Over the years I’ve tried several Bluetooth adapters, but I’ve always found their unbalanced 3.5 mm jack inputs quite annoying. This is why I didn’t have to think twice when I found out about the Kali Audio MV-BT – bang, impulse purchase! You might have heard of Kali Audio for their LP and IN series studio monitors. The MV-BT is a ($99 MSRP) Bluetooth adapter module with a twist – balanced XLR + TRS audio outs – designed to let you use your Bluetooth devices with professional speakers, mixers, controllers, and interfaces.
Design, Sound Quality, Etc.
Speaking of design, Kali Audio MV-BT is a real eye-catcher. The big weighted knob is pleasant to the touch, it has an elegant blue LED display, and it allows precise control over the volume level. I found this independent volume control quite handy so that I can leave the volume on my device at full.
As you would expect, the adapter is straightforward to use: just press the Kali Audio logo to pair with a new device, and you’re done. On the back of the unit, you can see the above-mentioned balanced connections. You can use both the XLR and TRS outputs at the same time.
On the left side of the unit, you’ll find a 3.5 mm AUX input – you know, just in case you need to connect a Bluetooth-free device. Just FYI: the wired and Bluetooth inputs are mutually exclusive, you cannot run two audio sources at the same time into the MV-BT.
Sound quality? According to Kali Audio, MV-BT receives audio over Bluetooth using the aptX codec. This codec allows compatible devices to stream CD-quality audio over Bluetooth with minimal latency.
I used my Tidal and Idagio accounts to stream high-quality recordings of all kinds, and the MV-BT does what it says on the tin. It sounds great, and I don’t have to struggle anymore with unreliable adapters and annoying 3,5 mm cables.
Alright, we’re not talking of an audiophile setup (BT connections are not inherently noise-free, and the codec is not lossless). Still, the convenience of a quality wireless audio streaming is undeniable.
How many times you were in a studio, and you needed to play something off your phone? With a device like the Kali Audio MV-BT, you can easily do that without plugging any wires (well, the latest phones don’t even give you that option anymore!). It’s just a matter of hooking up the MV-BT to the studio setup (via a mixer, preamp, etc.) and it’s done.
Another case scenario: how about that old yet great-sounding monitor you haven’t been using for a while? Yep, same here…
Here’s the MV-BT with my beloved AR speaker…
Bluetooth speakers are cool, but good ones can also be pretty expensive. At the same time, most of us have quality speakers at home or in the studio, probably sitting on a shelf collecting dust. Bluetooth audio adapters are an affordable way to breathe new life into them. Or simply, to add new connectivity options to our studio setup, for when we need to use our phones and tablets to play some audio through our main monitors.
I’m glad Kali Audio came up with the idea of the MV-BT. It’s a problem-solver, it looks sexy, and it sounds great. Price-wise, at $99 it’s more expensive than the average BT adapter you’ve probably been using, but it doesn’t break the bank either.
Cons? Nothing big. The power cable is way too short, make sure you have a power bar or some extension cord handy (I hear you, for the price they could throw in a longer cable!). Some users complained about the hiss, but I can only notice it when the unit starts and there’s no music playing on the speaker. These kinds of issues are often associated with Bluetooth devices – we experienced something kinda similar with the IK Multimedia iLoud we reviewed a few years ago. Personally, not a big deal.
All in all, I recommend checking the MV-BT out, I love mine and probably you’ll love yours too.