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Multi-Disc Changers FAQ

Heads up!

Welcome to this article from the Crutchfield archives. Have fun reading it, but be aware that the information may be outdated and links may be broken.

Q: My factory stereo came with CD changer controls built-in. Can I control an aftermarket changer with the factory stereo?

A: Because of the way automobile companies configure their audio systems, you can't connect an aftermarket changer to the factory receiver in the vast majority of cases. And we don't recommend trying to modify your changer or its cable to work with the factory receiver.

Crutchfield carries some adapters that allow you to connect aftermarket changers to factory radios with CD changer controls. Keep in mind that these adapters are not universal; each one works only in certain types of cars and with one specific brand of changer.

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Q: Is the sound quality of FM-modulated changers as good as changers that connect directly to the in-dash receiver?

A: An FM changer is static-free, because it's hard-wired directly to the receiver's antenna — it will sound as good (or slightly better) than your strongest FM station. And, while it's true that the frequency response with a direct changer/receiver connection is superior to that of an FM-modulated hook-up, that alone doesn't tell the whole story.

In our own informal, "on the road" listening tests, we've often found it difficult to distinguish between FM-modulated CD signals and "pure" CD signals — road noise tends to mask much of the difference in frequency response. Also, the natural signal compression of an FM-modulated changer beefs up the sound of your CDs a bit, and helps to keep musical details audible over the noise in your vehicle's interior. So the difference is more significant on paper than it is to your ears. Bottom line? These units sound terrific.

If you prefer to lease your cars, an FM-modulated CD changer will work with any FM factory receiver. As always, we'll give you all the help you need installing it and throw in an antenna adapter if you require one.

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Q: How often will my CD changer skip?

A: Today's CD changers skip very, very rarely. And when a particularly nasty bump in the road does cause a skip, there's no risk of damage to your CDs or to the changer. For the highest level of anti-skip protection, consider a changer with Electronic Shock Protection. These models use electronic memory buffers to keep the music flowing smoothly, even on the roughest of roads.

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Q: Is it difficult to install a changer?

A: Over the years, we've helped many thousands of people install changers in their cars. Along with your purchase, we'll include our free Crutchfield Guide to Car Stereo Installation, which includes helpful information on mounting and installing your changer. There are very few connections to be made in a changer installation and, though it can be somewhat time-consuming, we think you'll be happy to save yourself a pro installer's fee.

For more details, take a look at Installing a CD changer. And if you're installing a changer you purchased from us and you do get stumped, just call for our comprehensive and caring tech support, free on most orders,.

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  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 12/21/2015

    Trevor, CD changers that include an FM modulator and their own remote can be incorporated into almost any system that receives an FM signal. However, most modern aftermarket stereos don't allow for control of this older technology if you want a wired signal. Your best bet would be to find an older aftermarket stereo and CD changer package on eBay or a similar site.

  • Trevor Scheele

    Posted on 12/18/2015

    Can you hook up a CD changer to any in dash receiver?