If you want to be able to jam out to your tunes and make calls over your car’s speakers without completely replacing the head unit on your older car, your options for adding modern connectivity are limited to two options: FM transmitters, or a bluetooth car kit.
We get a lot of questions from people asking about the difference between the two, s here’s a comparison between an FM transmitter and an integrated bluetooth adapter.
|Comparison||FM Transmitter||Integrated Bluetooth Car Kit|
|How it connects||FM frequency transmission||Directly to head unit via CD Changer port|
|Power source||Typically uses cigarette lighter||Powered by head unit|
|Music controls||No – via device only||Yes – via stereo/steering wheel track controls|
|Handsfree phone controls||No – via device only||Yes – via stereo/steering wheel track controls|
|Audio quality||Affected by transmission strength and congestion||High quality as connected directly into head unit|
|Call quality||Typically low as no external mic||High due to external mounted mic|
|Usability||Have to tune a FM station to connect||Access via DISC/CD button on stereo|
How They Work
FM transmitter: An FM transmitter connects over FM frequency to your stereo, meaning you need to tune your stereo to a particular channel to “pair” with the device (and your phone). Majority of FM transmitters (unlike the Compact BT) are powered by plugging directly into your cigarette lighter.
Integrated bluetooth kit: An integrated bluetooth car kit connects directly to the stereo head unit via the CD Changer port, giving a wired connected into your car speakers. They can be mounted behind the dash, out of sight.
FM transmitter: No integration is offered via an FM transmitter. You must control your phone/device manually. Note: this is illegal when driving in all states of Australia.
Integrated bluetooth kit: A bluetooth car kit offers full integration, allowing you to control music (and take calls) via buttons on your stereo / steering wheel.
FM transmitter: Because a transmitter relies on FM signals to transmit sound, the audio quality will be lower than that of bluetooth. Users also should be aware that they will be up against FM congestion in Australia, which will further affect the quality of the sound.
Integrated bluetooth kit: Offers a much higher quality audio due to it’s direct connection into the stereo head unit.
FM transmitter: These are the common solutions people turn to because they’re readily available and can be cheaper, but users are often left disappointed with the quality of them. They are universally compatible however, so if you’re going down this route be sure to pick a high quality product like the Car Dock 2 or Compact BT.
Integrated bluetooth kit: If your car is compatible with an integrated kit, it’s definitely worth the extra effort to install them. The quality is superior, and so is the ease of use with integrated controls. Check if your car is compatible.