Note: The above system is the Nissan Connect SD Card navigation system featuring Bluetooth Audio Streaming. The system supplier is Blaupunkt (Source: Bosch)
Just a few years ago, there were only a handful of ways to listen to music in the car: radio, cassette, CD. But now car owners can choose from tunes on MP3 players, an in-dash hard drives, portable USB drives and SD cards. Now more automakers are increasingly adding yet another music format to vehicles: Bluetooth audio.
By now most people are familiar with Bluetooth for hands-free phoning while driving. Bluetooth audio works in much the same way. But instead of sending voice data, Bluetooth audio wirelessly transmit music from a compatible phone to a car equipped with the feature. All the user has to do is pair the phone with the car normally, and if both the phone and car have Bluetooth audio, users can stream music without having to connect any cables or cords.
Some MP3 player also have Bluetooth audio built in, although many, including most iPods, do not. But the feature can be easily added using an aftermarket Bluetooth audio transmitter that attaches to the 30-pin connector of an iPod.
Besides the benefit of not having to carry cables to transfer music from the phone to a car’s stereo, Bluetooth audio also allows users to carry only one device into the car instead of two. The feature also takes advantage of the Internet connectivity of most smartphones to allow streaming of Web radio services like Pandora to a compatible car stereo.
The one major downside is sound quality. Bluetooth wasn’t originally designed to transmit the type of data required for high-quality audio. Consequently, Bluetooth audio only sounds as good as FM radio.
Still, it’s a convenient way to listen to and manage music in the car. And as more manufacturers add the feature and more car owners begin to use and possibly demand it, the technology could become Bluetooth’s second successful act in automotive.