Add Bluetooth to your module

Thursday, 7 February 2019 1:15 pm

When Roland launched its TD-17 module, one ofthe notable innovations was the inclusion of Bluetooth. This means you can play backing tracks wirelessly from your iPhone. That’s even more relevant for those whose phones don’t have a headphone jack – or those who simply have enough cables and wires on their rig.

So far, the TD-17 and Medeli’s YoDrum are the only modules with this feature – although we expect more to follow as Bluetooth becomes more prevalent.

But a lack of onboard connectivity doesn’t have to be a game changer and for less than $5, you can add Bluetooth functionality to almost any drum brain.

The hack

All that’s required is a Bluetooth receiver with a stereo jack. Connect the receiver to module’s Aux In jack, pair your sending device and, in theory, you should be good to go.

I tested this with the cheapest receiver I could find – a $4 Bluetooth V4 Transmitter Receiver Wireless A2DP 3.5mm Stereo Audio Adapter, sourced from eBay. There is a broad array of similar offerings on most online tech stores, and they reach up to $20 or more, depending on their sophistication.

One word of warning: make sure you order a receiver rather than a transmitter. There is a difference. The transmitter takes an audio signal from its stereo jack and sends it via Bluetooth to a computer, phone or tablet. We need the opposite – something that receives the signal and translates it to audio out. (This cheapie actually does both!)

In action

The adapter comes with a USB cable and a 3.5” audio cable. You connect the audio cable to the module’s Aux In and the USB is needed to power the device. You can either use a phone charger or, if you have a new, high-end module, you can use the brain’s USB socket to power the unit.

I connected the adapter to a mimicPRO, using the module’s USB slot for power. After connecting, all that was required was holding down the reset button on the adapter for three seconds, after which it was discovered by my iPhone 7. I hit connect and it synched perfectly.

When I selected a song on the phone, it wasautomatically routed to the Bluetooth device and the audio played through theAux channel on the module.

Bottom line

If you’re not a fan of additional cables in an increasingly wireless world, a Bluetooth stereo receiver is a cheap and effective hack. It is very easy to set up, and if you have a newish module witha USB slot, you won’t even need a power source.

For $5, this is a no-brainer.