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Video: Upgrading Your Factory Stereo, part 3

Expand your stereo's capabilities

I've written about car audio for Crutchfield since 2003, after four years as Crutchfield Sales Advisor, and 10 years as a music teacher. I'm an avid music listener, with a real love of classical and film music. I love having a great system in my car, and I'll still match the system in my 98 Ford Ranger (may it rest in piece) up against anything else I've heard for great SQ. I attended West Virginia University, where I received a Master's Degree in Music Performance and a Bachelor's Degree in History. Let's Go Mountaineers!

More from Ken Nail

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

You don't need to feel like you're stuck with the few features that happen to be built into your factory stereo. Today it's easy to add the features you want without replacing the stereo, whether you want to play your iPod® in the car, add an auxiliary input, or add Bluetooth® hands-free calling capability. In this short video, Crutchfield experts Ken and Robert explain how easy it can be to add the options you want to your factory stereo.

The other videos in the series look at two additional ways to improve your factory sound system without changing the factory stereo. In part one, we show you one of the easiest ways to get a dramatic improvement in your car stereo's sound quality. Then in part two, we take a look at one way to really up the sound quality and power of your audio system.

Video Transcript

Ken: So there's a lot you can do to add on to your factory stereo even if you don't do a complete audio makeover — what if you want to play your iPod or add another auxiliary input?

Robert: Luckily, that's not too difficult to do either. We have here an assortment of kits; this is an iPod integration kit, these kits are vehicle-specific, different ones for different cars, and they allow you to connect your iPod to the stereo and control your iPod with the stereo.

Ken: Nice. And for that other player, what, we get an auxiliary input, right?

Robert: If you have some other MP3 player, you can add an auxiliary input adapter to your stereo, so you can listen to anything else through it — in this case, it's RCA inputs; again, vehicle-specific so it depends on your car.

Ken: Not even MP3s, I know people who still listen to books on tape and they have a little cassette player, they can plug it in, right?

Robert: Right, anything.

Ken: Yeah, and you know some people, you see them driving along, talking on the cellphone, they've got the earpiece in, is there a better way than shoving that thing in?

Robert: Especially for the car, yeah. There are adapters like this one from Parrot that allow you to have hands-free calling from a Bluetooth-capable phone through the car stereo, or maybe just through this piece itself, it depends on what you get — but yeah, that way you don't have to have the earpiece, it comes through the — the call comes through your car speakers, so you can hear it better, and it works a little easier.

Ken: Nice. And I'm hearing a lot about satellite radio in the news these days — is it easy to add that into your car system?

Robert: Yes, you can definitely add that to any car system, factory or aftermarket. There are many different models of satellite radios out there, they're built, most of them, to work with any stereo, so not a problem.

Ken: Nice. And you know when I travel, I don't like asking for directions ...

Robert: Who does?

Ken: Is there another way you can get around, maybe?

Robert: I know where you're going with that. There are lots of these portable navigation devices out there that work, again, with any stereo and of course they're portable too, so you can take it out of the car and walk around with it.

Ken: If you're flying, you could use it in a rental car, too, couldn't you?

Robert: Certainly.

Ken: Nice.

Robert: So, as we've been talking about, there are lots of ways you can upgrade a factory stereo, whether it's an audio upgrade for better sound, or adding more sources or capabilities to the stereo and not have to be limited by what happens to be thrown in by the manufacturer.

Ken: Yep, there's a lot you can do, isn't there?

Robert: There is — you don't have to feel like you're limited.

Ken: Great. Hey, if you want to find out more about the possibilities for your car, just go to or give us a call at 1-888-955-6000. Thanks!

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