Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How to get Bluetooth headphones to operate under Windows 7

 My new PC came with Bluetooth on the mainboard, which is cool.  But pairing my headphones with the PC didn't work, which is not.

Here's what worked for me.  Note my system has the Realtek audio installed.

Go to the system tray, and double-click on the Bluetooth icon.  The Bluetooth Devices panel from the Control Panel should show up.

Click "Add a device".

Put the headphones into pairing mode; let Windows find it.

Note:  If Windows can't find it, stop here and fix the problem.  I didn't have that problem.

After pairing, you will see the "Stereo Headset" in your devices, but probably won't get any sound.

In Bluetooth Devices, right click the new headset and select Properties.  Go to the Services tab and make sure "Headset" is checked.

Go back to the system tray, and right-click on the speaker icon. 

Note: my system shows two, which is confusing.  The one you want is shown in the tray by default - that is, you do not have to click the up arrow to see it.

Select "Playback devices".  The Sound panel comes up.

Find your headset, right-click and select "Set as Default Device".

Don't worry if you're speakers are already set as default.  It seems that for this setting, you're allowed to have more than one default device.  (Unlike, say, printers, where you can have only one).

You can also try the "Test" option to get a few chimes happening, so you know all is OK.

By doing this, you will probably get sound from both your speakers and your headset.  This isn't a problem for my setup, because I can turn the speakers off anytime I want, but it may not be what you want.

Do the following:

Go back and right-click on the speaker icon in the system tray.  Select "Volume control options" and check the "Speakers: Bluetooth Audio Device" with the headphones picture next to it.  Hit OK.

Note:  If you don't see it, your headphones are not connected.  Ensure they're on, right-click the device in the Bluetooth Devices panel, select "Advanced operation" and "Connect to audio device".  You will get a notification when it connects.  Then repeat the above step.

Now, clicking on the system tray speaker should bring up a dual-slider volume - one for speakers, and one for the BT headset.  Cool.

On my setup, my BT headphones did a lousy job - I got lots of dropouts, lags and interruptions.  This might have been because the headphones were low on charge, but I don't think so.  Pretty pitiful for an audio stream that only has to go four feet.  Re-orienting and getting closer didn't help, so it's probably some kind of compatibility issue.

We'll see, but either way, Bluetooth is definitely not the cool technology it was supposed to be.

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