One of the greatest invention in today’s technolo
gy world I think is the Bluetooth system of broadcasting. With it, I have found a way to use multiple bluetooth headphones (two students and a teacher) listening to one music source. And the entire project cost less than $130
Most of us became familiar with Bluetooth through it’s introduction to our cell / smart phones. Through my phone’s Bluetooth I found I could connect to my car’s audio system, and stream my dance music as well as receive phone calls. Later I bought a Bluetooth enabled speaker (Harmon Karden) for household use, and I regularly use it to broadcast Pandora music into the home.
As time and technology progressed, I began to notice more Bluetooth headphones showing up, first in my gym, and later in my dance studio. In both cases, I thought it was little more than a novelty, designed to listen to music while you work out. I don’t do that, so didn’t think much about it.
It Takes a Pair
The idea of “pairing a Bluetooth receiver and transmitter was quite confusing to me. I thought that if the Bluetooth device is a low powered radio transmitter, it should be receivable by any number of receivers that were within range, even if it was only a few feet. Apparently I was wrong. Somehow they’ve worked out a “pairing” technology between the receivers and transmitters, that is required to make it work. That led to the presumption that only one person could hear the transmission (music). For a gym workout that’s fine, but for ballroom dancing, it’s pretty worthless.
Later I learned two Bluetooth headphones could be paired to a source, and used by me and my dance partner. That was progress, and a good solution for practicing in a busy studio with my partner, but not for a dance couple and a teacher. As I found out, with the right accessories, you can broadcast to several receivers. Which meant that I could have music for me, my partner, and my dance teacher in a crowded studio, without distractions from other people’s music . No more fights over the music system! WooHoo!
Here’s how to make it work.
The key components for all this are quite simple:
Goes without saying, and you may use anything you want, as long as it has a 3.5mm mini-plug out for use with ear buds. This is so universal now, it needs no further information. I used my cell phone.
Audio Splitter cable
This is used to plug into the music device (i.e. phone) headphone jack, and then split it into to feeds. I used the Ugreen 3.5 mm audio stereo y splitter cable.
Bluetooth 4.1 Transmitter
This is where the real magic happens. It is a small device that receives the audio signal from your phone, re-broadcasts it as a Bluetooth signal, and pairs itself with the headphones. This particular device will pair with TWO headphones (not all of them do). I used a RockRok Portable Wireless Adapter from Amazon. You need two of them, one for each leg of the splutter cable.
Cost: $26.98 ea x 2 = $53.96 on Amazon
Multiple Bluetooth Headphones
Finally, the good stuff: music!
I bought three of the Beyution WIreless Bluetooth Headphones for this project, and they work very well! They have great sound quality, are light weight, and there are many colors to choose from. And they’re inexpensive!
There’s not too much to be said here. These sets are wireless and you only have to press a button to turn them on and pair them with the transmitter. They have a rocker switch for volume, and indicator lights for on/off and paired. There is a built in battery that charges through a USB source. The headphones fold for compact keeping. Pretty simple in all!
Total cost for this project: $125.92
Putting It All Together
Once you have the assembled parts, the setup is simple, but there are a few sequences and “gotchas” to observe:
- Plug the Rockrok transmitters and headphones into their chargers, and charge them completely. Bluetooth transmitters don’t work or pair right when the batteries are low
- Find some stick on labels for the Rockroks. Mark one for one of the headphones, and the other one for the two remaining headphones. The first pairing of the headphones to the transmitter takes some time (minutes). The transmitter remembers the pairing information and subsequent connections are much quicker. Therefor it helps to know which headphones are paired to which bluetooth transmitter. For example, I have three headphones: a yellow, a red, and a blue. I have my rockroks labeled as Blue for one, and yellow and red for the others. So when i pair them, I know which headphones to use. Makes life a lot easier!
- Turn on your phone/tablet/device that will be a music source. Get some music playing.
- TURN OFF THE DEVICE’S BLUETOOTH FEATURE. YOU WON’T USE IT AND IT WILL INTERFERE WITH PAIRING!
Hooking it up
- Plug the splitter cable (male end) into the phone headphone jack
- Plug each Rockrok Bluetooth transmitter into the other ends of the splitter cable
- Make sure the switch on each Rockrok is set to transmit (Tx)
- Press the button on the Rockrok until the blue light on the face begins to flash. That means it’s searching for a receiver
- Press the switch on the first headphone (i.e. my blue one) and hold until it begins to flash. That means it’s searching for a transmitter
- When they find each other, the lights will turn off and go into a slow blink mode – about every 15 seconds
- On the Rockrok that pairs with TWO headphones, it’s a little trickier:
- Go through the above steps to pair up one of the remaining headphones(i.e. the red one)
- Once it’s paired, turn IT off (press and hold the headset’s switch until the light goes out)
- Turn on the second (remaining) headset (i.e. the yellow one) and repeat the pairing process just as above
- Once it pairs, turn ON the previous headset (the red one), and it will pair automatically
- Make sure all the Bluetooth headphonesare on and check for music. It should be there!
A few notes on this project:
- About the splitter cabel: if you’re using a phone with a protective case, some splitter cables won’t seat solidly because the case bumps into the shoulder of the plug. This happened to me with another brand, and I had to buy the one shown here to solve the problem.
- Since each Rockrok transmitter will pair with two headphones, you could actually have 4 headphones listening. I didn’t go that far because I don’t need it.
- Continuing that thought, I think you could buy additional splitter cables, Rockrok transmitters, and headphones and chain them together to provide many more listening devices. This could be good for team dance training. I haven’t tried this, but it should work.
- I chose the Beyution Wireless Headphone because they were inexpensive, colorful, reviewed well, and I was trying out this idea. After some use, I found the only drawback is that it can be uncomfortable after an hour of continuous use. If you expect a lot of usage (i.e. you’re the teacher) you might consider another Bluetooth headset that fits over the ear (instead of on the ear) and is cushioned. It will be much more comfortable, and of course more expensive. Make sure it has the same Bluetooth specs as the Beyution, which I used in this example. Other Bluetooth devices are available, such as earbuds if necessary.
A Great Solution!
I’ve found this to be a great solution for practicing and training ballroom dancing in a busy studio. No longer do you need to ask permission to play a song. The music is there for you to listen to any time. And you can slip the headphonesoff, rest them on your neck, and talk about the dance. It’s a perfect and inexpensive solution. Have fun!
Dance lessons are expensive, and we get a small commission if you buy the bluetooth equipment through these links. It will help my wife and I buy more lessons. That makes her happy, which makes me happy. Thanks, and see you on the dance floor! – Mark C.