Skip Navigation

Portable player + aux jack = unwanted noise?

I've been a camera nut all my life, so it makes sense I'd end up being a video producer. Of course, it has been a roundabout journey for me, as I started at Crutchfield in 2007 writing about car audio gear. Over the years I've learned about all the electronic items we sell, and it is my job to make sure we are making videos that you will find useful, whether you're shopping for something specific or trying to install some new gear yourself. My job is a lot of fun because I get to play around with all the cool stuff you see on our website while I'm making videos about it. Getting hands-on with the gear helps me see what I should show you about a product, though the flip side is my personal wish list is a mile long...

More from Zak Billmeier

I put in a dock-and-play satellite radio recently, connecting it to my head unit through its aux input. With channel guide in hand, I began flipping stations in earnest, ready to program in my favorites. But something was happening — a "swirling" sound that got louder and faster as my engine speed increased.

First I disconnected everything, cleaned all my contacts, then reinstalled. No change. Tried turning the built-in FM modulator on/off. Still no change. Checked the antenna wire. Nothing. What was I going to say when everyone on my block found out that a guy that works at Crutchfield can't even hook up a portable satellite radio in his car?

I didn't have any luck finding a solution online, but I knew I couldn't be alone with this, and I took comfort in the fact that I'm lucky enough to work at a place full of experts who are trained to solve problems like this one. And my expert co-workers came through for me. "It's a ground loop," I was told. "You need to move the ground wire from your cigarette lighter to the same place as the one from your stereo." Which, I am certain, is the right way to do it.

But I found an easier way, right on Crutchfield's website: the PAC SNI-1/3.5 noise filter. It's a little black box with male/female 3.5mm miniplugs that you stick between your player and your stereo.

PAC SNI-1/3.5 set up

The SNI-1/3.5 goes between your player and your stereo's aux jack.

I don't know what's in that little box, but whatever's in there completely killed the noise I was experiencing. Problem solved, and installation took 10 seconds, maybe 13. So if you've plugged in a portable player to your new stereo's aux jack, and you're hearing a hiss, a whine, a hum, or a click, this little black box could be the answer to your problems. After gushing about it, I tested it with a co-worker who was having a similar problem, and he promptly ordered an RCA version


The PAC SNI-1/3 has 3.5mm connections


The PAC SNI-1 has RCA inupts and outputs

If you have a similar problem, give us a call. Our Advisors will be glad to help.

Great Gear Giveaway



Ask an expert advisor

No pressure, no commission — just lots of good advice from our highly trained staff.

Find what fits your vehicle


Can't find your exact vehicle?