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Cassette Adapter Bluetooth brings retro car stereos into the 21st century


January 9, 2014

ION's Cassette Adapter Bluetooth

ION's Cassette Adapter Bluetooth

Remember back when people carried Sony Discmans in their cars, and used those cassette adapters to listen to them through their tape decks? Well, while a lot of those same cars are still on the road, the Discman has now given way to the MP3 player. That's why ION Audio has released its Cassette Adapter Bluetooth.

First of all, there are already cassette adapters that will let you listen to MP3 players, but they all require the one to be hard-wired to the other. The ION device, however, is wireless.

It looks just like a cassette, but contains a Bluetooth receiver. When inserted in a car's tape deck, it automatically turns itself on and picks up audio streamed from the user's Bluetooth-enabled music player. As a result, that audio is pumped out of the car's speakers – just like it would if it were on good ol' magnetic tape.

Not only can the adapter be used to listen to music, but it also allows drivers to take calls on a paired phone hands-free. It's powered by a USB-rechargeable battery, that should be good for about six hours of use per charge.

The Cassette Adapter Bluetooth was recently unveiled at CES, and should be available in the spring (Northern Hemisphere) for US$40.

Source: ION Audio via Digital Trends

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

I agree with the ideas of self charging using the spools, but if that is not possible, then at least make it so that you can have the micro USB plugged in and charging while in use.

My questions is can you still use the blue tooth while charging? I have seen a radio shack version and it says Bluetooth is turned off while charging.


Not a bad price. Too bad it can't tap into the magnetic head reader in there for power. Set it and forget it.

Yea, I have a car with a cassette deck.

David Finney

omg I could use this with my old ghetto blaster!

Gary McMurray

David, I don't see why it couldn't get power from the deck turning the imaginary tape spool. Just have it be a little generator with a capacitor.


@ Harvey I thought that was how they should have powered it as well.


Thinking about it a while, I agree with the other comments, why are you not powering this internally. Can't be that difficult.

Richard Unger

I've been wanting something like this for a long time. I currently have one of the "wired" versions and will most likely purchase one of these.

The only reason I can think of to not incorporate the "auto-power" system is that electricity generation creates significant drag. Most of the tape decks I've seen internally are belt driven so I imagine you'll probably just cause the belt to slip and possibly break over time.

Thomas Roberts

@ Harvey, that's brilliant. You could draw a bit of power from that spool. If you couldn't get enough, you could extend the time between recharging. Avoid that "drag" and maybe it would be a couple hours more. Bluetooth is fairly efficient as I understand it. My belt in my tape deck has been running for, well, 14 years now, no issues as yet. Knock on wood.

David Finney

You could power them internally but you'd probably add 50% to the price. The cost to develop a mini generator and mass produce the parts for a single device with limited sales does not make economic sense.


Just get one of the cassette shaped MP3 players with a memory card slot.

Gregg Eshelman

Was Just talking about making one of these last week. How OldsCool

Troy Dargan

I don't think that the mini-generator circuitry would double the price. It would certainly increase it somewhat, but it would be worth a lot to plug something into an older stereo and not have to think about it. I have the same problem with the shower heads that are coming out with bluetooth speakers built into them. You'd think you could recharge these devices with hydroelectric principles.

As I was googling around looking at the device and the similar devices out there already out there one thing occurred to me is interference from the motor in the cassette deck. To do the job right, you'd probably have to do some careful shielding of components to block electro-magnetic interference while not interfering with the Bluetooth. Also the cheap versions already out out on the Chinese websites seem to support older Bluetooth standards which could be a problem.

Stuart Friedman

I am sure i have seen these on the market before back in 2011 they have an external USB cable that charges it.

Also there are ones on fleabay for $28.

Unless i have missed some obvious advantage of the ION one?

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