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I have a bluetooth headset that works on phones and ipad with excellent audio quality. It works with the Mac mini too but the audio quality is awful for both headphones and the microphone (I've tried to change the bitrate from the command line, but it doesn't work).

It seems it's possible (from Googling) to plug a special Bluetooth Audio Adapter USB Dongle into the Mac mini and connect the headset to that adapter thus totally bypassing Mac OS bluetooth pipeline.

But I'm not sure what are those adapters - there are Bluetooth USB Dongles - but those are not what I need. The USB device should be recognized by the Mac OS not as another Bluetooth device, but as an Audio Device. Also it seems that some devices are only transmitting output stereo sound, I need both - high quality mono-or-stereo and high quality microphone.

Can you please tell if such adapter exists?

  • Good question, too bad it hasn't seen any answer in 7 years. I am at the exact same point: I really like the studio3 headset with my Mac and iPhone ... audio quality is great always. But the thing is just too small for me, giving me headaches quickly. I bought a Jabra 85h ... and that headset is really neat, and fits perfectly. But: audio quality when making calls (using slack or webex) is unbearable for me. As soon as the "phone profile" kicks in, I have loud static noise on the headset. So yeah: anyone out here who could recommend such bluetooth audio "dongles"? – GhostCat Jun 18 at 12:29
  • Would you be opposed to plugging in a 3.5 mm bluetooth adapter? Like, it seems like you could just use one of those? Why must it be USB? I don't know much about sound quality, so maybe that's the issue. I imagine, however, that your computer will recognize it as an audio device – Talos Potential Jun 18 at 18:55
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Technically, those adapters don't exist.

The USB device should be recognized by the Mac OS not as another Bluetooth device, but as an Audio Device.

I agree with you on this one. You definitely don't want to have a secondary Bluetooth adapter appearing in macOS. So to clearly define what you're looking for is a USB audio interface with Bluetooth capability.

We have to make one. Here's what you need:

  • USB DAC Audio Interface. I personally like and use the Behringer UCA202. I have mine attached to my iMac and plugged into a Bose Wave Radio.
  • Bluetooth Transmitter/Receiver. I also like and use the TaoTronics Bluetooth Transmitter & Receiver. I have mine hooked up as a transmitter to an LG TV in the bedroom so I can watch TV using my regular Bluetooth headset (I didn't want one of those proprietary things where I couldn't use the headset of my choice).

Now, all you have to do is connect the USB DAC to the Bluetooth transmitter and then pair your headphones to it and not the Mac's Bluetooth. (Here's the awesome part) Since it's attached to the Mac as a USB audio device, all you have to do is turn the volume up to the max on the BT transmitter and use the Mac to control the volume on the DAC. You will maintain full volume control through the Mac. However, the volume control on the headset will manipulate the volume on the transmitter, not the DAC, so you'll have to keep that in mind.

As far as stereo/mono, this setup will transmit whatever you send over. For instance, the TV I have mine attached to does stereo and mono output and the BT transmitter handles each with no problem

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  • Maybe I got the question I bountied wrong ... but isnt that user asking about such things: amazon.com/Bluetooth-USB-Transmitter-Dongle-Headphone/dp/… ? A USB that shows up as audio device to the Mac, but connects to your headset?! – GhostCat Jun 18 at 13:16
  • As far as I can tell, that's a USB Bluetooth dongle - meaning it transmits audio, but shows up as a Bluetooth device in the system. I could be wrong because the description is so vague. Now, out of curiosity...if you already know about the adapter, what's the intent of placing a bounty on the question? What are your expectations? – Allan Jun 18 at 13:24
  • It is one thing that some seller description says "it works with mac", and a completely different story having an experienced person telling you: "yeah, I tried this and that, and X worked, and Y had such and such problem". – GhostCat Jun 18 at 13:32
  • Speaking pragmatically, it's unlikely you'll find someone who uses a specific product in a very limited population (AD is much smaller than SuperUser that handles Windows). The nice thing with Amazon is their return policy. I buy and return things (at no cost) to test things out. If a seller says "it works with Mac" but when you get it, it's an epic fail - it goes back. – Allan Jun 18 at 13:40
  • The nice thing about actually putting hands on is you often find things you didn't know you were actually looking for. You've got two options - one where I've tested both products and loved 'em and your post. Give them a shot, the worst thing that happens is it doesn't work for you. The problem with other people's opinions is that what works for them may not work for you (one of the reasons I ignore positive reviews and take negative ones with many grains of salt). – Allan Jun 18 at 13:41
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I do believe that what is needed here is a new USB Bluetooth adapter.

My guess is that the problem with the Mac Mini is that it has an older Bluetooth "radio" built into it which does not support the higher data rates and therefore higher quality audio. Using some kind of Bluetooth "transmitter" connected to an audio output port might also work but I have not seen any such devices that support audio out to headset speakers and also audio in from a microphone. That's not saying they don't exist, I simply have not seen one.

Early Bluetooth hardware could not support the new data rates required to support high fidelity stereo headsets. Given that this question was asked when Bluetooth 4.0 and 4.1 were still new I suspect this might be the case. A new USB Bluetooth adapter, and an OS update to support the new Bluetooth devices and protocols, might fix the audio quality issues on the Mac Mini. It's also a pretty cheap and easy fix to try, with new Bluetooth 4.x adapters selling for about $20.

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