From the horse’s mouth
Some of you may be maintaining a 60s-80s classic car and decide to keep a cassette player in place as part of the appearance for that car, or you may own a late-90s car with a highly-integrated sound system that has a cassette player and CD player.
A smartphone accessory that I have given a bit of space to on this site, especially in the “Essential Smartphone Accessories” article, is the cassette adaptor which uses a tape head in a cassette-shaped shell using inductive technology to pass the sound from a connected device to a cassette player’s audio playback chain. These have been known to provide a more reliable audio-playback connection for today’s portable audio in vehicles without an auxiliary input socket than most of the cheaper FM transmitters sold for use with portable audio equipment.
A few manufacturers have offered a variant of this device that integrates a battery-powered Bluetooth A2DP receiver in one of these adaptors and wired to the “supply” head with some offering a full handsfree kit in the cassette shell. ION Audio are now taking advantage of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show to launch one of these “Bluetooth cassette adaptors” and are offering this not just as an up-to-date A2DP device but as a full handsfree kit with you using the phone as a control surface to make and take calls.
Of course, I see these devices serve well more as an A2DP audio-player device rather than a full handsfree kit due to the way the cassette is mounted in different tape players such as most auto-reverse car players having the tape drop completely in the unit or people using these adaptors with “ghetto-blasters” and “music-centre” stereos that have no external inputs. These setups wouldn’t work well with the microphones that are physically integrated in to these adaptors due to proximity to the noisy mechanism or sound-obstructing parts like tape doors.
Personally, I would like to see increased awareness of these Bluetooth cassette adaptors as a smartphone accessory and those units that offer “hands-free” speakerphone functionality to be able to work with an outboard Bluetooth microphone module. On the other hand, a Bluetooth audio adaptor that has integrated headset / hands-free abilities like the Nokia BH-111 or Sony SBH-20 used with a regular cassette adaptor can provide full hands-free abilities with that legacy tape player.