There are a lot of different ways to connect your iPod to your cars audio system. Here I am going to look at 5 of the best ways to achieve this on the market today.
Auxiliary – Perhaps the most simple of all iPod solutions, the auxiliary lead input is also the cheapest. An auxiliary lead is simply a 3.5mm jack to 3.5mm jack. Manufacturers are now starting to offer this kind of connection as standard in there cars making it one of the most popular solutions. It is the cheapest and easiest method of connection however there are a lot of drawbacks. With an auxiliary lead the audio quality is never quite there, you will get you audio and be able to hear it fine but if you are used to CD’s then you will be able to notice the difference. There is also a lack of control with auxiliary leads, all control has to be done through the iPod itself, not ideal whilst driving and certainly something we would never suggest you do. The last and possibly biggest downside to auxiliary connections is the lack of charging, your iPod will only play for as long as the battery lasts meaning after a long road trip your iPod is going to be dead by the time you reach your destination.
Transmission – The next level on the ladder of connectivity is an FM-Transmitter. This provides a more universal approach than the auxiliary connection as it simply uses the 12v socket and the radio. The iPod plugs into the transmitter which in turn sends the sound via an FM frequency, you then simply tune into this frequency on you radio. This can provide a very good solution on the cheap and also allows you to transfer the kit between various cars very easily. The biggest down fall of this type of kit is the quality, as with any radio signal, it is only as good as the strength of the reception. It is also susceptible to interference from other radio stations as you travel. In essence a transmitter is a great way of connecting an iPod cheaply but don’t expect the best sound quality.
Modulation – An improvement from an FM-transmitter is an FM-Modulator. In essence the operation of the two kits is near identical however there is one very major difference. Instead of sending the FM signal through the air it uses a solid connection onto the car aerial input, providing near perfect quality audio and removing 99.9% of interference. With a price tag that is similar to the high end transmitters, modulators are perhaps the most popular of all iPod solutions. One of the biggest market leaders in the iPod field, Dension, produce an Ice Link One. This is perhaps the best value for money solution on the market today.
Integrated Kits – OK so you’ve looked into the kits I’ve suggested so far but you really want to hide your iPod away rather than clutter your dashboard with cables and brackets. This is where an integrated solution becomes your best option. An integrated kit will allow you in most cases to control your iPod through the standard stereo fitted to your vehicle and keep the iPod safely hidden in the glove box. The majority of the integrated kits use the CD changer connection to send the feed from the iPod into the stereo allowing for perfect sound quality, full charging and also text information to be displayed on any OEM displays. Products like the Gateway 100 are the pinnacle of iPod solutions if you want to keep your standard equipment.
Replacement – So you have looked at the options above and want a fully integrated solution however your stereo does not support CD changers or you simply want a change from your boring looking OEM unit. If this is the case then your best bet is to get a brand new stereo with iPod integration as a feature. The choice out there nowadays is huge, there really is an iPod ready stereo to suit everyone’s budget. The latest of which is the Sony Tune Tray range. These stereos are at the top of there game allowing you to hide your iPod in the stereo itself and have full control still of the iPod. The Sony DSX-S300BTX is in my opinion the best iPod stereo on the market today.
So to recap, no matter what your budget there is a way to connect your iPod to your car stereo and listen to your favourite play list on the move. In terms of iPod connection the more you pay the better quality kit you will receive and the more features will be available to you. If you choose to go down the integration route always connect a reputable company to gain some good advice as compatibility plays a massive part in what kit is available to you.
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