How to use Bluetooth headphones with Linux

Configuring Bluetooth headphones

One of the irritating problems with Linux in general is Bluetooth. Below are the steps I had to follow to pair and use a Creative WP-300 Bluetooth headphones with Kubuntu 16.04. The procedure should be similar for any Bluetooth headphones or speaker and with any other variant of Ubuntu.

  • Make sure that your computer has a Bluetooth adapter and it is working. Do not just assume there is an adapter and its working in Linux! You should be able to see a Bluetooth icon in the system panel or system tray. In the Bluetooth settings you should be able to see the adapter.

  • Power on your Bluetooth headphones or speaker and put it into pairing mode. Refer to its documentation if you do not know how to do this.

  • Go to the Bluetooth settings in Linux and try to find device and once the device is listed, pair with it and connect to it.

  • Go to the audio settings and you should be able to see the Bluetooth device listed there. If it is not there, you might need to restart Linux. I know it is crazy, I had to do this, since no other solution offered online worked for me!

  • If your device is listed in audio settings then try to play some music or video and see if it plays in the device. Most probably, it will still play on the default speaker of your computer! Go to System Settings β†’ Multimedia β†’ Audio and Video β†’ Device Preference β†’ Audio Playback. Your Bluetooth device must be listed here. Grab it and move it above the built-in audio device. This tells Linux to use this as the default audio output.

Now you should be able to playback audio to your Bluetooth device πŸ‘

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Stream setup failed for Bluetooth headphones

Problem

I have a Bluetooth adapter and a Bluetooth headset which worked fine on an Ubuntu system. I now plug them into another XUbuntu system. It uses Blueman, a GTK-based GUI tool for managing Bluetooth devices. I can discover the headset and connect to it. However, it does not appear as an Output Device in Sound Settings. So, I cannot use it as Audio Sink for any playback.

On diagnosing the problem in Blueman, it gives this error for this headset: Connection Failed: Stream setup failed

Solution

It turned out that this computer first had Ubuntu and XUbuntu was installed on top of it. Ubuntu uses a GNOME Bluetooth manager and XUbuntu uses Blueman.

To solve this problem, I uninstalled Blueman:

$ sudo apt-get purge blueman

After restarting, I used only the GNOME Bluetooth manager and was able to connect the headset. It appeared as Output Device in Sound Settings and I was able to use it to listen to audio.

Tried with: Creative WP-300 headphones, ioGear Bluetooth adapter GBU521 and Ubuntu 14.04

How to handle Bluetooth devices from shell

Bluetooth devices can be listed, connected and disconnected by clicking the Bluetooth icon in the top Panel in the Ubuntu Unity desktop. If you prefer to do these simple operations from the commandline, that can be done too.

To do this, we need the tools from the bluez-tools package:

$ sudo apt install bluez-tools

To list all the devices that have paired in the past:

$ bt-device --list

This lists each device with its name and UUID. The UUID of a device can be used to connect or disconnect from it.

To connect an audio device using its UUID, say 00:02:3C:2F:F1:D4:

$ bt-audio --connect 00:02:3C:2F:F1:D4

To disconnect the same audio device:

$ bt-audio --disconnect 00:02:3C:2F:F1:D4

Tried with: Bluez-tools 0.1.38 and Ubuntu 14.04

How to enable Bluetooth in Ubuntu on Inspiron 1320

The Inspiron 1320 is a multimedia notebook from Dell. Inspiron 13 is its generic name. I found that Bluetooth was working on it in Windows. Bluetooth could be found to be enabled in the BIOS too. But, when I boot into Ubuntu, Bluetooth is not enabled. Its icon is not visible in the Panel.

By chance, I discovered that Bluetooth works in Ubuntu only if you had turned it on in Windows. You can turn it on in Windows by pressing Fn+F2. This brings a Dell dialog, where you can turn on Bluetooth and Wireless. If you turn it on here and reboot into Ubuntu, Bluetooth will be enabled and its icon will appear in the Panel.

However, there is a catch, a big one. I found that if I did this, the wireless interface in Ubuntu would not work! It sucks, I know. I could get the wireless working only if I rebooted into Windows and turned off Bluetooth.

This meant that on this notebook, I could only have one of either Bluetooth or wireless in Ubuntu. Since, wireless is way more important, I found a simple solution: I bought a Bluetooth dongle and stuck it into a USB port on the notebook. The Bluetooth icon appeared back in Ubuntu and I had Bluetooth and wireless πŸ™‚

Tried with: Ubuntu 12.04 LTS and Windows 7 x64

Bluetooth connection problem on Ubuntu

Problem

I’ve found that using Bluetooth devices with Ubuntu is really convenient. Pairing, connecting and customizing other settings can be done right from the top panel by clicking on the Bluetooth icon.

However, sometimes Ubuntu silently refuses to connect to the Bluetooth device. Or it refuses to turn on. Or it does not list any of the paired devices. In my experience these problems typically happen after my notebook computer has been resumed from a sleep or suspend. This happens even though the device has been paired. And it does not connect even if Bluetooth is turned off and then on from the panel.

Solution

I’ve found that I can get Bluetooth working again by restarting the Bluetooth service:

$ sudo /etc/init.d/bluetooth restart

Tried with: Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

Creative WP-300 Bluetooth Headphones

Creative WP-300 Bluetooth headphones
Creative WP-300 Bluetooth headphones

In the quest to make my computer usage as wireless as possible, I recently switched from my Dunu DN-12 earphones to Creative WP-300 Bluetooth headphones. Right out of the box, these headphones look great. The industrial design is good, boxing way above its price point. The chrome rings, the tiny lights, the soft-click buttons, the leather cups and the hefty metal bar, all beautiful. You can see that a lot of thought went into this design.

Bluetooth

The headphones worked fine with almost all the devices at home. It paired and connected easily with both Ubuntu and Windows notebooks. It worked with a Samsung Galaxy smartphone and a Nook Color tablet, both running Android. Only my ancient Nokia C1-01 paired with it, but could not connect to the headphones.

Sound

The sound quality is good, but not great. Let me explain. The sound seems truer and balanced, all the little details can be heard, thought the bass is a wee bit noticeable. It is almost similar to how my Dunu DN-12 earphones sound. But, the sound is not as enjoyable as my Sennheiser PX100-II headphones, which remains my favorite.

Buttons

The soft click buttons for power, play-pause, forward and backward are placed on the right can. They are easy to operate while wearing the headphones without much fumbling. The volume keys are placed to the bottom back of the right can. Again, very easy to find and change volume. In just a few hours of usage, using this headphone becomes second nature to your right hand.

Lights

The light indicators are tiny and perfect. It takes a bit of guessing in the beginning, but become like second knowledge in just a few tries. The colors of the lights and how they blink is enough to deduce what is happening with the headphones. Add to that the beeping sounds heard when wearing it that indicate that its on, is connected or is low on power. All just right!

Size

The cans are a bit small, they are designed to sit on the ear, not enclose them. This is all right, but I felt that the cans pressed a bit hard on my ears. I notice this only after wearing them for an hour or more. I think this should go away with usage, once the metal expands toΒ accommodateΒ my head radius. The can rotates to be stored flat and a travel bag is provided which can be used for taking it along wherever you go.

Battery

Charging the headphones is easy, using a micro-USB cable. It ships with one, but you can use any cable lying around. And you can use the headphones while its charging. When the in-built battery is running low, the headphones will gently beep every minute indicating this status. The charging is surprisingly fast, about an hour to full charge! And a full charge lasted me 3 days, with a couple of hours of usage every day.

Going wireless

The best part about this set is that I’m discovering how great wireless headphones are in many tiny little ways. I can do my chores, wash dishes or cook, without having to deal with wires interfering with my hands. While working at the desk I no longer have to think about the leash length of the headphones, when I need to bend over or move a bit to grab something. My headphones were always getting knocked out because I would elbow the wires. That is a problem in the past now. If I need to grab a drink or snack or even visit the bathroom at home, I can do all that while wearing the headphones! The Bluetooth range seems sufficient enough to get through 2 rooms or walls.

Conclusion

I have been happy with the Creative WP-300 Bluetooth headphones. It can work with all the notebooks, tablets and smartphones at home. I don’t think I’ll be buying any wired headphones in the future. The convenience of going wireless is that great. I only wish the sound was a bit more enjoyable, but folks who want a truer sound might like the balanced sound of the WP-300. The price is really great for how gorgeous these set of headphones look, how well its UI is designed and it works.