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Satellite Radio: FCC FM Transmitter Update

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 Have fun reading it, but be aware that the information may be outdated and links may be broken.

Most plug-and-play and portable satellite radios feature FM transmitters that "beam" the sound to any FM stereo. You simply tune your vehicle's stereo to an unused FM frequency, set the satellite radio to the same frequency, and play satellite radio through the stereo.

Since recent FCC regulations have limited the power of these transmitters, SIRIUS and XM offer adapters for better signal transfer. Each adapter places the FM signal transmitter as close as possible to your vehicle's antenna. You won't have to remove your stereo to install these adapters, and they are included with most newer radios.

SIRIUS includes an FM Extender cable. This cable attaches to the interior glass surface closest to your vehicle's antenna with suction cups, or double-sided tape for a permanent installation. This solution can be used on any type of vehicle, regardless of antenna style.

The XM solution is the SureConnect. This cable attaches directly to your vehicle's in-glass or fixed antenna. It can't be used with a retractable or roof-mount antenna, so the applications are a bit more limited.

For a better signal transfer, SIRIUS and XM offer direct adapters that connect to your stereo's antenna plug. These adapters, known as FM modulators, require removal of your factory or aftermarket receiver, and some newer vehicles will require an adapter to fit the antenna port. However, you will notice a great improvement in sound transfer, so the payoff is worth the little extra effort.

Connecting your satellite radio through an auxiliary input offers the best sound. This makes your satellite radio a dedicated music source, so there's no potentional for interference from radio stations. We carry a number of adapters to add auxiliary inputs to most factory radios. These adapters usually use existing CD changer or satellite radio ports on your factory receiver.

If you're shopping for a new receiver, consider one with an auxiliary input. Crutchfield carries more than 100 receivers with auxiliary inputs, with some CD players costing as little as $80.

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