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Your guide to car stereos with different flavors of iPod readiness

I've been with Crutchfield since 1999, where I began as one our advisors, helping our customers choose new gear. After a couple of years, I moved to the writing team where I spent a decade researching new products and getting hands on with car stereos, amplifiers, speakers, and subs. Yeah, I've been doing this for a while.

For the past few years, I've been the managing editor of Crutchfield's Car A/V web article content. I couldn't ask for a better job — we get to play with car audio gear every day! I'm a Virginia native from the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Outside of work, I love listening to music, playing board games, and installing new audio systems for my friends.

More from Robert Ferency-Viars

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."

The rest
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:

 

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