Monoprice Bluetooth 5 Receivers/Transmitters Review
I have always been on the bleeding edge of technology since I started this hobby in the ‘90s. So, at first, the Monoprice Bluetooth transmitters baffled me. Why do we need a Bluetooth transmitter when everything we buy today has Bluetooth built-in? Then I rekindled my love for “vintage” gear, all hooked up to my modern stuff. Now they make sense! Plus, not everyone upgrades their AV receiver or TV every two years! People still have “dumb” gear that they keep! Sheesh! Well, folks, it’s time to do a review after having lived with all three of the Monoprice Bluetooth 5 receivers/transmitters for a couple of months. Let’s discuss.
So What Are They (And What Do They Do?)
As the name suggests, the Monoprice Bluetooth receivers/transmitters add Bluetooth capabilities to your existing non-Bluetooth gear. They can also be used as an upgrade to older Bluetooth protocols. As well as being small (they easily fit in the palm of your hand), they are battery-powered, so you don’t need to find another plug. But, if you want to keep them plugged in, you can have constant power.
Depending on your needs, there are three models available. Keeping these “names” straight will be hard for all of us. Therefore, I’ll try to list them from least to most powerful. All three sports Bluetooth 5. You will get a more extended range and better battery life with Bluetooth 5 than with older Bluetooth iterations. With most new devices sporting Bluetooth 5, this is a win. The entry-level 43245 is still Bluetooth 5 but doesn’t get the aptX protocols. The two higher-end models (43244 and 43243) share common DNA, using the Bluetooth 5 protocol with aptX low-latency wireless audio streaming.
Seriously Monoprice, can we do something about these names? For those confused, just remember that the lower the last number (5, 4, 3) the more powerful and expensive the transmitter. Doesn’t that help? No?
In The Box
No, I will not do a comprehensive unboxing or spend much time waxing poetic about how it is packaged. Here is what you need to know, Monoprice does not fool around when they send you a product. Everything you need, including AUX cables, RCA to AUX, USB power cords, and an optical cord (for the 43243), is in the unit’s box!
I can’t tell you what a value-added proposition that is. Not only are you getting a quality product for a very reasonable price, but you also don’t need to find cables to hook it up. Aside from my Xbox Series X, I can’t think of any other recently purchased device that came with the required cables. So kudos to you, Monoprice!
Monoprice Bluetooth 5 43245
The Monoprice 43245 is the entry-level unit of my testers and is a Bluetooth receive-only unit. It is priced at a scant $13.99. Although it doesn’t have a transmit feature, it does have a mic, which makes it very useful.
The unit only allows for a 3.5mm input, but that was more than enough for my test. Like its bigger brother the 43244, it boasts a 14-hour battery life and 32’ connectivity. I had a lot of dropouts with the 43245. I made a clear and strong connection on the main level of my home. But dropouts increased once I put some objects or interference between me and the 43245.
So, where did I test this unit? Well, mainly my daughter’s 2009, non-Bluetooth car. Before the Monoprice 43245, she used my CDs or an aux cable (and dongle) to get music in her car. But in about 30 seconds, we installed the 43245, got it paired and connected, and she had streaming music and could make calls hands-free!
At $13.99, it was the cheapest option to upgrade her car to Bluetooth. And because the unit is so darn small, you can tuck it just about anywhere and never notice it. If you need a simple receiver for something like a car, the 43245 is a no-brainer.
Monoprice Bluetooth 5 43244
The 43244 is a Bluetooth transmitter or receiver with 3.5mm or RCA aux connections. Priced at $22.99, it’s the middle of the road between the three.
You can configure the Monoprice 43244 as a transmitter or receiver. This feature allows you to add Bluetooth to an older device that doesn’t have it. For example, you can stream audio from your phone to your newly Bluetooth-enabled AV receiver in receive mode. Or, put it in transmit mode, and you can send the signal to a set of Bluetooth headphones or speakers.
The Monoprice 43244 allows for two users or devices to be connected simultaneously. My wife and I connected to it, and we could stream our music without issues. When my daughter connected, it just kicked out the oldest connection for hers.
Connection to the Monoprice 43244 was straightforward. Put it in pairing mode, look for the device, and connect. Rise and repeat for the second device. It is 2022, so I expect that we will have Bluetooth pairing as simple as possible by now.
Lastly, the Monoprice 43244 promised 14 hours of battery life and 32’ of connectivity. The battery lasted that long easily, but remember, it’s a new device that will decrease over time. The range was a mixed bag. Of the three units I tested, this one (and the 43245) has the most dropouts depending on where I was in the house. If I had it upstairs and walked downstairs into my home theater, I lost the connection as I walked into my media room. But I was not surprised. My media room is nothing but transmitters, so I expect there will be a lot of interference. However, on the main level, I could go to any room without a dropout, and my upstairs level and shed were satisfactory.
Monoprice 5 43243
The Monoprice 43243 is the most “expensive” of the trio at $29.99, but it offers the most connections of the bunch, plus some better codecs for audio streaming like AAC. Like the 43244, the Monoprice 43243 will transmit or receive. It can connect to two devices simultaneously, has a 32’ range, and gives you up to 25 hours of battery life.
Of the three units, the 43243 has the most solid Bluetooth connection. It didn’t have any dropouts anywhere in the house or near my shed. Without tearing the units apart, I could assume that it has a better antenna because the 43243 is a larger unit. But that is guessing on my part.
As I said, the 43243 has the most connections with 3.5mm aux/RCA, plus a SPDIF (optical) connection for both transmit and receive. On the top is an excellent LED display that shows you what mode you are in and what CODEC you are using. Very audiophile of you, Monoprice.
Of all the Monoprice Bluetooth 5 devices, this was my favorite because I was able to breath new life into an old device. As I have said many times, I like physical media, and the 43243 allowed me to use an optical cable to my MiniDisc recorder and send my favorite Apple Music playlists to my MD recorder. I know, it’s stupid, but it brings me joy to be able to mix new and old together!
Performance/Using The Monoprice Bluetooth 5 Units
Just like the “unboxing” section, I won’t spend much time on this because it’s so straightforward. Charge up the units (with the supplied cable). Turn them on and then pair them to your device. Plug them into your device (again with the provided cables), and in the case of the 43244/43243, choose either transmit or receive with the switch on the side and stream away.
I connected the devices to a variety of items. I used my daughter’s car for testing the 43245. And I hooked up the other two (43244/43243) to a CD player in my spare room to test the transmit function and a set of bluetooth powered speakers for receiving. In every case, there were zero issues with receiving or transmitting.
Again, I wish I could be more descriptive about their performance, but they work. And I think that is probably the best compliment you could give a tech device. There are no quirks, issues, or workarounds for these devices. Charge, plug them in, pair ‘em, and enjoy.
I can confidently say that these will be an excellent solution for someone who needs to add Bluetooth connectivity to an older device. Aside from forcing a dropout by wandering to the limits of my house and property, I had no issues with these devices. Rock solid all around.
Bluetooth pairing of headphones took a second to figure out. This is one time I had to resort to the manual. Basically, you put the Monoprice device in transmit and start pairing, and then do the same for your headphones. They will find one another and pair. I kept having failures because the headphones were paired to my phone, so I turned off my phone’s Bluetooth and it worked fine!
In another review, I said I was becoming wary of having such positive reviews with no downsides. But I am reversing course. If a product works as advertised (they do), is easy to set up and use (they are), is reasonably priced, and has no apparent flaws, it deserves praise.
The Monoprice Bluetooth 5 transmitters are perfect for those who want to add Bluetooth connectivity to their older gear or upgrade older versions of Bluetooth. If you were on the fence about buying these (probably because of their low price), don’t be. I found them to be rock solid.