7 Best Bluetooth Car Adapters: Your Buying Guide

best bluetooth car adapter

While a smartphone seems to barely last a year, a solid car can last decades. This leads to such a large gap between the two technologies that in some cases they don’t even work together. When your car is too old to play audio from your phone, you definitely need a car Bluetooth adapter.

What Are the Best Bluetooth Car Adapters in 2020?

mpow bluetooth adapter Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Plug and play
  • High-quality aptX-LL audio
  • Voice assistant compatibility
Price: $27.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
taotronics bluetooth car kit Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Multiple mounting options
  • Built-in controls
  • Voice assistant compatibility
Price: $23.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
nulaxy bluetooth fm transmitter Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Plays audio from Bluetooth 3.0, aux, USB, or SD card
  • Full playback controls with EQ
  • 1.8-inch display for track and call info
Price: $17.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
victsing fm transmitter Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Full playback controls with EQ
  • 2 USB charge-out ports
  • 1.8-inch display for track and call info
Price: $19.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
criacr bluetooth adapter Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Compact and durable
  • Fast pairing
  • 2 USB charge-out ports
Price: $14.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
jetech fm transmitter Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Works with any setup
  • Loud and clear audio
  • Low price tag
Price: $13.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
bluetooth car kit, bluetooth for car, bluetooth car adapter, car kits, bluetooth car stereo, blue tooth Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Automatic pairing
  • Echo and noise-canceling
  • Connects to 2 Bluetooth devices
Price: $44.95 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. Best Aux Bluetooth Receiver: Mpow aptX-LL

    Pros:
    • Plug and play
    • High-quality aptX-LL audio
    • Voice assistant compatibility
    Cons:
    • Battery powered and needs to be recharged every 12 hours of use
    • Goes to sleep if no audio plays for 10 minutes
    • Buttons could be larger

    The Mpow Auxiliary Bluetooth Receiver should be the go-to pick for those who have an auxiliary port in their car but not Bluetooth connectivity. The auxiliary connection is the preferred way to add Bluetooth to your sound system as it delivers audio more consistently than an FM transmitter and at a higher quality as well.

    The Mpow receiver is pretty foolproof. Simply plug it into your 3.5mm jack and switch it on to receiver mode. Then you can connect to up to two devices over Bluetooth 4.1, which has an effective range of 33 feet. This version also has a transmitter mode, meaning you can use it to turn a pair of headphones semi-wireless.

    The key benefit of this technology is that it doesn’t have to pass through any radio frequencies, which means that it is able to stream at a higher audio definition. This device is aptX-LL-compatible, so if you have an aptX-compatible phone like a Samsung Galaxy S9,
    You can find an exhaustive list of aptX-compatible phones here. Attentive listeners will notice the difference, especially when comparing to audio that’s been compressed for radio broadcast.

    It sweetens the pot by adding voice assistant compatibility. If your phone is set up with Siri or Google Assistant, you can use the built-in microphone to start calls or pull up directions. It also has a sync button, volume buttons, and a prominent power button. This device looks sleek in your car, but unfortunately, it relies exclusively on battery power so you will have to charge it about every 12 hours of use.

    Again, this is a pretty easy pick if you already have an aux port in your car but there are still situations where you may prefer to use an FM transmitter.

    VideoVideo related to best aux bluetooth receiver: mpow aptx-ll2019-02-01T14:51:05-05:00

  2. 2. Most Versatile Aux Bluetooth Receiver: TaoTronics Car Kit

    Pros:
    • Multiple mounting options
    • Built-in controls
    • Voice assistant compatibility
    Cons:
    • No aptX quality
    • Low max volume
    • 3M adhesive sticker is weak

    The TaoTronics Bluetooth Car Kit is another useful option for those who currently have an auxiliary port and want Bluetooth wireless instead. This design is a little more versatile than Mpow’s Bluetooth receiver, as it can be mounted to your dashboard with either its magnetic base, its included 3M adhesive tape, or its optional air vent clip.

    You’ll want to position it close to the driver’s seat, as the dongle houses volume, tracking, and call answer buttons in addition to the Bluetooth 4.2 receiver. This Bluetooth adapter has a functional range of about 33 feet and can connect to two devices at once. It automatically pairs with the most recent device.

    This device forgoes the limiting battery design of the Mpow receiver and instead runs on USB power. It includes a two-port USB adapter for your car’s accessory port, allowing you to power it and one other device right out of the box. This is more practical on long car ride but it makes for an unsightly mess of cords compared to other options.

    This TaoTronics gadget enables hands-free calling thanks to its built-in microphone and noise-canceling technology. Call quality is decent but calls might sound a little quiet on your end. This complaint also applies to Bluetooth audio, as this receiver generally doesn’t send a very loud signal. If you can live without aptX audio quality, then this a is a good budget option for bringing wireless audio into your daily commute.

  3. 3. Best Fast-Charging FM Transmitter: Nulaxy KM28

    Pros:
    • Plays audio from Bluetooth 3.0, aux, USB, or SD card
    • Full playback controls with EQ
    • 1.8-inch display for track and call info
    • 2 USB charge-out ports
    Cons:
    • FM transmission gets a lot of feedback
    • Sound spectrum display cuts off long track titles
    • FM transmission limits playback quality

    The Nulaxy KM28 Bluetooth FM Transmitter is a premium pick for those adding Bluetooth to a car without an auxiliary audio port. This device plugs into your accessory port and then emits a shortwave FM frequency to take over an unused FM frequency band. Then all you have to do is turn your radio to the right channel and you have your own private radio station in your car.

    The device looks sleek in your car, as it has a sleek-looking control panel attached to the end of its sturdy gooseneck stand. No wires or cables are required for the setup. The only downside to its cable-free design is if your car’s accessory port is hidden in the center console.

    The Nulaxy KM28 connects quickly to audio sources via Bluetooth 3.0, which you can use to easily stream music or receive phone calls thanks to a built-in microphone. The device also allows you to play audio via one of its other built-in ports, including aux 3.5mm, USB, and SD card. The KM28 also has two separate USB ports specifically for charging devices. One of them is QC3.0 compatible.

    When you are playing from any of the sources (besides aux), the 1.8-inch TFT display shows the song information and an EQ display. The display can also be used to display the phone number of incoming calls or to read your car’s battery voltage.

    Its controls cluster offers full playback controls, including volume, play/pause, and track skipping. You can also change playback modes from repeat to random and cycle between several EQ presets.

    All in all, this is definitely one of the best Bluetooth car adapters around.

    VideoVideo related to best fast-charging fm transmitter: nulaxy km282019-02-01T14:54:17-05:00

  4. 4. Best Cheap FM Transmitter: VicTsing Upgraded

    Pros:
    • Full playback controls with EQ
    • 2 USB charge-out ports
    • 1.8-inch display for track and call info
    • Plays audio from Bluetooth 3.0, USB, aux, or SD card
    Cons:
    • FM transmission limits playback quality
    • Only supports SD and USB up to 32GB in size
    • Slow charging USB ports

    The latest version of the VicTsing FM Transmitter doesn’t have a lot of distinctive features to set it apart from the pack but it offers all of the main features you’d expect from an FM transmitter all the same.

    It has the same gooseneck mounting system to put its control panel plainly into reach once it is plugged into your car’s accessory port. This unit has a discrete power switch, so you can choose to have it automatically power on when you turn on the car or decide for yourself.

    Its buttons are illuminated and easy to read when driving. You have the ability to cycle through FM channels to broadcast on and EQ modes for audio playback. You also have a volume knob (which you can press down to answer calls) and tracking buttons to cycle through songs. You can set playback to shuffle or repeat.

    It has one USB port on the control panel to connect a flash drive with music. Closer to the power adapter, it has two other USB ports (a 1A and a 2.1A) that are meant to charge devices. You can also play audio from aux, an SD card, or, of course, Bluetooth. Bluetooth is the preferred option as the device can only read SD or USB media that is 32GB or smaller. Plus, once you pair your phone with the VicTsing FM transmitter, it will automatically pair with it on startup.

    The sound quality is decent with solid volume but you can’t expect too much when it has to compress your music into FM radio bands. You should expect radio-quality audio even when you connect with an aux cable.

    Price considered, the VicTsing is one of the best values in car FM transmitters. However, if your phone benefits from QC3.0 quick charging, it may be worth spending the extra cash for the Nulaxy KM28, which has a fast-charging USB port. Other than that, these two devices are virtually the same.

  5. 5. Best Compact FM Transmitter: Criacr

    Pros:
    • Compact and durable
    • Fast pairing
    • 2 USB charge-out ports
    Cons:
    • FM transmission limits playback quality
    • Limited controls
    • So-so microphone
    The Criacr FM Transmitter is one of the least intrusive Bluetooth adapters for your car by a wide margin. If your car doesn’t have an auxiliary cable and you find a giant LCD screen sticking out from your accessory port to be an eyesore, then this Criacr FM Transmitter should be your go-to pick.
     
    Its minimalist display only shows the current FM frequency it is tuned to, which you can change by pressing the channel button its right side. The two buttons on its left are for skipping tracks. Whenever you turn it on, it will automatically initiate pairing mode, and if you’ve paired your phone with it before, it will automatically connect.
     
    This simple interface makes it a breeze to integrate into your regular commute. The only fiddling you may have to do is if you drive into the frequency of a signal that was previously clear. In that case, it’s fairly quick to find a new radio frequency to broadcast your phone’s audio from.
     
    The sound is decent, which is as good as it gets when you are technically playing it over the radio. The volume is sufficiently loud but you should always turn it up to near max on your source device to improve this.
     
    The Criacr FM Transmitter has two USB ports, one 3.1A, and one 2.4A. One of them can also be used to stream .mp3/.wma/.wav/.flac files from a flash drive. It has a built-in microphone, making it easy to take hands-free calls. The microphone is somewhat weak but it gets the job done.
     
    Sure, if you went with one of the FM transmitters with a gooseneck stand you might get slightly clearer calls, but if you want an inconspicuous solution for Bluetooth playback in your car, then it doesn’t get more low-profile than this.
  6. 6. Best Non-Bluetooth FM Transmitter: JETech

    Pros:
    • Works with awkwardly-placed accessory ports
    • Loud and clear audio
    • Low price tag
    Cons:
    • No Bluetooth wireless
    • No onboard controls
    • FM transmission limits playback quality

    FM transmitters are pretty nifty when you have a car with an accessory port on the dashboard, but they can be kind of a pain to use if your accessory port is low to the ground, or worse, in your center console. This FM transmitter makes it easy to connect the device in hard-to-reach places. The only caveat? It’s not actually Bluetooth compatible.

    Including a non-Bluetooth FM transmitter on this list may seem like a copout but from our research, this is the only standalone device that might reach into some of those deep console accessory ports. Alternatively, you may have success pairing a 3.5mm cable extender with one of the wireless FM transmitters.

    If you end up going with this option, you will get some decently clear audio at a good volume. A sound signal carries much better through cable than it does wirelessly. One negative consequence to this technology is that the FM transmitter doesn’t have any onboard controls for your music. It only has two buttons for cycling up and down on FM frequency bands to broadcast to. Fortunately, your phone will be nearby anyway since its plugged in.

    The JETech FM transmitter has a built-in microphone for taking calls but with no button to accept them, it may not be 100% hands-free. Sadly, this isn’t an option for anyone with a phone that lacks a 3.5mm audio jack, but in some fringe cases, this little adapter may be just what you need.

  7. 7. Best Clip-On Bluetooth Speaker: Jabra Drive

    Pros:
    • Available in multiple colors
    • Boasts both echo and noise-canceling features
    • Connects to 2 Bluetooth devices at once
    • Automatic pairing and automatic volume adjustment
    • Allows you to stream music or get audio GPS directions without using your hands
    Cons:
    • Battery life may vary depending on use: item description simply states it has “enough battery life to last through even the longest commute or road trip”
    • Goes to sleep if no audio plays for 10 minutes
    • Some users have reported issues with auto-connectivity
    • Some users have reported issues with call quality

    Jabra may not exactly be a household name, but this car speakerphone is a great buy because of its host of automatic features. Additionally, it allows for multiple devices to be paired at once, making this ideal for people who have a cell phone for both work and personal use.

    VideoVideo related to best clip-on bluetooth speaker: jabra drive2019-01-31T17:09:48-05:00

How to Pick the Right Bluetooth Car Adapter for You

The best Bluetooth car adapter for your needs depends entirely on what sort of technology your car's sound system already has for playing music. If you have a 3.5mm auxiliary port, you can connect a Bluetooth receiver directly to it, then connect that to your media source. If you only have a radio, you'll need to use an FM radio transmitter to overtake an unused radio frequency and shortwave broadcast it to your car's sound system.

If you somehow don't have a radio in your car, then you can always opt for a standalone Bluetooth speaker. They make one that clips right onto your sun visor and we've included one in this list just in case. Failing that, you can just listen to the radio. After all, a recent study from Auto Guide gathers that 84 percent of Americans still prefer to listen to AM or FM radio for entertainment in their car.

But we assumed you've already cut that tie, which is why we want to help you take control of your drivetime playlist once more. Without further ado, read on below to browse our picks for the best Bluetooth car adapters.

See Also

11 Best Magnetic Phone Mounts for Your Car

11 Best Portable Bluetooth Speakers: Your Buyer’s Guide

6 Best Bluetooth Receivers for Headphone

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