June 18, 2015

Listening to my iPhone in the car has become as second nature as actually putting the car in reverse when backing out of the garage. I don’t own a single CD (or DVD or book for that matter). I went all digital years ago.

There is something about moving 4 times in ten years that will cause you to loathe physical media. I still remember transitioning from tapes to CD and realizing that I could choose what track to start on with the click of a button. Now, we are only limited by either our storage size or data quota (for streaming).

While the iPhone has an okay set of built in speakers, the real magic comes from connecting it to your car radio. There are quite a few scenarios that require different pieces of equipment. Here are a few situations and the equipment that you need:

With 2 USB ports and a lot of power, this is great car charger.

With 2 USB ports and a lot of power, this is great car charger.

Built in Bluetooth

A lot of modern cars come with support for built in streaming straight to the car stereo. This is certainly the ideal situation. You’ll want to make sure you have a charging solution, though.

The Amazon-branded car charger works well if you only need to charge one device. If you have multiple devices, be sure to check out the AmazonBasic 4.0 amp USB car charger. Pair it with a lightning cable and you’re ready to go.

The nice thing about using a generic USB charger is that you can charge devices that use mini-USB as well.

The iTrip AUX is the ideal solution for cars with an aux port.

The iTrip AUX is the ideal solution for cars with an aux port.

Auxiliary Input

Both of my cars, thankfully, have AUX inputs. This allows your car stereo to act like “headphones” when it comes to playing audio from your devices. You have two options here: convert the AUX input into a Bluetooth input or connect an audio cable directly.

In my car, I use the Miccus mini Jack RX. It plugs into the AUX port, then connects to your phone via Bluetooth. It’s battery powered, but when plugged up to USB, it will power on and off with the car.

If you want to go a more wired route, the newly released iTrip AUX from Griffin will be the ideal choice. My wife uses the 30-pin model AutoPilot with the Lightning-to-30-Pin adapter. This setup will allow you to only have one cord plugged into your iPhone while its charging and playing music. Both of these devices from Griffin have a line out on the device to plug a 3.5mm audio cable into your car’s AUX port.

While not ideal, [iClever]( is probably the best FM transmitter on the market.

While not ideal, iClever is probably the best FM transmitter on the market.

FM Transmitters

If you don’t have Bluetooth or an AUX input, you’ll have to look into using an FM transmitter. These gadgets work by playing the music from your devices on an unused FM station. This is obviously the most troublesome option.

The iClever Transmitter is one of the higher-rated options on Amazon, but it’s important to note that your mileage may vary depending on your location. The more radio stations in your city, the less likely an FM transmitter will work reliably. But, if you don’t have another option it’s better than nothing.

I’ve heard of people using a small bluetooth speaker mounted in their car if an FM transmitter doesn’t work well. It’s not going to be as loud as your car’s speakers, but it’s certainly better than nothing.