I wanted to listen to music and podcasts in the car from my smart phone. My car unfortunately didn’t have the required A2DP Bluetooth capability, only the standard hands-free phone Bluetooth connection. The car did however have a 1/8″ line-in jack. A cable is always less convenient, but does provide the best possible audio connection of course.
The other issue that can occur in some cars with some smart phones is ground loop hum, hiss and whistle when a power cord and line-in cable are both plugged in at the same time to a car audio device. Sometimes a ground loop isolator will solve the problem, and sometimes it will not. Either way, you still have an audio cable to plug into your phone.
My first attempt at using a Bluetooth media connection to my line-in port, was with a Belkin F8Z492TTP Bluetooth Music Receiver. Easy to set up, and very small. It’s powered by 5 volts DC, but does not come with a 12 volt car adapter, or a USB cable. So I had to fashion my own custom USB to tiny round jack cable, to power this item in my car. But the audio quality results of the Belkin were poor. General audio quality was poor, and worst of all, vocals had very noticeable and annoying echo. Music sounds okay, not great, and the echo wasn’t obvious with music. But vocal podcasts sounded like the speakers were in a barrel.
I next tried the Rocketfish Bluetooth Music Receiver (RF-BTR212). I had the same issues with powering the device, no included 12 volt adapters or USB cables. Just like the Belkin, it used a two wire round plug. It also was powered by 5 volt DC, so why these companies don’t use a standard micro or mini USB plug for power it is strange and annoying in this day and age. So I fashioned another custom USB to round plug adapter cable to power it. Most of us are used to using 12 volt adapters with USB ports in our cars these days. And some have 2 USB ports, which is ideal to charge a phone and then power a second device like a Bluetooth media receiver.
The audio quality of the Rocketfish is night and day from the Belkin! Far superior audio quality, excellent music clarity, and no echo on vocals in podcasts. The device is about 4 times the size of the Belkin, but still reasonably small. If using it indoors with a stereo, it also has an optical out connection, which is a nice option.
Reviews often mention that the Rocketfish does not have the range that is claimed. It claimed to have a radio distance of 33 feet. Many other reviewers say they only get 6 to 8 feet. In my case I only need 2 to 3 feet. So I’m good. I didn’t test the range of mine.
I would definitely recommend this item for streaming audio from a portable unit like a smart phone, indoors or like me in the car.