Bluetooth is fast becoming a hot feature for audio products. If you have a mobile device, it probably has Bluetooth. If you recently bought a speaker dock, it might have it. If you have both, you can play music from one wirelessly on the other. However, if you have an older speaker system and can’t bear to part with it, you can’t use Bluetooth unless you get some kind of adapter. Tivoli Audio offers just such an adapter in the Tivoli Audio BluCon. It works well enough, but at $149.99 (list) with no RCA stereo, coaxial, or optical audio outputs, it’s hard to justify unless you really, really love your existing system and want to let it play music from your smartphone or tablet wirelessly at any cost.
The BluCon is a simple 1.1-by-2.9-by-2.8-inch (HWD) square weighing only 2.6 ounces. The top and bottom are white and framed by a band of walnut, cherry (wood), white, or black, depending on the version you purchase. A Tivoli Audio logo sits on a small triangular ridge on the top, and it glows blue when connected to a device. That’s the only display on the BluCon. There are no controls anywhere on the device—only a mini USB port for power with the included AC adapter and a 3.5mm port for connecting the BluCon to a speaker with the included cable. The 3.5mm port should be enough for most consumer speaker docks, desktop speakers, and bookshelf speakers, but optical, coaxial, or RCA ports would have given it a lot more flexibility.
Pairing the BluCon to a mobile device is simple, if a little frustrating. Because there are no controls, the device goes into pairing mode as soon as you plug it in. However, it can take a few seconds to a minute to completely turn on and become visible to your device. There aren’t any real settings to handle multiple devices, or a way to manually set the plugged-in BluCon into pairing mode to add other devices. You need to juggle your mobile device’s Bluetooth settings if you want to pair anything else.
Once paired, the BluCon and its connected speaker works like any Bluetooth speaker. I found a range of approximately 30 feet between my Samsung Galaxy S III and the BluCon before music started to cut out, which is typical for Bluetooth speakers. Music played clearly through the BluCon-connected speaker, and I noticed no loss in quality compared to the wireless competition. I didn’t expect any; the BluCon uses the same A2DP profile to stream music as any Bluetooth speaker, so there’s no reason to think there would be any change in how well it works. It depends on the speaker system itself, and as long as it has a 3.5mm input (or you use a home theater system with a 3.5mm input), it works.
The Tivoli Audio BluCon is functional, but expensive and limited. Logitech used to offer a similar Bluetooth speaker adapter, the Logitech Wireless Speaker Adapter for Bluetooth, and it’s still available online at some retailers for less than half the price. The Logitech adapter also features stereo RCA ports as well as a 3.5mm port, so if you can find it, it’s the better way to hook up your speakers to Bluetooth. As it is, the BluCon costs more than a very good portable Bluetooth speaker, like the Editors’ Choice Logitech UE Mobile Boombox, and many other speakers, speaker docks, and sound bars have Bluetooth built in, so it seems unnecessary. If you have an older speaker and really want to hook it up to Bluetooth, you’re better off looking for the discontinued Logitech adapter. The BluCon works well enough, but it’s $150 for a single-purpose device that should cost half that. Still, with so many users with older stereo systems who might want to add wireless audio without compromising its components, you could do worse.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc