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USA Spec iPod® Interface for BMW

Connects your iPod to select 1998-up BMW DSP-style factory radios

13 Reviews | 3 questions - 8 answers

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Item #: 581PA12BMD

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Our take on the USA Spec iPod® Interface for BMW

You have a factory radio in your BMW, but that doesn't mean you have to leave your iPod at home. Install USA Spec's iPod interface and listen to your favorite tunes through your car's speakers. You can control song selection, and up to five different playlists right from the radio, including shuffle mode. And with your iPhone® connected, you can even stream music from popular Internet services like PANDORA®, Livio Radio, iHeartRadio, and more. The interface also charges your iPod while it's connected.

You have a factory radio in your BMW, but that doesn't mean you have to leave your iPod at home. Install USA Spec's iPod interface and listen to your favorite tunes through your car's speakers. You can control song selection, and up to five different playlists right from the radio, including shuffle mode. And with your iPhone® connected, you can even stream music from popular Internet services like PANDORA®, Livio Radio, iHeartRadio, and more. The interface also charges your iPod while it's connected.

Note: While most iPods will work with this interface, you should check the "Details" tab to see if your iPod is compatible. If you have a newer iPod/iPhone device with a Lightning connector, then you will also need Apple's Lightning to 30-pin adapter.

This interface works with DSP-style BMW/Mini Cooper radios, and is not compatible with any factory radio that has GPS, satellite radio, or a CD changer. Please enter your vehicle information or call an Advisor at 1-888-955-6000 to find out if this adapter is compatible with your vehicle.

Absolute must buy if you own any BMW. Great way to seamlessly charge your phone and play music.

Graham, Vienna, VA

What's in the Box:

  • PA12-BMWdsp iPod-to-BMW interface with song title display
  • 72" iPod interface cable (CB-PA85)
  • 15.75' Adapter to BMW radio interface (CDL-BMW)
  • 14.75' Digital audio cable (CDL-BMD)
  • Digital cable coupler
  • Owner's manual
  • Design Change Notice sheet

Product Highlights:

  • iPod connection adapter for select BMW DSP-style factory stereos
  • track up/down, fast-forward, reverse, and shuffle play
  • use up to five playlists (select five favorites, or Auto Playlist will let you choose from the first five on your iPod)
  • when iPhone is connected, you can stream tunes from popular Internet services like PANDORA®, Livo Radio, and iHeartRadio
  • Dual Mode lets you control everything via the iPod itself, giving you access to all playlists
  • compatible with all iPod and iPod mini models equipped with a dock connector and iPod software update 2004-04-28, or higher
  • auxiliary input (RCA connectors) for another audio source
  • warranty: 1 year
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee

USA Spec iPod® Interface for BMW

Average Customer Review(s):

(13 Reviews)

Must have

Graham from Vienna, VA on 9/8/2016

2002 BMW 3 Series
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Absolute must buy if you own any BMW. Great way to seamlessly charge your phone and play music.



Nice product

Pobro from 65203 on 4/21/2014

2001 BMW X5
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Easy to hook up and works great with my IPad. A really cool product that enhances the stereo in my BMW.

Pros: easy to connect. great sound.


iPhone integration

Carl A. from Sioux Falls on 2/28/2014

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Excellent product ... Although you can hear a chirping and humming sounds when wifi signal goes down but for the money it's worth being able too hear my music!

Pros: Works great

Cons: Back grounding noises at times

Excellent Ipod interface for BMW

Melvin from Dallas, TX on 1/7/2014

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

This product performs just as described. While limiting you to only 5 playlists, once created on my iPod or iPhone 5s, music selection wasn't limited at all. You may also operate iPod/iphone in direct mode from your portable device. Installation was quite easy, with many examples on Youtube for reference. Would strongly recommend if you want a quick way to implement your iPhone into your BMW E46 or earlier model.

Pros: ease of installation, operation and music quality

Cons: lack of model specific install instructions. but Youtube has many references.

great addition to our Mini

Tommy from Kansas City, MO on 12/13/2012

2006 MINI Cooper
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Put this into our 06 Mini Cooper Convertible. We have the Harmon Kardon set up and the CD Changer in the trunk. It went in like a dream and works great so far. I thought we were only going to be able to add an aux interface and wanted more.

Pros: easy to install, Song title shows up on display.

Cons: Not all of the song title shows up. hitting up arrow on steering wheel skips to the BMW5 playlist. Odd...

Interface for BMW

Keith from Dallas,TX on 9/25/2012

2002 BMW 3 Series
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

The Interface is a great addition to the Stereo All works as Advertised Easy to install, plug and play unit ( Thanks Nick ) Great sugestion to upgrade my 2002 BMW.

Pros: Easy install, excellent construction (not plastic), fantastic compatibility

Cons: None

Installed on 06 MINI - easy & works great

zakkloet from Lake Geneva, WI on 1/22/2012

Installed yesterday and working exactly as it should. I went back and forth with a DICE model and the USA Speck - very glad to have made this choice. I didn't see any instructions here for a MINI install. I have an R53 (January 06 build) with what appears to be a non-dsp radio, at least I cannot find a DSP button on it anywhere. I was concerned at first I had picked the wrong interface product - but did not. Instructions say the "right" rear panel... which means passenger side to find the plug. I see many people installed this in the glove box, which makes sense if you'd like to leave the ipod/iphone in the glove box. I opted to mount it directly below the box using heavy duty Velcro. I drilled no holes and didn't have to remove any panels during the install. There is a spot just behind the cabin air filter where the module fits perfectly. By far the most helpful tool was a bent piece of metal to pull out the panel plastic just enough to route the cable past the door. A large torx driver was nice to unbolt the lower end of the passenger seat belt, but not needed. It's simply plug and play. The radio recognized it instantly, internal music as well as pandora can be controlled by the radio or steering wheel buttons. Song titles and artist are displaying for me on the factory head unit. Of course, in direct mode, the ipod/iphone can be controlled using the touch screen. tested iphone 4 by the way, but the unit has updatability firmware.

Pros: Easy install, excellent construction (not plastic), fantastic compatibility

Cons: Little in the way of instructions... however, it's designed for a few different model vehicles AND it's just not that complicated.

USA Spec iPod® Interface for BMW

JohnE from Maryland on 8/22/2011

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

This device is well designed and works exactly as advertised. The instructions do not give any direction on how to route the cables from the trunk of the 530i to the mounting location under the dash. I found videos of similar installations on youtube which helped a lot.



great product

chasman from NE PA on 1/25/2011

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

works great-would buy again




Erik from Denver on 1/11/2010

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Just installed this in a 2003 325xi. Very easy installation. Don't let the wires in the trunk fool you though. There is a bundled wiring harness that is immediately exposed when the trunk carpet is removed. This was not the harness to use in this car. The harness for this adapter was tucked inside the wheel well attached to the amp. Make sure that you follow the instructions to find the correct harness with the brown #3 wire. It took longer to decide where to mount the interface than it did to get it working. My IPOD worked the first time that I plugged it in.



USA Spec iPod® Interface

Paul from New Bern NC on 3/9/2009

2002 BMW 3 Series
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Just installed it in my 2002 330 CSI. Easy insatllation as always 90 % of the job was removing the trunk lining. One of the easiest insatallation in 30+ years of installing devices.



Some Install Directions Would Have Helped

Ryan from Detroit MI on 1/30/2009

2005 BMW 3 Series
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

The USA Spec unit works great. There is only issue that I have had with the unit not recognizing my iPod. It was a quick fix by going back into the trunk and disconnecting the USA Spec cable from the BMW Aux cable. Since then, all is good. The install was easy after researching some videos online and a bit of trial and error. I would give yourself about 3-4 hours to complete this job. On an '05 3 series convertible you will need to remove the floor trunk lining and the drivers side trunk lining. You will find the BMW aux cable wrapped in a little bundle of padded foam. Next you will need to remove the back seat (both lower and back cushions), this is easily done. The lower cushion lifts right out. The back has two bolts at the bottom and then lifts right out. Run your USA Spec cable through the firewall hole (with the rubber grommet) on the drivers side. Next I disassembled the back portion of the center armrest to feed the iPod connection cable under the arm rest and into the cup holder. I then fished the cable through under the carpet and into the back seat well. I set the USA Spec box on the passenger side and connected the cables, put the car back together and it is sweet! Enjoy, Ryan



Overall good item

Steven from West Coast on 8/27/2008

2004 BMW 3 Series
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Who in their right mind wants to tear up their 3 series BMW? Mine is in pristine shape, even though it is a 2004 model. I was seeking a way to use our I-pod with the OEM radio. I do not want to even think about removing the head end. This device allows me to access the I-pod with no trouble. Installation is a "b" though. Removing the factory nylon locking pins in the trunk is a bear. I need to buy two new ones. Moving the trunk lining without damaging it takes patience, but it can be done. Using the product is fine if you don't mind just shuffling. I still need to learn more. All in all, pretty good.




Hands-on research

Product Research


Overview: The USA SPEC PA12-BMWdsp interface connects a compatible iPod to select BMW and Mini Cooper OEM audio systems with DSP or for radios that require Digital Audio Input. (Radios that do not have DSP or do not require a Digital Audio Input should use the PA12-BMW (item # 581PA12BMW).) It is not compatible with BMW systems having navigation, DVD, satellite radio, or CD changer. Its on-board software translates commands from your factory radio's CD-changer controls into commands the iPod understands. This interface enables the iPod to take the place of a BMW CD-changer and provides the following benefits:

  • Directs the iPod's audio output to your factory audio system for optimal sound quality
  • Supports your iPhone's audio streaming apps, such as Pandora, Livio, iHeart Radio, SiriusXM & more (in Direct mode only).
  • Controls the iPod via vehicle's radio and steering wheel controls (when applicable)
  • Charges the iPod's internal battery; charging stops automatically one hour after the iPod is paused, the iPod goes into sleep mode when charging stops

Vehicle Compatibility: The interface is compatible with the following vehicles:

  • 1996-2005 BMW 3 Series
  • 1999-2006 BMW Z3/Z4
  • 1998-2003 BMW 5 Series
  • 1999-2006 BMW X3/X5
  • 2002-2006 Mini

Note: Please consult the Crutchfield Car Selector to see if your vehicle is compatible.

iPod Compatibility: The PA12-BMWdsp is "Made for iPod/iPhone" compatible and supports the following iPod/iPhone model features when connected to a compatible BMW factory radio (as of 3/4/2015):

iPod/iPhone Model Generation Tested Version Media Type Control Type Display Type Charge
Audio Video Head Unit iPod/iPhone Song/Artist Text Track Info
iPhone 2G 3.1.3 Y N Y Y Y Y Y
3G 4.2.1 Y N Y Y Y Y Y
3GS 5.1.1 Y N Y Y Y Y Y
4/4S 7.1.2 Y N Y Y Y Y Y
5/5C5S* 8.1.3 Y N Y Y Y Y Y
6+/6* 8.1.3 Y N Y Y Y Y Y
touch 1st 2.2.1 Y N Y Y Y Y Y
2nd 4.2.1 Y N Y Y Y Y Y
3rd 5.1.1 Y N Y Y Y Y Y
4th 6.1.2 Y N Y Y Y Y Y
5th* 8.1.3 Y N Y Y Y Y Y
nano 1st 1.3.1 Y N Y Y Y Y Y
2nd/3rd 1.1.3 Y N Y Y Y Y Y
4th 1.0.4 Y N Y Y Y Y Y
5th 1.0.2 Y N Y Y Y Y Y
6th 1.2 PC Y N Y Y Y Y Y
7th* 1.2 Y N Y Y Y Y Y
classic 80GB 1.1.2 Y N Y Y Y Y Y
120GB 2.0.1 Y N Y Y Y Y Y
160GB 2.0.4 Y N Y Y Y Y Y
video 5th 1.3 Y N Y Y Y Y Y


  • *Requires Apple Lightning to 30-pin Adapter (sold separately).
  • Apple iPod/iPhone software updates may change functionality results. If you download a newer software version, you may need to reset the head unit and your iPod/iPhone to regain functionality. If this doesn't work, you may need to wait until a newer software update is available.

Text Display: The PA12-BMWdsp displays text information of artist name and song title on BMW's Business CD radio models. The Business CD radio has a rectangular-shaped faceplate, a Function button on the radio which must be pressed twice consecutively to activate and complete a task.

Modes of Operation: The PA12-BMWdsp provides two operation modes:

  • Direct Mode: all control functions on your iPod are available, you can search and select music on your iPod directly just as you would when using it as a portable unit, you can also still use the track up down, fast forward and reverse button on your radio to control music playback
  • Dual Mode: the iPod is operated and controlled like a factory CD changer, you can access up to five playlists on the iPod, in Hybrid mode the controls on the iPod are also active. (May be referred to as Hybrid Mode in some manuals.)

App Streaming (in Direct Mode): Direct mode also lets you listen to the sound from your iPhone's downloaded music apps (such as Pandora, iHeart Radio, SiriusXM, etc.) through your factory head unit & speakers. You will continue to control your iPhone's apps & view song/artist information from its touchscreen.

Note: Your iPhone will need an active Data Plan account with connection to the Internet via 3G, EDGE, or WiFi. You will also need applicable music service accounts.

iPod Playback: All audio tracks on the iPod will be played at Disc 6. The track order is determined by the default order on the iPod. Selecting discs 1 through 5 on the factory radio will allow playback of 5 playlists on the iPod if the Aux Input is not used. You can select a playlist by pressing the Disc Up or Disc Down buttons.

Playlist Names: In order for the adapter/factory radio to recognize a playlist, it must be named BMW1... through BMW5... Text can follow the BMW name and number, such as BMW3_artistname or BMW2-jazz. For a given disc slot (1-5), if there is no playlist named BMW followed by that number, that disc slot will not be available.

Auxiliary Input: In addition to the iPod input on the PA12-BMWdsp there is an auxiliary input (stereo RCA) for use with another source, such as a DVD system, satellite radio, or game system. The aux input is selected at CD 6 Track 1 using the factory radio controls. This aux input can be used with or without the iPod connected.

Note: When the Aux input is used, the "All Tracks" playlist is moved to Disc 5, and playlist "BMW5" is lost.

Controls: The factory radio's controls give you access to the following iPod functions:

  • Scan: plays first 10 seconds of each track
  • Random (Shuffle): songs are played back in random order
  • Track Up/Down: skip tracks forward or backward
  • Fast Track Search: skip 10 tracks at a time forward or backward (i.e. 04, 14, 24...)
  • Fast Forward/Fast Reverse Play: while in Random mode you can fast forward or fast reverse through the current song

Note: Repeat play is not supported by this interface. Switching to another source, such as AM/FM, CD, or Cassette, puts the iPod into pause mode.

Our Product Research Team

At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team. They verify what’s in the box, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.

Q & A

Customer Q&A

Crutchfield asked  
Why did you buy this?

wanted to utilize Ipod in car [ JEFFREY  Mar 02, 2016 ]

3 questions already asked

yes [ KURT  Dec 14, 2014 ]
Kim-I wish I could answer your question, but the first unit lasted 4 days and then died. The replacement lasted for 3 days before it died,and I returned it for a full refund. I have a 2001 bmw 325ci convertible without navigation. [ joseph  Dec 11, 2014 ]
Hi I have no idea, I only use for ipod. Sorry [ ANDREW  Dec 11, 2014 ]
I am hooked to the cd changer wire in the trunk music is good for i4 and i5 but the integrated phone won't work with this setup, I think there is alternate wiring to use the steering column [ JOHN  Apr 26, 2014 ]
Yes...hands free operation works, and the unit has a mic that you mount to you sun visor or other handy spot. [ GREG  Apr 24, 2014 ]
It did charge my iPhone 5 after placing a 5 adapter on to the connecting cable [ VIREN  Mar 03, 2014 ]
It worked. It charged. Poor sound quality. User unfriendly controls. I returned it. [ CHARLES G  Feb 21, 2014 ]
I do not know if this adapter will charge an iPhone 5S since I do not have one of those phones. [ DIANE J  Feb 21, 2014 ]

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