Your guide to car stereos with different flavors of iPod readiness
Robert Ferency-Viars is the managing editor for the Crutchfield car A/V learning content, and has been with the company since 1999. A Virginia native from the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, he loves spending time with his wonderful wife and sons, listening to music, writing, and playing games with friends. Robert's love for car audio began at 16 when he installed his first car stereo.
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Lots of car stereos claim to be "iPod® compatible" or "iPod ready." But there are different degrees of iPod compatibility among them. Here’s how I break it down:
Best: iPod audio/video (or audio only) input with iPod control
These stereos have iPod connections built in; you don't need to buy any optional adapters and they tend to give you the highest level of control and the most robust display of playlist and track info on the stereo’s control panel.
Second Best: optional A/V (or audio only) input with iPod control
These stereos require an optional adapter in order to connect your iPod. If the adapter is just a cable, iPod control tends to be at "full speed," so you get fast song-retrieval and the kind of robust overall performance described above. If the adapter includes an outboard component, communication between the iPod and stereo can be a little slower, since the component is acting as a "middle man."
A few stereos can take an adapter that offers audio input and also charges the iPod's battery, but do not offer iPod control. The final group offers nothing more than an auxiliary audio input.
How to quickly find the flavor you want
To help you figure out what level of control a stereo offers, we added an iPod connection filter to the car stereo section of our website. Tell us whether or not these filters are helpful.
On the left-hand navigation bar, you'll see the iPod Connection menu. Easily find the stereos that have the capabilities you want: