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How to Connect MP3 Player to Car Stereo

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Dan Mertz, May 20, 2005.

  1. Dan Mertz

    Dan Mertz Well-Known Member

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    I am debating whether to buy my first MP3 player, but one thing I want is to be able to use it in my car. What are the possible ways to connect an MP3 player to a car stereo? I know they have cassette-adaptors, but my car stereo does not have a cassette tape deck so that is not a possiblity.

    I've also seen these "FM Trasmitters" but I'm not sure how they work. It looks like one end plugs into a cigarette lighter and the other, I guess, plugs into the MP3 player. How does that work? Does it send a signal to the car stereo or does it actually have to plug into the car stereo somehow?

    Also, approxiamtely how many hours of music can a 1GB MP3 player hold?
     
  2. ChuckSolo

    ChuckSolo Well-Known Member

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    Unless your car stereo has either a small 1/8 inch stereo jack or RCA plugs in front or back, you are pretty much out of luck.

    Yes, you can buy one of those FM transmitters, but I can tell you by experience that on OEM radios, they don't work very well. I have heard them played on high end card radios and they sound OK, but there is usually some static present. The kind that have a 12v plug have a stronger signal than those that run on batteries though.

    I don't know about MP3s, but a 1 gig iPod Shuffle holds about 240 songs or about 16 hours of music.
     
  3. Kelly Grannell

    Kelly Grannell Well-Known Member

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    Or you can buy an FM modulator unit with RCA input.

    iPOD -> (via RCA input) FM Modulator -> (via antenna input) to the head unit.

    Still limited frequency response (about 30Hz to 16 KHz) but without any static whatsoever.
     
  4. Dan Mertz

    Dan Mertz Well-Known Member

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    Is the "head unit" my actual car stereo unit? I don't know anything about car stereos so I have no idea if there is a way to plug anything into it. Its a pretty basic stereo, about 8 years old...not sure if that matters.

    Would the reception of an FM Transmitter be affected by the fact that the attena on the outside of my car is completely broken off...I think that only affects AM stations, but I'm not sure.
     
  5. Kelly Grannell

    Kelly Grannell Well-Known Member

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    Yes, the "head unit" is your car stereo. At the back of it, there will be an antenna input. Make sure the antenna input is the same as the one provided with the FM Modulator (if not, there is always an adapter).

    Regardless, you may want to try your local Wally Mart for a regular FM transmitter (it's about US$20 in Canada) and see if you like it. If it's good enough for you, you don't need to go through the hassles of buying a (much) more expensive FM modulator and go to an installer (and pay him/her at least $30 for his/her time) and possibly an antenna adapter (another $10 minimum).

    If you don't like the sound of the FM transmitter, you can always return it to Wally and buy the FM modulator.

    Please note, however, a proper FM modulator + antenna adapter + labour will easily cost you about $150. Whereas a decent head unit (Clarion with Aux input) will run you only about $200 (and usually basic installation is included in the price).

    PS: That's the reason I retrofit my Jetta's head unit with a Clarion head unit rather than buying an FM modulator.
     
  6. Robert_J

    Robert_J Well-Known Member

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    It really depends on your head unit. A lot of factory units have the option of a CD changer. There are a number of companies that make adapter for these different inputs.

    Please post the details of your car and we can provide more help.

    -Robert
     
  7. Dan Mertz

    Dan Mertz Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure what detail you need. I have a Panasonic stereo, which as I said is about 8 years old. It is connected to a CD changer, but the changer has not worked for years. I just took a look at the stereo and I saw that it as an AUX jack on the front of it. Would this be a place I could plug an MP3 player into the car stereo? If so, what type of cord would it take? I know I have some cords that connect a disc-man to my home stereo, but these cords have a dual (red-white) connection at one end...this AUX jack on my car stereo is only a single input jack.
     
  8. Kelly Grannell

    Kelly Grannell Well-Known Member

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    you'll just need 1/8" stereo male to 1/8" stereo male cable. Can be obtained for less than $10 at Rat Shack.
     
  9. Dan Mertz

    Dan Mertz Well-Known Member

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    So, if I get a "1/8" stereo male to 1/8" stereo male cable" will this mean I can just plug an MP3 player directly into the "AUX" jack on my stereo...or will I stil need an FM Modulator or something?
     
  10. Kelly Grannell

    Kelly Grannell Well-Known Member

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    You don't need the FM modulator anymore. Just the 1/8" stereo male to 1/8" stereo male. Costs about $1 at the dollar store.
     
  11. Dan Mertz

    Dan Mertz Well-Known Member

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    WooHoo! I can afford that.
     
  12. dell32

    dell32 New Member

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    FM radio transmitters broadcast the audio from an iPod or other portable media player to the radio in your car stereo. These devices are low-power, so their broadcast signals are designed to only reach your own radio, without disturbing the radios of other nearby cars. Car FM transmitter work best when they are tuned to a radio frequency which is not used in your area.


    Edit: Links removed by moderator.
     

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