Read this first: A guide to installing an ipod in your car

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Pnkrck83

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I?m writing this in response to the huge number of posts that ask the same questions over and over. ?Where do I start?? and ?What do I need?? What follows is an outline of the various approaches to installing the ipod in a car, parts needed for each type of install, examples of products and relative sound quality of each option. Hopefully people will read this before posting.
The basic options for installing an ipod in order of what appears to be best sound quality are: direct connection or ?hardwire?, wired fm modulator or cassette adapter (not sure which specifically sounds better but I?m sure you could find out), and fm transmitter.

-Hardwire Connection
A hardwire connection first requires you to find out if your headunit has an auxiliary input in the back/front, or if it can accept a cd changer. The easiest way is to pull it out and have a look at the back. Most CD changer inputs can look like any one of the examples on this page http://www.installer.com/adapt.html Be careful with RCA jacks on the back of your deck as most of them are for OUTPUTING sound to an external amp, not inputting sound. If you don?t know, the easiest way is to contact you dealer or search online.

Ok, so you found out that your headunit (stock or aftermarket) can accept a cd changer, what next? You need to get an auxiliary input adapter that is made for your headunit. This site http://www.installer.com/aux/index.html and this site http://www.logjamelectronics.com/auxinpconv.html have a large selection for aftermarket and stock headunits. A note for the Alpine headunits since I happen to own one of those; if your model number is CDM then you need the M-BUS http://www.logjamelectronics.com/piealpmrca.html adapter, if it is CDA then you need an Ai-NET http://www.logjamelectronics.com/piealpairca.html adapter. After your adapter is selected, you will notice that it converts the cd changer input into two RCA jacks. To interface your ipod with these RCAs, you something like this http://www.radioshack.com/product.asp?catalog_name=CTLG&product_id=42-2550 which can be found for cheap at radioshack. The 1/8? end plugs into either your headphone jack or the line out on your dock for 3rd gen ipod owners.

-3rd gen ipods only: So which should it be, the headphone jack or the line out? The line out offers a line level balanced signal that is specifically designed for hooking up to external audio amplification equipment, the headphone jack is not. The easiest way to use the line out is to mount your dock in you car and run the line out from the back of that. You could also purchase the Sik IMP http://store.sik.com/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=SS&Product_Code=03-1004 which connects directly to the bottom of your ipod and has produces a line out (that is the plug in the lower right of the picture and you would plug in the adapter form radioshack into that). Either way, try to go with the line out instead of the headphone jack.

Don?t have a cd changer input on your headunit??? You can use on of the choices below or upgrade to a new headunit that does offer aux input capabilities. Places like Circuit City http://www.circuitcity.com/searchresults.jsp?c=1&b=g&u=74860&catoid=-8864&department=Car+Electronics&first=yes&qp=0&dupDept=null&m=0 and Best Buy http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?j=1&id=cat03066&type=category offer very affordable options. Remember, you are looking for a deck that can accept a cd changer (which would require you to find the proper aux input adapter) or has a 1/8? stereo aux input jack on the front http://img.neoseeker.com/v_image.php?articleid=624&image=4 (this an expensive example but notice the little black hole on the lower right of the faceplate) which requires only a 1/8? stereo to 1/8? stereo cable http://www.radioshack.com/product.asp?catalog_name=CTLG&product_id=42-2387 that can also be found at radioshack. If you are not sure, either call the store or go and talk to someone.

-Wired fm Modulator
A wired fm modulator http://www.circuitcity.com/detail.jsp?c=1&b=g&u=74860&qp=0&bookmark=bookmark_0&oid=80974&catoid=-12581&m=0 can be used with any headunit as it plugs into your antenna port on the back of the unit. These are a little more difficult to install as you also have to tie them into a power source. Notice that they come with a switch so you can turn them on and off and not lose you radio function. If you want more information, SEARCH the forum. To connect your ipod to a modulator, you need the RCA to 1/8? http://www.radioshack.com/product.asp?catalog_name=CTLG&product_id=42-2550 stereo adapter.

-Cassette adapter
For all of you with a cassette player on your headunit, this is by far the simplest (but definitely not best sounding) option. You simply buy on of these http://www.radioshack.com/product.asp?catalog_name=CTLG&category_name=CTLG_007_002_004_000&product_id=12-1999 and plug it into either the headphone jack or line out of you ipod.

-fm Transmitter
If you have at all searched the forum before, you probably noticed that many people have a lot of trouble with the fm transmitters. fm transmitters http://www.griffintechnology.com/products/itrip/ work by transmitting your audio signal form your ipod to a specific fm frequency on you car radio. In theory it is a great idea as there are no wires, but in practice, the sound quality sucks and if you live in a large city, just about every fm frequency has something else transmitting/interfering with it. Again, SEARCH to find out more if you are still interested.

-Installing
Once you have made your choice and have all of your proper audio connectors, you have to install it all into your car. THIS IS NOT THAT HARD!!!! It can be a simple as removing some screws. The basic process involves removing the headunit, connecting either the aux input adapter for cd changer capable headunit or plugging in the wired fm modulator to where the antenna normally plugs (remember, the fm modulator requires you to tie it into a power source, look below for ideas). Next, the RCA to 1/8? http://www.radioshack.com/product.asp?catalog_name=CTLG&product_id=42-2550 cord from radioshack is plugged into the fm modulator or aux input adapter and then into your ipod, simple. For mounting options you must get creative as every car is different. However, here http://www.ipodlounge.com/reviews_more.php?id=3448_0_6_0_M is an example of what is out there. This is a good place to SEARCH the forum as many people have pictures and descriptions of what they used to mount their ipods. Personally, I put my dock in my ashtray which was very easy to do.

-Powering you ipod
The simplest way to charge the ipod in the car is with something like the Sik IMP http://store.sik.com/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=SS&Product_Code=03-1004 or this http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0001007RU/more-pictures. Both are just plugged into your cig lighter and then connected to your ipod. For people who want a clean install, you can purchase an extra cig socket http://www.radioshack.com/product.asp?catalog_name=CTLG&product_id=270-1556 and install that behind the dash by using the supplied ?vampire? clamp and attaching the red wire to the positive wire of your existing cig lighter. Ground the black wire and you can plug in you car charger and hide it all behind the dash. This has been covered many times so SEARCH for it if you have questions and check out this http://www.ipodlounge.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=26329&highlight=vampire post.

-Conclusion
Hopefully this guide answers some questions about where to start. I highly recommend taking the extra time to do the hardwire option as the overwhelming consensus on the forum is that it sounds the best. If you would like more detail about something specific, please SEARCH first as your question has probably been asked more than once. A final thing to check out for some ideas is this post of car installs http://www.ipodlounge.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=23488&highlight=installs, good luck!

*EDIT* So I haven't touched this post forever and much has happened in the world of ipos auto integration. The basics still hold, but you should definitely check out the new Alpine ipod interface. It basically allows for your ipod to be stored away whie all controls/information is handled by the headunit, very cool. Obviously not every Apline headunit is compatible so google any questions, info is everywhere (including here, SEARCH FOR IT) good luck!
 
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Pnkrck83

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Thanks. Hopefully this will help to alleviate the constant stream of reocurring questions that plauge this forum.
 

DoobyDoo

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This should be a permanent post on the top page for those lazy people who won't do a search before asking the same questions about where to begin.
 

stinkiedmb

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very helpful. now i just hope that the newbies search the forums and find this before asking too many simple questions.

great job, man


Jason :)
 

Maroon_tiger

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yo i got a question.. i just ordered an auxiliary input adapter for my jeep cherokee 2001... and the rca plug.. after i get all this installed.. how much of a difference will the sound quality be?? i recently had a cassette adapter... but i returned it... i plugged the cassette adapter into the top of the ipod and the sound quality was ok... when i plugged it into the audio/out socket of the IMOUNT it sounded horrific....a rep @ best buy told me that with the cassette adapter you tend to lose 20-30% of sound quality..I didnt want to even mess with the FM Modulator.. because of all the stories i heard on here..

so im worried that the sound quality (from the auxiliary input adapter) wont reflect the $$ that im dishing out for it..

if someone could explain the pros and cons of the auxiliary input adapter and the cassete adapter, I would really appreiate it...
 

dwiller1

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As long as you are trying to cover all the bases.....under the 'hard wire' section, I think you should include a link to for Ice Link. http://icelink.densionusa.com/

Many people on this board have started investigating this technology that give you the ability to charge iPod, change tracks with the stock stereo, and use line level audio.

The new version 1.1 just came out. My unit should be here on Monday, so I'm looking forward to getting that all set up.
 

Pnkrck83

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"As long as you are trying to cover all the bases.....under the 'hard wire' section, I think you should include a link to for Ice Link. http://icelink.densionusa.com/"

Yeah, I totally whipped this up and forget to metion that. Looks like an edit may be in order......

"so im worried that the sound quality (from the auxiliary input adapter) wont reflect the $$ that im dishing out for it.."

Maroon, you will definitely notice an increase in sound quality with the aux input adapter. I guess you could possibly compare it to going from listening to tapes to listening to cds. Try it for yourself on your home stereo with the cassette adapter vs. the RCA plug, you'll will definitely be pleased you spent the extra money. As for the IMOUNT issue, I have know idea. Basically there are no pros to a cassette adapter other than it being cheap and simple to operate.
 

jedikd

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right now i have a line out running from the headphone jack on my ipod to the mp3 in on the front of my JVC head unit, sound quality seems quite good. how much better would the sound quality be if i used the SikIMP to use the dock connector line out to the CD changer in on the back of my head unit? Is it significantly better?

Hooking up my Ipod to use the dock connector line out and CD changer input on my headunit looks like it would easily cost $70 ($30 Imp + $30 CD changer to RCA adapter + $10 miscellaneous cables) so i really don't want to do it unless there is a significant sound quality issue.

I know there is also the advantage with the imp of being able to use it as a charger, but honestly i don't drive enough in a day to need the charger.
 

Pnkrck83

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jedikd said:
right now i have a line out running from the headphone jack on my ipod to the mp3 in on the front of my JVC head unit, sound quality seems quite good. how much better would the sound quality be if i used the SikIMP to use the dock connector line out to the CD changer in on the back of my head unit? Is it significantly better?

Hooking up my Ipod to use the dock connector line out and CD changer input on my headunit looks like it would easily cost $70 ($30 Imp + $30 CD changer to RCA adapter + $10 miscellaneous cables) so i really don't want to do it unless there is a significant sound quality issue.

I know there is also the advantage with the imp of being able to use it as a charger, but honestly i don't drive enough in a day to need the charger.
I'm a little confused on your choice of words. First off, your head phone jack is not a "line out" If you look on the back of your dock (assuming you have one) you should see a hole labeled line out. You could use just the dock instead of the IMP for a line out solution. I assume that you are pluggin into a 1/8" jack on the faceplate of your head unit? If so then there is no need for the aux input adapter. In this case I would recomend running the line out from either your dock or the IMP to that very same plug that you are using now. As far as it being worth it, its up to you but people here seem to agree that the line out gives better quality.
 

JazzyMac

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Okay...I'm going to go ahead and play the "Damsel in Distress" role. What the heck are you guys talking about???? "Line Out?", "Hardwire", "Balances" "Auxilldsffjhoho"...Sheesh! The only thing I understood in that post was "CD Changer" You know, something I can actually relate to? Yet and still, I need to hook my iPod up to my car in the most aesthetic way possible. Can we put a "In-Car Solutions for Dummies"? Or "The Girl's Guide to Playing With Car Stereos" Or something to the like? Perhaps you can disguise the technical terms with things we (I) can relate to (i.e. "red wire", "blue wire", "thingy", "doohicky")

And to stop any useless and unasked for bashes:
(I'm a female and I got it right!)
(Read the posts, dummy!!)
(Why do you even have an iPod and if you don't know how to use it???)
(Yada, yada, yawwn)

I'm different.

Now, right now, I have a stereo player--the face folds down to reveal a cd and tape slot--and a 12-disc changer in the trunk.
Do I need to remove the cd changer and all my little problems will be solved? Please help me...don't make me bat my eyes--I'm extremely convincing.

Thanks in advance :)
 

Maroon_tiger

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Ms_Jewelle said:
Okay...I'm going to go ahead and play the "Damsel in Distress" role. What the heck are you guys talking about???? "Line Out?", "Hardwire", "Balances" "Auxilldsffjhoho"...Sheesh! The only thing I understood in that post was "CD Changer" You know, something I can actually relate to? Yet and still, I need to hook my iPod up to my car in the most aesthetic way possible. Can we put a "In-Car Solutions for Dummies"? Or "The Girl's Guide to Playing With Car Stereos" Or something to the like? Perhaps you can disguise the technical terms with things we (I) can relate to (i.e. "red wire", "blue wire", "thingy", "doohicky")

And to stop any useless and unasked for bashes:
(I'm a female and I got it right!)
(Read the posts, dummy!!)
(Why do you even have an iPod and if you don't know how to use it???)
(Yada, yada, yawwn)

I'm different.


Now, right now, I have a stereo player--the face folds down to reveal a cd and tape slot--and a 12-disc changer in the trunk.
Do I need to remove the cd changer and all my little problems will be solved? Please help me...don't make me bat my eyes--I'm extremely convincing.

Thanks in advance :)

from the looks of Auxilary-input-converter installations.. it doesent seem hard at alll.. I dont work @ west-coast-customs...but i understand (a little) how/why the installation works...you have to dissconnect alot of wires before you attach the Auxilary input converter.... and i dont want to mess anything up..

i dont understand it all but i know that if i buy all this stuff.. and get someone else to PROFESSIONALLY install it for me... it will sound worlds better than the cassette adapter...

basically
1. buy the Auxilary input converter (from the websites provided in the 1st post) that corresponds to your car/stereo... then buy the stero cable from radioshack.... and then buy something to charge the ipod.... (i have an iMount) for some reason... most chargers have line/out socket... and i GUESS it provides better sound...

it seems that you dont have a factory stereo in your car... (aka Aftermarket Stereo).. and you have a cd changer... i dont know what to do there..

i would wait around for help on here... but it takes a long time... i learned alot by talking to best buy reps.... and im scheduled for an installation on monday... so i hope all this $$$ & time is worth it in the end... i'll tell yall about it monday
 
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Maroon_tiger

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I just got back from bestbuy... they installed it in like 10mins.. for only $15..... I didnt care cus i wanted to make sure that nothing went wrong.... they slid the stereo cord under the cig liter and it plugs right into the line/out socket on my iMount...

There IS A CLEAR DIFFERENCE B/W THE SOUND QUALITY OF A CASSETTE ADAPTER/FM TRANS.. AND THE AUXILIRARY INPUT CONVERTER....

the auxilary input converter is worth the $$$.... i hated the cassette adapter with a passion...so this was really easy

1. order the correct auxilirary input converter (that corresponds with your car)
2. purchase the stereo cable from Radioshack..
3. follow the directions to install and or bring it to bestbuy... and pay $15
 

JazzyMac

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Cool beans. I had to read this thread about 50 billion times before it started making any sense to me. Not everyone understands car stereos--no matter how "easy" they are.

Thanks Maroon!!!
 

fourmoshers

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Two issues with the first post.

If you are going to mount your dock into your car, don't bother with the Sik Imp. The line out of the Imp only works if it is connected directly to the iPod, and will not work if connected to the dock. If you use a dock, the line out on the dock is the only place to get a line out signal.

You recommended a Radio Shack cassette adapter if going the tape adapter route. I've used both it and a Sony and the Sony sounds far superior to the Radio Shack. The Radio Shack sounded fine in my Honda Odyssey but not in my Cadillac, so it may be that you have to find the best adapter for your particular tape deck.
 

markstreich

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Could someone please explain the "usability" of the CD changer, and how one interacts with the iPod? i.e., what do the various controls (volume, CD, track, balance, etc.) do in terms of the iPod? [okay, I'll assume the volume controls the volume... ;-]

Can you only go from one track to the next? With 500+ songs, that could be, um, time-consuming.

Do all the various setups enable the iPod to powerdown when the car is off?

Thanks,

Mark
 

Pnkrck83

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Unless you go with a system like the ICE link, you will not have the ability to interact with your ipod via the changer controls. The adapters simply trick the head unit into thinking there is a changer connected so you can input sound into the head unit.
 
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