No aux input on car stereo

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by ikethearmyguy, Mar 2, 2015.

  1. ikethearmyguy macrumors newbie

    May 31, 2012
    Apologies up front - I'm more than a bit technically challenged.

    Anyway, I've been searching around here for a cheapskate version to playing my music (via iPhone) on my car stereo which does not have a Bluetooth nor an auxiliary input/port. Is there any way to do this without buying a new car stereo?

    I have tried using one of those FM Transmitters but since I travel alot I would have to change the radio station every 5 or 10 minutes.
  2. RoboWarriorSr macrumors 6502a

    Feb 23, 2013
    I think griffin showcased something like this at CES 2015 for people without bluetooth or aux but not sure if its just a fancy radio transmitter. They didn't release a lot of details.
  3. ikethearmyguy thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 31, 2012
    I've been reading older posts about FM Modulators and wondering if they're "head and shoulders" above an FM Transmitter?
  4. Primejimbo macrumors 68040

    Aug 10, 2008
    I had this same issue and I finally gave up and got a cheap radio with Bluetooth. I found one at Best Buy for $120 and free instillation and I been happy ever since.
  5. ikethearmyguy thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 31, 2012
    Yeah I am waaaaaaaaay too cheap for that. I'm looking on eBay for cheap FM Modulators (the hard wired ones).
  6. swordfish5736 macrumors 68000


    Jun 29, 2007
  7. Gav2k macrumors G3


    Jul 24, 2009
    I've fitted a few of these and they work a treat as they block the frequency that is needed from all external sources.
  8. ikethearmyguy thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 31, 2012
    2004 Saturn Ion

    (Quad Coupe lol)
  9. poorcody macrumors 6502a


    Jul 23, 2013
    I struggled with this for a long time...

    If you have a tape player in your car I found one of those tape adapters actually work pretty well. Cheap and simple.

    I eventually got tired of the plugging the phone in though and went with bluetooth... what kind of car do you have? I was able to find this adapter which allowed me to create an aux input by connecting to the car's OEM stereo's CD changer input. You might see if there is something similar for your car. I installed it myself thanks to a YouTube video I found.

    With that I added this bluetooth adapter which works really well. (If you go this route you will probably want to add this to avoid static on the line.)

    If you can't find an adapter for your car and/or don't want to do the install yourself, the suggestion of getting a stereo from Best Buy and having them install it is probably the easiest way to go. $120 sounds like a pretty good deal.

    By the way I found the connivence of bluetooth well worth it. I use my phone for music in the car probably 10-times more since getting it. I often don't even take the phone out of my pocket.
  10. takeshi74 macrumors 601

    Feb 9, 2011
    They're the same thing. An FM transmitter has to modulate the signal to do the job.

    What you're asking about are the wired FM modulators.

    Look into the aftermarket interface companies. If you're going to wire anyway you might as well skip the modulation and get the best possible sound quality. Companies like iSimple, PAC Audio, USA Spec, etc all make devices to interface IOS devices and add aux inputs to various factory stereo systems. Most sites have an application guide where you specify your year, make & model and it direct you to appropriate solutions.
  11. Jzo macrumors regular

    Oct 16, 2011
    OP, Do you have a cassette player in your car? If so, you can buy a cassette adapter for $10-$15. Sounds not incredible, but does the job.
  12. rugmankc Contributor


    Sep 24, 2014
    lol I was going to mention that also but poorcody did in post 9

    they did work well for when i used them years ago--:)

    just a straight thru connection, shouldn't effect quality???
  13. Woochifer macrumors 6502a

    Apr 22, 2007
    The cassette adapter might be your best option if your car has a cassette player. It's cheap and simple, and the audio quality's no worse than FM radio.

    From what I've seen, FM modulators have performed very inconsistently since the FCC reduced the permitted transmitter strength around 2008 (?). The older ones had better audio quality. But, those transmitters would often drown out the radio stations on adjacent cars, so the FCC stepped in. You could always buy an FM modulator and try it out for yourself, and return it if the audio quality is sketchy.

    Even though your radio does not have an auxiliary plug, it might still have an optional accessory input on the back panel (for factory satellite radio receivers, CD changers, etc.). If the car stereo has a "AUX" or "SAT" button, then it likely has an input of some kind in the back.

    I installed an iPod integration kit on my wife's car. It was a wire harness that plugged into the port for an external CD changer. I ran the cable through the glove box, and my wife uses it every day with her iPod for listening to podcasts. The iPod integration kit acts like a second CD player, and gets selected by toggling the CD input button.

    The link below has some options. But, given that the kits on this site require mucking around with the 12V cable, you'll probably need a professional installer. Coupled with the $80 cost for the integration kit, it will probably end up costing about as much as a new car stereo with built-in Bluetooth (esp. since a lot of audio stores offer free installation when you buy a head unit).
  14. Primejimbo macrumors 68040

    Aug 10, 2008
    I was way too cheap too until I realized how much money I spent on other ways trying to connect my iPhone to my car over the ears and I now have hands free cell phone in the car too.

    I seen radios much cheaper too, I just went with the one I had because of the free installation.
  15. meistervu macrumors 65816

    Jul 24, 2008
    I wasn't too cheap, but I tried to preserve the stock stereo look. So for years I tried various solution and spent quite a bit of time looking for better solution.

    Finally by stock stereo CD player failed, so I ended up purchasing a $150 head unit with CD, Bluetooth, Pandora, with a built in mic. It took me 2 hours to install and set up the phone. Now every time I turn it on, the phone connects to it automagically so now I have hand free in the car through my car speakers, and all the basic function works.

    Over the years I spent more money on trying to cobble a solution together and they just sucks. Forget about FM modulator if you live in a town of more than 1000 people. Cassette adaptor works, but it is cumbersome and only do sound.

    If you are tight on money, you can find a unit for around $100.
  16. Jzo macrumors regular

    Oct 16, 2011
    Oh yea, you're right. My bad.

    The sound quality wasn't bad, but I remember being able to hear the cassette actually physically running. It was only noticeable when the volume was low.
  17. meistervu macrumors 65816

    Jul 24, 2008
    When I used a cassette adaptor, I would occasionally forgot and use hit my forward button. It's annoying. I recall reading that Sony made one with a forward/reverse/stop buttons built into the cable.

    The sound quality you get from the cassette adaptor is much better than the FM modulator.
  18. rugmankc Contributor


    Sep 24, 2014
    That's possible and likely. I go back to the "4 Track", a bad precursor to 8 Track. And those and cassettes do produce some noise. I remember being excited when I went from a 4 to 6 transistor portable AM radio. We have come a long way. :)

    But, it is a cheap solution for OP. :)
  19. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    I have a work provided vehicle I use a DLO FM transmitter, it does fairly well for what it is. Audiophile would probably jump out of the car at highway speeds but it is what it is. The speakers suck anyway, polishing a turd anyway you look at it. Regardless it works fairly well, it sounds as good as FM radio which isn't saying much but its as good as I can get it.

    If its your personal vehicle consider a cheap head unit. With the proper connectors (sold separately) the install takes minutes and in the end you'll be so much happier.
  20. jca24, Mar 5, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2015

    jca24 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 28, 2010
    Cassette and fm converters are junk, will sound like crap.

    Look here

    Buy here

    I own 2 of these and they work great!

    edit: I just noticed you have a saturn, and doing a quick search on the blitzsafe site I did not see and saturn stuff, or and gm stuff for that matter so they may not have what you need. I would strongly suggest going with this type of unit. Do NOT get a griffin fm tuner type, been there done that and it is complete junk. You mentioned that you traveled a lot and would have to keep changing stations, yes you do, even in town, dont waste your time and money.
  21. C DM macrumors Sandy Bridge

    Oct 17, 2011
    Cassette adapters will sound fine and for what they cost and the simplicity of their use, they are certainly more than a fine option. But I guess it can depend on personal expectations.

    I would also say that if one was to spend some money and would still need to play around with the existing stereo to get it all working, one might as well buy a cheap replacement unit that would have AUX input, if not even something better, for probably not much more.
  22. rugmankc Contributor


    Sep 24, 2014
    I doubt if OP's Saturn has a Mark Levinson quality speaker system and since OP mentioned not wanting to spend too much, I still think the cassette adapter will be fine. The sound will be limited by the speakers anyway. :)
  23. Primejimbo macrumors 68040

    Aug 10, 2008
    All the money I wasted trying to make it work, I wish I did this a long time ago.
  24. cmichaelb macrumors 68020


    Aug 6, 2008
    FM Transmitters work okay, I used one for iPods and iPhones from 2005-2015. it really depends on where you live and how saturated the FM waves are.

    Yeah, the FCC hurt them, but the Belkin Tunebases still worked really well for me most of the time.

    I bought a $150 Kenwood KDC-X599 and I love it. External hard wired mic, Pandora, TuneIn radio, iHeart ), aux port.

    Love it.
  25. nhlfreak98 macrumors 6502

    Apr 16, 2013

    Did you install it yourself or have someone else do it?

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25 March 2, 2015