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.
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.
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.