I thought I’d write up a little bit on my ongoing hassles with A2DP (Bluetooth Stereo Headphones) on Windows 7. I would say it’s a hassle only on Windows 7, but in all honestly, my experiences with A2DP on WinXP weren’t much better, just different.
To start out, a little background: My first success with A2DP was with my Dell D820 with WinXP and the Toshiba Bluetooth stack. This was far from stable, but I could at least get it to work consistently by following a routine involving disabling and re-enabling the Bluetooth adapter and rebooting my headphones. From here, I “upgraded” to Windows 7 RC 32-bit, which worked OK with the Vista drivers for the D820. Audio connectivity was finicky, especially after rebooting, but I could usually get it working again just by removing and re-pairing my headphones. Next was my upgrade to the full release of Windows 7 (32bit). The same problems pretty much stuck around. My biggest issue was with a Windows Update driver that seemed to break A2DP, so I’d have to keep backing it out if I accidentally installed it. Unrelated instability issues with Win7 on the D820 led me to a new PC, the Latitude E6500.
So here I am, with brand-spanking new Dell Latitude E6500 with Windows 7 64-bit and a Dell Wireless 370 Bluetooth mini-card inside. Aside from the topic at hand, this didn’t fix the stability issues, just FYI. The from-factory drivers for the Bluetooth adapter were version 220.127.116.11 A17, IIRC. When I look it up now, it shows up as Vista 64 driver. These drivers simply didn’t work. They would pair with my Insignia NS-BTHDP headphones, create all sorts of devices in Device Manager, but no audio device would show up in the Sound control panel. Needless to say, audio never routed out to my head.
Next I tried downgrading to the 18.104.22.16800 A01 drivers, listed on Dell’s support site as being for Win7 64bit. These would pair, work for an hour or so, then apparently crash. The Bluetooth icon would disappear from the taskbar, and audio would get re-routed to my hardwired desktop speakers. This happened multiple times, and re-installing the drivers didn’t seem to help.
Currently I’m using the v22.214.171.1240_7a drivers from Gateway’s website (http://support.gateway.com/support/drivers/getFile.asp?id=24324&dscr=Broadcom%20Bluetooth%20Network%20Driver%20Version%126.96.36.1990&uid=263953937). These seem to work OK, so far.I did notice today that I had to toggle the wireless switch to get the Bluetooth light to activate on my laptop. Once it lit up, it automatically re-connected to my headphones. I can live with this for now. Hopefully I don’t see any more driver crashes.
Note that when re-installing these drivers, you should follow this procedure. Failure to do so can lead to some odd results in Device Manager, and total lack of Bluetooth functionality.
– Delete any paired devices (if possible)
– Clear pairings from your BT device
– Turn off the Wifi/BT switch on your laptop
– From “Programs and Features” control panel, uninstall the WIDCOMM or Dell Bluetooth drivers
– Reboot (DON’T SKIP THIS)
– Run the install for the new Bluetooth driver (v188.8.131.520 is my recommendation)
– When asked, flip the WiFi/BT switch back on.
– Reboot (just to be sure that the new driver takes)
– Pair your headphones
If you reboot/hibernate/suspend and find that the BT light is out, toggle the WiFi/BT switch.
UPDATE 4/2: Grr. It’s still happening. Still looking for a solution…