What Bluetooth alternatives for my old hi-fi system?

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Do you want to give an old Hi-Fi system a facelift? Unfortunately, Chromecast Audio is no longer on the market, but we have taken you through the workarounds to upgrade your absolutely disconnected speakers.

Unlike many technology-related fields, audio tends to age quite well. So a good hi-fi system from 20 years ago will still produce quality sound. Where somewhat older devices risk failing, however, is at the connectivity level, where they are limited to radio and physical sources like CDs and other vinyl. However, it’s relatively easy to modernize a hi-fi system or amplifier a bit, allowing it to receive Bluetooth or even AirPlay. A few years ago, we would have told you to buy a Chromecast Audio, but Google took it back.

Fortunately, there are other solutions for integrating smart features into existing audio setups. Follow the guide!

Interested in good sound? Also read our guide to the best Bluetooth speakers and our comparison of the best connected speakers.

Amazon Echo Dot: Say hello to Alexa

Like Google, Amazon has retired its dedicated hi-fi product, the very handy Echo Input. Too bad, but it can be replaced by a fourth-generation Echo Dot. In fact, this small connected speaker is equipped with a 3.5mm jack output. Therefore, it will be enough to use a jack or RCA cable to connect it to a speaker or an amplifier.

It is then used in the same way as a connected speaker from the Echo range, that is, by saying the name “Alexa” or by pressing the “Action” button before making a request. It is today the least expensive solution not only for music from your speakers, but also for making them smart. Your problem is not being able to stream the music you have locally on your devices.

Why do we recommend Amazon Echo Input?

  • A low price and frequent promotions.
  • A simple configuration within everyone’s reach
  • The Amazon Alexa assistant on your favorite speaker

Where to buy

Amazon Echo Dot (2022) at the best price?

AudioCast: multi-format compatibility at a low price

AudioCast is an alternative that works perfectly with Spotify, either in the free version via PC or with a subscription premium via smartphone/tablet. If you already include Pandora or iHeartRadio support, your options are still pretty limited.

Note that it is multi-room and that it handles a large number of audio formats -including the most exotic- that will surely delight the most audiophiles among you: APE, FLAC, WAV, WMA 48 kHz/16 bit, etc.

Why is Audiocast recommended?

  • The perfect companion for your Spotify account
  • Multiroom management
  • And support for many audio formats.

The AudioCast is usually offered for around 40 euros.

Sonos Port – For Sonos Fans

Sonos offers one of the most exciting multi-room ecosystems on the market. The function of this Port is to bring all these features to any audio device as long as it has an RCA socket or a coaxial digital input.

The case itself is compact and above all a model of sobriety. In addition to the RCA and coaxial audio outputs, there’s a pair of Ethernet connectors and a 12V switch. The latter is used to automatically power on compatible devices. Finally, we are entitled to an RCA input in which we can connect, for example, a vinyl record player, then we can transmit the sound of the latter throughout the house.

Orders are placed through the excellent Sonos app, which supports just about every audio service on the market. Those who prefer Apple can go through AirPlay 2. The Sonos Port’s only real flaw: it can’t connect to Wifi.

Even so, this excellence comes at a high price: no less than €450…

Why do we recommend the Sonos Dock?

  • The Sonos and AirPlay ecosystem
  • The excellent connectivity
  • Very good sound quality.

Logitech Wireless Audio Receiver – Nothing but Bluetooth

Although not ideal in terms of range and sound quality, Bluetooth is an option in some cases, especially if you don’t have a Wi-Fi network. There are many Bluetooth receivers, but we have chosen this Logitech model for its reliability.

Compact, this small box offers a jack output and a pair of RCA connectors. No frills then, but a solid connection at a reasonable price.

Why do we recommend the Logitech Audio Receiver?

  • super easy to use
  • Compact
  • Logitech quality

Mopidy: for the busy weekenders

Yes, it’s pretty weird, but remember that you can do almost anything with a Raspeberry Pi. If you’re not afraid of getting your hands dirty, then Mopidy’s flexible solution will be perfect for you. Basically, you will have your own Spotify audio terminal, controllable remotely from your computer, smartphone or tablet.

To do this, you only have to buy a Raspeberry Pi, which is usually around 135 euros when it is in stock. In fact, the development board is suffering from major supply issues right now. If you’re in a hurry, the aforementioned Audiocast will be less versatile and open, but it does have the merit of being stock.

Why is the Mopidy receiver recommended?

  • Free if you already have a Raspberry Pi lying around
  • great versatility
  • It’s always fun to play

Everything you need to know before upgrading your hi-fi system

Bluetooth or Wi-Fi?

It can be tempting to choose a simple Bluetooth receiver, in fact they are cheaper and work with any phone.

Unfortunately, the audio quality will be lower than with a WiFi solution due to the coding applied to the audio. A loss of quality that is noticeable very quickly with a hi-fi system. Therefore, we recommend that you use a Wi-Fi connection.

What connector to use?

Most of the products selected here have multiple outlets.

  • Jack socket: the good old jack socket, ubiquitous, but fragile and not ideal for the audio signal
  • RCA connector: two analog connectors, offers better contact than jack plugs
  • optical output: also called TOSLINK, this connector transmits a signal over fiber optics
  • coaxial digital output: also called S/PDIF, there is also a digital signal, but it goes through a copper coaxial cable

If your system is compatible, we strongly recommend that you use a digital output. From an audio point of view, TOSLINK and S/PDIF are the same. However, we prefer optical cables as they are not susceptible to interference.

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