Trouble With Your BlueTooth Speaker in Ubuntu 14.04 LTS

When I first got my portable bluetooth speaker, the Sony SRS X-5 (pictured on the left) it’s connection to Ubuntu was fairly automatic, as it should be. I would push the bluetooth discover button on the top of the unit, Ubuntu would see it and pair without much trouble. At some point a few months ago, this stopped working as it had. I could still get it to connect but it took a lot of playing around, removing it and adding it back, before I would actually get it working and set up A2D2(high fidelity playback). Not sure what was actually going on but I found out how to fix it. If you are using Ubuntu 14.04 or Mint Linux or similar, simply turning bluetooth on and off and similarly cycling your speaker’s bluetooth will no longer work. What does is the following. First, open a terminal window (ctrl-alt-t) and enter this at the command prompt:

sudo pactl load-module module-bluetooth-discover

Enter your password if prompted. Your linux bluetooth module should now be restarted. Open sound settings, push whatever button you have to on your device to search for a connection, and your bluetooth speaker should now show up in your list of output devices. You will likely have a combo box with a couple of choices of modes. Select “High Fidelity”(A2D2) and test it out. If you are still in telephony mode, or for whatever reason something is not right, you may not see left and right options to test. In this case, click on the bluetooth icon in your menu bar and select devices. If you don’t have a devices option, install the bluetooth device manager. You can find this in the Ubuntu Software Center or apt-get it. If you see you your speaker in the device manager, remove it and then add it back. This should work just fine but will not usually unless you have reloaded the whole module as instructed above. Now you should be able to go back to sound settings and configure your speaker for A2D2 High Fidelity output in stereo. Test it all out and set your volume. You are ready to go! Hope this helps.

On a side note, I would like to mention that I really do love the SRS X-5. The Bose mini, pictured on the right, doesn’t even come close. It is strange to me that they get compared so often. I guess this is because they are in the same price range. In terms of audio performance, the Sony beats the Bose by a wide margin.
I am normally critical of Bose bass capability. It sounds, for lack of a better word, “flappy” to me across their entire range of products. I am not sure why this is, and of course I can not argue that their speakers do perform a lot better on average than many of their competitors, however, in this particular case, the Sony is the clear winner. The SRS x-5 is not a bass monster but does handle most music quite well given its size and price. It is important to keep it plugged in as when running on battery, the woofer output is cut in half. It’s bass is more of a mid-bass and it shines in the case of music that is most dependent upon this range and up. If you listen to hip hop or the like and enjoy your music loud, this speaker will not make you happy. Nor should the Bose for that matter, yet many such listeners will probably side with it for name alone. For my tastes, I am very impressed with the x-5’s performance when compared against other sub-200$ bluetooth competitors. While portable, this is not a take anywhere speaker. So, if you are headed to the beach to jam out, you may want to choose something else. For moderate volume, at home listening, or in my case, something to have with you in the hotel room when travelling for work, the Sony does a great job making up for that stereo you miss. I even found it’s audio enhancement mode, a concept I would normally skip with most products, actually does sound good and effectively improve the device’s sound stage. If you don’t already have several of these gadgets, now that you have your Ubuntu bluetooth speaker connectivity issue resolved, I would suggest grabbing one of these. It is well worth the retail, but if you wait a little, you may find it refurbished on Woot! for 80-90$ as I’ve seen it lately.

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