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iPod (and other MP3 player) audio adapters

We own several portable MP3 players (I regularly use an 30G iPod and Manuela a 40G Creative Zen Xtra). We’re often used to playing our favorite music while traveling or just driving to and from work. Since a friend recently asked for advice about playing music from a portable player, I thought I’d share my experience on the adapters I’ve used.

Obviously the connection made between your vehicle’s stereo system and your player will affect the sound quality of your music. Those who have a CD player or even an AM/FM/cassette deck with a direct line-in input will achieve the highest quality results. Next in quality is use a cassette adapter to connect the portable player. I have used several-including Griffin Technology’s Smart Deck, which allows you to control your iPod using the cassette deck’s controls. I wanted to use an adapter that charges my iPod while playing, using an included DC lighter adapter. So for me, the most effective choice for a cassette deck adapter was one from Belkin Corpoation. I have found that the cassette deck should still be periodically cleaned and the tape heads demagnetized just as one would do if playing cassette tapes, and that this maintenance keeps sound quality at a high level.

Supposedly somewhat lower in quality for vehicles that have only a radio, or a Am/FM/CD player, or for those who don’t want to use a cassette adapter, one can use another all-in-one solution-a digital FM transmitter and auto charger. I personally have tested several, but settled on Kensington Technology’s unit for everyday use. Though one of the most expensive ($80), the quality of this unit rivals that of any cassette adapter solution. I can charge my iPod and play it using any available frequency (it will store 3 pre-sets). After playing it for several weeks now, including a couple of relatively long trips, I found the quality of the transmitted signal through this unit clear and without distortion. I was so pleased with its performance I will probably relegate the Belkin cassette adapter solution to my in-vehicle storage box, along with a stand-alone iGo power adapter and its tips, including one for the iPod.

Also, I use Belkin’s TuneDok flexible cradle to hold my iPod in our truck’s cup-holder console. This $30 addition to my gear helps position my iPod so I can control it easily, and manage the cable for the FM transmitter.

Posted in Community Musings, Music, Older Posts.

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