(Pocket-lint) - If you fly a lot then you'll know the conundrum all too well: bring your own headphones and it's a fiddle to get the wires plugged into the in-flight entertainment system (IFE) with successful sound, especially on older two- or three-prong systems. Plus you'll have to suffer a wire getting tangled or perhaps not noticed by a neighbour who inadvertently then pulls it out when passing. Leave your own headphones at home, however, and the perils of those provided in-flight headphones are, well, enough said right there - they tend to be borderline useless.
The RHA Wireless Flight Adapter is here to fix such issues. This small box, which has two modular 3.5mm connectors, plugs into the IFE's audio ports and transmits a Bluetooth signal so you can wirelessly connect to your personal headphones (two can connect to the one source, if you wish). Is it a genius fix with added convenience, or does it introduce problems of its own?
Design & Connectivity
- 2x modular 3.5mm connectors (1x mono, 1x stereo)
- Bluetooth 5.0 wireless connectivity, range to 10m
- Dimensions: 44 x 53 x 16mm / Weight: 23g
- Supports aptX Low Latency
We've been carting the RHA Flight Adapter around in our Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 carry case, which has worked as a perfect pair. The RHA is a small device, so it fits in that case without fuss, next to the back-up cable for those very headphones. There's a short-length USB-C cable included, which you'll need for recharging.
The Wireless Flight Adapter offers two 3.5mm connectors, but these are individually stowed, thus you can use one or both at the same time. This is important for those planes where a three-prong system is on offer - comprising two 3.5mm and one 2.5mm opening (the latter being bypassed here) - as it'll make for a solid stereo connection.
However, it would have been even more impressive if RHA could have offered a 3.5mm and 2.5mm combo on the opposite side of the Wireless Flight Adapter, as some older planes utilise this combo. You can still fit the adapter to such fittings, but using a single 3.5mm connection - and that doesn't always bypass the drop-outs and crackling you often get when trying to balance a single 3.5mm into such a fitting.
As each 3.5mm offers four click-in positions beyond its stowed position, there's also flexibility to where the Adapter can be placed, which is useful for those awkwardly positioned audio ports tucked next to screens, cupboards and such like.
When it comes to pairing the Adapter to a pair of Bluetooth headphones it's a case of pressing-and-holding the single power button on the device, which will fire the status light into a flashing white. Our Bose NC 700 knew to connect within seconds and the status light switched to blue. Job done, and very easy too.
Does it really work?
- Compatible codecs: SBC, aptX, aptX Low Latency
- 330mAh built-in battery, USB-C recharging
- Broadcast to two headphones
- Status light
Which is all well and good, but does the RHA Wireless Flight Adapter work without issue? This will be dependent on some factors. Of the four long-haul flights we've taken during testing this device, three worked perfectly, but the fourth - which actually happened to be our first one, which made us almost give up hope - the delay was too excessive to enjoy an in-flight movie, as lip-synch wasn't just a little but a long way out.
That's a shame because on the same plane type, operated by the same carrier, sat in the same cabin and seat, we had no such issue on the return journey! We couldn't figure out why. So, that one time, it was just a case of reverting back to the wired cable instead.
On those three successful flights, however, we were impressed by how well the RHA Flight Adapter did work. We anticipated some minor delay, but that's not the case thanks to Qualcomm's aptX Low Latency, which is designed to maintain harmony with visual and audio sync.
The Bluetooth connection is solid, too, with no drop-outs or issues to speak of in our experience. It's even possible to transmit to two pairs of headphones - which you won't want to do with an IFE system, we suspect, but might find handy if sharing an iPad between two seats and both watching the same show together.
Battery life is set for a purported 16 hours, which is roughly tandem to what our Bose headphones achieve. So that worked a treat - although one time we forgot to switch the devices off and the battery drained without warning. Fortunately, as the battery is fairly small in capacity, we were able to charge it easily using a remote charger and then, after a bit of in-flight sleep, the Adapter was ready to go for a pre-arrival movie.
If you're fed up of not being able to use your Bluetooth headphones during long-haul flights then RHA has a solid solution in the Wireless Flight Adapter. It does exactly what it says on the tin with minimal effort and issues.
We've tested it on four long-haul flights, where it's only had a hiccup with lip-sync on one of those occasions. We thought that might be game over for this little device, but when we tried again on a second flight the aptX Low Latency ensured perfect sync and then we were totally sold on this little product.
The small size, long battery life, ease of use, loud and clear sound quality, solid connectivity and modular 3.5mm jacks otherwise make this a winner. The Wireless Flight Adapter is a must for frequent flyers looking to make the most of their Bluetooth headphones.