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Best Bluetooth Transmitters

Updated October 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 19 Models Considered
  • 9 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 137 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best Bluetooth transmitters

    Last Updated October 2018

    A Bluetooth transmitter can bring your old technology up to date and keep you easily connected to your favorite playlist, both in the car and at home.

    Bluetooth transmitters pair with a device such as your smartphone, then pass an audio signal on to a non-Bluetooth device. Whether they connect via a 3.5mm jack, RCA connector, or FM radio frequency, they can make your older electronics more versatile by bringing the flexibility of Bluetooth connectivity. These handy little devices are commonly used to update car radios, home stereo systems, and headphones.

    This BestReviews shopping guide will help you compare the options available in Bluetooth transmitter technology, the price points, and the features that work best for your needs. We strive to offer an unbiased point of view by sharing our experiences with products purchased by our team, rather than accepting free samples from manufacturers.

    Read on to learn about the types of products to consider and some important features you might want to consider the best Bluetooth transmitter for your lifestyle.

    Keep in mind that the maximum range advertised for a Bluetooth transmitter is typically a line of sight distance. Inside your home, the range will the diminished greatly because of interference from walls. Appliances may get create interference.

    Bluetooth transmitters for car vs. home

    Car transmitters

    Your car may be an older model, but the technology in it doesn’t have to be. While manufacturers have been regularly installing Bluetooth technology in cars for about the last decade, that still leaves a lot of cars owned by smartphone users who want easy access to hands-free calling  and audio that runs through the car’s speaker system. A Bluetooth transmitter allows you to inexpensively and easily make this transition. Features to look for in a car-ready Bluetooth transmitter include:

    • Compatibility with the 12V auxiliary power outlets (cigarette lighter receptacles) already installed in your car.

    • LED display screens that allow you to easily identify callers, and facilitate song selection.

    • Inputs for SD cards, standard audio jacks, and TF cards.

    • USB inputs, which can also serve as chargers for your phone.

    Home use transmitters

    Bluetooth transmitters made for home use can convert a wired speaker into wireless, or they can allow you to transmit audio to your wireless headphones from your TV or home sound system. Features to look for on a home unit Bluetooth transmitter include:

    • What’s the power source. Many transmitters are rechargeable and only have ten hours of use available per charge. Others are powered by USB, or plug directly into a wall outlet.

    • Many home use Bluetooth transmitters are also receivers,  or they include receiver adapters. When plugged into a speaker in receiver mode, the device allows you to transmit audio to that speaker from your laptop or smartphone.

    • Some units are able to send to two or more output sources simultaneously.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Some Bluetooth transmitters for the car include a visual display, and controls which allow easier navigation of your phone’s music service.

    Bluetooth transmitter considerations

    Range

    Even an inexpensive Bluetooth transmitter can provide a range sufficient for use in your car. Depending on your needs, and square footage, it also may do a decent job in your home. Most low-end, inexpensive transmitters broadcast to about 30 feet, which will accommodate your vehicle needs nicely.

    If you are using a Bluetooth transmitter at home, look at your device’s range more closely. You can find Bluetooth transmitters with a 100 foot range easily. However, that distance can be greatly reduced inside your home. The devices promising super long ranges, like 160 feet or more, easily be reduced to as little as 50 feet because of interference from the structure of your home.

    You may want to consider buying one of the Bluetooth transmitters designed to work with a second unit, if you feel you will need range extension.

    Connectivity options

    Available ports and connectivity are particularly important for car Bluetooth transmitters. Many radio stereo systems have a 3.5mm audio port available, and some Bluetooth transmitter/receivers will plug into the stereo physically. If your radio lacks this port, however, you need a transmitter that re-broadcasts the incoming signal via FM.

    Some lower-end Bluetooth transmitters only broadcast on a fixed FM radio frequency, but many allow you to set the frequency to an unused spot in your local FM traffic, reducing interference from existing stations.

    Because Bluetooth transmitter/receivers for the car often use the 12V battery outlet, some include a USB port for plugging in other devices, allowing you to charge your smartphone while powering the Bluetooth transmitter.

    If you’re shopping for a Bluetooth transmitter for home use, consider whether an optical audio connection is the best option for your TV or audio system. Transmitters with this type of connectivity are a bit more expensive, but offer superior audio quality.

    Microphones

    Bluetooth transmitters tend to be advertised with simple audio transmission in mind, but some also facilitate hands-free calling. Car transmitters, in particular, tend to include on-board microphones. When your phone is paired with the transmitter, the microphone on the device takes over. This prevents the echo and feedback you’d experience when your phone’s mic picks up audio from your car speakers.

    Bluetooth version

    It’s important to check a device’s Bluetooth version when evaluating the price value. Cheaper devices often use older versions of Bluetooth. Newer Bluetooth versions, such as Bluetooth 4 and Bluetooth 5, provide faster transmission rates, consumer less power, and are more secure than older versions. A device that looks like a bargain price may use an older Bluetooth version, which can be immediately noticeable with a weaker signal and lower quality audio.

    Display screen

    Higher-end Bluetooth transmitters often boast LCD displays, making control of your device much easier.

    EXPERT TIP

    If you plan to use your Bluetooth transmitter for hands-free calling, look for one with a built-in microphone.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Bluetooth transmitter prices

    • $10 to $25: Basic, handy devices, usually designed for the car. A few in this price range will have built-in microphones and LCD displays, but not all.

    • $25 to $50: More audio connection choices and longer ranges. Many home devices are found in this price range, but some will work in the car. If you need a transmitter that connects to multiple devices, start shopping in this price range.

    • $50 and higher: Devices in this price range tend to focus on either form factor or special features. Many are more compact than lower-end transmitters, with better batteries. Others offer unique features, such as built-in voices that announce the phone number of an incoming call.

    Bluetooth transmitter tips

    • When installing a home-based Bluetooth transmitter, look for a way to provide dedicated power, so you don’t have to move the device to recharge it.

    • Make sure your car Bluetooth transmitter has a passthrough USB port for charging your phone.

    • If you’re having problems getting a strong signal in your home, try moving the device away from other household items with high electrical “noise” levels, like appliances or computer equipment.

    Many car Bluetooth transmitters plug directly into the 12V outlet and “stand” on a flexible gooseneck. Look for one with a physical on/off switch, to prevent draining your car’s battery.

    FAQ

    Q. What is a Bluetooth transmitter?
    A.
    A Bluetooth transmitter is a device that pairs with another Bluetooth-enabled device, then relays an audio signal to some other piece of electronic equipment. For example, a Bluetooth transmitter can receive audio input from your smartphone, then pass it to your car’s stereo via a physical wire or an FM signal. In the home, Bluetooth transmitters are often used to send the audio signal from a television to a pair of Bluetooth headphones or Bluetooth-enabled speaker.

    Q. Can I pair a Bluetooth transmitter to more than one device?
    A.
    Some Bluetooth transmitters will pair to more than one device, but most do not. With single-pair only devices, you simply disconnect from one source and re-pair your Bluetooth transmitter with another.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Alice
      Alice
      Web Producer
    • Jeff
      Jeff
      Editor
    • Katie
      Katie
      Editorial Director
    • Kyle
      Kyle
      Writer
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer

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