There are so many Bluetooth-enabled accessories now that it gets confusing how to connect this technology together. Often we want to use several peripherals simultaneously, which may or may not work, causing many users to question: can Bluetooth connect to multiple devices at once?
Bluetooth-equipped smartphones and laptops can connect to multiple devices at once. The latest Bluetooth specification allows up to 7 simultaneous device connections to a primary device in active mode. Some Bluetooth accessories using the same Bluetooth profile may conflict.
I’ve sifted through the 3256-page specification document, but then I just started experimenting to see how many connections I could make on my Android phone.
How Many Bluetooth Connections At Once
Each Bluetooth device has a specific set of capabilities or functionality called profiles. When you connect two or more devices with the same profile, the primary device allows the user to select one as active.
Multiple Headphones and Speakers
The most common use of Bluetooth is pairing headsets or speakers to a smart device. Users are looking to listen to music but may want to share the audio by sending it simultaneously to multiple speakers or headphones.
The “headphones” profile (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile; A2DP) connects a client device to the high-fidelity audio output on a host device. This profile only supports a single stream.
Can you connect two Bluetooth headphones at the same time?
It is possible to connect multiple Bluetooth headphones at the same time, but only one device can receive the audio output. A Bluetooth hub is often required to simultaneously send music or other audio to headsets. Some smartphone and headphone manufacturers have clever workarounds to the core specification.
The same holds when it comes to multiple Bluetooth speakers being used concurrently.
Multiple Bluetooth speakers can be connected at once, but only one device can be selected to receive the audio output. Some speaker manufacturers build in the capability to pair or chain several Bluetooth speakers together. Users can send music or other audio streams to all the speakers simultaneously.
Another option is to use a mobile app to listen to music on multiple connected devices. The mobile app, AmpMe, is a smartphone audio player that synchronizes audio streams between several smartphones.
With the release of Bluetooth LE Audio, known as Auracast, multiple devices can receive a single audio source. The Google Pixel 7 and beyond running Android 13 are able to use this evolution of the Bluetooth protocol.
Bluetooth Hub or Router
What is a Bluetooth hub?
A Bluetooth hub is a device that connects multiple Bluetooth devices. This dedicated component allows two or more peripherals, like headphones and speakers, to play the same audio output simultaneously. This fixes the problem of one-to-one sharing when audio streaming to several devices simultaneously.
This is similar to how we used to connect two wired headsets using a headphone splitter. Remember those days?
Of course, this wireless technology connects more than a Bluetooth speaker or a Bluetooth headset. You can combine multiple Bluetooth devices of varying types at once.
Keyboard and Mouse
Keyboards and mice are the second most commonly-connected wireless devices. It makes sense to wonder if you can connect these two peripherals at the same time.
A Bluetooth keyboard and mouse can be connected at the same time. These two devices will pair similarly to other Bluetooth devices. While both share the same Bluetooth profile, Human Interface Device Profile (HID), the two do not interfere with each other and can be used simultaneously.
- Typically used on laptops, a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard also work perfectly on smartphones giving users an “almost desktop” experience.
- The Human Interface Device Profile (HID) is basically a wireless wrapper around the USB standard.
- Bluetooth connectivity is backward compatible, meaning older accessories will function when paired to newer host devices.
How To Connect Multiple Bluetooth Devices
Connecting multiple Bluetooth accessories to a single primary device is simple. However, you might want to have each device’s instructions on hand.
- Power on your Bluetooth peripheral into a pairing mode, often requiring you to hold the power button for a few seconds or two buttons at the same time.
- Find the Bluetooth icon on your laptop, tablet, or smartphone and toggle it to the on position.
- Look for the new devices in the list of paired or available devices. Sometimes this is a sub-list or menu on the primary device.
- Tap or click on the new device you wish to pair.
- Some devices like keyboards will ask you to match enter or confirm a numeric sequence.
After following this general process for each of your Bluetooth devices, they should begin functioning concurrently.
In the case of multiple Bluetooth devices with the same profile, you may need to set one as the active device.
Truthfully, I’d not heard the term “Bluetooth Multipoint” before stumbling upon it while writing this guide. What is Bluetooth multipoint?
Bluetooth multipoint allows a single peripheral, typically a headset, to connect to multiple primary Bluetooth devices like two smartphones. The two host devices can each interact with the joined Bluetooth multipoint accessory. This standard has been in use since the mid-2000s but is a less-common use case.
SoundGuys has a more in-depth definition, but the most common scenario for using Bluetooth multipoint is when you have a personal and work phone. You might be listening to YouTube Music on your personal mobile device but do not want to miss phone calls from the work phone.
Headphones with Bluetooth multipoint are not as common and typically come in the headset or single-ear form factor.
Peripherals Without Bluetooth
Some electronics do not have built-in Bluetooth chipsets. You can easily add a Bluetooth connection by purchasing a Bluetooth receiver. A Bluetooth transmitter or receiver cost between $15 and $30 on average.
You can easily Bluetooth-ify an old speaker system or incorporate Bluetooth audio into your car.