Let's go back in time a few years. The Amiga was still big
business, Wolfenstein was in 3D and P.C. owners didn't
shout about the graphics capability of their machines.
Cars , if they were really lucky , had a radio cassette installed.
CD players were the latest thing, but were too expensive for most car
owners to fit.
The result was that everyone had portable CD players and used an
adaptor kit to get them to play in their cars.
The offending article looked something like this......
In fact, there's still a market for these. They suffered the same
misfortunes of the actual cassette tapes. They didn't always sit
properly in the cassette unit itself, resulting in poor sound quality
and the lead coming from the adaptor usually gave up the ghost a few
months after it started getting used.
Now let's come back to the present day.
Cassettes are now the poor relations in car audio and the CD player has
Most cars now have CD fitted as standard, more expensive ones usually
have an auto changer.
But CDs are on the wane nowadays, Mp3 players have taken over.
So, without spending a lot of money, how do you play your Mp3 player
over your car audio system?
The cassette adaptor has now been replaced by the FM transmitter!
Simple stuff, plug your player into the unit and tune the radio to your
I recently bought one of these units for the above reasons. The unit is
battery powered, or can be plugged into a 12v socket (cigarette
Operation is simplicity itself. Press the button to power up the unit,
keep pressing the button if you wish to change frequency. You'll notice
the four green LEDs, which specify which frequency you're transmitting
on. The red LED is to signify power is applied. Simply plug into the
Mp3 player headphone socket or line out, whichever you prefer, and set
your car radio to the respective frequency. Become your own DJ :-)
So, what are the drawbacks with these units? The battery in my unit
hasn't been changed so far and is used every day for a couple of hours
and has been that way for at least three weeks now. I still haven't
bothered to check that the unit works via the 12v lead supplied with it.
I also haven't noticed any signal dropouts with the unit. Hardly
surprising since it sits inside the glove compartment with the player.
It's simply a matter of turning off both the Mp3 player and the
transmitter once I stop the car.
I also believe that the units are now legal, which is a bonus.
Previously, the units were illegal since you are broadcasting, but, as
far as I know, the law has been changed to allow these units. Sound
quality is as good as the output of your Mp3 player, so don't expect
the unit to make a cheap Mp3 player sound like the latest audio marvel.
Since Mp3 players are designed to listen to using earphones, you will
require to alter your sound settings on the player.
I'd also like to add that I got this unit off E-Bay for a couple of
quid , which makes the previously named cassette adaptor even more
prohibitive for price.
Some of the less technically challenged amongst us may have already
guessed that the range of these units is limited to apprx. 10m, so can
be used in the house to stream music to any radio in the house as well.
A nice cheap way of avoiding paying your garage a fortune to
install a highly priced audio system.