Connecting audio to a pre-Bluetooth vehicle

Maybe it’s a silly question but how would you guys connect music on your smartphone to an older model car? I have an RCA jack in the car and I’m open to wired or wireless options.

I’ve been using $20 Bluetooth-to-3.5mm adapters from random Chinese makers like COMSOON (consume?), but they’re somewhat frustrating. I saw that Anker makes one, but it surprisingly has poor reviews. I am no audiophiliac but I feel like there’s got to be a superior option people are using in vehicles that predate Bluetooth and smart displays.

IDK if you are an Apple or Android user but you could give this a try:

[Official] AppleDAC - Need a DAC and you’re not sure what to buy? Buy this! ($8.00)

Oh thanks! Ijust got a Pixel 5a so I actually have a headphone jack on my phone after all these years without one, lol. Gonna grab a couple of these anyway.

What I notice in connecting directly to the phone via 3.5mm output is that the audio is much quieter than using the Bluetooth adapter, which must be providing a little amplification.

This provides LDAC and reliable bluetooth connection. I’d recommend this one if you have a USB port close to your aux jack.

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Got the Tunai firefy. It sounds great. Thanks!

Audio quality is noticeably better. I hooked it into a ground loop isolator, and from there an aux to RCA adapter cord.

And I like that it’s battery-free… Having it turn on and off with the vehicle means it auto connects and disconnects to my phone. My old Bluetooth adapter had an 8 hr battery (!) which means two things, half the time it won’t auto connect if it’s already on, and the other half of the time it’ll auto connect while I’m in the basement of my house and suddenly my phone call would be routed to my (turned off) car stereo in the garage.

Thanks again

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I use this in my car. Plugs into the 3.5mm jack for audio and is powered by a microUSB that is directly wired to the fuse box (it all sits in the glovebox). Excellent sound and connectivity.

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Fun component if you’re into electronics or DIY. Could be super fun for a project car

Anyone have recommendations of Bluetooth audio dongles that connect solely via USB? I’ve seen a couple but they look like chinesium and for some stupid reason have a microphone port on them.

What do you mean?

My 2014 Honda Insight supports audio over USB. There are adapters that claim to support this.

Generally, I recommend the firefly to most people. It’s just about the highest quality solution you can get.
It will only use your USB for power, and the other end plugs into the AUX port.

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These adapters routinely have a mic so you can use them for phone calls. There’s probably dedicated units that don’t, including the Firefly here, so I imagine there’s an audio over USB unit without a mic.

And all small electronics are Chinesium, we can thank our parents for voting to ensure that. Units with good reviews will generally perform well, though.

I was just thinking about this the other day. I have an older company car that only has a aux input. I think I’m going to opt for the Bluetooth 5.0 Audio Receiver Board found on amazon…looks to be the same as what someone above had linked from DFRobot.

I think we may be selling this car soon while the market for used is up so I’m not going to get too crazy.

A couple weeks in and I still recommend the Firefly LDAC. Nice full sound and seamless to use.

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The Tunai Firefly has a ground loop isolator built in. This was one of the first things I noticed when my old BT adapter battery died. No more weird noises when idle.

I bought a new car with CarPlay since then but still recommend the Tunai for anyone with an aux port.

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I bet it still sounds better than bluetooth even on vehicles with it. Shame there’s no way to use it with carplay, though.