Headphones & Mp3 Players forum

General discussion

Do MP3 players need a FM Transmitter to work inside a Car?

by rudysky / January 2, 2007 2:06 PM PST

I just purchased a Zen V Plus and needed to purchase a FM Transmitter in order to listen to music from my MP3 player on my car stereo. However, my friends that own an iPod have said to me that they don't need such transmitter in order to play their iPods on their cars. How is this possible? Why do Zen require a FM trasmitter but iPods dont'?

Post a reply
Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: Do MP3 players need a FM Transmitter to work inside a Car?
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: Do MP3 players need a FM Transmitter to work inside a Car?
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Collapse -
Several possibilities
by ktreb / January 2, 2007 2:28 PM PST

iPod integration: I'm seeing this a lot in new cars. True iPod integration usually means that you connect the iPod to the stereo via the proprietary connector on the bottom of the player. By dock or cable. Only for iPod.

Aux input in the car stereo. Either the car already comes with it or an aftermarket stereo put in. Then cable from headphone jack on iPod to aux input in stereo. Can be used by all mp3 players.

3rd party connector kits: kind of do the same thing aux input does except you connect to the back of the stereo somehow. Might be just for iPods, but could be universal as well. I know Monster does these for iPods.

Collapse -
Disappointed w/ my FM Transmitter
by rudysky / January 3, 2007 10:22 AM PST
In reply to: Several possibilities

Today I finally had an opportunity to play my Zen MP3 player on my car using the FM transmitter and the quality sound sucks. There is so much static that I can't hardly the vocals of the artist all on my songs.

I'm going to ask at Car Toys to find out if there is a car kit for my car, if there isn't I'm going to return this piece of crap FM transmittter.

Perhaps if I don't find a kit for my Zen MP3, but as well return it too, (although I like very much my Zen, but if I can't use it on my car, to me it's pointless since I bought just to play it on my car).

Collapse -
use a tape player
by htcreque / January 3, 2007 1:41 PM PST

If your car has a cassette player, there are devices that fit in the player that can be wired to your MP3 player. They only cost arount $10 dollors and sound better that fm transmitters. Walmart has them.

Collapse -
How about one of these?
by calvin141170 / January 3, 2007 7:47 PM PST


I bought my wife an Archos GMini XS202s MP3 player for Christmas and also picked up an in car adapter off e-bay.

It looks great, plugs into the lighter socket, holds your player securely and allows you to play / charge your player in the car. It has a proprietory connector for IPod, but also a standard audio jack so it works with any MP3 player and also has a USB port/charger that lets you charge any player (or other USB powered device) through its USB port.

It is an FM transmitter -- but it lets you select any frequency between 87.5 and 108 MHZ in 0.1 MHZ increments, which means you can always get a clear reception. Sound is great with both my wife's Archos and my little Creative MuVo player.

Best of all it was cheap -- and I think great value for money. Now we can listen to all our music on the go with no hassle....


CJ Writing -- putting words to work for you
Image Invitations -- unique photographic wedding stationary

Collapse -
MP3 player connections to your stereo
by cellproguy / January 4, 2007 4:01 AM PST
Collapse -
Tweaked it a lil'
by rudysky / January 4, 2007 11:31 AM PST

Last night I discovered that I hadn't raised up the volume entirely on my MP3, so this morning when I did it sounded much better. Then I increased the treble from 3 to 6 on my stereo and that seemed to resolve the problem of poor voice quality on my songs.

I just wanted to know if there was a way to play the MP3s in cars without having to use an FM transmitter.

By the way, my car doesn't have a cassette player; I own a 2005 Honda Accord, which still has the manufacture stereo in it.

Collapse -
by ningtong88 / January 6, 2007 12:24 AM PST
In reply to: Tweaked it a lil'

I have the same issue too, I bought a cheap FM tranmistter, the quality sucks really bad. I just ordered another one from www.belkin.com, they claim they have a better qualities. The one I just ordered costed 49.99, but with coupon code: "12345" it reduced to 29.99+shipping. You should give it a shot. The bottom line is not to use the cheap ones.
Another thing you could do is go to your car dealer and ask them, I think they can install something in your car to let you plug in your mp3 player. I wanted to do the same to my 03 Accord too, but I heard it's pretty expensive.

Collapse -
MP3 Transmitter?s
by Garry220m / January 12, 2007 3:01 AM PST
In reply to: advice

Having just read the comments regarding certain MP3 Transmitter?s I can only agree with the comment maid regarding not buying the wrong type make/ brand, I my self have tried many different models and have found some to have very poor audio! And many of them to have very little RF out put i.e. low range / distance between the transmitter and the radio receiving the transmission. Here in the UK unlike the States we do not have Micro Radio and until the recent change in our law allowing the use of these MP3 Transmitters it has always been illegal to transmit any form of radio signal on Band 2 i.e. VHF / FM 88 to 108 MHz. So here are my own findings re the many MP3 Transmitters that I have tested here in London for me the one make / brand model that works well is indeed the one sold by HMV records in the UK not only dose it have 20hz to 20khz audio it also has a much greater RF output than any other I have tested even with it being used as intended!! It has a range of at least 200 mtr?s or more depending on height and or location!! And with a very simple modification i.e. just adding 2ft of wire to the earth of the audio plug I have been able to receive the signal upto 1.5 mile form the transmitter located in the window of a 12 floor flat. Any one reading this who would like to know more about this very simple modification please ask and I would be happy to help. Also this particular MP3 Transmitter is also available on Ebay! Again if any one is interested I will do my best to point you to the model I refer to. One other mater of interest is that its not only MP3 players that can be plugged into a MP3 Transmitter!! A mixer works just as well!!!


Collapse -
FM Transmitters
by rudysky / January 12, 2007 10:25 AM PST
In reply to: MP3 Transmitter?s

Thank you Gary for your input. I'm certainly interested in purchasing a better transmitter due to the fact that the one I have a is a piece of garbage. I not MP3 savvy, so I just bought an FM transmitter that was compatible w/ my MP3, not knowing how to determine what makes a outstanding transmitter.

By the way my FM transmitter is made by Belkin, and it's just a ****** transmitter period.

Collapse -
3.5 mm Stereo input/FM Stereo output, Satisfaction Guarantee
by cellproguy / January 12, 2007 11:02 AM PST
In reply to: FM Transmitters
Collapse -
Hi Rudysky
by Garry220m / January 12, 2007 11:29 PM PST
In reply to: FM Transmitters

Hi Rudysky

The Belkin FM Transmitter is one of the beter ones! However it dose not come close to the ?I Scream Wireless Transmitter? sold by HMV Record Stores. The same unit can be found on Ebay I will place a link to it here!


Thees are far beter than the ?5 mm Stereo input/FM Stereo output, Satisfaction Guarantee? for one they
Are not limited to certain chanels ie just 88.7, 88.5, 88.3 or 88.1 Insted you can set it to any frequency betwen 87.5 to 108.0 Mhz

Two they have the ability to be used in the home! and or car! they will power up from the USB port of any computer so that if you want to play your audio files mp3s from the PC to your Hi Fi you can!

And Three should you wish to run your own short range of upto 1.5 miles Radio Station with a very simple modification just involving adding a 2ft piece of wire to the earth of the audio plug on the transmitter you can do so!!!

I am not suggesting that the ?5 mm Stereo input/FM Stereo output, Satisfaction Guarantee? is not a good unit but it is purely only for the use of playing mp3s direct to a car radio / stereo, and dose not have the diversity of the module I have pasted the link too!

I have been in the transmitter field for many years having been involved with pirate radio in the UK and have built many transmitters over the years for both AM and FM use! So I do know the difference between the many Mp3 transmitters that are now on market place. Once again I do hope this information is of help to you and any one ells who is interested in these items and their use.

PS. You may need to copy and paste the link into your browser


Collapse -
FM transmiytter doesn't work insdie car-ony outside
by mikehunt42 / February 9, 2008 8:50 AM PST
In reply to: Hi Rudysky

I bought the Istuff Autoscan FM transmitter which works well inside my car in the UK, but when I bring it to Italy it fails to work in either my or my wife's car. As an experiment, I tried it outside the car with the transmitter close against the roof aerial and it worked a little (though very weak). Is there something about Italian cars having their very own in-built Faraday cage or an I missing something?
Thanks for any advice.

Collapse -
It's all about quality
by vin.bone / January 13, 2007 8:40 AM PST

If you're goal is to listen to good music that sounds good you will opt for decent car stereo that either has or has been aftermarket wired to have an auxiliary line input.
One of the things that pleases audiophiles about the iPod is that they get better quality with Apple's proprietary sound codecs or with wave files than is possible with MP3. That said, I've met few sound systems and fewer people who can tell the difference. My daughter, for example, is perfectly happy with a 128-bit quality MP3 file played through the speaker on her phone.
Radio stations spend thousands of dollars to broadcast FM and buy all the wattage they can afford to do it. Still, FM radio has a limited Signal to Noise ratio of about 50-60 db. This means that a pure note of music will only be 60 decibels louder than the background noise. A CD (wave format) is 90 decibels louder than its background noise and remember that the decibel level is geometric, not arithmetic i.e.; 61 decibels is twice as good as 60, 62 twice 61, etc.
Another difference, the human ear can generally hear sounds (pitches) as low as 20 hz and as high as 20,000 hz. FM broadcasts in a spectrum mostly between 55-15000 hz. What you miss are the acoustic overtones that make live music such a great experience.
So what does all this mean? If you love your music you invest in a sound system that can play the entire audio spectrum with minimal distortion and an amplifier capable of a 90db signal to noise ratio. You will attach your music source by cable (copper or fiber, analog or digital) and code you music to best quality you can afford and will play pretty much anywhere.
Turn off the radio! Turn on some music!

Popular Forums
Computer Help 51,224 discussions
Computer Newbies 10,453 discussions
Laptops 20,090 discussions
Security 30,722 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 20,937 discussions
Windows 10 1,295 discussions
Phones 16,252 discussions
Windows 7 7,684 discussions
Networking & Wireless 15,215 discussions


Enter for your chance to win* a game hardware bundle

One lucky winner will walk away with a gaming monitor, keyboard and mouse. Two lucky runners-up will score a gaming headset.