Car stereo recommendation, USB charging and audio

Discussion in 'iPhone Accessories' started by jjk454ss, Apr 21, 2015.

  1. jjk454ss macrumors 601


    Jul 10, 2008
    I'm looking for a decent, but not crazy expensive, stereo. Only requirements would be I'd like to be able to plug in my iPhone via USB so it will charge and play audio through USB. I'd like to avoid a 3.5mm audio cable, but BT audio would be OK if it's a better option.

    I've looked through some threads on stereos but didn't see much I liked of thought would work well.
  2. Lloydbm41 macrumors 601


    Oct 17, 2013
    Central California
    Personally, I like BT audio because there are no cords, but if you are looking to charge at the same time, might as well go the USB route. I have an older car that I am looking to upgrade my stereo to do the same things as you, so I am going to subscribe to this thread. I'm curious to hear what people have done and equipment used.
  3. iFalcon macrumors 6502

    Sep 6, 2007
    I recently replac d the factory radio in our highlander with a Kenwood x599. Fantastic radio and Bluetooth is a great sound.

    Great radio for about $150. Went through Crutchfield to buy it. Highly recommend them.

    The total cost was more by
    The time I had to get wiring, single din case, etc.
  4. jjk454ss thread starter macrumors 601


    Jul 10, 2008
    I'll check out the Kenwood, does is have USB?

    The reason I'd like USB is I have a Proclip dock already that has USB built in.
  5. iFalcon macrumors 6502

    Sep 6, 2007
    Yep - USB and auxiliary port.

    I initially looked at the X399, but moved up to the X599 due to better Bluetooth quality from what I've read. Other than that, both are almost identical and about $30 more for the X599.

    Highly recommend the X599.
  6. jjk454ss thread starter macrumors 601


    Jul 10, 2008
    Thanks. I've never done it this way, but I listen to my iPhone. I listen in the car, then when I turn on my BT headphones it switched over automatically. If I have a BT stereo, will it seamlessly switch the audio for me? Say I'm listening in the car, then turn the car off and turn the headphones on, it switches to the headphones automatically? And the other way also, from headphones to the car?
  7. iFalcon macrumors 6502

    Sep 6, 2007
  8. Alan Mac Farlan, Apr 22, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2015

    Alan Mac Farlan macrumors regular

    Apr 16, 2015
    Yup ... go with the Kenwood.

    It has the best AM/FM reception going, and you can play your CDs or plug in your Apple device for music and charging through their USB port.

    Kenwood has come out with an iCar type radio that is Apple ready with the computer screen set up if you do not want to go with the old school display of numbers and words ... has 80,000 colors so you can dial in your dash light system to match.

    Or you can buy an iCar radio from Apple .. I think they are out now. I dunno.

    There is (are) 'black box' translators you have to buy with your Kenwood or any other after market radio system if you want to use your steering wheel buttons and paddles for the radio and source out to talk hands free which I recommend you get so it works like the factory set up. Kenwood provides a microphone for this and your iPhone if you want it installed.

    I did not get the Sirus Radio black box to make the Satellite Antenna work (tis another $70 or so) so I just left that part unplugged. I will not pay for commercials on Sirus Radio (it is slightly better quality of sound but dips out in tunnels and bridges more then FM oddly enough) and also pay taxes .. when AM/FM is totally FREE and you still get the commercials !!!

    At Crutchfield you can talk to a TECH or internet chat ... who will search out and get the right stuff for you and your vehicle .. so one purchase of everything you need with your radio gets you installed for your GMC or Dodge or BMW ... etc with one shipping charge.

    Usually it is good to keep your standard factory antenna for AM/FM and often times it is a chore to swap one out if you want a better antenna that is after market. I like the rubberized whip antenna that is on Marine Boats as it is about 40 feet long in an 18 inch application.

    If you can swap out the stock antenna easily .. then do so as it would be penny wise and dollar foolish not to. For another $15 you get to upgrade your Kenwood circuitry for pulling in distant stations; which is does a real good job of already.

    As an added note, Kenwood or any other stereo system (home or auto) at their USB port .. will recognize the Apple Lightening Jack only as you have Apple toys to use.

    If you put a Micro USB port in the way,like the Mophie or the AMP audio system around your iPhone, then it will read it as 'No Device' though it knows something is plugged in.

    Stay with Lightening connector technology and all your other electronic toys you use to make your life better ... is all plug and play.

    Otherwise you just buy a headache and waste your money.

    If it has a USB micro port ... stay away from it and your Apple world is good.

    As a final note ... think about your speakers and if getting new ones to swap out the old ones that are 10 or more years old is a good idea. Factory speakers are cheap and crack easily with high volume. The newer ones after market can take the load and keep working. Co-Axial speakers have a mid-range or woofer with a tweeter in the middle ... those the best price for bang purchase so they upgrade the speaker port you have cut out in the doors. Smaller speakers you have .. likely are not worth the swap.

    Also ... you can put this radio in your vehicle your self ... however I recommend you find a good electrician automotive ... as the new vehicles have computers in them and shorting out the ignition switch system to power up your radio (it has to go into the radio circuit breaker you have already and sometimes you just plug it into the harness .. other times the upgrade is a bit more tricky) is something YOU DO NOT WANT TO DO.

    So find a guy or a gal that knows electronics and can hook up your Radio upgrade in a safe and sane way ... that works for the vehicles system and keeps your radio safe .. as well as your iPhone.

    Lightening strikes are rare .. but they do happen.

    You do want your iPhone when it is plugged into the vehicle radio to be grounded ...

    also knocks out radio frequency hmm from the electronic ignition and spark plugs often times.

    Other times (rare) you have to upgrade your plugs.

    So talk to your Service Tech Automotive person ... find out if you can do the Antenna swap easily .. then go research the Kenwood you want with all the parts you need.

    Make the careful purchase, wait for delivery and then make an appointment for installation.

    End of that final day .. you be one very happy person.

    My very warmest regards.


  9. jjk454ss thread starter macrumors 601


    Jul 10, 2008
    Thank you, great info.

    If I decided to go simple, is there a good BT adapter I can plug into my existing Aux Input?
  10. Alan Mac Farlan macrumors regular

    Apr 16, 2015
    There are different systems out there .. that you have to sort out works best for your situation.

    Here is one that is small, plugs into the bottom of the iPhone .... and transmits a radio signal to your existing vehicle radio ... on the FM of course.

    This one is about $10 ... US.

    There are others with USB cords that plug into the cigarette lighter or electric component socket ... and you can power it that way without using your battery to make it work... and also charge your battery while in use.

    Look around ... hit the Google button on your Safari or Firefox web browser.

    Some of them are crap .. some of them are good.

    I have no experience with them .. so I can not point to anything.


    Shopping > Electronics > Car Audio > Satellite... > Naztech > N3010 FM...
    Naztech N3010 FM Transmitter And Charger For IPhone - IPod - IPad - White RTL
  11. jjk454ss thread starter macrumors 601


    Jul 10, 2008
    I just love people who post on discussion boards "use Google". I asked for opinions on a good BT adapter that plugs into my Aux port. You tell me to use Google to search for a FM Transmitter that may or may not plug into an electric component socket:confused:

    Your last post was very informative, this one not so much:).
  12. Alan Mac Farlan macrumors regular

    Apr 16, 2015
    I can't be an expert in everything ... have to take the silver lining with the cloud of gray.

    Be patient .. sure there is someone round here who will stumble on this thread and school you up ...

    or ... plan two ..

    you school your self up.

    A plan three eludes me ... for ever I have been looking for an alternative to plan one and plan two .. but so far there is none.

    Maybe some one will come up with it .. and I get schooled then.

    My warmest regards ...


  13. jjk454ss thread starter macrumors 601


    Jul 10, 2008
    Well why can't you be an expert on everything? Come on:D.

    It's all good, when I first saw the post I thought it was from someone else just chiming in saying "do a search" not someone who was actively helping me out already.

    I tried a Belin one a while back and it had an issue with a buzzing/humming sound coming through the speakers. I'm thinking a new stereo is the way to go, but I'm problably going to spend $250 or more on that, where a BT adapter would save me a bunch of money and time installing it.
  14. Alan Mac Farlan macrumors regular

    Apr 16, 2015
    You have two problems to solve ... (1) the car stereo and what signal it will accept from what source. (2) the iPhone and what signal it will put out.

    For the iPhone you have two sources from it .. the USB lightening port or the ear plug port.

    Either you find a way to have your ear plug signal that will work ear buds .. be accepted into the AUX port of your car stereo .. and that is the rub there as the AUX port will accept what it will accept and the iPhone might not have enough signal strength to reach through the AUX input especially with any adapters you Rub Goldberg up into it.

    Or you find a way to get it out of the USB lightening port.

    So far that solution is only two fold that I can sort out for something that works ...

    Upgrade the radio so it has a USB port.

    or ...

    get the USB lightening port FM transmitter that will essentially blue tooth it into the radio.

    You want plan Three which is the BT adapter... so ... go sort it out and spend your money hunting and pecking your way through the conundrum and Rube Goldberg up with solution.

    See if you can get it to work by building that bridge between what the iPhone puts out which is set in stone .. and what the Radio will receive which is set in stone.

    I had the same problem to solve with my 2000 BMW 528i that still has a cassette drive in it from the last century (6 CD changer in the trunk) ... and I decided to keep the factory BMW radio install and not upgrade it.

    If I want my 2014 iPhone music from this century in there for road tunes .. I have to get the FM transmitter out through the USB lightening connector as the cost effective solution of about $20.

    All other avenues do not work and are a waste of money as the electronics are set in stone ... so to speak.

    I can upgrade the BMW radio to a Kenwood USB port for big money, but they are ugly and a step down size and ease use ... that way.

    However ... don't give up your dreams .. keep trying ... you might find a way.

  15. Alan Mac Farlan macrumors regular

    Apr 16, 2015
    Looking around ... I wanted a USB port for an FM transmitter.

    Just to see how much it cost ... so I found this one for about $19.®-Wireless-Transmitter-Hands-free-Gooseneck/dp/B00TGSF318

    iClever® Wireless FM Transmitter Hands-free Flexible Gooseneck Car Kit with USB Charging Port for iPhone, iPod and MP3 Players, Remote Control Included

    There are ones by Belkin and other manufacture agents ... but this one is the best I have been able to find so far .. and I purchased it.

    Usually it is priced at $99 or so ... but I got it on sale as no one wants to buy them it seems and stock is taking up space.

    For the money ... easy to take a chance on.

    I just might be happy with it too.

    My very warmest regards.


  16. jjk454ss thread starter macrumors 601


    Jul 10, 2008
    Cheap enough, hope it works well for you. Ive already got a dock, so I am not interested in a dock or fm transmitter for mine. I'm thinking I will just keep an eye out for a good price on a BT radio, I'm in no hurry.
  17. nwmtnbiker macrumors 68000


    Apr 5, 2011
    Fidalgo Island
    Thanks for the thread guys I finally decided on a weekend project and am gonna ditch the blown xfinity system and get a new deck and speakers:D

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