FM transmitters for iPod

So I finally buckled under and bought an iPod through

I also bought the cheapest FM stereo transmitter Fry’s had, which I find to be muddy, and to bring with it a high frequency hum. I suspect that along with most electronics, you get what you pay for.

Any recommendations on FM transmitters for iPod? I might barely put up with the hum, execept that on spoken word podcasts, the hum coincides with the volume, making it modulate up and down, making it WAY more noticable than with music.

Not that the music’s anything close to something to write home about…

Personally, I wouldn’t recommend FM Transmitters of any brand. They all suck based on my experience.

I had a hard time even finding an open station, couldn’t find one that was easily interferred with and even when the sound did come through it was, well, a radio signal at best. It just sounded like crap.

I used to have a tape player so I found the cassette adapter worked very well, and after I got a new car I got one of these installed and it works beautifully.

If you have the option to get the tape player, do it.

Those transmitters suck. Even if you do find an open channel, it might not be open when you get 2 minutes out of town.

(I don’t have an iPod, but I’ve tried to use the transmitter for my XM radio)

This is exactly what I did. I found FM transmitters to be a shoddy third-rate solution, inconvenient to use and with sound quality that varied between mediocre and horrible. After talking to the guy at the car audiio shop, I too ended up having an FM modulator installed in my car so I could hook up my mp3 player. I’d say that’s a second-rate solution, as it’s kind of a pain to plug in my mp3 player and switch on the modulator every time I use it, but the sound quality is vastly superior to any transmitting gizmo I’ve used.

I’ve noticed that many newer models of cars have auxiliary inputs built into the radio. The next time I buy a new car, this will probably be a factor in my decision.

I tried 2 or 3 different FM transmitters, and wound up with the same thoughts everyone else has expressed: they’re not worth the hassle.

I bought my car used and the stereo was stock: a few months ago I replaced it with one that has an auxiliary input (almost exactly this model, only on mine the CD slot is behind the face). I love it. I can’t control my iPod through the stereo, but that doesn’t bother me – my stereo can only display so many characters, anyway. The combined cost of the stereo and installation was less than $200: it was a relatively cheap solution that works great for me.

This is the model we have. Worked real well for our trip from DC to MA and back, even in NYC. We did have to change the station twice on the way up but not at all on the way back.

I got a Griffin unit when I bought my iPod. It died after a little over a year, and I replaced it with another brand (Kensington?). It works pretty well around here (in the wilds of Montana), but when we go to a large urban area there’s a lot of channel changing required to find an unused frequency.

The main thing I dislike about them is the blast of static you get hit with when you turn on the car, but before the iPod has started playing. I also can’t use it for classical music, because the FM transmitter shuts off during the quiet passages.

I ended up replacing it with a cassette unit, and I’m basically happy, although I’d rather have a “real” aux input.

We have a Griffin iTrip one, but found the out-of-the-box settings don’t work for us in the Atlanta area because every damn frequency has a station on it.

We’ve relapsed to the tape deck adaptor, but I did manage to bitch and moan to Griffin’s tech support people who did send me some suggestions, but I haven’t gotten around to trying them yet:

There is also this nifty page that will find vacant frequencies in your area.


I tried different FM transmitters ranging from $20 to $100 and they all sucked. I could sometimes get a station but if you drive around you can lose it, even in a city. I just switched to the cassette adapter like many others and it works fine. Not as great as the newer cars that are made to be compatable, but a million times better than the FM transmitters. When I went to the Apple store and talked to the salesperson there she seemed to agree that FM transmitters pretty much suck.

I bought the iCarPlay device from Monster cable based on mostly positive reviews on Amazon. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how well it works. Every once in a while on a long drive you’ll encounter some static, but generally it’s been great.

I have the same one, and it works great. I’m roughly in the same area as you as well, I wonder if that’s why. I keep it on 88.7 and very very rarely have to change it.

Button? Screen? It appears that iTrips have changed since I bought mine: a featureless cylinder with two pins on the bottom that fits into the top of an iPod.

Troubleshooting tip: It took me quite a bit of frustrating fiddling around to find out why my iTrip just wouldn’t transmit. The volume on the iPod must be turned up past a magic “trip point” for the iTrip to detect it and turn on. This is also why long quiet passages in classical music tend to shut off the iTrip and subject you to a loud burst of static.

I should’ve been more specific. We have the iTrip “dock” version, which is the only iTrip that works for 5th generation devices, or at least that was the case when I bought it last winter.

My wife has a CD changer adapter similar (identical to?) the one listed above. It was $200 plus my installation time. I’ve had two FM transmitters because I was NOT going to pay the same price as the iPod to listen to it in the car.

Then my stereo died. I ended up buying an Alpine with the iPod kit. It’s a crummy interface for finding music (I often set up the ipod seperately, then plug it into the stereo), but the sound is excellent.

Bite the bullet. You’ll either spend the money now, or spend it later after going through $70-$140 in crappy FM transmitters. (Unless your stereo already has RCA jacks for an aux input…then it’s a $10 problem.)

I suspect the performance of FM transmitters have more to do with the design of the car than the transmitter. I’ve tried a few in my '98 Dodge Caravan and they all sounded horrible. But they sound just fine in my '83 Mercedes. I’d guess it’s because the body and/or wiring of newer cars are shielded better.