Best Bluetooth FM Transmitter for Car? | Joyroom CL17 Bluetooth 5.3 FM Transmitter Review

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In this video, I check out the Joyroom CL17 Bluetooth 5.3 FM Transmitter to find if it is the Best Bluetooth FM transmitter for my Car. You can buy this gadget for $19.83 from Amazon US 👉🏻 https://amzn.to/3BruQul, for €21.99 from Amazon DE 👉🏻 https://amzn.to/3qvWKzb.

When you own a vehicle with a stereo that doesn’t have Apple CarPlay or Bluetooth audio streaming, it’s gadgets like this that enable you the ability to transmit music and media from an iPhone, an Android or a connected USB drive to your car stereo over wireless FM transmission or a wired AUX cable input.

In the box you get a paper instruction manual, there is the FM transmitter itself, and there is a long 80cm AUX cable.

This FM transmitter uses the typical form factor that we regularly see available. It has a car socket stem that inserts into your 12v socket to power it, and on top, there is a wealth of ports, lights, dials and other gizmos that you can use to power devices, navigate and operate your Bluetooth-connected device directly from the transmitter to playing back alternative media from a connected USB stick.

Features

At the top we have a dual microphone array, there is a large multi-function LED display below that can show things like the current FM frequency it is transmitting over, your car’s battery voltage, BT connection status and if its extra bass mode has been enabled. Below the display, on the right side, are three USB ports, one USB-C with up to 30W of charging. Next is a USB-A port that supports Quick Charge 3.0 and up to 18W of charging. And finally, there is a USB-A port for playing back media files from a USB drive.

Beside these ports is a Bass boost button to enhance low-end bass frequencies in the transmitted audio, and under this is a tiny multifunctional dial that you can use to alter transmission volume to your stereo, and it can also be pressed to accept, reject and hang up calls on your device.

On the left edge of the transmitter, there is an AUX output port that you can use as a better audio alternative to getting CD-quality sound from the transmitter to your car stereo – if it supports AUX.

Next to the AUX port is a light button. Pressing this button will toggle the surrounding light bar on and off that illuminates around the edges of the transmitter. And finally, on the right side of the transmitter, there are previous and next buttons that navigate the music that playing either on your phone over Bluetooth or the media that is playing back on a connected USB drive.

Installation

In the car, I inserted the transmitter into my 12v socket, which then lit up its coloured outer light bar once it received power and its LED display first displays my battery’s current voltage, followed by the current FM frequency that is transmitting. To adjust this frequency you hold down the volume dial until the frequency blinks and then you rotate the dial to adjust the frequency, then press the dial inwards again to store it. You don’t really need to look for a less busy FM frequency, I tested this transmitter with a solid occupied frequency and it did a perfect job at replacing the FM station with my Bluetooth music.

With both the transmitter and my FM radio dialled into the same frequency, I then paired my iPhone to the transmitter’s available Bluetooth profile. Once connected, the BT icon on the LED display tells me I am connected to it and a small chime rings over the car speakers. I then fired up the Spotify app on my iPhone, and once I started the music I was soon hearing the music play through my car speakers, clearly and without any distortion or any noticeable interference.

Latency, Volume and Navigation

Thanks to Bluetooth 5.3, the latency on this FM transmitter is very good when streaming from a supported device. I tried playing a video from YouTube and its audio was in perfect sync, and this was from my iPhone 13 Pro which still has Bluetooth 5.0 – the new iPhone 14 will support the same Bluetooth 5.3, so any latency should be even better.

Changing the volume of the transmitter’s output is easily done on the small volume dial. Pressing the bass button adds an obvious boost in the bass frequencies of the audio coming through the speakers. It was a little too much for my stereo setup, which has its own bass boost and equaliser presets, but for a stereo that lacks some bass in its audio, this might improve it a little. Any distortion can be reduced by turning the volume down on the transmitter a little.

Pressing the next and back buttons was responsive in navigating tracks that are playing back on my device. Being a right-hand driver, and sitting on the right side of the transmitter, I found the buttons to act the opposite of what I was expecting them to do when pressed. Positioning them at the top edge of the transmitter might have been better for both left and right drivers. However, I found just rotating the transmitter anticlockwise 90 degrees would position these buttons this way so that this issue can be easily overcome.

AUX Output

Switching to the AUX output, the sound quality was much clearer and had a more pronounced stereo effect, the length of the cable can be a little too generous for most cars with an AUX port being so close to the 12v socket.

For a neater interior, you might want to replace the bundled cable with a shorter one. If you have an AUX port, I found the best sound was through AUX cable input, but the FM quality will still be very acceptable for most people.

Microphone

Whilst connected to the transmitter, my iPhone seemed to only use its own microphone than the dual microphones on the transmitter when sending audio messages, whilst calling did work just fine. Using the Apple Voice Memo app did use dual microphones. The microphone quality sounded decent and clear, there was a little hiss in the background when compared to the iPhone’s own microphone, but it recorded my voice just as clearly when I was facing the windscreen as when I was talking directly down to the microphone. Your use will vary depending on where your 12v port is in your car, however, I found the dual microphones didn’t record in stereo, but it did a decent job at normalising the recording to capture wherever the transmitter was placed in the car’s interior.

USB media playback

Plugging in a USB drive full of music and videos, the transmitter is meant to load its content and begin to play it back over your car speakers. Next and back buttons also function whilst using this method of media playback. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get this to work. I tried having the different music file formats, placing the music in folders as well as in the root of the USB drive, I formatted the drive with both Mac and also from PC, yet I couldn’t get the USB media playback. The instruction manual didn’t offer any further insight to get this working, so if I hear more about getting this working I’ll mention it in the comments.

My Impressions

This FM Transmitter from Joyroom currently retails for $19.83 from Amazon US, and €21.99 from Amazon DE and you can check out my links above to learn more about this transmitter and to buy one.

If you’re looking to modernise your car stereo and use it with your modern phone over Bluetooth, these transmitters are a great way to do this. The signal strength is very good on this one, cancelling out even the strongest FM station signal with my own music. The FM quality was very acceptable to the majority of people, but if you can tell the difference in audio qualities, the AUX input is a better connection method that improves greatly on the audio quality.

I like its looks, its LED display is clear and readable, and the bass boost is a nice addition, whilst the dual microphones did a decent job at recording. The navigation button placement and USB functionality did let me down in my tests, and I did find it odd that my iPhone didn’t use the microphones for sending audio messages yet it worked for calling, whilst on Android, they weren’t used for Voice memos whilst it also worked for calling.

TIMESTAMPS:

0:00 – Brief overview
0:30 – Unboxing
0:38 – Features
2:15 – Installation
2:55 – BT connection
3:47 – Volume and bass boost
4:26 – Navigating audio
4:55 – AUX output
5:43 – Microphone
7:06 – USB drive playback
7:47 – My Impressions

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