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Lifewire / Benjamin Zeman
Dual USB charging ports
Fits in more cars because of small design
Supports MP3, WMA, WAV, and FLAC audio files
Viewing angle and small display makes it hard to see
Very noisy when the audio is silent
USB charge port location obscures the display and phone button
The Criacr Bluetooth FM Transmitter For Car (Upgraded Version) is small and fits well in most cars but falls short in a few critical areas. We found the positioning of the USB ports problematic and noticed a lot of noise interference, though the pair of USB ports and broad file format support are welcome additions.
The Upgraded Criacr Bluetooth FM Transmitter is a module that supports streaming music and other audio from your mobile device to your car stereo. It’s a compact Bluetooth car transmitter that also offers handsfree calling, support for audio on a TF card or USB stick, and two USB charging ports. We thoroughly tested the Criacr’s design, usability, audio quality, and special features (like playing lossless audio formats) to see if this little transmitter is worth your hard-earned cash.
Aesthetically and functionally the Criar US-CP24 Bluetooth Car FM transmitter falls a little short. It isn’t the smallest module we’ve seen, but it is very compact at 4.4 x 3 x 2.3 inches and 2.08 ounces. It easily fits into nearly any car’s 12v auxiliary power outlet. The design is fairly simple but we ran into some problems during testing.
The Criar US-CP24 feels crowded because of the small form factor and location of all the buttons, ports, and display. While the multifunction button sticks out pretty far, the next/last buttons are situated on a beveled edge and much shallower. They aren’t as big as the multifunction button and because of the location are harder to see and press.
The Criar US-CP24 feels crowded because of the small form factor and location of all the buttons, ports and display.
Almost all the features are on the face of the transmitter with the exception of a TF card slot on the top. The face has two USB ports, a two-way button for changing the radio frequency or navigating to the next or last song and large protruding multifunction button near the top. In the center is a small backlit display screen.
Both USB ports offer 5V/2.1A charging capabilities and the port on the right also accepts USB sticks as an audio source. Unfortunately when USB cables are plugged into both ports they obstruct the display and controls.
The transmitter comes in six colors and the next/last buttons on the blue option are easier to distinguish against a black background. All the other color options have buttons the same color as the face of the device.
We tested this transmitter in a 2018 Toyota RAV4, which has two 12V auxiliary power outlets under the dash. We didn’t run into any issues when setting up the transmitter. After plugging it into the 12v outlet the display lights up and you can select your FM frequency.
We paired our phone over Bluetooth and had both music and handsfree calling up and running quickly. Using a Micro SD card with the TF slot or a USB stick to play your music is as simple as plug and play. Unfortunately, the only playback function is to use the next/last buttons to skip forward and backwards through songs.
One thing that the Criacr US-CP24 has going for it that no other Bluetooth transmitter we tested does is that it plays lossless music formats like WAV and FLAC. We have a lot of music in FLAC format so we were excited to try them out, and what we tested worked perfectly. The device is able to decode those music files as well as the standards like MP3 and WMA from both the USB input and the TF slot.
Playing music with the volume at a normal level sounds good, even from an older device running Bluetooth version 3.0. The problems we ran into were with ground loop noise and interference when no audio was playing but the car’s volume was up. It was most apparent when taking phone calls, and part of the noise had a repeating pattern which made it even more frustrating. We noticed a long ascending/descending whine along with the usual bleeps and blips from cell interference.
The Criacr is a usable device but there are better options at the same price or at least close. It’s worth it to buy something with less noise and a better design.
If you’re considering the US-CP24 because of its support for lossless formats you’ll be disappointed. It’s great that it can play them but if they don’t sound good then what’s the point? Some people might also be able to deal with the noise during phone calls, but for us it’s too distracting. It’s unfortunate for a system designed to handle higher quality audio sources.
We just covered the only real standout feature and even though the Criacr can handle lossless formats, it falls short on audio quality. Besides that the Criacr US-CP24 has all the standard functionality that any other Bluetooth car FM transmitter would have. While the dual USB charging ports and support for MicroSD cards and USB sticks are nice, they’re hardly exceptional, and there are a number of other transmitters that also sport those features.
We think if you are going to do it, do it right or don’t do it at all. We were excited about the extra audio format support and then were let down by the actual audio quality.
It’s our opinion that it’s not enough for a manufacturer to add a feature to differentiate itself—that feature also has to work, and work well. We were excited about the additional audio format support, but then deflated by the actual audio quality.
The Criacr US-CP24 ranges in price from around $16 to $20, around the same price as most decent last gen transmitters and a handful of current gen ones. The bluetooth car FM transmitter market is definitely saturated and it can be hard to find what would work best for you. The Criacr US-CP24 is certainly a popular option and many people are happy with it. However, we know from testing other transmitters that, for the same price or close, you can get one with way less ground loop noise and interference. There are also great compact designs that we like more, like the Aphaca BT69.
At around $23, the Aphaca BT69 is more expensive than the Criacr US-CP24, but it justifies the slight bump in price. Like the Criac model, The Aphaca is also a compact design, but despite being smaller the Aphaca manages to feel less busy and crowded. The whole face of the BT69 is one smooth surface that acts as a four-directional button with the display in the center. It’s sleek, simple, and practical.
It also wins out on audio quality even though it doesn’t support lossless files. The noise canceling and interference reduction technology is much better than Criacr’s. Even if the Aphaca isn’t really your thing, we’d still suggest looking at the competition and choosing something else instead of the Criacr US-CP24.
In a crowded marketplace, the Criacr Bluetooth FM Transmitter doesn’t stand out.
The Criacr made an underwhelming first impression and did little to repair that impression throughout the course of our test. After looking at other options, including the Aphaca BT69, we think there are better ones out there. Bluetooth Car FM transmitters aren’t that expensive and while the Criacr is functional, there are better options at around the same price point.
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