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Gear4 BlackBox Mini External Speakers Linux HOWTO

This is a small documentation about how to use Linux with the BlackBox Mini external BlueTooth A2DP speakers made by Gear4. Note: there are many different guides around about getting external BlueTooth speakers or headsets to work with Linux. To me it occurs as there have been some different approaches in the Linux Kernel for (ALSA) sound as well as BlueTooth.


My configuration:

  • Debian Lenny: operating system
  • stock Debian Kernel from Lenny: Linux localhost 2.6.26-1-686 #1 SMP Fri Mar 13 18:08:45 UTC 2009 i686 GNU/Linux
  • Gnome: desktop manager 2.22.3
  • ALSA: sound system 1.0.16
  • BlueMan: BlueTooth manager 0.6-r121-0ubuntu2~ppa1h
  • Amarok: music player 1.4.10
  • (KDE: 3.5.10)

  I have used BlueMan to set the PIN, which is configured by the manufacturer to 1234, do the BlueTooth pairing (this tool calls it bonding) and setup the audio device. See the screenshot besides.

Now you are able to configure the Amarok sound devices. Set mono as well as stereo to bluetooth. Note the previous setting, in case you need to switch back. That's all to get Amarok playing sound via the external BlueTooth speakers. Though I found no way to change the volume, neither with ALSA volume control nor with the hardware buttons on the box. Sometimes Amarok hangs. And the configuration has to be started from the beginning. Also you can't use the buttons at the top of the speakers to move inside the Amarok playlist. The maximum distance to send data between the BlueTooth devices certified by the manufacturer is 30cm. I was able to transmit data about 3 meters. All in all I am not that satisfied with this speakers. I wanted to transmit the audio signal from my Linux laptop to the speakers into another room, but this doesn't work reliably.

An Alternative Solution?

Recently I stumbled over small and cheap audio line out to BlueTooth dongle. This could possibly be a solution to the above mentioned problems. I guess the BlueTooth pairing will be done by the dongle itself. Though since I don't own the BlackBox anymore I couldn't check it.

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© Werner Heuser 1997-2015 · http://tuxmobil.org/gear4_blackbox_mini_external_speaker_bluetooth_linux.html · last change Sun Jan 17 2010