Review: Grace Digital’s 3play Receiver
If there’s one thing I am grudgingly coming to love it’s the wireless freedom bestowed by Bluetooth speakers. I say “grudgingly”, because I find Bluetooth speakers have WILDLY different ranges, and even the same speaker can one day allow you a 20 ft stroll around your house without losing connection, and the next crap out at 10 feet. But despite Bluetooth’s somewhat temperamental range issues, it still beats being tethered to a speaker by a mini stereo plug. However once you’ve committed to the Bluetooth speaker way of life you will come to discover Bluetooth’s 2nd most annoying dirty little secret – namely pairing them is a pain in the arse each time someone else wants to use the speaker.
Now, it may be more annoying for ME than some as I have quite a few of these Bluetooth speakers lying around, and each has its own obtuse way to enter pairing mode (there is never a “pair” button) and unless you hold onto the manual you’re just left pressing and holding buttons in a vain hope that something will begin flashing and you enter pairing mode. Well, Grace Digital has a great solution to this problem with their 3play Receiver which not only will allow up to 3 phones, iPods, or computers to connect to the SAME speaker, but has the added benefit of being able to turn ANY speaker, stereo or even your car into a wireless bluetooth speaker.
Unfortunately, the 3play Receiver took some cues from the Bluetooth speakers I was talking about above, and its single big, bold button controls both powering the device on an off AND pairing. But at least there’s just one button to guess at.
A single press and hold will turn the 3play on and off, and a double click will cause it to enter pairing mode. When it does, you will be greeted with blue and red flashing LEDs while the device is discoverable. Pairing is as simple as it gets.
Once you have all your devices paired, simply plug the 3play’s included mini stereo plug into the AUX in port or your stereo, speaker, car, boat, or iDog (remember those?) and you are good to go. The 3play is powered by an included mini USB plug with an AC adapter, although it ALSO has a built-in rechargeable battery good for over 10 hours of playback. Recharge time is about 3 hours.
So how does a multiple connection work? Well, let’s say you and 2 friends are connected to your 3play. If you are playing your song, and someone else wants to play a song, when they begin playing, your song will pause, and theirs will take over. You can just keep bumping each other forever. This is either a good or bad thing, but in my home environment it works great. My daughter can play her music, and I can can take over when it gets too horrible.
I haven’t really had any issues wight he 3play. I got a low hum occasionally, but it seemed to be the audio cable I was using as fiddling with it made it go away. It also is very light and a bit on the “flimsy”-feeling side, so if you plan to throw it in a backpack and travel a lot with it, you may need to be careful.
If you want up to 3 devices to be able to connect wirelessly to the same speaker without the need to re-pairing the devices or turning off Bluetooth on one to allow the other devices to connect, Grace Digital’s 3play is a great solution, and one of the only ones I’ve seen, actually.
Pros: Turns ANY speaker into a wireless Bluetooth speaker, can be used on batter power, even in the car
Cons: A little pricey, feels a bit flimsy if you lay to travel with it much, occasional hum when on battery power.