Low-cost Solution for Bluetooth Audio
I love my car. Having the top down on a sunny day driving between jobs makes it feel like a mini-vacation every time I move from one job to the next. That is, as long as I have music. My music. Many times this is served up well by 92.3 WTTS Over Easy, but other times I just want the playlist of music I’ve bought after identifying the latest gotta-have-it convertible song of the season using Shazam. This is where I hit a stumbling block. While my new-to-me 2007 Volkswagen EOS hardtop convertible is an upgrade to my 2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse, I had two issues with it. 1) It’s not red 2)There is no Bluetooth capability on the factory car stereo. Number one was an easy fix: Dream Street Graphics got it dressed up to hide the charcoal gray that lurks underneath. While I didn’t go with red, I picked a nice bright color complete with company logo (what color that nice, bright color actually is, is arguable, however). That still left problem number two.
I need my music for these mini driving vacations to be complete. Fortunately, the factory stereo does have a hidden auxiliary port in the glove box (of course now in 2016 I’m having a hard time remembering what purpose it would serve to have an auxiliary port in such an obscure place, but I’m not one to look a gift aux port in the mouth). My first approach to tackling this problem was to look into pulling the factory stereo to replace it with an aftermarket stereo that has Bluetooth capability and easily accessible aux ports, and heck, maybe even a USB port for charging. These models, like this Pioneer, certainly do exist and did then too. When it came down looking for professional installation, it was much more expensive than I expected not just because it is a difficult installation, but in addition to the stereo, it would need a specific wiring harness, which I expected, and a workaround to the factory amplifier, which I did not expect. This expense, along with my husband’s dismay that I wanted to take out the factory stereo, to begin with, made me regroup and look for another solution. I plugged in a 6’ stereo cable and used that to play music from my iPhone while I looked for another solution. When I first started looking, there were Bluetooth adapters that could be plugged into the auxiliary port, but they had poor reviews. Among the limitations were a rechargeable battery that didn’t last long and a short cord running to the auxiliary port, and while the latter could be overcome with a stereo extension cord, the reviews just weren’t where they needed to be to warrant the hassle. I continued to check for new items on the market and a few months ago hit the jackpot!
While looking for a decent FM modulator for my poor husband’s company car that doesn’t even have an auxiliary port to work with, I ran across a $35 Bluetooth adapter that I could connect to my aux port and it had excellent reviews. I’ve been using the Kinivo Bluetooth Hand-Free Car Kit with Aux Input for about 3 months now and it fits my needs perfectly. While I wanted this primarily to input my music into the car stereo, it has the added bonus of a hands-free mic that can be mounted for phone calls as well. I chose not to mount the microphone portion of the unit, but keep it loose in the car so when I do need to use it and the top is down I can pick it up and hold it closer to my mouth to overcome the wind noise. The way I figure it, this means I have $765 to spend on other fun technology since this $800 problem was solved with a $35 gadget. I guess I should start with the FM modulator project for my husband again since my pick on that one ended up being a dud.