Bluetooth speakers are responsible for much of our music listening experiences and joy, and most music lovers own or have owned one at some stage, be it a pocket-sized portable speaker or a large party speaker.
While Bluetooth speakers generally have a pretty long lifespan, issues can sometimes arise, causing operation problems or even complete failure. Fortunately, there are only so many things that can go wrong with a Bluetooth speaker, and problems can be easily identifiable. However, some issues cannot be solved easily, and only the manufacturer can repair such faults.
This article will guide you through different commonly-experienced issues with Bluetooth speakers, how to fix them, and when to consider saying goodbye to your speaker for good. Most common Bluetooth speaker problems can be solved relatively easily by following general methods that work for all devices. However, some speakers with more specialized features may need some additional troubleshooting, while others can only be effectively repaired by the manufacturer.
This guide walks you through some basic and commonly-experienced issues with quick and painless solutions. Your instruction manual for your Bluetooth speaker should have a short troubleshooting guide included, which will be more device-specific, so I highly recommend never throwing these guides away, as they can come in handy. Alternatively, the manufacturer’s website should have all the information you need to diagnose and solve any problem with your Bluetooth speaker.
The most common Bluetooth speaker issue is a connectivity issue- the Bluetooth speaker won’t connect to your phone, computer, or TV. This can be quite an annoying problem, but thankfully can be solved. Bluetooth pairings can fail for a number of reasons and can always be fixed, provided both devices are compatible.
Luckily, Bluetooth is backward compatible, meaning a Bluetooth 5.0-enabled speaker can connect to a Bluetooth 4.2 smartphone. Making sure you’re running the latest operating system on your device will not only always remove this issue from your troubleshooting list but will only provide a better user experience for you. Some Bluetooth speakers can perform firmware updates, so it’s also worth making sure this is up to date, too.
If you’re struggling to connect your smartphone, computer, TV, or another device to your Bluetooth speaker, run through the following to determine the source of the issue:
1. Ensure Bluetooth Is Enabled On Your Source Device
This is a common mistake we’re all guilty of making. Ensuring Bluetooth mode is switched on is the simplest and first test you should do. If you’re unsure of where to enable Bluetooth on your source device, this information will be available in the user manual or found through a quick internet search.
Once Bluetooth is enabled on your phone, computer, TV, or another source device, you should be able to connect to your speaker. If not, follow the below steps.
2. Make Sure Both Devices Are Discoverable
Some Bluetooth speakers aren’t permanently in discovery mode; this is a safety feature that, without it, would enable anyone walking near you to simply connect to your speaker and hijack your party. Most speakers have a Bluetooth button that can be pressed or held to enable discovery mode, while others may require a combination of buttons. To find out how to enable this function, simply read the instruction manual or do a quick Google search. It shouldn’t be too difficult to find.
You’ll also need to make sure your source device is in discovery mode so it can communicate and form a pairing with your Bluetooth speaker. This is usually done on the same menu where your Bluetooth on/off function is selected.
3. Determine How Pairings Work Between Your Devices
Most Bluetooth speakers connect to your source device by activating Bluetooth on both ends, making each device discoverable, and establishing a connection. Sometimes you’ll need to match a pin number (mostly a feature in car sound systems), and other systems may require you to delete previously paired devices before loading a new one. Learning how your speaker communicates with your source device can save you loads of troubleshooting, as some newer models simply pair by bringing your source device close to the Bluetooth speaker.
4. Make Sure Both Devices Are Within The Recommended Pairing Range
Different Bluetooth codecs can operate at different distances, and it’s worth familiarizing yourself with your Bluetooth speaker’s wireless range to ensure you don’t accidentally move too far away, as this will cause the signal to drop out or crackle and eventually disappear. When setting up Bluetooth pairings, I’d recommend having both devices next to each other to eliminate this from your potential troubleshooting procedure.
5. Check How Many Simultaneous Pairings Your Bluetooth Speaker Supports
Some Bluetooth speakers allow for two smartphones to be connected at the same time, and pressing play on one phone’s music app will pause the other’s playback. Other Bluetooth speakers may only accept one pairing at a time, so you’d need to disconnect the active pairing before establishing a new one. Some Bluetooth speakers also remember previously paired devices, while others don’t (or have limited memory)
Knowing this specification is important, as it can become a frustrating issue to solve if you’re struggling to connect a new device. An easy way to delete previous pairings would be to select the ‘forget device’ button in your source device’s Bluetooth menu.
Other Connectivity Issues and Interferences
The above troubleshooting methods work 99.9% of the time, and it’s very rare to see a device still misbehave after running through these checks. If you’re still struggling to pair your source to a Bluetooth speaker, try the following less-common solutions:
1. Update Your Source Device’s Software
Sometimes outdated software can limit your device’s functionality. Performing a software update and running the latest operating system is an easy fix and is also an important practice to follow as regularly as possible.
2. Switch Both Devices Off and On Again
The oldest trick in the book sometimes is all a device needs to get back into gear. There’s no real explanation as to why this can sometimes work, but we know for certain that it can help at times.
3. Avoid USB 3.0 Ports
USB 3.0 ports found on newer computers are known to occasionally interrupt Bluetooth communications. If you’re still struggling, ensure you aren’t anywhere close to one unless of course, you’re attempting to pair with a brand-new USB 3.0 laptop, in which case, try to get the Bluetooth speaker as far as possible while still within the Bluetooth pairing zone.
4. Install New Drivers
If you’re struggling to connect a new Bluetooth speaker to a computer, an out-of-date or missing driver is always a possible issue, though it is not too common. To find and install the correct one, you can simply search Google “Device Name Driver” or refer to the Bluetooth speaker’s instruction manual to see if there is one needed.
5. Distance Yourself From Smart Home Devices and Wi-Fi Routers
Wi-Fi routers and smart home devices which run on Wi-Fi can also occasionally disturb Bluetooth speaker pairings. If your home has any smart devices, try to establish your Bluetooth pairing away from your wireless router or Wi-Fi-enabled smart devices.
Sound Quality Issues
If you’ve encountered problems with your Bluetooth speaker’s sound quality, be it signal drops, distortion, low output level, or perhaps low-end that distorts much easier than it used to, there are a few possible causes. However, some of these are not fixable at home and will either require parts to be replaced or repaired by the manufacturer or for the entire speaker to be written off.
Water or Dirt Contact
The first cause of sound-related issues can be unwanted contact with water, dust, or other hazardous materials. Some speakers are not protected by an IP rating at all (weatherproof/water-resistance ratings), while others can only handle gentle exposure to the elements.
If your Bluetooth speaker came into accidental contact with water, you might be able to save it by wiping the speaker down with a dry cloth, depending on how severe the incident was. If the speaker was submerged under water when it’s not designed to handle such exposure, you might not be able to save it
If you’ve previously applied an equalizer on your computer or phone’s music streaming service app that was meant to enhance a certain device, you can damage a Bluetooth speaker by overloading it with frequencies it is physically unable to reproduce. For example, boosting the low-end at 80Hz might have worked beautifully for your 8-inch car speakers, but your tiny 3-inch Bluetooth speaker can’t always handle such intense lows and, as a result, can distort or the speaker may even blow.
Charging and Battery-related problems
After a while, you may notice your Bluetooth speaker’s battery doesn’t last as long as it used to, or perhaps it’s a new speaker that just doesn’t last as many hours as the advert or user manual specified. Battery-related Bluetooth speaker issues are fairly common and usually come down to a few key causes:
Using a Bluetooth speaker at a louder volume will run the battery faster.
This applies to all Bluetooth speakers and battery-powered devices in general, for that matter: the harder you push the device, the more power it consumes, shortening the battery life. Running a speaker at loud or full output volumes will dramatically shorten your playtime- a speaker labeled as running for 20 hours will realistically only run for 8-10 hours on full volume. In addition to pushing volume levels, running karaoke modes, dual Bluetooth pairings, onboard equalizers, and built-in lights will only increase the necessary power consumption for your Bluetooth speaker.
Learning the type of battery your speaker is operating on will also teach you a lot about how to operate your speaker in such a way that preserves battery strength. There are only a handful of different batteries used on Bluetooth speakers, so simply looking at your user manual will tell you everything you need to know. Some batteries need to be charged to 100% before you use the Bluetooth speaker again, while others operate best when charged to the 80% mark, for example.
We have a guide here all about Bluetooth speaker battery preservation with some in-depth information on the topic.
Other Issues with bluetooth speakers
Other more specialized features on Bluetooth speakers can also cause problems at times, such as lighting effects, karaoke features, AM/FM radio, and hands-free calling. To solve any of these problems, I’d suggest taking a look through your Bluetooth speaker’s instruction manual or consulting the manufacturer’s website for further information.
Even if you’re clued up on electronics, it is not recommended to attempt to solve Bluetooth speaker issues yourself, as this can void your warranty or result in further complications.