Tips for Using An iPod Car Adapter

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You’ve got an iPod, you’ve got a car, and you want to use them together. You’ve researched your options and have chosen a wireless car adapter for your iPod. Using a wireless iPod car adapter is pretty easy – usually, it’s just plug in your iPod, turn on the adapter, and tune your radio to the right station.

Doing this, though, you’re likely to find that other FM radio signals interfere with your iPod’s music.

Here are a few tips to reduce interference and get you the most out of your iPod wireless car adapter.

Try The High or Low End of the Dial

To broadcast a clear signal from your iPod to your car stereo, you’ll need to find an unused FM frequency. Check the low end of the dial (say 90.1 and lower) and the high end (107.1 and higher) for unused channels. The rise of public, college, and religious radio is making it harder to find empty frequencies even at the low and high end of the dial, but you should still be able to find something in many areas.

Look for Empty Channels

Most iPod FM transmitters let you choose what FM channel you want to broadcast the iPod’s signal on. You’ll get the best audio quality out of your FM adapter, and the least interference from other channels, if you broadcast the iPod signal to an FM channel with no signals on either side of it.

That is, the best channel for you to use will not only have any signal on it, the frequency on either side of it will have little to no signal either.

To do this, find an empty station you want to use. For the sake of this example, let’s use 89.7. To see whether 89.7 will work for you, check 89.5 and 89.9 also. If there is no signal, or only a faint signal, on any of these frequencies, you should be fine.

Finding a block of three frequencies with no signal is getting harder, so if you can’t find three perfectly clear ones, just try for those with the weakest signal interference.

Use A Station Locator

Some iPod wireless car adapter manufacturers make tools available to help you find the best channel for broadcast in your area. Try Belkin's My Best FM Stations or DLO's OpenFM tools to get a good suggestion for an empty frequency.

But….

As more and more radio stations come online, it’s going to get harder to use an FM transmitter in your car without hitting interference. People living in major cities saturated with radio stations (New York, LA, etc.) already know this. If you live in one of these areas, you’re probably going to be better off using a cassette adapter or a built-in jack. If you’re not sure whether you’ve got enough empty frequencies in your area, be sure to check that return policy before to buy and hang onto your receipt.

Read more in our iPhone/iPod section.

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