Is it possible to connect an iPod to my old-ish stereo system?

I have a mid-line receiver that is maybe 10 years old. I’m not sure what sort of inputs are on it (would take a bit of effort to check), but I am wondering what it would take to hook up my iPod to play through the system. Or if it’s even possible.

What should I be looking for?

If this can be done I’m sure I’d have to get some sort of adapter cable; can anyone point me in the right direction?


ETA: iPod Classic

stereo mini plug to rca plug

all the older stereos used rca jacks and plugs. MP3 players use 3.5mm Stereo Mini Plug. So does the jack on your computer.

One thing you might be able to check more easily is if there’s any kind of ‘AUX’ control on the remote or the front of the stereo.

With my minisystem of approximately the same age, I was able to attach a ‘Y cable’ which splits an ordinary headphone-jack input into seperate white and red components for the left and right audio. I believe these are compatible with the RCA Connector standard, though neither an ipod nor the stereo has support for the yellow RCA plug, which would be yellow.

I hope that this helps.

Edited to add: Yes, aceplace’s link looks like the same thing I’ve got, except mine is longer, which helps in reaching around to the back of the stereo. Apparently ‘Y cable’ is not a good term to search on, it might have just been the way the guy at the store described a splitting cable.

Don’t plug in to your old phono jack. Thats for your turntable. Has to be labeled line in or Aux.

It also could be labeled CD or Tape and be fine, just ‘Phono’ used the signal differently and that one would not work.

The cable with the Yellow is designed for video (with 2 channel audio), specifically component video. Y cable is a common enough term to describe what the OP needs, but perhaps RCA to (whatever the mini plug is) adapter or cable would be a better search term.

You can also buy a Bluetooth adapter that will allow you to stream from your phone. Like this.

IPod Classic uses the original 30 pin connector. Adaptors and cradles for using these are available just about everywhere. You can get a really simple one that is just a charging cradle with a couple of line level outputs - some will have a 3.5mm stereo socket, some will have RCA sockets, some have actual leads with RCA plugs on the ends. Some have a remote control that talks to the iPod and allows you the basic functions (play, pause, skip, volume). You can also buy expensive ones that talk to the iPod over USB and extract the digital audio and present it to you with a S/PDIF connector.

The advantage of using the 30pin connector is that it delivers sound at line level, and not over the headphone connection. This should avoid any degradation caused by the headphone amp (and given the constraints it is designed with, it is hard to avoid some issues.).

In the early days, you actually got such a dock with your iPod. This is the support page for Apple’s now discontinued optional Dock.

Yeah, that’s a good basic approach for playing just about anything with a 3.5mm jack on your stereo system: an iPod, another mp3 player, your laptop, your old Walkman…

Dollar Tree stores frequently have the correct cable. 3.5 mm to 2 RCA plugs, and they work fine.

You’re too lazy to check but somehow the internet knows the answer based on the non-existant information you supply???

Another possibility is a cassette adapter, although the ones I have seen were geared towards car stereos, in which the cassette is inserted endwise rather than face-up as in most home stereos. Still, it might conceivably work on a home stereo. You’d probably have to cut the clear plastic cover away from the receptacle where you load in the cassette.

It should work on a home cassette player. I’ve used mine in a boombox. There was enough space to close the lid of the tape player with the cord of the adaptor sticking out.

I made a half-assed attempt to get an MP3 to play through the AUX/Line in (don’t remember the exct label on the 70’s vintage receiver.
Didn’t work - some kind of signal mis-match, I am guessing.

Just don’t be too surprised if a simple cord will work.

The only thing to be aware of is that the output from your iPod/phone’s headphone jack, after going through the 3.5mm to RCA cable, will probably be lower than a typical stereo component’s output through RCA cables. So you’ll probably have to crank the volume on your stereo a bit more than when you’re listening to the tuner/CD player/tape deck/etc. If it seem like it’s not working, try turning up the volume before you decide for sure it’s not working.

The issues with volume level are all about gain staging. You have two volume controls - one on the iPod, and one in the stereo. If you want things to work the way you expect then to with the stereo you need to ensure that the iPod’s volume is all the way up. This is the right answer for a range of reasons - it also ensure that you are not losing resolution, since the volume control operates in the digital domain it truncates bits off the signal as the volume drops.

(You can perform an interesting experiment here to understand the effect of reduced resolution. If you turn the volume on the iPod down low, and turn the volume on the stereo way up - so as to get a listen-able sound, and compare the sound quality with what you get by turning the iPod volume fully up and using the stereo’s volume control to get the same sound level - you will notice a dramatic difference.)

Wake up in a pissy mood or are you always like this?

The OP said that it would take a bit of work to see what the receiver inputs are. That’s actually quite common when a system is set in place.

There’s sufficient information here. We know what’s needed and what his/her receiver will most likely have. With a mid-range receiver, it will have multiple inputs, and possibly not even a phono, which is the only input with incorrect impedance. The line output from the Ipod will work on any of the inputs except from a record player.

So yes, the Internet knows the answer.

I appreciate all the replies.

The iPod classic does use the 30-pin connector, I’ll have to scout around to see where I can find a 30-pin-to-RCA adapter.

My main concern was getting enough volume without distortion. Guess I won’t know until I try, but it seems as though it should be listenable.

Most of my digital files are 128kbps, by the way; hope that’s not too wimpy.

Thanks again,

Surely it has an ordinary 3.5mm headphone jack?

Yeah, but from what I gather the sound is much improved when using the 30-pin connection.