Remember my review of Bluetake’s i-PHONO mini BT450Rx Bluetooth stereo headphones? No? Ok, go read it here first and then come back to read this review of the BT450Tx. The BT450Tx is an accessory to the BT450Rx. Those of you with a mild level of geekiness should be clued in that this is a transmitter that goes with the headphones, which are the receivers. If that’s what you guessed, then you get a gold star. For those of you that didn’t catch the clue, “Rx” is another way of saying “receiver”, and conversely, “Tx” means “transmitter”. Now on with the review…
The BT450Rx headphones allow you to listen to music wirelessly through an A2DP enabled device. The BT450Tx extends the use of the headphones by giving non-Bluetooth enabled audio devices the ability to wirelessly stream their audio to the headphones too.
The main device that the BT450Tx is focused on is the iPod. Older model iPods with the remote connector next to the earphone jack, to be more precise.
Don’t have an older iPod, or no iPod at all? Not to worry, Bluetake was nice enough to include a small adapter that converts the dual remote / earphone jack to a regular 3.5mm stereo plug. With this adapter, the BT450Tx can be used with any audio device (CD player, Sony PSP, PDAs, etc.).
The BT450Tx is a very simple device about the size of a matchbox. It has an LED on the face, with a small button next to it. On the left side of the device, there is a connector for the USB charging cable. To use it, you first charge the internal batteries by using the USB cable. While the batteries are charging, the LED on the face of the BT450Tx, will glow Red. Once charging is complete, the LED will change to Blue. At this point, you have to pair it with the BT450Rx headphones. This is accomplished by holding down the button on the transmitter until the LED cycles between Red and Blue. Then you turn on the headphones and put it in pairing mode too. Once the two devices discover each other, music will start to flow through the headphones. And we all lived happily ever after… right? Ummmmm, not so fast. Keep reading.
My first test was with my Video iPod. Since it’s a newer model, it doesn’t have the remote / earphone jack combo. So, I had to employ the included adapter. Not exactly elegant since now the iPod has a dangling appendage, but I could forgive that.
What I couldn’t forgive was crappy sound quality. The first thing I noticed before I even selected a song to test, was static. Just to double check, I unplugged the BT450Tx and plugged in a pair of regular old earbuds. Yup, no static there. I plugged the BT450Tx’s back in, and the static was back. Grrrrrr… Ok, let’s try a song. Yikes, crappy just escalated to horrendous. The volume level on the iPod had to be turned much higher than I normally do, to hear the music. If that wasn’t bad enough, it sounded like the band was playing at one end of a huge room, and I was only hearing their voices, and not all of the music. At this point, I started checking connections. Yes, the adapter was tightly connected. Nope, wiggling had no effect.
Test #2: I tried the BT450Tx with my iPod nano. Same result. Blah!
Test #3: Next, I tried the transmitter with the JNC SSF-8100. Same result. Static and tin can audio.
Test #4: I dug out my old 3rd gen iPod out of the drawer. For this test, I was able to remove the remote / earphone adapter cable and plug the BT450Tx directly into the top of the iPod.
I queued up a song and the sound quality was the difference of night and day. Yes, the static in the background was still evident (when no music was playing), but the music was much louder and fuller. It wasn’t as full and loud as through regular old headphones / earphones, but it was way closer than when using the adapter.
The only test I had left to do was to try out the iPod remote control features. These features allow you to use the buttons on the BT450Rx headphones to Play, Pause and change tracks (Prev, Next) when connected to an iPod. The transmitter uses the AVRCP (Audio Video Remote Control Profile), and as I found out, it will only work when used without the little remote / earphone jack adapter.
When all said and done, I ended up disappointed in the BT450Tx. I’m a little confused that Bluetake decided to support older iPod models and left the newer models out in the cold. I’m hoping Bluetake will be able to create a dock adapter so that newer models will actually be usable with this transmitter. In the mean time, if you don’t have an iPod with the remote / earphone jack, don’t buy the BT450Tx.