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Wireless technology like Bluetooth has all but eliminated the need for cords when it comes to listening to music in your vehicle. Almost all modern cars and trucks come with stereo systems that can hook up to almost any smart device to play or stream music. For older vehicles, however, it's a little different. Since many used vehicles were around before Bluetooth was a thing, they may lack a way to connect to a smart device, wireless or otherwise. This is where an FM transmitter is a useful purchase. If you find yourself wanting to listen to your favorite streaming playlists in your 1994 Mazda Miata, a Bluetooth FM transmitter will let you do just that and possibly more. Take a look at our handy guide to see what you need to know about today's top transmitter choices.
Guanda Bluetooth FM Transmitter
- Large screen
- Stable connection to DC adapter
- Enables hands free calls and music control
- Takes up quite a bit of space
- Can encumber access to shift controls
- Better with DC adapters placed higher on the dash
Raxfly Bluetooth FM Transmitter
- Equipped with two charging stations
- Multiple playback settings
- Over-voltage and surge protection
- USB ports prone to wear and tear
- Controls are fairly small and can be tricky to push
- Easy to scratch the surface
Imden Bluetooth FM Transmitter
- Compatible with any Bluetooth system
- Pairs easily and efficiently
- Includes overcurrent protection and thermal controls
- Doesn’t enable hands-free functions without a pairing kit
- Version three Bluetooth is good, but other picks have version five
- Best Overall: Guanda Bluetooth FM Transmitter
- Best Value: Raxfly Bluetooth FM Transmitter
- Honorable Mention: Imden Bluetooth FM Transmitter
- Most Versatile: Nulaxy Bluetooth FM Transmitter
- Honorable Mention: Sumind Bluetooth FM Transmitter
- Honorable Mention: Lencent Bluetooth FM Transmitter
- Honorable Mention: GoGroove Bluetooth FM Transmitter
- Honorable Mention: Arsvita Bluetooth 5.0 Cassette Bluetooth FM Transmitter
We can’t put our own hands on every item available. In these instances, we put our collective experience in journalism, research, and prior product testing to use to make our product picks. Items that are used by our own staff may get earnest endorsements as well, but we’ll never accept fees or bonuses to sell you stuff we’re not actually excited about. Affiliate revenue is always disclosed.
The Drive aggregates reviews and research from all over the internet to figure out which products are worth buying. We also put out shopping guides to help you understand how to assess the value of these things on your own. Knowledge is horsepower!
Best Bluetooth FM Transmitters Reviews & Recommendations
Stable connection to DC adapter
Enables hands free calls and music control
Takes up quite a bit of space
Can incumber access to shift controls
Better with DC adapters placed high on the dash
Equipped with two charging stations
Multiple playback settings
Over-voltage and surge protection
USB ports prone to wear and tear
Controls are fairly small and can be tricky to push
Easy to scratch the surface
Compatible with any Bluetooth system
Pairs easily and efficiently
Includes overcurrent protection and thermal controls
Doesn't enable hands-free function without a pairing kit
Version three Bluetooth is good, but other picks have version five
Good build quality
Good sound quality
Sturdy positioning for bumpy roads
Lack of set channels
Hard to adjust positioning
Large, easy-to-read screen
Good selection of buttons
Easy and versatile adjustability for any angle inside the car
Can drain the car's battery
Large expanse of FM channels and little interference
Can be difficult to pair with Bluetooth
Utilizes Bluetooth 2.1, so it connects calls and music at the same time
Simple, easy-to-figure-out interface
Only one USB port
Takes a long time to power on and pair with a device
Fast Bluetooth pairing
Excellent battery life that's recharged via USB port
Good audi quality
Could be easy to lose due to not connecting to a 12V outlet
Occasionally transmits tape deck noise inbetween songs
Our Verdict on the Best Bluetooth FM Transmitters
Now that you know the finer points of picking out the best Bluetooth FM transmitters, it’s time to make your pick. For quality and performance, the Guanda Bluetooth FM Transmitter is a terrific pick overall. Working on a budget? Consider the value of the Raxfly Bluetooth FM Transmitter for its balance of utility and affordability.
Arguably, this is the very thing that makes an FM transmitter wireless. Bluetooth connectivity allows the device to connect to a smartphone without any cords. Be aware, however, there are a few FM transmitters that lack the Bluetooth addition, instead of relying on just a simple audio cable to connect the transmitter to the device.
If you want to charge devices on the go through a 12-volt outlet, built-in USB ports are a must. Large transmitters typically have one or two ports included in the body. Keep in mind that the type of USB ports included is important. Modern USB 3.0 and above ports are better for quick-charging the latest smart devices you may have.
Modern audio systems do more than just play music; they also display helpful information about the music. For example, you can find the title, writer, and/or singer of the song from the display alone. Some FM transmitters can show this info on a built-in LCD or LED display. Others can also pipe this information onto the stereo display if it has the capability of reading/conveying this information. This capability will depend on the device itself since some Android phones and iPhones vary in compatibility.
Bluetooth FM Transmitter Pricing
Don't spend over $20. If you are, you're getting ripped off.
You've got questions. The Drive has answers.
Q. How do FM transmitters work?
An FM transmitter acts like a basic radio transmitter, similar to high-powered versions radio stations use. It sends a signal to a specific frequency. On the other end, it connects wirelessly to a smart device so data is transferred without the need for a cord.
Q. What kinds of devices can connect to an FM transmitter?
Anything with an audio source and Bluetooth connectivity should work. Beyond smart devices, modern music players are typically compatible. Higher-end transmitters can also use expandable memory like SD cards so you can play music from the device itself.
Q. Will an FM transmitter drain the car's battery?
This depends on the car itself. If the vehicle has an auto shut-off feature whenever the car is off, the battery should be just fine. If it lacks this feature, you may find the battery to be drained if the FM transmitter and stereo are left on overnight or while you are out.
Q. How is the sound quality with an FM transmitter?
No matter how good our car stereo is or how fancy your FM transmitter is, you'll always lose some signal clarity and, therefore, audio integrity when using Bluetooth. It's simply the nature of Bluetooth. A noise-canceling receiver will help. Remember: When it comes to electronics, you (almost always) get what you pay for.
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