iPod + Car, Finally
Ever since I bought my 2nd generation iPod, back in 2001 or whenever it was, I dreamed of having it hooked up so I can listen to it in my car. Oh, sure, I tried the various cheap solutions. Those wireless FM modulators are crap. All of them. Low volume, static, drifting, and that high-pitched squeal. I’ve tried several of them. I know.
Then there is the old cassette tape thing. Throw that in your cassette deck, let it buzz and whir as the cassette motor spins on the faith that it is a real cassette in there. Then have it try to forward fast or auto-reverse when a quiet portion comes up. Messy and poor solution.
I’d love to have a real “input jack” in my stereo. But I’ve given up on that. That car stereo costs more than my home stereo. I think it was billed as $1200 on my invoice. Why do they do that? I could replace it with a similar one for $99. But still, for that price you’d think they’d at least include an input jack of some sort. Or at least a way to add an input jack on.
Now there are various plug-in solutions for iPods. But for my particular model, it would mean having to disconnect the CD player completely. Screw that.
So, my solution? A WIRED FM modulator. I installed one of these in my car in the mid eighties to add a cheap cassette deck in the car I had back then. I can’t believe that the best technology to get my iPod hooked into my car is more than 20 years old.
So a wired FM modulator works like a wireless one, except that you hook into into the FM antenna port on the back of the stereo. You also hook it into the car power, so no batteries are needed. In fact, all that you end up with is an input jack and the on/off switch, the rest is hidden. To use it, you tune the radio to a preset station, make sure the unit is on, and plug in the iPod. The best part is that the sound is excellent. No static, squeal or drift. I can really pump up the volume too. It was so good, in fact, that I ordered a cheap XM radio unit that will also be able to plug right into the same jack.
The next car I buy will probably have an iPod dock in it. That’s the way things are going. But I’m sure they will still be so stupid that they will not include a standard input jack. Then the next big thing will come along, or an iPod with a slightly different jack, and I’ll probably have to install a wired FM modulator again. Then in 2050, I can see myself installing a wired FM modulator in my personal space shuttle.