Wouldn’t it be nice if you could use your iPod speaker dock with your Bluetooth-enabled music phone? Stereo Bluetooth (A2DP) makes it so that you can stream music from up to 30 feet away, but most speaker systems do not come equipped with Bluetooth. Perhaps the simplest solution to this is the iSkin Cerulean RX Stereo Bluetooth Receiver.
This tiny device works with any iPod docking station, sending the tunes from your stereo Bluetooth phone (that includes the iPhone 3GS and 3G with iPhone OS 3.0) to the speaker system wirelessly and easily. Is it really as easy as iSkin claims? How’s the sound quality? Let’s find out.
Features and Box Contents
While it is clearly targeting the iPhone segment of the marketplace, the Cerulean RX will also work with other Bluetooth devices. This includes smartphones and even your computer if it happens to be equipped with stereo Bluetooth. The Cerulean RX does not require any batteries, since it gets all of its power from the iPod dock connection.
Inside the slick black box, you get the Cerulean RX itself (in the middle), instructional material, 3.5mm stereo cable, RCA adapter, and USB cable. The three supplemental cables are there for alternative applications of the Cerulean RX and I’ll get to these in a moment.
In case you’re wondering, “cerulean” is a shade of blue, not unlike an azure sky. See what they did there? Cerulean? Blue? Bluetooth?
Docking with an iPod Speaker System
Is the Cerulean RX really that easy to use? If you are familiar with other stereo Bluetooth devices, then yes, this is about as easy as it gets.
In the base of the Cerulean receiver, which is about 1/3 of the size of a third-gen iPod nano, is the same kind of dock connector that you’d find on any contemporary iPod or iPhone. This allows it to slot into any iPod speaker system or docking station. It also draws its power from this connection, so you don’t have to deal with any batteries.
Upon plugging it in and turning on your iPod speaker system, the single white LED on the front of the Cerulean RX will start to blink. This indicates that it is searching for a Bluetooth source. For the purposes of this review, I used my Nokia E71 smartphone and went through the usual Bluetooth pairing process without a hitch.
After everything was paired up, I had no trouble using the Nokia’s music player to send my tunes through the iSkin Cerulean RX to my iPod speaker system. Simple, easy, and straightforward.
Range, Signal Fidelity, and Sound Quality
I was quite impressed with the range and signal fidelity of the Cerulean RX. It was able to outperform the Yubz Magnum Stereo Bluetooth Speaker in this respect, continuing to play music even though I had my smartphone in the other room. This was through about three interior walls.
Sound quality was also very good, but this will vary considerably based on your iPod speaker system. Naturally, poorer quality speakers will pump out lower quality sound. A “>better iPod stereo will provide better sound.
Beyond the iPod Dock
If you use the 3.5mm stereo cable (and possibly in tandem with the RCA adapter cable), you can connect the Cerulean RX to just about any other device. The USB cable is required to provide power, so you may want a USB wall adapter too.
Using this kind of configuration, the Bluetooth pairing process is the same, but it means that you can stream audio to your home stereo, television, or any other source that’ll take either a 3.5mm stereo connection or the pair of RCA plugs (red and white).
While you could certainly invest in an iPod speaker system that also comes with a stereo Bluetooth connection, the iSkin Cerulean RX provides an easy and straightforward solution for anyone who wants to do the Bluetooth A2DP thing with any iPod docking station. Using the provided cables, you can also use it with just about any other audio device too.
Shown here docked into the Speakal iPig, the iSkin Cerulean RX offers an easy way to use stereo Bluetooth without hurting the signal or sound quality. You can even use it with a non-Bluetooth iPod if you get the optional Cerulean TX Stereo Bluetooth Transmitter too.
The iSkin Cerulean RX Wireless Bluetooth Receiver retails for $89.99 and it gets an overall score of 8.5/10. It would have received a higher score if it was less expensive.