The 10 Best Bluetooth Transmitters
This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in June of 2015. There's no need to discard that perfectly good old stereo system just because it doesn't offer today's connectivity options. These reliable Bluetooth transmitters and receivers can breathe modern technological life into older devices, turning most 3.5-mm and RCA connections into miniature wireless hubs. They are also available in models for use with MP3 players and car stereos. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
November 23, 2020:
Depending on what you're trying to do with it, there's almost certainly a Bluetooth transmitter that's right for your needs. The Avantree Oasis Plus and Mpow BH259A are both geared toward home theater use thanks to aptX Low Latency support, and they both also offer the HD version of the codec, which can make a noticeable difference especially when listening to music. Speaking of quality music listening, you'd be hard-pressed to top the FiiO BTA30, which has a powerful DAC and DSP inside it that make it a good choice if you'll also be using it with a wired connection. For what it's worth, all three of these are also capable of receiving a signal. The Avantree Orbit is a slightly different beast from the rest, with a backlit LCD, in-depth controls, and out-of-the-box compatibility with Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Then there are FM transmitters designed for use in cars. The VicTsing BH347A is about as affordable and low-profile as they come, and the VicTsing BH346A offers a viosualizer, equalizer, and song information panel. The TecBoss TB27 is interesting because its cable tether lets you affix it within your field of view, which can encourage safety while driving.
Finally, we included some specialty options such as the HomeSpot NS001, meant for the Nintendo Switch, the Shanling Q1, a technically advanced MP3 player, and the Avantree DG45, a Bluetooth 5.0 USB dongle designed to bring low-latency streaming to a PC.
November 13, 2019:
There's a lot you can do with the right wireless transmitter. The Avantree Oasis Plus, Avantree Priva III, and Avantree Audikast Plus offer varying ranges of features for providing good- to high-quality audio for up to 2 listeners at once. They all utilize the AptX Low Latency codec but they don't all have high-fidelity AptX HD support; of course, your headphones or speakers will need support for the appropriate standards if you want to take advantage of them at all. The TaoTronics BA014 is another that supports better-than-CD-quality Bluetooth transmission. If none of these transmitters get the job done for your home theater, check out our rundown of Bluetooth receivers, many of which share similar characteristics and can be paired up to provide a great entertainment experience.
Another type of transmitter actually receives a Bluetooth signal and repeats it over the FM band, adding modern functionality to cars and trucks that are decades old or older. The VicTsing BH346A is the most versatile of these as it's able to read TF cards and USB drives in addition to listening for transmissions from a smartphone. It even has a graphic equalizer and color screen that displays track information. The VicTsing BH347A is a simpler and more compact version, and they both support Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 so you won't have to worry about your phone running out of juice in the field. The TecTri BC30 isn't quite as advanced, but thanks to its integrated extension cable, it may actually be considerably safer.
Finally, we included the Shanling M0 and Shanling M2X because, while they are quite expensive, they provide high-resolution media playback in various formats, and they're among the few devices that can transmit using Sony's high-end LDAC codec. Do be aware, however, that as versatile as they are, their AptX HD support was recently removed in a firmware update, unfortunately. But if you have a high-end pair of wireless headphones that does support LDAC transmission and you want to use something besides a recent Android smartphone to drive them, they are definitely worth a look.
What Is Bluetooth?
You might not even be able to walk upstairs in a large home and still use it.
Bluetooth is a form of wireless transmission that is commonly used to allow communication between electronic devices. It is a popular form of transmission for headphones, computers, and cell phones that eliminates the need for numerous cords and wires.
You may be surprised to learn that Bluetooth signals actually traverse a pretty familiar band of radio frequencies, the same ones used by cordless phones and Wi-Fi systems. While that normally might result in a lot of interference, the engineers behind Bluetooth tech employ a rapid frequency hopping mechanism that allows data to stream continuously, even as the signal hops around from one neighboring frequency to the next, all but eliminating the possibility of significant interference.
A Bluetooth transmitter bridges the gap between devices when one is not Bluetooth-enabled, and allows them to connect to one another with ease. It generally pairs to appropriate devices within seconds, quickly converting older technologies with Bluetooth connectivity.
The right Bluetooth transmitter will work well in your home and allow you to enjoy your media (namely your music and other audio files) your way. These devices are generally short range, however. This means you can't walk to your neighbor's house and still use it. You might not even be able to walk upstairs in a large home and still use it. The range on most common Bluetooth transmitters is 30 feet, so it's best to set everything up in or around the room in which you plan to use it.
Which Bluetooth Transmitter Is Right For You?
Now that you have a sense of what Bluetooth is and how it works, you might be wondering how to choose from among a sea of available transmitters on the market. The fastest way to narrow down that extensive field is to ask yourself where you intend to use your transmitter, and with what device or devices. For example, if you've got an old MP3 player you want to take out on runs with you, but you prefer the freedom of wireless Bluetooth headphones, you might need to plug in a transmitter to complete the package. For that kind of application, you don't need to worry much about how a given transmitter will perform at the outskirts of its range — it'll rarely be more than a few feet from your head. You would want to look for something as small as possible, however, and maybe invest in a running belt while you're at it, just to make your life easier.
If not, you can invest in a model that lets you plug it into the wall for consistent use with a Bluetooth speaker system or a pair of headphones.
Most people investing in these kinds of transmitters are using them with older televisions that don't have Bluetooth capabilities, as TVs are one of the few pieces of tech today that still hold up for a long while, and there are plenty of consumers still clinging to their 1080 HD units from nearly a decade ago. For consumers in this market, it's important to know whether you ever intend to use your transmitter elsewhere, as well. If not, you can invest in a model that lets you plug it into the wall for consistent use with a Bluetooth speaker system or a pair of headphones. If you do plan on using it in various locations in addition to your entertainment center, look for a rechargeable model that won't be tethered to the wall.
If you fancy yourself an audiophile, and you want to get the most pristine performance out of your Bluetooth transmitter as possible, look for a unit with an optical connection. These cords, though more fragile than traditional 3.5mm connections, can carry full surround sound mixes from your TV to a Bluetooth-enabled stereo receiver, where the mix can easily be split up and sent to the appropriate speakers. This type of transmitter also often has the 3.5mm jack, as well, making it a good choice for setups that require multiple connections.
Fortunately, this is a category in which products are fairly inexpensive compared to the devices you're using them to connect, so you should feel free to grab one and see how it works for you. If you wind up with more than one in the process, you'll have that much more connectivity at your fingertips.
A Brief History Of The Bluetooth Transmitter
Bluetooth technology was invented by a group of scientists who worked for Ericsson Mobile in 1989. Dr. Nils Rydbeck gave the green light for the development, and Johan Ullman is credited for the invention along with several other scientists: Tord Wingren, Jaap Haartsen, and Sven Mattisson.
The goal of Bluetooth is to unite many pieces of technology to be used seamlessly together without being hindered by cords.
The word "Bluetooth" is derived from a 10th-century king known as Harald "Blatand" Gormsson. He was responsible for uniting many Danish tribes and introducing Christianity to the region, and he was given the nickname "Bluetooth".
There are many theories as to why Harald was called "Bluetooth." Some say it was because he dressed in all blue. Others speculate that he may have had a bad tooth that appeared to be blue. Still others believe that the nickname is a derivative of words that translate to "dark chieftain."
Regardless, it was this unity he facilitated that inspired the creators of Bluetooth technology to use his name. The goal of Bluetooth is to unite many pieces of technology to be used seamlessly together without being hindered by cords.
In 1997, Intel signed on with the inventing scientists to market this technology, and it launched as public technology is May of 1998. It was slow to catch on, but once people learned the differences between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, it became a desirable feature that is now installed on nearly every newly produced electronic device.