My Music in My Car

Taking your entire music collection with you on the go has never been easier thanks to portable devices like the ubiquitous iPod. When MP3s and portable players first appeared a decade ago, listening to them in the car was no easy feat. In recent years, however, most newer cars and aftermarket car stereos support iPod playback and control. While some radios are ready to plug-and-play with your iPod or iPhone, you may need some additional accessories to make it all work. Enter the iPod adapter. iPod adapters, available for a large number of factory- and aftermarket-installed radios and headunits, are the best way to listen to your iPod in your car. Connecting your iPod (or other compatible device) to your car radio with an iPod connection kit offers several benefits:

  1. Achieve the best possible sound quality from an all-digital direct connection;
  2. Control your iPod and playlists using car radio and steering wheel controls;
  3. In many cases you can view song “meta” tags (artist, title, etc.) on the car radio and/or car’s multi-function display screen;
  4. Connection kits allow you to charge iPod while driving, ensuring continuous playback;
  5. Controlling your device and accessing playlists is safer since you can keep your eyes on the road; and

On some specially equipped factory and aftermarket radios, you can access your iPod playlists and control the device using voice commands

AfterMarket Radio

Whether you want to improve sound quality or add the latest features and technology, upgrading the factory radio to an aftermarket one is usually your best bet. Most aftermarket car radios support Bluetooth hands-free and stereo music streaming. Consult your local automotive electronics retailer to learn more about the products available for your specific vehicle.

Your MECP-certified installation technician will likely offer you a choice of locations for the iPod connector. Popular ones include the glove box or center console of the vehicle, as these locations allow you to put the device out of sight while still making it easy to fully control the iPod through the vehicle’s audio system. You may have an iPod-ready USB connection from the factory, but in most cases a special cable or external module is required. Fortunately this is an easy install for your local retailer. Check your vehicle’s or aftermarket car stereo’s owner’s manual for more details. If no aftermarket connection kit exists for your vehicle, you’re not out of luck. You still have options for enjoying music playlists in your car. In the past decade, many vehicles and aftermarket radios come with auxiliary or “AUX” inputs installed from the factory. (If your vehicle does not have an AUX input, any local dealer can install one for you.) You can use a common 3.5mm audio cable to pipe music directly from your device--whether an iPod or any other portable player with a headphone jack--into your vehicle’s audio system. The downside to using an AUX input is the inability to control the device remotely and the need for a secondary solution for powering it. A quick note regarding safety: The safest way to enjoy your favorite music in the car is to create playlists ahead of time BEFORE you get behind the wheel. You should NEVER create, edit or manipulate a playlist while driving. If you wish to switch between playlists, you should only do so when the vehicle is stopped and it’s safe to take your eyes off the road. An iPod adapter is the perfect way to listen to your music in the car. Contact your local automotive electronics dealer to learn more. Search for a dealer near you using the ZIP code locator at the top of this page. Make sure to seek out an MECP-certified installation technician.

The Soundtrack

You have multiple options for listening to the audio from your rear-seat entertainment system:
Listen through car speakers:
While the noise from one (or more) rear seat shows can be nerve-wracking for drivers, there are instances where you’d want to be able to play the movie or show’s soundtrack through the vehicle’s speakers. If your vehicle’s radio (factory or aftermarket) has an AUX-in jack, you can connect the audio output of the rear-seat video system using a standard audio connector. If your car radio doesn’t have inputs, or if you prefer to go wireless, then shop for a rear-seat system with a built-in FM transmitter.

Listen through headphones:

You’ll most likely want your passengers to use headphones while watching a show or movie in the back seat. With most rear-seat systems you can either plug in headphones with the standard 3.5mm jack or go wireless. Many overhead and headrest systems feature built-in radio frequency (RF) or infrared (IR) wireless headphone transmitters which can transmit stereo sound to any number of compatible headphones. If you have more than one screen, you’ll want two-channel wireless headphones. An A/B switch lets users select which program they hear. Keep in mind that your installer can add a headphone transmitter to an existing system or wired-only rear-seat video system.


Choosing an aftermarket rear-seat entertainment solution for your vehicle is easy and affordable. From overhead monitors to headrest video and wireless headphones, automotive electronics retailers and MECP-certified technicians can help transform your backseat into a mobile home theater.

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