Week 17, 2017: Internet Radio and Bluetooth speakers, Polk BOOM Bit

Sound Advice

By Don Lindich

Week 17, 2017

Q. I have a tabletop Internet radio and an OontZ Bluetooth speaker. I would like to send sound from the radio to my OontZ so I can listen to Internet radio in other rooms. Is there a way I can do this?

-R.F., Appleton, WI

A. There is a way as long as your radio has an audio output of some kind, such as a headphone output. I have a second (and I think better) solution for you in the event it does not.

You can buy a Bluetooth transmitter for about $30. Connect the transmitter to the headphone jack and turn the radio volume up to 90%. You can then pair your OontZ to the transmitter and listen to Internet radio stations and streaming services. You will probably turn off the radio’s speakers if you use the headphone jack, so you can’t do this and listen in two rooms at the same time. As for the transmitter itself, models from Taotronics are well regarded so I would start there.

If your radio does not have a headphone output, you can always tune the Internet radio station or streaming service on your smartphone and send it to the OontZ directly. If you do not have a smartphone (and I do know people with Internet radios who still use flip phones) or do not want to use your phone for this purpose, I suggest getting a $49 Amazon Fire tablet and dedicating it to use with your OontZ as your Internet tuner. Given that the tablet can do much more than tune Internet audio services and only costs $19 more than a Bluetooth transmitter, I suggest spending the extra $19 and getting the extra versatility the tablet offers.

More Bluetooth speakers in the weeks to come: Speaking of Bluetooth devices, my recent Bluetooth speaker column really made waves. Since it was published I have received many questions from readers, as well as emails from manufacturers telling me about their own unique Bluetooth and wireless speaker products. There is a lot of good new stuff to talk about, so for the next few weeks I will be featuring a Bluetooth speaker as the second part of the column.

The first is the BOOM Bit from Polk Audio, a wearable Bluetooth speaker. The BOOM Bit is about the size of a modern wireless car key and is coated in durable rubber. It has a strong spring clip for attaching to clothing or other surfaces and battery life is three hours.

The BOOM Bit is perfect for listening to music when you do not want to keep out external noise, for example when riding a bicycle on city streets. You can hear music and answer your telephone hands-free, while keeping full awareness of what is going around you.

When you have a BOOM Bit you quickly find new uses for it, for example talking on the phone as you move around the kitchen cooking, or while tending to other household tasks. It also makes a great accessory for older cars without Bluetooth. Most car Bluetooth devices are one-trick ponies, good only for phone calls. Clip the BOOM Bit to the visor to bring Bluetooth phone capability to your older vehicle, while enjoying much more versatility than a dedicated car device.

The small size and form factor limit sound quality, but the BOOM Bit will bring music to unlikely spaces, places and activities. The BOOM Bit comes in five colors and at under $30 is cheap enough to be an impulse purchase.