Review – Twelve South AirFly Pro

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I have to admit, this was a total impulse purchase. As you might imagine, I drive a lot of different cars. Most everything I buy from the auction gets driven home at least once before it’s put up for sale. I don’t like selling a car only for the buyer to discover some little issue that I could have easily repaired had I noticed it. 

 

Anyway, because of that, and my addiction to podcasts, I REQUIRE a good bluetooth to Aux adapter. Something I can throw in any car with an aux in and have music and podcasts from my phone. I have been using the Anker Roav F0 since May, and while it does have some benefits (mainly it has an FM transmitter in case I buy something without an aux port), it’s been acting weird lately. It seems like it’s not making a good bluetooth connection even though it’s like 24″ away from the phone. I’ll be driving and suddenly my podcast or music will start to sound like a phone call when you’re down to one bar, breaking up and losing half of the audio at random. It’s infuriating!

When I saw the Twelve South AirFly Pro announced the other day, I read a quick overview, and decided to pull the trigger. Basically, the AirFly dongles are bluetooth transmitters, made primarily to send audio from something with a headphone jack to bluetooth headphones. The AirFly Pro adds a new feature though, it can also work in the other direction, sending audio from a bluetooth device TO something with an aux input.

 

My use case is primarily plugging it into the aux input in a car and sending bluetooth audio to it, but I will probably occasionally use it to go the other way, watching movies on airplanes and the like. 

I ordered it from Apple and picked it up at the Apple store. As of this writing the AirFly pro is an Apple Exclusive, so that’s the only way to buy it.  I honestly would have preferred to not have to go stand around at a crowded apple store, but at least I did get to type on the new 16″ MacBook Pro keyboard. I need one. Immediately. 

I picked this thing up, and opened it immediately in the car. It’s CLEARLY made to work with AirPods. It looks like a little AirPod case almost. It’s also smaller than I thought. It comes with a little carrying pouch and a short USB A to USB C cable. It also comes with a little cover for the Aux end that also acts as a keychain, in case you want to live dangerously. ‚Äč

The AirFly Pro claims 16 hours of battery life, but I haven’t had it long enough to test that, and I honestly don’t know when I’m going to ever get a chance to listen to 16 hours of audio straight. I’ll update this post if I get the chance to test battery life. The battery power is a big plus for me though, if I’m just going to drive an auction car home and back once, the AirFly Pro with a full charge should be more than capable of doing that without me having to bring a whole charging setup for it and run cables all over the place. 

 

In the Prius, the aux input is in the center console, and so is a 12v charging socket, so I plugged it in and connected it. On the Prius, I had to use a ground loop isolator to prevent charging system whine coming through the speakers when plugged in. This is not specific to the AirFly, as I had to use it with the Anker Roav too. Of course, running on battery without the AirFly Pro plugged in also alleviates this problem, so that’s nice. That means that if I do take just the AirFly with me to drive a car for a day, I won’t need to take the ground loop isolator since I’ll be running on battery. 

Sound quality is great to me, I’m not an audiophile or anything, but it sounds clean and clear and there’s no breaking up or weird feedback (aside from the aforementioned ground loop issue). Volume is as expected, and I have had ZERO disconnects. For my use case, I’m super happy with it. 

It does have some drawbacks when used in the car though. Since it’s just a straight up bluetooth to aux bridge, it doesn’t do any of the things the dedicated car kits do. It doesn’t have a mic, so you’re on your own for phone calls. You’ll have to put the phone on speaker or something. Luckily my Prius has handsfree for calls (but not audio, annoyingly), so I can use that for phone calls, but on an older car with no bluetooth at all, you will have to figure out some other solution. It also doesn’t automatically connect when you turn the car on and disconnect when you turn the car off. This is a mild annoyance, but if you’re at home with your car near your phone in the garage, it could potentially run the battery down on the AirFly if you forget to pause the music. Overall, if you’re going to use this SOLELY in your one single car to play music, you’re likely better off with something like the Aukey Bluetooth Car Receiver Kit. It has a mic built in and will automatically power on and off with the key. If you are in the unique situation that you drive tons of different cars and want something super portable and easy, the AirFly Pro is an excellent choice.