How to Connect an iPod to a Car Stereo

car-audio-systemLots of young drivers enjoy detailing their cars and pay special attention to the car’s infotainment system.

If you have an iPod and you want to be able to play it in your car, but the car doesn’t offer iPod integration, there are a few alternative ways to do that. Hooking up an iPod to a car stereo is easier than one might think. You don’t have to be a tech whiz to do it, and it can be done in a couple of minutes. The most common options for connecting an iPod to a car stereo include an FM modulator, a cassette adapter, an auxiliary input, and a wireless transmitter. Some of these options will only cost you $20-$30, and others may cost over $200.

Cassette Adapter
If you have an older car, with a cassette player in it, you should buy a cassette adapter. You can get one for about $15, and it’s a very simple solution. You just have to plug the adapter into the cassette slot, tune the stereo to cassette, and you can listen to music from your iPod right away. The problem with the cassette adapter is that it doesn’t provide great audio quality.

Radio Transmitter
This is also a very cheap option. A standard radio-frequency transmitter costs about $10, but it doesn’t provide good sound quality. To connect a radio transmitter to an iPod, you have to plug it in the iPod’s headphone jack, and it will transmit the music through a low-power frequency, which is picked up by the radio tuner in your car. With a radio transmitter, the music you’ll be listening to will be of similar quality as the music played on an FM radio. Also, when you go through a tunnel or when you are in a parking garage, there might be interference with the transmitter and the sound quality will be very poor.

Auxiliary Input
If your car is no older than 2-3 years, the stereo probably has an auxiliary jack. This is a very good solution for connecting your iPod to your car’s stereo. You just need to plug an adapter cable from your iPod’s headphone jack into the auxiliary jack in your car’s stereo and you can start listening to music from your iPod in a minute or two. This is perhaps the cheapest option and the sound quality is very good.

iPod Integration Device
If you want to get an excellent sound quality and you are willing to pay a couple hundred dollars, you can buy a third party integration device. If you have such a device, you can seamlessly connect your iPod to your car’s radio. One such product is the iSimple GateWay, which costs $189. It provides digital sound quality, and you can browse your playlist through the radio controls. You can also see information about the songs, artists and albums on the radio display.

If you don’t like any of these methods, you can always replace the head unit of your car’s stereo. You can buy a head unit that is Bluetooth-enabled, and that has a USB port, and you’ll have no trouble hooking up your iPod to it.

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