basic fact is that the majority of people are still playing music with separate amplifiers and speakers and probably still will be for quite some time.  

Wait?  Aren't fully integrated wireless digital audio boomboxes and active speakers the next wave of the future?


Here's the issue with any fully integrated (speaker plus amplifier) devices: individual component longevity:  

Components that aren't built to last won't last.  And unless its a portable device exposed to the outdoor elements then in general the more jam packed an active/powered electronic speaker device is on the inside the more likely it is to have cheap inferior "supporting parts" like power supply capacitors and such.  Also, the more proprietary out-on-a-limb its connectivity features are the sooner that the amplifier/circuit board inside it will fail and it will end up in goodwill.  

Make an investment appropriate in relation to the individual component longevity:

Digital technologies follow Murphy's law. 

Yet good speakers routinely give decades of durable service.  

Professionals, music appreciators, and design enthusiasts desire stereo components that are made of materials of inherent quality through and through of the same material so that the component is indefinitely enjoyable, maintainable, antique-able.  Buying the best tools for listening buys them once.


My Recommendations: Bluetooth or WiFi audio components with RCA or speaker level outputs:

What to buy, depending on your budget:

Option 1  - Nothing.  No Bluetooth device. Just plug your phone into a Minijack cable like our 15 or even 25 foot Hammock Line.   Many people rely on this conventional method of plugging their source component into their stereo.

Option 2 - Integrated miniature amps like the PS Audio Sprout and similar that connect via Bluetooth - that are reviewed favorably and referred back to as reliability/sound quality standards.  These can be plugged in with Mainsheet and Anchor Chain wires to our speakers/subwoofers and subwoofer amplifiers.

Option 3 - Wire your computer with cables (USB) to stand alone, high quality - "best in class" DAC's like the dragonfly, wavelength, dedicated computer-as-source - that are connected to integrated amplifiers or receivers.  Sound quality can be the best in this all cabled from computer paradigm.

Option 4 - Wireless, Bluetooth input and RCA or Minijack output devices like Sonos, Squeezebox, stand alone Bluetooth receivers ranging in price between $30 to over $300. - connected to tube or solid state amplifiers.  Sound quality of these stand alone wireless devices plugged with cables into high fidelity amplifiers and passive speakers can be stunningly good.  


What to avoid:

Avoid Anything Glitchy  - Read the reviews, ask your friends, and buy the stuff that has a reputation for rock solid digital programming language.  Check for a track record of firmware updates and user maintenance(?), and especially - energy efficient/high quality electronic hardware.  We are often shocked at the low baseline of quality and reliability many people report back to us about a surprising number of popular, flavor of the month digital Wireless audio devices.  This is in terms of the delivery of the final hardware, versus the promise of software.

Avoid over-integrated componentry There is a balance in approach to product design complexity, adaptability, and we have rarely seen this done well with digital players.  In general, the more fancy tricks you pack into a single product, the more likely it will be glitchy in its daily delivery or tough for you to master the U.I.

Avoid expensive boom boxes with wifi/bluetooth unless you need it to be portable.  If you live in a home, or apartment, then "move in and stay while." Why not buy real audio furniture all the way down to the speakers?  Using a proper home stereo will get you superior daily results out of your musical and media experiences.  

Avoid active/powered speakers because the amplifier in the back will not last as long as the speaker drivers in the front. Separating the amp and speakers allows you to keep your speakers when the amp goes bad. Also, avoid speakers with complex crossover networks in passive speakers that may need to be periodically rebuilt back up to spec.  This can be a costly/inconvenient undertaking down the road.  Our speakers have no crossovers in the cabinets (except the Triton, which is a single small value capacitor for its supertweeter)

Avoid Active/powered subwoofers - For the same reason, we have moved away from Active/powered subwoofers in favor of Passive Subwoofers/Outboard subwoofer amplifiers.  Also - it gives you freedom to place the adjustment knobs out of reach.

Avoid the wrong kinds of expensive digital gear.  And purchase within an budget relative to your desire to keep upgrading to that price point as newer products come out.  Purchased smartly, certain digital audio products can last for quite a while and give extraordinary sound quality during their lifetime.  However, that lifetime should still be considered in relation to the rest of the components that go into your stereo.  


Big gears turn slowly, little gears wear out.

In terms of the longevity of the investments you make into your audio system, the speakers and high quality speaker cables that you purchase now will likely last you for decades.  However, the wireless protocols and Digital to Analog convertors inside digital audio devices you buy are an ever revolving not evolving market.  Keep your 8 ohm speakers in their own wooden speaker boxes if you don't want them to become obsolete sooner than the rest of your stereo would like.


Additional benefits of individual amplification components

Because they allow you the freedom to delicately tune the sound of your acoustically, mechanically, electrically optimized stereo system to your room or listening space - or at least to be able to make better calculated compromises.

 You can troubleshoot any issue by removing/repairing an individual components in the system more easily.    

The sound of high quality analog cable-connected (RCA and speaker wire) stereo system is a shorter digital path between you and the musician's data. 

Individual components that have had passion put into the design will shine through in a stereo made up of other high performance components.  

Good quality cables allow that passion and performance of each individual component to pass through clearly to the amp and then to the speakers.

The goal is to balance performance and practicality - value engineered speaker cables (Waterline Cables) that represent a long term investment in the sound quality of your entire stereo.  

Acoustics - Consider that the entire wood speaker is an acoustic transducer.  Nothing else.  So nothing else should be in the same enclosure that isn't meant to be vibrated in order to make an organic sound.  


What we manufacture at Blumenstein Audio - Newly built speakers and audio components that are "best of's" of Classic and Modern Audio designs with industry leading performance.  Our designs are compact and power-packed.  Their longevity and durability is also sustainable practice, further value engineered for the customer's benefit.

Enjoy,

-Clark Blumenstein

 

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