window.ga('send', 'event', 'Optimizely', 'BRS-1816', 'Variation1', {'nonInteraction': 1});




Best Bluetooth Car Kits of 2017 Part of Top Ten
Mobile

User

Jeph Preece
Editor: Mobile & Car Tech

A Bluetooth car kit doesn’t require any complicated installation – you either clip it to your visor, dash or an air vent. We tested each style to find the best solution for your car. For noise reduction and echo cancelation, the best solution is the Jabra Freeway which uses a Noise Blackout system, one of the most effective noise reduction systems available. It combines two microphones and an internal digital signal processor. The two microphones are positioned to isolate the frequencies of your voice from those that comprise the background noises.

Image

Image Best Overall

Jabra Freeway

View On Amazon Arrow

One of the Jabra Freeway’s defining characteristics is its three 7-watt speakers. Most visor-style Bluetooth speakerphones only have one speaker, which means they are easily drowned out on the freeway.

Best Value

SoundBot SB360

The SoundBot SB360 is the best AUX-in Bluetooth car kit for streaming music. It’s very affordable and does its job – just don’t expect high-quality hands-free calling.

View On Amazon Arrow
Image

Best FM Transmitter

Nulaxy KM18

This Bluetooth car kit is mounted on a car charger that has an adjustable arm, and it has a USB port, which allows you to charge your smartphone.

View On Amazon Arrow
Image

OUR TEST RESULTS



Products   Arrow Price Overall Rating Call Quality Streaming Music Amazon Rating Product Type Speaker Volume Time to Pair Warranty Size (Inches)
Jabra Freeway
Best Overall
$96 @ Amazon Curve Arrow 10 10 10 3.5/5 Built-in Speaker 96.74 dB 32 seconds 1 Year 1.9 x 4.6 x 7
Jabra Tour
Worth Considering
$53 @ Amazon Curve Arrow 9.5 8 6 4/5 Built-in Speaker 90.46 dB 33 seconds 1 Year 7.2 x 3.5 x 1.7
Motorola Roadster 2 $39 @ Amazon Curve Arrow 8.5 6 6 3.5/5 Built-in Speaker 85.45 dB 57 seconds 1 Year 7 x 3 x 5
Soundbot SB360
Best value
$20 @ Amazon Curve Arrow 8 4 10 4.5/5 Aux-in Only - 1 min 2 seconds 1 Year 1.54 x 1.54 x 0.51
Supertooth Crystal $46 @ Amazon Curve Arrow 7.5 6 2 4/5 Built-in Speaker 83.2 dB 1 min 12 seconds 2 Years (w/ registration) 8 x 3.6 x 1.1
iClever Himbox $23 @ Amazon Curve Arrow 7 4 10 4/5 Aux-in Only - 30 seconds 1 Year 1 x 1 x 1
Nulaxy KM18
Best FM Transmitter
$19 @ Amazon Curve Arrow 6.5 2 6 4.5/5 Aux-in Only - 22 seconds 1.5 Years (w/ registration) 4.9 x 6.4 x 2.1
GoGROOVE Flexmart H5 $50 @ Amazon Curve Arrow 6 2 4 3.5/5 FM Transmitter - 12 seconds 3 Years 3.5 x 3.1 x 11



Ad



 

Best Overall

Jabra Freeway 9.0 /10

The Jabra Freeway may be the biggest visor-style Bluetooth car kit on the market, but the built-in speakers are the real deal. Not only were they the loudest speakers in our tests, but the Freeway’s call quality was also the clear winner on both ends of the line. It features a dedicated mute button and clearly marked controls. It even has an excellent FM transmitter feature that allows you to listen to music from your smartphone over your car’s audio system. If hands-free calling is your main priority, then the Freeway is your best choice.

We took the Jabra Freeway on a drive to test the call quality on both ends of the conversation. Not only is it important that you hear the caller’s voice clearly, but the caller also needs to be able to hear you. We tested the kit while in park, driving through the city and driving on the highway – each of these environments has a different level of ambient noise because of speed and road conditions. In each environment, the Freeway received the highest quality marks on both ends of the call.

The Freeway attaches to your car’s sun visor, which puts the speakers close to your head. While it may seem like you’d be able to hear your caller’s voice better through your car speakers, which have a much higher output than any Bluetooth car kit, the opposite is actually the case. With the caller’s voice isolated to small speakers near your head, it comes through much clearer. For much the same reason, the microphone picks your voice up much better than kits that are installed on the dash.

Pros
  • Icon Best built-in speakers
  • Icon Call clarity
  • Icon Noise reduction
Cons
  • Icon Very large and cumbersome
  • Icon Not easy to remove or relocate
  • Icon Covers your mirror
Read full review  Icon       $96 @ AMAZON Arrow      
107 others choose this product


Best Value

SoundBot SB3607.5 /10

The SoundBot SB360 is the best option for drivers who are looking for a way to stream music from their smartphones. This Bluetooth car kit has a very simple but effective design. It uses an AUX cord to connect to your car stereo, which allows you to play music and make hands-free calls over your speakers. At around $20, it’s also one of the most affordable ways to incorporate Bluetooth into your driving. Just don’t expect high-quality phone calls.

The SB360 isn’t designed for hands-free calling, though you can certainly make calls with it. It’s primarily used to stream music from your smartphone to your car stereo. That said, it doesn’t stream music any better or worse than other AUX-in kits. Since Bluetooth is proprietary technology and the AUX signal from the device is analog, audio quality is essentially the same for every AUX-in Bluetooth car kit on the market. Still, it is among the most affordable AUX-in kits, so you can stream Pandora or Spotify for much cheaper than with similar devices without a difference in quality.

While it’s not ideal, you can make phone calls with this type of car kit. Since the audio is processed through an analog signal and played through your car speakers, the caller’s voice is amplified more than with Bluetooth car kits that have built-in speakers and clip to your visor. While it’s easy to assume that this makes calls better, it doesn’t.

Pros
  • Icon Very affordable
  • Icon Easy to install
  • Icon Good for streaming music
Cons
  • Icon Not designed for hands-free calling
  • Icon Loud feedback from car speakers
  • Icon No batteries
Read full review Icon       $20 @ AMAZON Arrow      
47 others choose this product


Best FM Transmitter

Nulaxy KM186.5 /10

The Nulaxy KM18 is the best Bluetooth FM transmitter in our review and one of the most affordable Bluetooth car kits available. Its call quality doesn’t compare to higher-end kits, and FM transmission doesn’t sound as good as an AUX connection, but the KM18 performed better than the other FM transmitters in our tests. It paired to our phone quickly and has an easy-to-read display that makes finding the best FM station easy. It also has an AUX port, which means you can forgo FM transmission for a direct signal to your car stereo, which is the preferred method.

The biggest issue with FM transmitters is that radio is not the best way to listen to audio. Radio signals have a high signal-to-noise ratio, and you can hear static that may worsen depending on a number of environmental factors. We tested FM transmission quality by streaming music and making hands-free calls, and the Nulaxy KM18 received the highest marks. That said, the transmission quality wasn’t great – it simply had less static and buzzing than other FM transmitters we tested. Even so, if you turn the volume up loud enough, you won’t notice the transmission noise, so it’s still a good option for streaming music.

Pros
  • Icon AUX port
  • Icon Easy to read display
  • Icon Allows you to charge your phone
Cons
  • Icon Static and buzzing
  • Icon Poor call quality
  • Icon Awkward to install
Read full review Icon       $19 @ AMAZON Arrow      
39 others choose this product


How we tested

We evaluated how easy each Bluetooth car kit is to use, regardless of style. We looked at how easy the controls were to find and use and rated how simple it was to pair each product with our smartphone. While every product was easy to pair, some took much longer to be noticed by our smartphone.

In addition, we tested each Bluetooth kit’s call quality by making many calls in three different scenarios – parked but idling, city driving and freeway driving. Each situation has a different level of ambient noise that can interfere with the call quality. We rated both the driver’s side and the receiver’s side of the call.

We also measured the volume of each visor Bluetooth car kit’s built-in speakers. Without the aid of your car’s many large speakers, your caller’s voice is projected entirely through the device’s small ones. Some car kit speakers aren’t loud enough to take calls on noisy roads. The Jabra Freeway has two built-in speakers that produce volumes loud enough to hear over the roar of the freeway, while the sound from some other visor kits gets drowned out.

For FM transmitter kits, we measured radio transmission quality. During testing, we found it very difficult to escape the persistent buzz of an FM transmission, though this is most common when you choose an empty frequency that is too close to an actual radio station’s. Finding a frequency with very little buzz can be time consuming and depends largely on where you are driving, as it can increase as you get closer to stations.

User IMG
I'm a car enthusiastic who also spends a lot of time travelling for extended periods of time in the car on work trips and have been using bluetooth headsets since they came out eight years ago."

- Jeph Preece, Editor: Mobile & Car Tech


When to consider replacing your car stereo

Bluetooth has been a common feature of car stereos for years. In fact, it’s so common that even the most affordable car stereos have it. Still, while some cars have Bluetooth for streaming music from your favorite apps, many don’t come with built-in microphones for hands-free calling. If hands-free calling is your priority, car stereos with microphones usually start at around $150, which is much more than even the most expensive Bluetooth car kits.

Certainly, swapping out your car stereo with a Bluetooth compatible one is the better option if you can afford it. Many car stereos even come with external microphones you can clip to your visor or dash.


Image


Cost of installation

Sure, you can get a car stereo for $50, but can you install it correctly? Removing a stereo can be a difficult and delicate process, depending on the car it’s installed in. You also need to ensure that the wires to your speakers are connected correctly and that the stereo has sufficient power to match them.

Professional installation is often included in the price when you purchase a stereo from a brick-and-mortar car audio store. But when you purchase one online, you have to take it to a local car audio store for installation, and that can cost much more than the stereo itself.