The Easiest Ways To Turn Your Wired Speakers Wireless

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While many people still hold a soft spot for the days of wired audio hardware, the writing is on the wall: wireless is the way of the future. The vast majority of new personal speakers are built wireless first, with options for wired inputs a mere afterthought, if that. After all, with the prevalence of streaming music and personal listening devices, what would you need a couple of chunky box speakers for?

But what if you have an old speaker you've been caring for over many years? Perhaps it's got the settings just the way you like them, or a calming, warmer sound? Even if the tech is out of date, you've had it for so long that you can't bear to do your listening with anything else. What can you do to bring that old speaker into the modern age of wireless inputs? Well, worry not, there are ways to help your favorite wired speaker keep up with the new sound.

Finding the right format

The major disconnect between older, wired speakers and new sound systems is a lack of compatible input formats. Basically, many modern audio inputs and outputs are built to receive wireless signals in one form or another, be they over Wi-Fi or a dedicated Bluetooth signal. Obviously, a speaker you bought in 1993 isn't going to have anything even remotely close to such functionality, no matter how well you've cared for it, since speakers didn't even start incorporating wireless elements until a good decade after that.

So how do we fix this problem? The same way we've been fixing hardware compatibility issues for years: adapters! With the right hardware, you can transform your wired speakers into Bluetooth or Wi-Fi speakers, allowing you to broadcast music or home theater audio to them no matter where they are in the room. You can still get the most out of your favorite speakers without plugging them directly into an input source.

Bluetooth adapters

If you're looking for a simpler audio connection, like playing music from your phone, a Bluetooth connection is the more economical option for repurposing old wired speakers. All you need to facilitate this connection is a Bluetooth audio adapter and a typical amplifier. The amplifier's output is connected to the wired speakers as usual, while the Bluetooth adapter is connected to its input. When you want to play music, you just pair your phone or any other Bluetooth-enabled device to the adapter, and it'll pick up and broadcast your tunes.

If you don't already have an amplifier and don't mind shelling out a bit, you can also cut out a step here by getting an amplifier with Bluetooth connectivity built in. This way, you can plug the output into the speakers, then pair your device right to the amplifier. One thing to note with this approach: it's better suited for music than, say, audio from a movie. Daisy-chaining devices like this can cause a bit of an audio delay, which isn't great for watching TV. With that said, there are many choices available on Amazon at various price points, including the Esinkin Bluetooth stereo receiver for $25 and pricier alternatives like Amazon's Echo Link for $200.

Wireless adapters

If you're confident in your home Wi-Fi signal, there are a couple of avenues of wireless connectivity you can use for your wired speakers. The absolute simplest approach here would be to plug your wired speakers and an amplifier directly into a smart home device like a Chromecast or certain Amazon Echo models, including the Echo Dot, Echo Input, Echo Link, and Echo Plus. Most smart home devices have wired audio outputs, and using their inherent connectivity, you can broadcast audio from anywhere your personal Wi-Fi signal can reach. You don't even need a paired phone for an Echo, you can just stream music right from your Amazon Music playlists.

If you don't have or don't like smart home gadgets, don't worry, there's another wireless option: a wireless streaming amplifier. Some higher-end amplifiers have both traditional audio inputs and outputs and Wi-Fi connectivity. Models like Yamaha's WXA-50 MusicCast Streaming Amplifier or Denon's HEOS AMP can receive sound wirelessly from any other device on your home network, be it a PC, a smartphone, a smart TV, or whatever else. Thanks to its direct connection, the audio quality should be nice and crisp, too.

Wireless transmitter kits

What if your speakers aren't the only thing out of date? Still using a tube TV with a VCR attached? Even with outdated hardware on both ends, there is still a way to bring them into the modern age: a wireless conversion kit. By connecting both devices to a wireless transmitter and receiver, you can broadcast the inputs and outputs across a short distance. It's like the home theater equivalent of using walkie-talkies.

All you need to do is plug your audio source into the transmitter of the pair, then plug the wired speakers (and an amp, if you're using one) into the wireless receiver. Plug the transmitter and receiver into an outlet, turn it all on, and voila, instant connection. The signal's not as powerful as a full-on wireless sound system, but it's more than good enough for a home theater or living room. There are many options available, including the Measy AU680 priced at $99 on Amazon.