iPod Car Audio

There are a ton of iPod Car audio options today

There's nothing like taking your iPod on the road and playing you music through the car stereo. There are a few ways you can accomplish this and they range from the best sound quality, but more complicated, to lesser sound quality but easy to do.

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The most complex yet best sounding method to connect your iPod to the car stereo is to use the line out on the docking port at the bottom of your iPod. Connect the line out to a line in on your car stereo's head unit. The way one obtains the line out from the iPod is important.

The easiest and most popular way to get the iPod's audio signals to your car stereo is to use an FM transmitter, sometimes called a wireless FM modulator. The FM transmitter will turn the music from the iPod into a low strength FM radio station that surrounds your car's interior. Your car's FM deck will pick up the signal and play through your speakers. The hardware itself is powered by your car's cigarette lighter and plugs into either your iPod's headphone jack or docking port for a line out.

iPod's own FM transmitter peripheral is the iTrip, this one uses the headphone jack. This method used by the iTrip is not as good as others that use the docking port. Using the iPod's headphone jack creates an amplified audio signal which allows you to adjust the volume from the iPod's own volume control. This is bad for sound quality. A far better way to do this is to use any of the FM modulator's that use the iPod's docking port. Not only does this give you a nice clean flat line out, but it'll also power your iPod, charging the battery while you use is always preferred to any process that expends the charge.

Monster and Kensington make a Digital FM Transmitter & Charger. Both comparable iPod peripherals cost a little more than the iTrip, but are well worth the extra expense. These FM modulators send iPod's music from the transmitter to the radio on one of a variety of radio stations depending on which one is clear at any given time. As you drive you'll intermittently be subject to interference depending on the area. This will compromise sound quality with a hiss in the background that can get so strong it overtakes your iPod's audio altogether. The best way to avoid this is to get comfortable changing stations. This will be more of a problem for users in a big city than for users way out in the burbs or in the country.

A better option for FM modulation is the hard wired FM modulator. This allows you to connect the iPod into a car stereo that only has an FM radio. If your car stereo doesn't have an auxiliary input you can get better sound quality than a FM transmitter, but not quite as good if it were using an auxiliary input. The FM modulator is a box that is easily connected to the iPod using a headphone jack to RCA connector. The modulator box is then hard wired into your car stereo's antenna input giving you sound quality about as good as a local FM radio station with a very strong signal. The modulator box itself would have to be mounted somewhere behind the dash with a cable that is easily accessible to connect it to your iPod.

Other options for connecting your iPod are getting more popular since car stereo manufacturer Alpine created their own iPod car stereo solution. The best possible sound and control is available through this aftermarket option but at the maximum expenditure. The Alpine/iPod adaptor is compatible with Alpine's own line of high quality decks and includes an adaptor cable and an interpreter box that will connect directly to your iPod. Not only does the iPod charge and have a direct line in on the car stereo offering the best possible sound reproduction, you also have full control of your iPod through your car stereo deck. From the Apline head unit you can now shuffle songs and select playlists while your iPod is tucked away out of sight.

One common question when using the iPod in the car is where do I put the darned thing? The iPod must be within reach by the cabling you're using for the sound method you've chosen. Whether you have a docking port plug that's wired to your car stereo's head unit or you have a mic jack to plug into the iPod's headphone jack for a line out, it needs to reach. Make sure you're taking necessary connections into consideration twhen you're putting anything into the dashboard that will secure the iPod..

There any many retail solutions to the problem of connecting the iPod to the dash- some are pricey for what they give you. Sometimes the simplest option is the best. Don't discount a simple strip of Velcro or something that might already be local to your dash that you can use as a simple belt hook to fasten the iPod. If you're taking the iPod for walks, chances are you already have a belt hook to fasten to, try this in your car.

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