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Belkin Bluetooth Music Receiver review: Belkin Bluetooth Music Receiver

Belkin Bluetooth Music Receiver

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Kobo e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Headphones, Bluetooth speakers, mobile accessories, Apple, Sony, Bose, e-readers, Amazon, glasses, ski gear, iPhone cases, gaming accessories, sports tech, portable audio, interviews, audiophile gear, PC speakers Credentials
  • Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
David Carnoy
4 min read

If you have an older stereo system or speaker dock lying around that doesn't offer wireless streaming, a few companies make adapters that enable you to add Bluetooth to an existing set of powered speakers or an iPod speaker dock for not too much money. Logitech's version is the Wireless Speaker Adapter, while Belkin's is the Bluetooth Music Receiver (model F8Z492TTP) reviewed here.


Belkin Bluetooth Music Receiver

The Good

The affordable <b>Belkin Bluetooth Music Receiver</b> adds Bluetooth streaming capabilities to anything with an audio (auxiliary) input, or a pair of powered speakers. It comes with both RCA-to-3.5mm and 3.5mm-to-3.5mm cables.

The Bad

It's "wireless," but needs to be plugged into the audio component (and a wall outlet).

The Bottom Line

The Belkin Bluetooth Music Receiver is a cheap and easy way to add wireless audio streaming to any powered speaker system or audio component with a spare input.

The truth is there isn't much difference between the two in terms of what they do. But the Belkin is significantly smaller, about half the size, largely because it doesn't have a composite audio connection (red/white) built into it; it just has a 3.5mm minijack. And while the Logitech comes with a single 3.5mm-to-RCA cable, the Belkin includes that plus a 3.5mm-to-3.5mm cable. In other words, both of them can be connected to either type of audio input.

The Belkin Bluetooth Music Receiver looks like a shrunken-down version of an Apple TV or Roku streaming media box (or, if you prefer, a hockey puck). It has to be plugged into a wall socket to get its power, and the AC adapter is actually bigger than the unit itself.

As mentioned, the included cables offer maximum flexibility for connecting just about any powered audio device. You can plug the Belkin into any stereo, boom box, AV receiver, TV, or even an old pair of PC speakers -- anything with a free input. Because Bluetooth doesn't need line-of-sight with the audio source, you can even hide the Belkin box instead of having to keep it out in the open.

The audio source in question can be any Bluetooth-enabled smartphone (iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry), most tablets (yes on iPad, no on Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire), later versions of the iPod Touch, or many PCs, Macs, and laptops. Like the Logitech, the Belkin receiver features Bluetooth v2.0 with EDR and is compatible with all devices enabled with A2DP stereo Bluetooth. It remembers up to six paired devices.

The Belkin Bluetooth Music Receiver is smaller than its Logitech competitor and comes with an additional cable.

Once you've connected the little box to your stereo's input with the included cable, you then just have to pair it with your Bluetooth-enabled device. While the Logitech adpater has a "connect" button that puts it into pairing mode, the Belkin simply makes itself available for pairing as soon as you plug it in. I was able to pair an iPhone 4S as well as an Android tablet without any trouble.

The light on top goes solid blue when you get a successful pairing. Once connected, your smartphone or tablet can act as a remote, and you can stream music or other audio to the speaker while maintaining control of volume and track selection from the palm of your hand. In other words, you can sit on the sofa and choose to play any music file, app, or browser-based audio from these devices (including Pandora, SiriusXM, MOG, and iTunes) and have it wirelessly emanate from your stereo across the room -- no AirPlay or Wi-Fi necessary. The range is about 30 feet, but I managed to do a bit better than that.

A 3.5mm jack and power port adorn the back of the unit.

As I said with the Logitech adapter, since Bluetooth is a wireless technology, you may occasionally encounter some hiccups, especially if you're walking around with the phone and stray out of range. Also, sometimes your own body (or somebody else's body) can be a source of interference and may result in a dropout. But my music mostly streamed fine over the course of a day's listening time in my office.

As for performance, Bluetooth compresses audio files, so you're not going to get sound that's quite as good as you'd get from Apple's AirPlay wireless streaming, which uses Wi-Fi technology and doesn't compress files. Bluetooth has a tendency to flatten things out a bit, so you might notice your music doesn't sound as dynamic as it should, especially if you're streaming to better speakers.

Belkin vs. Logitech: So, which one is better?
The big question for a lot of people looking into this type of Bluetooth accessory is whether to get the Logitech or Belkin. That's hard to say because they do the same thing equally well. That said, I'm slightly more partial to the Belkin because it's smaller and cheaper. Though it lists for $49.99, it's widely available online for around half that price, which makes the street price a bit less than that of the Logitech.

I have no problem recommending either product to anyone looking for a relatively inexpensive way to turn a wired stereo into a wireless one. But if you can find it for $5 or even $10 less, the Belkin is the better deal.


Belkin Bluetooth Music Receiver

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 7