A Use Case For Bluetooth: The Sony DRCBT30 Review

April 21, 2011 by Gabe | [mmd] |

I purchased the Sony DRC-BT30 Bluetooth Headphone Adapter about a month ago from Amazon. After a month of heavy use I thought I’d share my experience with it. Be warned, it's an unsatisfactory ending.

BT30

Why?

I listen to podcasts and music all day. My sole music player is my iPhone 4. I generally switch between a couple different headphones based on the working conditions. If I am stationary for awhile and need to concentrate, I will wear my Beyerdynamic DT 770 headphones. These are closed cup headphones that provide fantastic sound isolation and superb audio quality. They are also pretty large. The rest of the time, I use the apple headphones that came with the iPhone. Well, actually, I am on my third pair since I seem to destroy these things in the most bizarre ways. I also use my iPhone for occasional phone calls. Crazy, right?

The problem with both of these headphones is that they are tethered to an expensive piece of glass encased circuit boards. Several times a week the headphone cord will catch on something and violently rip the headphones off my ears or drop the iPhone to the floor. So I did the math and it seemed worth a modest expense to purchase a bluetooth transmitter for my headphones.

What?

I have not been a fan of Sony products for quite some time. The last high quality Sony product I owned was a Discman 350 from the 1990’s. Since then, Sony devices have not held much allure for me. After reading numerous reviews it became obvious that the options for good Bluetooth adapters would lead down the Sony path. I eventually settled on the Sony BT30 Bluetooth adapter.

Quality

As I anticipated, the build quality of the BT30 is less than impressive. It is entirely plastic. The prototypical shiny black plastic. The buttons are mushy and feel fragile. Accessing the mini USB connection requires a finger nail and a fair amount of force.

Usage

This is where I make all of my complaints moot. The BT30 changes my usage of my iPhone. For example, I would rarely listen to music while I worked around the house. This was learned behavior from accidentally yanking my iPhone out of my pocket after catching the headphone cord on a bush or some other nefarious environmental hazard. The difference in sound quality for MP3 or AAC files is imperceptible to me. I have not experienced interference or random un-pairing that I have with other unnamed bluetooth audio connectors.

Phone calls are as clear as with the Apple iPhone headphones. I have no complaints from the other end of the call either. The mic seems to be a bit more sensitive to wind or external noise. Perhaps this is a result of the greater microphone distance from the mouth. After all, the Apple mic is typically just an inch or two from the mouth.

Controlling the audio playback can be a little hit-and-miss. Since the buttons are imprecise, several times a week I will inadvertently forward tracks when I intended to pause playback. However, the buttons are responsive. I have had problems with other Bluetooth devices not immediately responding to button presses. This is not a problem with the BT30

Finally, the battery life is not impressive, but usable. I typically get about 8 hours of continuous use over a day. I have not done exhaustive battery life testing but I can say that I have not been limited in my use of the device. Fortunately, recharging is very fast. Typically, a recharge for an hour or two gets me through the rest of a long day.

Conclusion

Sadly, Sony has discontinued this product as well as the slightly cheaper BT15. They do not list a replacement product but the BT30 and BT15 are still available through Amazon (see links above). I highly recommend grabbing one while they are still shipping. It’s unfortunate that this is the end of the product line because this is one area where Sony is over achieving and filling a need.

Notes

While I have an Amazon associates account, I chose not to include those links in the body of the review. I do not want to give the impression that the review was written to generate revenue. If I ever decide I need the additional support, it will be done outside of a review post.

blog comments powered by Disqus