Every time I wanted to play music in my living room, I had to step five years back into the past. Talk about a pain point!
I own a great-sounding Bose SoundDock II, that cost around 300 bucks. I think I got it in 2009. It doesn’t charge my iPhone 4S, so I use a rinky-dink iPod with a whopping 4GBs of space and no wireless connection to use the dock.
Like a lot of music fans, I don’t purchase digital music anymore and I haven’t synced an iPod in years. I have a streaming-music service that I use on all my devices.
Now, the big hardware players in the music space, like Bose and Philips, have done a great job introducing Bluetooth speaker systems that sound fantastic. In fact, they sound just as fantastic as their older docking models. The older model which you already own. And still sounds great. See the problem?
I had been weighing plunking down 300 bucks for the Bose SoundLink or 200 for the stylish Beats Pill speakers but it irritated me that I had to spend that money for no increase in audio quality. Essentially, I’d be paying a huge premium for a very old technology: Bluetooth.
I was about to do this anyway when I caught wind of two products: The Bluetooth CoolStream Receiver and the DockBoss air from CableJive. These are Bluetooth-enabled 30-pin adapters that allow you to stream music to your old docking stereo. The DockBoss Air was not available on Amazon, so I bought the CoolStream model for 40 bucks.
Setting it up was an out-of-the-box process Steve Jobs would have approved of. Here it is:
1. Plug the receiver into your dock
2. Hold down the power button on the receiver for three seconds
3. Turn your device’s Bluetooth on
4. Connect your device to the CoolStream receiver
5. Play music from iTunes, Spotify, Mog or wherever
It works and sounds great, but there are a few drawbacks.
The unit emits a high-pitched frequency when it’s plugged in. You have to remember to turn it off, but even when it’s off the SoundDock still buzzes slightly. So you have to unplug the receiver entirely any time you want to eliminate unwanted noise.
Another problem, divorced from the device, is that you need to remember to shut your device’s Bluetooth off when not streaming music, as it’s a battery drain.
These problems, however, are dwarfed by their solution: You can update a perfect-working piece of audio equipment for a fraction of the cost of purchasing an entire new system.
These little Bluetooth receivers are not made by any of the big manufacturers (or at least I couldn’t find any—if you know of one leave a link in the comments). I suspect they don’t want to cannibalize their new products by giving you an update to their old one.
CableJive and CoolStream don’t have the marketing budgets or distribution of a Philips or a Bose, so they’re flying a bit under the radar, which is too bad because they work great and can save you some hard-earned cash.