It Could Have Been Great: Sennheiser BTD300i Wireless Dongle

The BTD300i wireless dongle is designed to give bluetooth capabilities on a standard non-bluetooth Ipod. You plug it in on the Ipod’s dock connector, and your Ipod is ready to be paired with a bluetooth headphone such as the PX210BT that I had reviewed earlier.

This was very exciting to me earlier, as the audio player on my Blackberry smartphone is not very good, and I have most of my music stored in the Ipod. It’s even more exciting as now I can have a very light travelling package that involves no wires. The 6th Gen Ipod Nano video is one of the lightest and slimmest players around, and it makes a great pairing with the BTD300i dongle, as you can see in the picture. Having the combo in your pocket feels just as light as having a few dollars bill in your pocket. The fact that the BTD300i supports the higher quality apt-X bluetooth transmission code is just a bonus to me, as previously I’ve used the PX210BT with my Blackberry phone, and Ipod 3G and 4G with great results. If you’ve read the PX210BT review, this portable headphone is one of the best sounding portables I’ve ever encountered, even considering wired rivals.

Seriously, I was ready to spread the optimism out to the local guys. I mean, with the dongle, everyone with an Ipod can start to enjoy great quality wireless music. You can even leave the Ipod on your backpack, and have a total wireless freedom while enjoying music out of the PX210BT. The wireless experience has been very revolutionary to me, perhaps even more than the 16-drivers JH16.

To my disappointment, the dongle comes with a single flaw that makes the whole set-up pretty much unusable… The problem is that though the dongle transmits a clear CD-like signal, it maxes out at such a low volume that even 100% volume on both the headset and the Ipod is still 60% of what I normally listen at. It’s great if you’re a low volume headphone listener. But this set up is designed to be used outdoors, and you can’t enjoy low volume music outdoors.

Is there any solution to this? Apparently not that I know of. I tried this with two different Ipods, the Classic and the Nano, and still can’t get anywhere near a decent listening level. So, how can I recommend this set up to my friends? Probably can’t. Of course the PX210BT is still a wonderful headphone, and you can pair it directly to any A2DP Bluetooth capable phones with great results. But as for the tiny Nano+dongle set up, I’d have to wait until something else better comes up.

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  • laon

    awww kinda disappointing, does this mean that the 1/8" one is even worse?

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Well, the 1/8" one, I don't know to be honest. But I think the 1/8" one may be better because if your DAP can go really loud, I think that would affect the input signal at the dongle. But with the 1/8" one, there would be no volume/track controls from the headset, which is not as handy as the Dock line out dongle.

  • jendol

    interesting observation mike, I read some reviews on the internet and they said good things without mentioning the low volume. by the way, where do you buy this dongle in jakarta?

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Sennheiser sent one to me, I am not sure if they can be bought locally yet. I've talked to them about the volume limits, but they don't have a solution yet.

  • Earfonia

    I wonder, whether the dongle takes the headphone output or the line output of the iPod. Mike, did you try to change the volume of the iPod while playing? Does it make any different? There is 'Volume Limit' setting in iPod, have you set it to maximum? Thanks!

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      The dongle connects to the dock connector, so I guess it takes the line out signal. Yes you can control the volume output via the Ipod as well, and I've maxxed the volume on the Ipod and the headset, and have maxxed the volume limit setting in the Ipod.

  • Boyd

    the dongle + Ipod classic doesnt work as well ????

    • Mike

      It works, but the same low volume problem exists.

  • Roselyn

    Hello, Mike
    -Is there any difference in sound quality between using the dongle and direct bluetooth from the phone? and without using the dongle, does the low volume problem exist?
    -When you adjust the volume via the ipod, does it change the volume of the headset as well? if it does, I dont think the dongle takes the line out signal from the ipod. correct If Im wrong ><"

    Roselyn,

    • Roselyn

      Also, I would love to hear your comparison between PXC 360BT and PX210BT.
      Right now, Im still deciding between PXC 360BT, PX 210BT and ATH-M50. any suggestion, Mike?

    • Mike

      Roselyn,
      I can tell that the sound quality is better if I use the dongle, but then I can't get enough volume with it. Without the dongle, I can bluetooth directly to an Iphone or Blackberry smartphone, and there is no problem with sound quality.
      You have a point there, yes the volume is inter-connected. Does this mean that you can tell the Ipod to vary the volume in the line out? I am not sure, there must be some interface that Apple has prepared for this kind of accessories.

  • Neonomide

    I have had no problem with BT 210 + dongle so far with low max volume during exercising, most of the time. Putting ipod nano 6g on max volume and bt near 4-5 before max seems more than adequate for me and a real revelation during lone running sessions. Can’t say much about sq, the BT 210 seem more than enough for my sports needs.

    Of course, this is jyst my N=1, and I’m certainly not loud listener and have still excellent hearing too.

    Maybe some software/hardware differences are possible too, I think I’ll check out that posdibility too. And Mike thanks for reviewing BT 210, they have been very nice! (casual use through iphone)

    • Anonymous

      That sounds great! You know I really love the BT210 sound wise, but to me the volume issue was really a big problem.. I don’t know if Senn has upped the limit on the newer releases as I don’t think it’s an issue with the physical properties of the driver, but more on the software side (probably).
      Anyway it’s a really fun sounding headphone and having the bluetooth wireless feature is a big plus as well.

  • ech_na_ton

    use it with the apt-x – capable creative ZEN x-fi3: great sound and no low-volume-problem!

    Just be sure to turn off Equalizer and the crappy “xfi-sound” 

  • ech_na_ton

    use it with the creative x-fi3, which is apt-x capable out of the box. Great sound and no low vol. probs, at least with my senn mm100!
    Just be sure to turn of equalizer and the crappy x-fi- soundprofile.

  • ech_na_ton

    use it with creative zen x-fi3 (apt-x-capable out of the box + flac support!); Great sound and no low vol-probs, at least with my senn mm100.

    Just make sure that equalizer and the crappy “xfi-sound” are turned off – enjoy