Using Your iPod In A Car (& Other mp3 Players)

Mp3 players are ideal for in-car use – all of your music on a device the size of one cassette tape. The only potential problem is connecting your iPod (or other mp3 player) to your car’s stereo.

People with new cars may find this is a doddle – many cars now come with connections for mp3 players already fitted. A friend’s 07 reg Ford Focus, for example, has a connector for mp3 players in the glove box.

Owners of older vehicles may find that a little more ingenuity is required. There are several possibilities:

  1. Your car stereo has an ‘Aux in’ socket on it.
  2. Your car stereo has a tape slot.
  3. Your car stereo has neither a tape slot nor an ‘Aux in’ socket.

1. Using ‘Aux in’ Sockets

‘Aux in’ stands for auxiliary input and it allows you to plug a music playing device into your car stereo and play it through the car’s speakers.

Usually, this requires a cable with a 3.5mm stereo mini jack at each end (like the plug on most headphones). You plug one end into the headphone socket of your mp3 player and the other end into your car stereo.

2. Using A Tape Adaptor

Those of you with older cars may still be blessed with an in-car cassette player. This gives you the option of using a tape adaptor to connect your mp3 player to your car stereo.

Although tape adaptors are cheap, most of them are pretty rubbish, too. You have been warned.

The only one I know of (I use one myself) that seems reliable and provides good quality sound is the Sony CPA-9 car adapter. The only problem is that this model seems to be hard to find in the UK – try eBay or Amazon marketplace.

3. Radio Adapters

If your car stereo doesn’t have a tape slot or an ‘aux in’ connection, then your only option is to use a radio adapter.

These devices are basically low power radio transmitters that plug in to your mp3 player’s headphone socket. You then tune your car radio into the right frequency and listen to your music on the radio.

Although this sounds like a brilliant solution, these do have their problems, too. On long journeys, you will have to change frequencies sometimes to avoid interference. Sound quality is not always great, either, especially on really cheap models.

These are the three main options – cable, tape adapter or radio. If you can connect your mp3 player directly to your car stereo with a cable, then do it – you will get the best sound, reliability and least hassle.

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