Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.


An easy way to play music from your phone over Bluetooth

My current car has an iPhone / iPod adapter built into it, which was really great when I had an iPhone.  Recently, however, I switched to a Samsung Galaxy S III which is Android-based, and not compatible with the iPhone jack.

I'm lucky enough to also have an Aux plug in my car, which means I can play any audio source that uses a 3.5mm stereo plug so that made switching to my Samsung was pretty easy.  For a week or so, I used a patch cord to connect the headphone jack on my Samsung to the Aux input on my car stereo.  

However, there were two problems with that approach:  

  • First, I didn't like having an extra wire get in my way all the time.  
  • Second, I got this "whining" noise along with my music, which happened anytime my phone was plugged into both the USB charger and the Aux input.

I've found good solutions to both of these problems, for a reasonable cost.


Solution 1: Use Bluetooth to play audio from your phone over your car's stereo

I found a device called the "Miccus BluBridge Mini-Jack RX: Bluetooth Music Receiver" which you can pair with your phone, plug into the Aux jack and play your music wirelessly.  It works very well, and I find the sound quality to be very good - I think the fact that Bluetooth is a digital signal contributes to very good quality audio.

The only (minor) inconvenience is that I have to push the button on the BluBridge to turn it on so it connects to my phone when I get in the car.  Aside from that, I'm very happy with this device.

You can use this device with anything that has a 3.5mm stereo input jack, not just in the car.  It comes with a number of cables to allow you to connect it to things like the RCA plugs on the back of your home stereo, too.  That means you can pipe your phone's music into external speakers, the input on a home stereo, etc.  It has rechargeable batteries that last about 8 hours in continuous use.  

In my case, I leave it in the car so I plug it into my car to keep it charging anytime the car is running (I have a USB charging adapter that plugs into the 12v adapter in my car - the jack that we used to call the cigarette lighter in the olde days).

Oh - and by the way (on my car, at least) I can still take calls over the Bluetooth handsfree gizmo built into my car, since Bluetooth only classifies the BluBridge as a "Media Device" so the phone still sends phone calls to my car.  When the call comes in, the music pauses, then starts up again when the call hangs up.

Solution 2: Stop the whining noise when your phone is plugged into the charger

416ZLyfET8L SL500 AA300Initially, when I had my phone connected to the Aux jack with wires, I got whining over the speakers any time my phone was plugged into the charger.  Apparently, this is engine / alternator noise that bleeds through.

When I switched to the BluBridge it didn't matter if my phone was plugged in, but I still got that same whining anytime the BluBridge was plugged into the cigarette lighter to charge.

For both of these cases, the solution to getting rid of the whine is pretty easy - I bought a device called a "PAC Ground Loop Isolator for 3.5 MM Applications," which is an inline noise filter.  You plug your audio source into one end of this device, then connect the other end into your Aux jack and the whining noise magically disappears.  OK, so it's science, not magic, but the sound is still gone.

If you have either or both of these challenges in your car audio life, I recommend these solutions - I'm very pleased with them.  Now I can listen to my music, or catch up on podcasts during my drive time.

Oh - the phone? I love the Samsung Galaxy S III, as well.  The iPhone was great, but I found the screen to be too small for me (I have large hands) and I like the big, bright AMOLED screen.  It's also fun to tinker with Android.