Video: Playing an iPod in Your Car
Zak Billmeier grew up in southern Vermont and coastal Maine. After graduating from Mary Washington College with a Geography degree he still isn't sure quite what to do with, he eventually settled in the mountains of Central Virginia. He spends his free time chasing his daughter around, taking pictures, gardening and cooking. Zak traces the roots of his interest in electronic gadgets to the Casio wristwatch with a built-in calculator he received as a gift one year as a child. He joined Crutchfield's car A/V team in 2007.
More from Zak Billmeier
This short video describes the ways to listen to an iPod or other MP3 player over your car's sound system. We'll quickly cover the options and tell you how to find out which ones work in your car.
Hi. I'm Zak. In this Crutchfield video we'll show you how to use an iPod or another MP3 player in the car.
There are several ways you can do this depending on which car stereo you have. Many new or aftermarket stereos have a USB input that lets you plug your iPod or other MP3 player right into the stereo. Your music player will stay charged and you can control if from the dash.
USB also gives you the best sound, and this is especially true for some newer stereos that actually bypass the built in D/A converter in your iPod and use their own superior converter instead. This is important because the iPod's D/A converter was designed for listening through ear buds rather than through an amplified car stereo.
Now if your aftermarket stereo doesn't have a USB input you're not out of luck. You might be able to find an adapter that'll let you connect and control your iPod. And likewise there are similar adapters available for many factory stereos too and that's where your model of car comes into play. Now like USB, an iPod adapter gives you superior sound quality from a direct connection. It also gives you control over your iPod right from the stereo and they usually keep your iPod charged too depending on which model of iPod you have. So a direct connection via USB or an iPod adapter is the best way to go, but if neither of those are available for your stereo there are still other options.
The next best way to connect your iPod to your stereo is through an auxiliary input. Auxiliary inputs are common on both aftermarket and factory stereos these days and even if your stereo doesn't have one built in you might be able to add one whether it's a factory or aftermarket stereo and you'll still get good sound quality. But obviously it won't charge your iPod or let you control it from the stereo.
The final option is an FM transmitter or the old cassette adapter. They're both easy to use and portable from car to car. Now, the sound quality's not bad but it's not quite as good as the other options.
You'll usually have multiple options for connecting your MP3 player to your stereo, and Crutchfield has a few ways for you to find out what'll work in your car. Talk to one of our expert advisors by calling 1-800-555-9408. And for step by step installation instructions see our online iPod installation guide.