Modern Bluetooth technology combined with upcycled vintage goodies? Is this possible? It’s not only possible but… we’re doing it!
Some time ago, we embarked on a new and exciting project which involves bringing music from your iPhone or iPad to upcycled and restored items, such as vintage speakers and early valve radios. Music drifting from a wooden breadbin in your kitchen? Yes! And that’s just the beginning!
What is Bluetooth?
Bluetooth is a method of sending and receiving data wirelessly over short distances. We are all aware of the mass of cables found behind computers. A Bluetooth keyboard and mouse reduces the need for some wiring, but what about audio? Plugging a lead into your iPhone to play music through an external amplifier is restricting and messy. Bluetooth to the rescue! Transmit your audio wirelessly over Bluetooth to a special speaker and, success! No wires! And, all our Bluetooth vintage radios and speakers will work with Amazon Echo. Just ask Alexa!
Our extension speakers and vintage radios utilise separate Bluetooth and solid state audio amplifier circuit boards. This facilitates the use of a volume control with on/off switch. Power supply isolation techniques eliminates so-called Bluetooth noise. Our larger units, such as furniture fitted with with more powerful Bluetooth speakers and amplifiers, incorporate circuitry to enhance speaker-amplifier matching and, ultimately, audio performance.
We do NOT fit cheap, plastic Bluetooth speakers into our units. This photo shows a module which some people fit to the back panel of a vintage radio. In our opinion, this is not as good idea. Firstly, it spoils the look of the radio, especially where the back panel has a hole cut in it for the module. Secondly, the radio has to be turned round to get to the module. We try to keep the radio looking as original as possible. Whether viewing the radio from the front or back, there are no signs that the radio has had Bluetooth added. Apart from the USB lead emerging from the rear panel.
We have spent a considerable amount of time and money researching the various Bluetooth and amplifier printed circuit boards available. Our R & D department (that’s me) has come up with… Sorry, I can’t give away our trade secrets! By the way, I’m also head of the all-important tea brewing department.
We use UK carded acoustic wool in our speaker enclosures for damping purposes and reducing standing waves. This isn’t simply cheap packing material. We buy the wool from a company specializing in acoustic solutions. An intriguing and useful property of wool is its ability to not catch fire. In its natural, untreated state, wool does not burn. Instead, it forms a self-insulating char that prevents further flame spread and extinguishes itself. Without getting too technical, the wool helps to eliminate vibration and improves sound quality. The wool is shown in the photo on the right
Acoustic wadding and padding
Acoustic wadding and padding is used for damping in some of our smaller Bluetooth speakers and vintage radios. Please note, this isn’t simply cheap packing material. Depending on the speaker enclosure, the size and thickness, we might use a combination of padding for lining and wool for filling to achieve the best result.
Our first Bluetooth modification is this genuine 1940s vintage speaker cabinet which has been restored to its former glory, and fitted with Bluetooth technology. This is a lovely piece which will adorn the right setting.
Our second Bluetooth modification is a Pilot Little Maestro vintage radio. This radio, circa 1945, came to us with the chassis stripped of parts, making it an ideal candidate for Bluetooth. The combined volume control and on/off switch is used to adjust the Bluetooth volume and to switch the unit on and off. The Pilot Radio logo glows red when the unit is switched on.
Please note: we do not destroy vintage items such as valve radios. If a radio is beyond repair and there is no reasonable possibility of restoring it to its former working glory, only then will we consider a Bluetooth option. To destroy a vintage radio which could be restored to its former working condition is, in our view, sacrilege.
We will NOT hang a speaker from the inside of the back panel on a radio during the Bluetooth conversion. As you can see from the photo, this is not a professional job. Apart from a looking awful, the audio quality will be severely impaired when the back of the radio is placed against a wall. As with all our our Bluetooth conversions, our aim is to retain that authentic vintage radio sound, as far as possible. We do this by utilising the original loud speaker… at the front of the radio.
The Bread Bin
Our Bread Bin Bluetooth speaker is almost ready for sale. We just need to fit the speaker grilles and the acoustic wool. This is a stereo unit with pretty good bass and volume. The audio quality is impressive… Every kitchen should have a Bluetooth Bread Bin!
We pride ourselves on our work and professionalism and, unlike some Bluetooth items for sale on the internet, we do not fit cheap Bluetooth speakers into our vintage radios or loud speaker cabinets.
As you will appreciate, the items shown above aren’t boom boxes for blasting out music. Obviously, you can listen to any audio through the speaker or radio, but they are best suited for internet radio stations or background music played from your iPhone or iPad. Having said that, there is ample volume from all the units.
We can add Bluetooth to your vintage radio
Would you like to have your vintage radio converted to Bluetooth? You might want to read this.
Please visit our For Sale page.
Or check out our Ebay shop here.