Wireless Vinyl: How I Got a Record Player Connected to Our AirPlay Music System [Updated]

Electronics Geek Culture Music

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Vinyl is not dead, not by a longshot. Consider that you can, if you want, pick up a version of the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack (Awesome Mix Vol. 1) as an LP right now. Indeed, there’s a certain hipster love for the analog format many of us grew up with, and a nostalgia for the great album art that used to be a mainstay of the music experience. And while it’s certainly still possible to purchase record players at reasonable prices, and indeed purchase ones that will connect to our computers (allowing us to rip those tracks for portability), there’s no simple way to incorporate a record player into the modern wireless music systems. No one has put out record players with AirPlay compatibility (update 3/17: still no. Someone called Trntbl has had a $429 unit available for pre-order for over a year, but no real product yet).

So, I decided to try to make it work. Now, I will admit there are some Bluetooth-capable players out there, but they all tend to be these big retro-looking units. What I wanted was a nice, clean-looking player that would be situated in the game room, that I could somehow hook up to the Mac Mini we have in our kitchen that drives both hard-wired speakers in our kitchen, as well as some AirPlay speakers in the dining room, the AppleTV connected to our home entertainment center in the living room, and even the second AppleTV in our bedroom. I want to play vinyl throughout the house.

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As I mentioned above, there are no AirPlay-compatible record players out there. So, next step was getting Bluetooth to work with an otherwise-normal record player. I first chose the Audio Technica AT-LP60. It’s a good-looking player, with one important feature: a built-in pre-amp. Traditional record players had to be plugged into an amplifier to deliver their sound to speakers. The AT-LP60 can output line-level audio, meaning that with the right adapters, you could even plug headphones into it and listen. And indeed, it comes with the right adaptor to take the RCA stereo output, and change it to a female audio mini-jack.

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So, here comes the wireless component. First, something that will take the audio from a mini-jack and transmit it via Bluetooth. I found the GOgroove BlueGATE TRM Bluetooth Audio Transmitter. It will simply plug into any audio mini-jack, and transmit the sound via Bluetooth to a receiver. It’s actually a rechargeable device that will work for up to 15 hours without being plugged in, but I’m keeping it attached to a power source (it charges via USB).

 

Second, it was a matter of receiving the audio on our Mac Mini. Problem is, Macs like this (it’s a slightly older Mini, on OS X 10.7.5, but I believe this is true of all of them) cannot act as Bluetooth audio receivers. They don’t have the right Bluetooth protocols (and there’s no simple software fix). So I needed a Bluetooth audio receiver as well.

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Luckily, I had an auris freeDa Bluetooth® Music Receiver lying around (I originally supported the Kickstarter campaign; they’re great for adding Bluetooth audio for a car that only had an Aux-in). It’s basically the opposite of the GOgroove; you connect something like your phone to it via Bluetooth, and you can push music through it to a mini-jack audio output, or through an Apple 30-pin dock.

So, the big challenge was getting these two devices to connect. Neither one has a sophisticated GUI, or even a screen; just an LED that blinks red or blue depending upon status, and a single control button. However, when I held down each device’s control button to put them into search/pair mode, they found each other and synced up without a fuss. It was like magic!

UPDATE 2: There are a number of switchable Bluetooth transmitter/receiver products coming on the market, including ones with the newer Bluetooth 4.1 Aptx high-def protocols, so you don’t have to mix and match; remember you need two (2) units, one to transmit from the record player, one to receive at the computer. Here are a few I’ve found:

TaoTronics Bluetooth Transmitter and Receiver

TROND 2-in-1 Bluetooth V4.1 Transmitter Receiver

 

 

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So, with the wireless component sorted out, there was just a bit of software left to deal with. The auris receiver connects to the Mac Mini’s audio line in via a male-to-male mini-jack cable. I have two important pieces of software running on the Mini to make it all work. The first is Line-In from Rogue Amoeba Software. It’s a FREE utility that lets you re-route audio inputs and outputs through the computer. I set that to pass the audio line-in signal to the default audio output.

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Then I use AirFoil (also from Rogue Amoeba, for $25) which wonderfully allows you to send ANY audio on your Mac to any AirPlay devices on your LAN (their add-on software, AirFoil Speakers, can turn any other computer or smart phone into an AirPlay receiver so you can get your audio almost anywhere – including Windows machines). AirFoil sends the system audio back out via the Mini’s line out (to the hard-wired speakers), as well as the AirPlay speakers, and to our Apple TVs. It’s all working great.

Yes, this seems like a bit of a kluge, and please, if you have alternate solutions (other than putting the record player next to the computer), please let us know in the comments. But for now, we’ve pulled the boxes of old LPs out of our storage shed, and our teens are having a great time digging through all the retro music.

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[Note: this posts was updated in March, 2017 with minor technical and link edits.]

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31 thoughts on “Wireless Vinyl: How I Got a Record Player Connected to Our AirPlay Music System [Updated]

  1. There is an alternative to the AirPlay Music System.
    I have a Crown Broadcast FME-20FS 20w Transmitter / Exciter with Digital Modulator, GPIO, TCP/IP,AMI & RDS that I bought from bswUSA.com to provide wireless audio to those passing my holiday lighted yard displays. With a little fiddling with the FRONT PANEL controls, you can easily set it up for legal unlicensed operation. You have no need to open the case for most adjustments. This is one well thought out devices. Before ordering this go to the Crown Broadcast website, download the manual and read it.

    Once the box arrives, assuming that you already have read the manual, mount it in a rack, connect a small antenna, Plug it into power, plug in to your router or switch, give it a fixed IP number, (DHCP will pose a problem,) set up the power, choose a frequency, and you are on the air with a broadcast quality signal.

    I will admit that at work, our transmitter plant is two Armstrong FM20000B operating as main and alternate main, and a Crown Broadcast FM600T for emergency operation on the FM side; and on the AM side we use 2 Nautel NX50, 50 kW transmitters , 50 KW directional daytime, and 50 KW non directional at night. We do not have a HDTV presence. Our power backup is two 150 KVA natural gas powered generators. Considering the top quality equipment I work with, I have to say that Crown’s transmitters are at the top of my list for LPFM transmitters.

      1. I needed a low power transmitter for my Christmas display in a hurry, so I took what was on the shelf. I wasn’t disappointed. If you have 15-30 days to wait for delivery the Decade FM-850 is more economical, and you may use the same antenna from: http://www.fmdxantenna.com/ to transmit with.

        Being a broadcast engineer responsible for five FM, three AM and one TV transmitter sites, I tend to look for quality rather than price.

    1. I’m sorry to say, that you’ve all overlooked one major thing.
      A Record plays an analogue signal, the second you convert it to digital, you lose the uncompressed audio.
      You may as well play a CD.
      There is a reason, people have amplifiers and speakers connected to a turntable.
      Having a Bluetooth turntable is a gimmick, also an insult to

      Audio Technica have had a Bluetooth turntable out since July 2015

      Regards

      Liam

  2. If following all your steps using same devices/software – do you think this is something a non tech person could handle setting up on their own?

    1. Of course — just rtfm three times, and don’t start work until you thoroughly understand the installation instructions.

  3. Thank you. My husband and I purchased the turntable and GoGroove. We paired it to a Bose mini speaker via Bluetooth and we have music! Many thanks for posting the directions.

    1. Hi there Heather, was this for a bose sound link mini? How did you get the GoGroove to pair upto the speaker as I am unsure given both don’t have a screen to see and select each other to pair?

  4. I’m looking for a turntable as a present for hubby’s birthday and have scanned your info (I couldn’t cope with the detail!!). I don’t have any techy knowhow but am I right in my assumptions from what I’ve read here that if I buy any turntable with an inbuilt amplifier, then attach a GO groove Blue Gate thingy, we’ll then be able to hear the music through my recently purchased U E Boom (uses blue tooth to receive music from an ipod/iphone/ipad etc)? We don’t have any other sound system to plug into.

  5. If I purchase the audio- technica turntable mentioned, which is the one I am thinking about, and I purchase the GO Groove BlueGATE TRM Bluetooth Audio Transmitter, will I need the rest of the equipment mentioned if I already have an IMac, IPad, Apple TV and a soundbar with Bluetooth subwoofer?

    1. Did this work with only the turntable and GO Groove device? The auris freeDa Bluetooth® Music Receiver is no longer available for purchase.

  6. I have the same record player and a Bluetooth transmitter. The problem is the power output is too low. If I hooked an amp to the transmitter would that work to increase the volume or would the amp have to be attached to the speaker

  7. I have a Technics 1200 that I wish to connect to an amp wirelessly. Surely if I buy 2 Bluetooth dongles that do RX/TX all I have to do is connect one to the turntable as the TX and the other one to the amp set to RX and you’re away.

  8. I have a Crosley CR6007A Tech Turntable. I tried to use a Bluetooth transmitter the turntable is still putting out sound. So it’s working with our speakers but the sound it echoed on the turntable itself. Any suggestions? Thanks!

  9. I wanted to thank you for this post. I just came into some vinyls and wanted a BT turntable. The only one I saw was the ION, but the reviews weren’t great due to the weight of the track arm and it has yet to be released. This solution is PERFECT!!!!!!! Love the sound quality on my Visio Sound bar. I cannot thank you enough!!!!!

    Heather

    1. I’m sorry to say, that you’ve all overlooked one major thing.
      A Record plays an analogue signal, the second you convert it to digital, you lose the uncompressed audio.
      You may as well play a CD.
      There is a reason, people have amplifiers and speakers connected to a turntable.
      Having a Bluetooth turntable is a gimmick, also an insult to vinyl.

      Regards

      Liam

  10. I have a crosley that has external speaker connections in the rear. I am not an audiophile just someone who has tons of old LPs that i would like to listen to now and again. I would like something to be able to connect to the rear and project the sound thru other speakers, preferably bluetooth if possible. From what I read above with this same type of setup accomplish what I want? The GOGroove hooked to the rear which would act as a transmitter to a set of Bluetooth speakers?

    1. I’m trying to figure out the same thing. I have a Vizio 5.1 surround with the sound bar, etc. From some of the other comments above, it sounds like you can get by with the GOGroove alone. I’m not sure though how you can get the sound bar and the GOGroove to connect since neither have a screen for identifying what is pairing to what.

  11. Hi I’m getting the audio technica LP60 for my daughter for Christmas. I wanted to get the Bose Mini for Bluetooth capabilities for OTHER devices
    The Mini has and aux-in port. Can I just hook the turntable to the aux-in for bookshelf use?

  12. Hi, I am looking at doing this but want the bluetooth to play via speakers rather than a mac. Do you think if I connect the receiver and headphones it will automatically play through these when the bluetooth is connected? Cheers.

  13. I have an old analog turntable, and an airport express connected to my home wifi and stereo system. Problem is ttbl cannot be in same room. Would like to play records in a different room and stream to the stereo connected to the Airport like I do with my iPhone. Isn’t there a wireless preamp that could be connected to the ttbl, boost the signal, disoriented and wifi to the airport?

    1. I was thinking the same thing but using the Audio-Technica AT-LP60-USB Fully Automatic Belt-Drive Stereo Turntable (USB & Analog). I was thinking a turntable with USB port connected to a wifi dongle then connecting wifi dongle to AirPort Express.
      Have you had any luck in progressing with the AirPort Express connection?

  14. Any idea of any software available for Windows 10 similar to the In Rogue software mentioned? I am having problems getting my computer to ‘play through’. I can send recorded audio to my bluetooth speaker, or i can input the sound from my turntable and record it. but i can’t play it ‘live’

  15. I have the same turntable as you and want to do the same but through our sound bar. It is a samsung and has auv in, USB, and hdmi. Do you know what device would work on the sound bar end?

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