Cruising to your favorite tunes has traditionally been a practice that required you to use your classic car stereo to surf the AM and FM frequencies, may even toss in a tape or CD to pick your personal favorites. Since the advent of the Smartphone, many people take hundreds, if not thousands of their favorite tracks with them wherever they go. Many of the newest cars have Bluetooth functionality that’ll let you wirelessly connect your music to your car so that you can play your tunes on your speakers, but what if you have an older car system? This is where the Bluetooth car adapter comes in; it lets you have this new car functionality, without spending thousands of dollars.
Not only will these adapters help you listen to your tunes, you can also safely answer your calls on many of them. There are millions of vehicular accidents caused every year due to drivers trying to answer a phone or text while on the road. These particular types of devices allow drivers to answer their calls hands-free. On the market, there are a wide variety of these devices to choose from, and before we get into our review sections where we’ll show you some great products, let’s take a look at what you should be looking for in a Bluetooth audio adapter and some types as well.
- Rechargeable: Since these are external adapters, many of the Bluetooth audio adapters are rechargeable. While this can be annoying if you’ve forgotten to charge your device between uses, this option will usually give you hours of music.
- Vehicle Connected: On the other hand, some of these types of devices can be powered directly through your car’s accessory power outlet or through the cigarette lighter. This is a fairly standard method of power and usually works pretty well for most users.
- FM Transmitter Style: These Bluetooth audio adapters connect directly to a FM station so that your music is automatically played through your car’s radio. If there is any interference, this style can be a bit static-filled, so you might have to choose among several stations before you can find one that has the desired level of clarity.
- AUX-in Style: If your car has a headphone jack, this may be the Bluetooth adapter that will work best for you. The music is picked up directly in the device and pumped through your car’s audio system and out your car’s speakers. If your car has this connector, you’re in luck because this is the best audio quality available for an adapter-based system.
Features to Look For:
- Ease of Use: These devices should be easy to use and navigate. The user experience is going to naturally differ from product to product, but it should be easy to seamlessly navigate from music playing mode to call mode. Fortunately, the products that you’ll see in our review section are all designed to be easy to use.
- Connectivity: The Bluetooth adapter that you select should be able to easily connect to the majority of mobile standards on the market today. This includes Android, iOS, and Windows Phone based systems. It simply wouldn’t do for you to purchase one of these specific products and find that you can’t locate the Bluetooth connection on your phone’s connection screen.
- Caller ID: This is a nice extra feature that many manufacturers are including in their Bluetooth adapters. This will allow you to view the incoming phone number before you elect to answer it without the need to actually pick up your phone.
- Multiple Connectivity: The best adapters will have the ability to manage two or even three simultaneous Bluetooth connections. This will enable you to listen to music through a dedicated tablet and take a call from your phone, for example.
|Bluetooth Audio Adapter||Best Design Feature||Price||Rating|
|Alween Car Wireless Bluetooth FM Transmitter Kit||This device charges through your cigarette lighter.||$19.99||Stars 4.7/5|
|GOgroove FlexSMART X2 Bluetooth In-Car FM Transmitter with USB Charging||Its dedicated call and hang up buttons are easy to use while driving.||$34.99||Stars 4.5/5|
|Keedox Mini Bluetooth 4.0 Receiver A2DP Wireless Adapter||This AUX device is small and easy to connect.||$29.99||Stars 4.3/5|
|Anker SoundSync Drive Bluetooth 4.0 Car Receiver||For calls, this particular device is the clearest on our list.||$21.99||Stars 4.8/5|
|Belkin Hands-Free Bluetooth Car Kit||In addition to its AUX-in system, this device also is powered through the cigarette lighter.||$38.89||Stars 4.5/5|
|Mpow FM Transmitter, Wireless Bluetooth Radio Adapter||The volume controls on this device are integrated into the design.||$23.99||Stars 4.4/5|
|AUKEY Bluetooth Receiver||This device has great audio thanks to its A2DP driver.||$10.99||Stars 4.5/5|
1) Alween Car Wireless Bluetooth FM Transmitter Kit
This is a great Bluetooth audio adapter from the folks at Alween. This particular device has a great design that gives you complete control over your car’s Bluetooth audio profile. As a matter of fact, this particular device is fairly unique on our list because of its large central console column that emulates the control schemes for larger devices. There is a central rocker, track controls, and most importantly, a spacious LED screen that provides track and call info.
The biggest drawback of this device is its default FM broadcast feature, which typically doesn’t generate as good of a sound profile as some of the 3.5mm jack connected products, but this foible aside, this unit does still manage some good sound. In addition to this, you can also broadcast sound through a 3.5mm jack; you’ll just need a cable. Its power scheme requires the use of your cigarette lighter, so you also won’t have to think about charging this device.
2) GOgroove FlexSMART X2 Bluetooth In-Car FM Transmitter with USB Charging
The second product on our list is another Bluetooth adapter that uses a FM transmitter to broadcast your music directly to your car stereo. This particular unit even has a similar cigarette lighter power system to the Alween model. Its console, on the other hand, is very different from our first product. This particular console area utilizes a very simplified system that quickly shows you the FM broadcasting station that you’re on as well as providing track and call control.
A nice standout feature of this product is its USB connector. It’s nice to have a charging system for your device so that the Bluetooth charging doesn’t overly drain its battery. While this isn’t a fast charge system, this connector provides more than enough juice to keep your Smartphone or tablet powered up as you listen to tunes or take calls. In addition to this, this device can handle two device connections simultaneously, which means that you can play your tunes through your dedicated mp3 player and take calls on your phone when you need to.
3) Keedox Mini Bluetooth 4.0 Receiver A2DP Wireless Adapter
Sometimes, you don’t need a massive device in order to have great function. The Keedox Mini is a great example of getting more for less. This Bluetooth device that has a single 3.5mm prong; it plugs surreptitiously into your cars AUX-in jack and broadcasts the Bluetooth audio that it’s receiving through your car stereo. The entire device only measures about 4.5 inches in length, 3.2 inches in height, and 1.7 inches in depth, so you’ll easily be able to forget this device is there, but the audio quality it generates will remind you.
A particularly useful feature of this device is the removable 3.5mm prong. Not only will this deliver sound to your car, but you can also remove it, revealing an input that you can plug headphones into. This feature makes this a great device to take with you when you finish your drive as well.
4) Anker SoundSync Drive Bluetooth 4.0 Car Receiver
This Anker device is one of the best products of its type on the market today. As a 3.5mm Aux cable device, you’ll get great sound output when you use this device as a Bluetooth adapter for your music. This device also happens to be one of the most functional and clear Bluetooth adapters in this guide for making and receiving calls as well. To power it, you’ll need a USB cigarette lighter adapter, which is a product line that Anker is well-known for.
We were impressed with this device’s ability to remember the smart devices that it’s connected to, which is a feature that you may not find on many of the products that have flooded the market in the last few years. As a matter of fact, this feature is often expected in built-in Bluetooth systems, so it’s inclusion in this device is appreciated.
5) Belkin Hands-Free Bluetooth Car Kit
Another AUX cable Bluetooth adapter, this Belkin product does a great job of delivering crystal clear audio wirelessly to your dedicated sound system. Unlike the previous product, this Belkin device has a built in cigarette lighter connector so that you can quickly power it when you want to listen to your favorite songs. This connector also allows you to connect on additional USB-powered device so that you can share the power between your Bluetooth adapter and the device that it’s connected to via Bluetooth.
When it comes to controls, this Belkin product has a one button does-it-all design. Once you’ve attached the adapter to your dash, it’s simply a matter of tapping the rounded, touch sensitive body to start up your music. To pause, simply tap it again, and to skip a track, tap the flat area twice. When it’s time for a call, your music will fade away naturally and you’ll just have to tap the device once to answer.
6) Mpow FM Transmitter, Wireless Bluetooth Radio Adapter
Our penultimate Bluetooth adapter has a unique design that belies some of the devices built-in features. This device is an FM-transmitter type that produces a decent degree of clear transmitted audio. Where this particular device shines is in its control scheme and smart design. This is actually a very large goose neck device that feels pretty great in the hands. Aesthetically, it even sports a shiny and attractive piano-black finish on the body of the device.
Firstly, the volume knob is on the top end of the device, this hardware-type spinning knob is textured so that you’ll have good tactile feedback when you need to raise or lower the volume. Another great design feature is the cigarette lighter connector. This part of the device grips the cigarette lighter firmly so that there’s no wobble with this device. One slight weakness in the design of this part of the device is the fact that the included USB connector only has a 1a level of charging, meaning that you device might not charge much with this adapter.
Despite this slight issue, the device easily detaches from its gooseneck via a magnetic coupler and the device also controls like a charm. Underneath its digital display is a small microphone hole that works amazingly well for calls as well.
7) AUKEY Bluetooth Receiver
The final product in this guide is another Bluetooth adapter that does a great job at being small and inconspicuous while delivering the sound that you want. The AUKEY Bluetooth Receiver is only 4.72 inches in length, 3.35 inches in width, and 1.77 inches in height. It even has a form factor that makes it look somewhat like a remote control for a security system, so you know it’ll easily fit in a pocket between rides.
Similarly to the Keedox Mini Bluetooth 4.0 Receiver, our final device has a removable 3.5mm jack that doubles as a headphone jack for the Bluetooth device. This adds extra functionality for those looking for a way to carry the Bluetooth functionality from their car into their daily lives. The device’s body has all the needed track and call controls that you’ll need for your drive and its audio connection, which uses crystal clear A2DP technology, will deliver excellent sound to your audio system.
The products that we’ve reviewed will all provide a great audio experience in your car. If we were to select a best pick though, we’d select the Anker SoundSync Drive Bluetooth 4.0 Car Receiver. While all of the products sound great, we found that this particular device did an amazing job delivering crystal clear calls; just be 100 percent sure that you have an AUX-in connection in your car.
If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, on the other hand, we found that the Alween Car Wireless Bluetooth FM Transmitter Kit was a pretty great little Bluetooth adapter for the money. It has a very easy to navigate physical console that effectively emulates its larger built-in brethren. If you’re looking for a bit of class and functionality, this is a great choice and it only costs about $20.