Finicky: A2DP Bluetooth Stereo on Dell Latitude E6500 w/ Windows 7 64-bit

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 6.2.1.100 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 6.2.0.9600 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 v6.2.1.800_7a drivers from Gateway’s website (http://support.gateway.com/support/drivers/getFile.asp?id=24324&dscr=Broadcom%20Bluetooth%20Network%20Driver%20Version%206.2.1.800&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 (v6.2.1.800 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.

Good luck!

UPDATE 4/2: Grr. It’s still happening. Still looking for a solution…

7 thoughts on “Finicky: A2DP Bluetooth Stereo on Dell Latitude E6500 w/ Windows 7 64-bit”

  1. You may try to upgrade the firmware on the card itself. The firmware comes with the driver and is a dfu file. I think it unzips into the c:\dell\drivers\R226750\win64\svcpack folder. Run the exe and point to the dfu file. Good luck and please let me know if it works.

  2. OK, with further testing, it appears that when is stops functioning, the bttray.exe process is still running in the background. A way to simulate this is to right click the bluetooth icon in the bottom right of the screen and select disable. Then use process explorer to see if BTTray.exe is still running in the background. If it is, kill that process and go to c:\program files\widcomm\bluetooth software\ and run BTTray.exe. It should again appear in the bottom right of the screen.

  3. Are you not seeing this same issue? What firmware version are you running? I assumed that most all of these new devices do firmware upload to the device upon driver initialization, therefore if I had the most recent Broadcom driver, I’d have the most recent firmware. I agree though, this is definitely a firmware issue as the device disappears from my system until I reboot or hibernate, giving the hardware a chance to reset.

  4. I am seeing the exact same issue. The bluetooth symbol at the bottom right of the screen disappears and if you look in device manager, you can’t see the 2 devices anymore. There is no way to get it turned back on without completely powering off and back on. Even the switch doesn’t do the job.

    I actually have installed update R235898. This is the most up to date that they don’t post on most of the support site. I had to get it from Engineering, don’t ask. Also, when you install the driver, it does not automatically install the updated firmware. It comes with it and the only way to install it is to run the EXE in the svcpack folder. Broadcom does NOT have the best drivers, but have decent hardware.

    http://support.dell.com/support/downloads/download.aspx?c=us&l=en&s=bsd&catid=-1&dateid=-1&deviceid=16166&devlib=0&fileid=339696&formatcnt=0&formatid=-1&impid=-1&libid=5&os=W764&osl=en&releaseid=R235898&servicetag=&SystemID=ALW_LP_M15X&typecnt=0&typeid=-1&vercnt=1

  5. Dave – excellent response. That fixed this major issue that seems to be widespread on these Dells. However, because I have the 365 chipset (rather than 370) on my Latitude E4200 I needed to find a different driver that shipped with a firmware file. Of the many I downloaded, I finally found one that came with the firmware and I can confirm it solves the randomd crashing issue.

    It was driver version R247521 broadcom 6.2.1.100. I did get it off the Dell site.

  6. davebtiller’s right tried it and works. i baught a bluetooth audio reciever fot my stereo since the audio cables kept breaking every other month. and then the f’in 370 mini card started playing with my nerves, after 2 complete windows reinstalls i found this solution, so THANK YOU VERY MUCH!
    1.complete power down. then restart
    2.uninstalled every bluetooth device
    3.then uninstalled driver from device manager then widcomm from programs/services and windows bluetooth drivers
    4.complete power down, restart
    5.downloaded the newest available driver from dell /actually i have a studio xps 13 but downloaded the studio xps 16 driver since it has the same 370 mini card but had newer drivers. weird huh?
    6.started install and quit right after it extracted to c:\dell\drivers\R235898
    7.browsed to C:\dell\drivers\R235898\R235898\Win64\svcpack and ran SetupBluetoothDFU.exe as ADMINISTRATOR
    8.the dfu update started had to browse for the firmware /LR.dfu/ which in the exact same directory
    9. After it completed i went to C:\dell\drivers\R235898\R235898\Win64 and ran setup as ADMINISTRATOR
    10. complete shutdown, restart
    11. everything working fine, at least for now:D /been working for 2 days straight

    system:
    Windows 7 x64
    studio xps 13
    dell 370 mini bluetooth card

  7. update: it does work but sounds like crap. its really bad and i couldnt find a way to increase the quality. i tried streaming from several other laptops and phones and it worked like magic… anyone know a way to increase the quality? i tried bluesoleil (downloaded the trial) but it doesent seem to work with my adapter it can pair with any device but cant discover services:S thanks in advance