Last-Minute Gift Idea: Nyrius Songo & Songo HiFi

It’s getting down to the wire—stockings are hung by the chimney with care, and Santa’s helpers are desperate for an idea for that last-minute gift. The Nyrius Songo is just what Rudolph ordered for that grumpy Scrooge who hasn’t bought all the latest and greatest electronics. The Songo ($25) and Songo HiFi ($50) turn any receiver or dock into a wireless Bluetooth system. Scrooge can even use an iOS dock with an Android phone via Bluetooth, as long as the dock has an AUX input.

My own home theater is chock full of the latest and greatest electronics, but sadly, elsewhere in the house things aren’t quite so 20th-century. For example, the house is wired for speakers throughout, powered by a good old-fashioned Denon receiver, considered state-of-the-art just 15 years ago. However, as you would assume, it lacks a Bluetooth connection. Whenever I want to listen to Tidal HiFi, Pandora, or any other music from my phone or iPod, I have to physically connect to it via a cable. I consigned a tablet solely to the music system in the house. Whatever source I chose on the tablet, it was across the room, next to the receiver. In other words, it wasn't in my hand when I wanted to change tracks, see what was playing, switch between Tidal and Slacker, adjust volume, or, well, actually use the tablet. And it certainly didn't have the latest music that I downloaded on my phone.

The Nyrius Songo and Songo HiFi are Bluetooth music receivers that let you stream from any Bluetooth playback device to any receiver, powered speaker or dock with an aux input. The Songo HiFi includes the 3.5mm to RCA adapter, and it also has a digital Toslink optical connection as well. They both include a power adapter; both units need AC.

Both units can store up to eight paired devices with auto-pairing, so it was easy to switch between my phone, iPod, and tablet for playback. Pairing was simple—as soon as it was plugged in, I was able to find it on my Samsung S4 and pair with it. The regular Songo uses Bluetooth 4.0 A2DP with EDR—Enhanced Data Rate. The Songo HiFi uses Bluetooth 3.0, also with EDR, but adds aptX, a very worthwhile upgrade. I didn’t notice any pitch variations which can be heard on some older Bluetooth systems. In fact, after hours of listening, I only heard a few objectionable artifacts. Given the digital output and aptX, the Songo HiFi is definitely the one to get.

The Songos both support a wide range of formats: MP3, WAV, FLAC, OGG, AAC, ALAC, M4A, M4P, WMA, AMR, AIFF, and HE-AAC. The frequency response is 20 Hz-20 kHz. They’re both tiny—2.3 x 2.3 x 0.6 inches for the Songo, and it weighs just 0.07 lbs., and 3.2 x 2.8 x 0.8 and 0.15 lbs. for the Songo HiFi—the weight of the power cable kept trying to pull it off my receiver. Range of the Bluetooth is typical—about 33 feet, line of sight.

The Songos aren’t the most glamorous gadgets, but dang, they’re useful. It's kind of like batteries—if you're giving a gift, make sure to include everything necessary to enjoy it immediately. For a great gift for someone who’s getting a nifty new Bluetooth device this year with no way of actually connecting it wirelessly, this should definitely be on Santa’s list.