Bluetooth vs Aux connections: Which is the better one?

Nov 11, 2019 | Same topic: Let's drive smart!
Find out which is better in providing in-car sounds, is it the Bluetooth connection or Aux connection, and why it is a good or bad option.

Before the advent of digital music players, people only have analog FM and AM radio to listen to while inside their car.  The arrival of portable media in the form of 8-track paved the way for other innovations that will change the way we listen to music.

Compact cassettes and compact discs soon followed. Today, we already have different forms of digital media and music lovers now have a variety of options to connect the vehicle to their music source including USB, auxiliary inputs, Bluetooth, etc.

However, many people still ask which is better between the two, Bluetooth or aux connection? Philkotse.com will help you figure it out. Continue reading this article to find out!

1. The origin of aux inputs

The auxiliary inputs in car stereos have existed for a very long time now. Some people even label this technology as outdated. As a matter of fact, the 3.5 aux jack on the car stereo’s front depends on the exact technology that remained virtually unaltered since the 1960s.

Man holding the phone inside the car

The auxiliary inputs in car stereos have existed for a very long time now

The aux inputs present in car stereos are primarily just analog connections that are referred to as headphone jacks, stereo plugs, phone plugs, and many other different names. A similar kind of plug is also utilized in connecting almost everything from a mobile phone. The said plug enables people to connect their phone to headphones, microphones, electric guitars, etc. 

In technical terms, the said type of auxiliary connections is called TRRS (tip, ring, ring, sleeve) or TRS (tip, ring, sleeve) respectively. The technical names pertain to the physical metal connection in the particular auxiliary input.

Almost all car audio system has a TRS connection. This connection is designed to make way for the transmission of analog sound signals from any audio output (like your mobile phone) to the vehicle’s stereo in a similar way you plug in a pair of headphones.

TRS illustration

Almost all car audio system has a TRS connection

Some issues can be encountered with this kind of audio connection.  When you’re using the auxiliary connection for car audio, you might encounter some problems with the audio quality, especially if you plug in an analog signal that is meant for headphones. To solve the problem, you can use a line out instead of speaker or headphone out.

Another solution is to use a digital USB connection rather than an analog auxiliary connection. There’s another option that works well for most car owners: by plugging the headphone jack of an MP3 player or mobile phone into the car stereo’s auxiliary input.

During the process of moving the audio signal from your phone to the vehicle's stereo, no compression will be involved because the connection is analog. And although the DAC in a typical phone is not optimized for the type of usage similar to that of a suitable vehicle stereo DAC, the difference will be unnoticeable.

USB connector

You can also use a digital USB connection rather than an analog auxiliary connection

>>> Read more: Best in-car entertainment ideas to fight boredom while in a long drive.

2. The origin of Bluetooth technology

Bluetooth technology was invented more recently and was designed to make secure, local and wireless networks. Bluetooth is created behind the basic idea of creating a faster and wireless alternative to RS-232 serial port connection in personal computers.

In the late 1990s, USB largely replaced the RS-232 serial port. Not long after, Bluetooth technology arrived and also made its way into the mainstream. Today, people use Bluetooth connection in a host of various ways.

The most common way that people use it daily is by using their mobile phones or tablets. This technology has already been broadly utilized because it enables the creation of local, secure and wireless networks. It is now used to connect wireless headsets to smartphones.

Phone in the car's dashboard

The most common way that people use it daily is by using their mobile phones or tablets

Hands-free calling and wireless headset are the main reason why Bluetooth technology was used in modern vehicles. Almost all mobile phones we have today already have built-in Bluetooth, and lots of people are already utilizing Bluetooth headsets.

In-car hands free calling

Hands-free calling and wireless headset are the main reason why Bluetooth technology was used in modern vehicles

Car manufacturers also started to provide built-in Bluetooth hands-free calling in their modern vehicles. Carmakers are also offering a profile for audio streaming since Bluetooth has this feature. You only need the right Bluetooth car stereo to enjoy audio and video streaming. You can even control different radio applications straight from your mobile phone.

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3. So, which is better, Aux connection or Bluetooth?

There are two essential things to consider when choosing which is the better option between aux connection or Bluetooth: convenience and audio quality. When your concern is the convenience, an aux connection will allow you to hook your phone up to your vehicle's stereo quickly. In some instances, all you have to do is to plug in the cable, and that’s it.

In other cases, you might need to select the right auxiliary input manually. On the other hand, setting up Bluetooth can be a bit challenging, especially for those who are not tech-savvy.

The process to connect your phone to any Bluetooth audio device requires you to set the audio device (such as your car stereo or MP3 player) as discoverable, so that your smartphone or tablet will find the other device's signal.

aux connection

When your concern is the convenience, an aux connection will allow you to hook your phone up

>>> Grab your attention: What you need to know about car audio and amplifiers.

However, there may be instances when these devices won't pair. If it happens, you need to repeat the whole process until it finally works. If your car stereo and phone already found each other, you need to set up a short passcode which will enable the said devices to pair successfully.

When it comes to convenience, the primary benefit of Bluetooth connection is that you will not have to undergo the same pairing process once the two devices already paired before. Once your phone and car stereo are powered and comes within the range of one another, the two devices will automatically pair up.

bluetooth connection

The primary benefit of Bluetooth connection is that you will not have to undergo the same pairing process

It is indeed more convenient compared to aux connection where you need to manually plug in an auxiliary connection each time you want to use it inside your vehicle.

Every now and then, Bluetooth will have issues with connectivity and sound quality, but in the long run, it is way more convenient and is superior in quality than an aux connection.

Source: Hanna Miel Sanchez