Handy Tip for March 2010: Play Your iPod Through Your Stereo


You don’t have to replace your original stereo!


Most cars nowadays come with a pretty good stereo, but they only play AM, FM and CDs. How do you plug your iPod into it? Where’s the jack? Do you have to buy a new stereo just so you can listen to your iPod?

A set of earbuds is probably not the solution you’re looking for. Maybe good for you, but what about your passengers? And guess what: wearing earbuds while you’re driving could get you pulled over.


A better solution This little device is called an “FM Modulator”. You can buy one at your favorite Box Store, or online, or you can get one from StereoMan.

How it works It comes with an adapter cable that plugs into your iPod’s headphone jack. The cable carries the sound into the device, where it is converted to a broadcast. That’s the “modulator” part. The broadcast is very faint, so the device has to be connected directly to your car stereo’s antenna jack. That also means it won’t interfere with nearby drivers who might actually be listening to the radio.


Installation There are three connections to make on an FM modulator. First you pull the antenna connection out of the back of your car stereo and plug it into the jack on your modulator. Then you plug the modulator’s antenna connection into the stereo.

Next you have to connect the “hot” wire and “ground” wire. The hot wire should go to a 12V source that switches off when you turn off the key. You’ll need a multimeter or a test light for this. Make sure you find a good solid ground for the ground wire. Hint: the stereo chassis will do very nicely!

Last, you have the audio cable. On some modulators, the cable is permanently connected. On others (like the one pictured), you’ll see a standard pair of audio connections on the unit. The other end plugs into your iPod’s headphone jack.


Stashing the modulator If you’re going to travel much, make sure you don’t hide the modulator too well. You’re going to need to access it to change the frequency it broadcasts on. If you’re not going to travel, you can tie the modulator behind the stereo with plastic cable ties.


StereoMan can help If you’re not into doing it yourself, StereoMan can install a modulator in most cars for about $25.



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