Avantree Cara II Review

The Cara II is a simple device with an on/off switch, a 3.5″ jack, and a micro USB port. It is small and could fit inside the pocket, but not too small that is easily dropped and lost. The ON/OFF switch is a little small, and some times, I need to use my fingernail to switch it ON.

IMG_20180306_145041.jpg
What’s inside the box?

I could switch it ON for a quick test out of the box. The Bluetooth pairing is very easy and straight forward. My Oneplus 3T is able to detect it as a AptX device and begin to transmit high quality audio over Bluetooth.

Initial impression of the sound quality over AE Aego M 2.1 speakers is very good, I can’t tell the difference form using the phone’s headphone jack when streaming music from Spotify. I didn’t compare the SQ with a good DAC using lossless audio because that’s not my intended use.

I plan to use the Cara II in my car, so after fully charging it, I hooked it up to my car stereo and begin testing. My car has AUX input, which I connected to the Cara II’s headphone jack. The sound quality is again as good as plugging in

After charging it, the Cara II is now permanently inside my car until it need recharge. Since I don’t drive a lot a week, it probably last a few weeks with only intermittent on/off before I need a recharge. The sound quality is a huge improve from my previous setup – FM Bluetooth Transceiver. The transceiver not only doesn’t support AptX, broadcasting over FM made the sound quality really bad.

Since the Cara II is self powered, and doesn’t turn off when the engine stops, whatever is playing on the phone will continue until you manually switch off the device or the Bluetooth connection is lost. The Cara II will go into standby mode after a long period of time without any activity. I usually have to power it back up by switching it off and on, otherwise it can normally wake by recharging it, which I don’t do inside the car.

The Bluetooth connection, specifically with AptX is quite stable. Quite as in it does get a bit of interference when passing area with lots of signal pollution on the 2.4GHz band. Either that or my Oneplus 3T Bluetooth isn’t great. I’m just got myself a Oneplus 5T and I’ll update if things does improve with different phone.

I didn’t test another function of the Cara II as a Bluetooth transmitter whereby it can transmit the audio from what’s input into the 3.5” jack. I’m thinking it will be useful for those with TV or PC without Bluetooth and wanted a quick way to transmit high quality audio to their AptX capable headphones.

IMG_20180306_144916.jpg

For the price of RM139 it is a no brainer if you wanted to playback high quality audio on your conventional speakers, or like my case, use it inside the car.

Updated 4th May 2018: After using my new Oneplus 5T for a few days, I concluded the connection is much more stable and there is now zero skip during playback. The Oneplus 3T Bluetooth AptX is indeed wonky and there is nothing wrong with the Avantree Cara II.

Advertisements
Avantree Cara II Review

AptX on Dell Inspiron 15 7559

Since I got the MDR-1000X, I’ve been trying to find a way to stream high quality sound over Bluetooth into it. It supports AptX and Sony’s proprietary LDAC which both are not supported by my Oneplus One.

Today while trying to look for a new phone that supports AptX or LDAC using my Dell laptop, suddenly it hit me. Can this laptop supports AptX instead? By default it doesn’t because even by playing back songs from Spotify, I sounded muddy over Bluetooth.

A quick Google search led me to Notebook Review Forum whereby someone mentioned that there’s some Intel Bluetooth drivers unlocked AptX for him. So and I went and try those driver. The installation is pretty simple, already detailed by the site.

I tried the first driver for Intel 7265/3165/7260/3160 Bluetooth. Installation went smoothly, and a notification pop up after I’ve connected to my Sony headphone, stating that AptX is active. I got really excited! I fired up Spotify and confirmed it sound much nicer now but there is one major flaw. The sound would skip as if there isn’t enough bandwidth. I was disappointed, thinking maybe the Bluetooth module in my laptop doesn’t supports it.

There is a second driver for Intel 8260 Bluetooth. I downloaded it just to give it a try since the installation is so simple. This time the driver works flawlessly, I am able to listen to much better quality sound over Bluetooth without any skipping.

If you have AptX supported audio device and wanting to try playback better quality music over Bluetooth on your laptop. I would highly recommend you give these drivers a try.

Edit: What do you know, I also managed to unlock AptX on my Oneplus One by downloading a zip file done by dr_root from XDA Forum. Now I can continue using my OPO till it die!

AptX on Dell Inspiron 15 7559