Instructables

How to connect your mp3 or ipod on a car cd-player.

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This is a Sony X-Plod series CDX MP40 about 9 years old, it has served me good all those years ,and I intend to use it for many more.
My purpose is to use the aux input to connect my mp3 player and gain some space from old cd's, and of course use this for as long as it is still working instead of buing a new one.

 
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Step 1: Check the back panel.

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At first I removed the device from the dashboard to check if there was an easy way to do this!

Step 2:

Step 3:

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There were 2 rca female jacks but when I tried to connect my mp3 player to them there was no sound.

Step 4:

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Luckily a friend of mine told me that there is a device that you have to plug where the cd-changer is supposed to be connected and so I did, after some googling and I found what i was looking for on ebay , a Sony Unilink Car Stereo Adapter .I did order one, priced 17usd (or approx. 14 euro) including shipping fees for one item.It arrived pretty quick (4 days after payment) considering it was sent from Hong Kong and I live in Greece.You can build one of these if you have the right skills but obviously I dont so I went the easy way.There are adaptors for all kinds of cd players, if you search google ,for example "JVC(or Pioneer)aux line-in cable" you will find there are many similar devices.
Next thing to do is connect it.

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guywire2 years ago
The title of this leads one to believe it is how to bring audio in to any car cd player, but really all this is is how to buy something for sony cd players. This is not an instructable.
I would not say it is not an Instructable... It is worthwhile as far as it shows the problem of dead RCA inputs thanks to SONY (or others) Stuborness in deleting simple, straightforward Line level inputs, only to promote the sale of their exclusive brand of Unilink accesories.  As far as the Author has found a way to overcome this large limitation, I applaud him for its success in solving SONY's handicap.  Maybe a better title of the Instructable would be something like: "How to connect your mp3 or ipod on a Sony brand car cd-player that lacks Line Inputs or uses Unilink components"...
or something like that.  Anyway, congratulations for your Instructable Johnsid (Author).
Amclaussen.
johnsid (author)  guywire2 years ago
Would you be kind enough to read each step again carefully please.
Thank you!!!
dwoods-12 years ago
You know for less than 14€ you can just buy a FM transmitter on ebay ? way less effort and safer
along with half the quality!
Really, or less than a half :)
I would say even less than half a half of the quality!!!
IPman1 year ago
It is very interesting what in the black box on other end of Sony Unilink Car Stereo Adapter? Have you open it ?
johnsid (author)  IPman1 year ago
No I haven't opened it my friend sorry!!
Phil B2 years ago
I had never seen one of the Sony Unilink adapters. In the USA Crutchfield has them. They allow audio input to some Sony car radio systems that lack it. Pretty nice.
did you said: "NICE"???
I find very disturbing a manufacturer such as Sony gave us a pair of RCA inputs, and then DISABLED them as "AUX" by calling them "BUS AUDIO IN", and then tried to steal more money from us by selling their adapter at more than 100 dollars!
The fact that there are two or three aftermarket Unilink adapters, all of them of low construction/cheap parts quality at prices between 15 to 40 dollars show that there are many Sony units that the unsuspecting owners want to use with auxiliary inputs. Shame on Sony for not allowing users to directly connect to their aux inputs. It is a consecuence of the greed of present day business practices and too many people trying to design things using software for very simple tasks, Auxiliary inputs were ever present in Car Stereos before this stupid trend of Unilink. I'm happy the last generation reversed this trend and now includes AUX and even USB inputs (which is also stupid, since Firewire was the way to go, NOT USB, which is NOT the best way to handle Audio (or Video, for that matter).
Being able to have control over connected devices IS nice. Being able to use the built-in radio controls is a lot safer than fiddling with a touchscreen on a portable player. But it is ridiculous how expensive they try making it (clarion, jensen, sony, etc). That and they tend to do a poor job of control. So it's a great idea but one poorly executed. What's "simple" to you might actually be a lot more complicated to implement safely and cost effectively.

Firewire is dead. Tens of thousands of different portable devices support USB, dozens (if that) support Firewire. The market has spoken. Move on.
In what way is FireWire dead? FireWire was never intended for low data throughput applications like keyboards, mice, and SD card readers. Instead it was designed for high-throughput, data intensive applications like professional level HD enclosures, video, cameras, and audio interfaces. While some low end video cameras now use USB, most mid to high end units, as well as many low end ones, preferentially use FireWire over USB, which does not even have close to the same bandwidth of FW400, let alone FW800 or FW16/32.
The only thing that will kill FireWire is LightPeak, which, BTW, was designed specifically to be FireWire's successor.
What IS dead in the water is USB 3.0.
Audio in a car isn't high bandwidth. Chips, interfaces and software for usb fit the task perfectly. Low cost, easy to implement and WIDELY supported by all manner of devices actually LIKELY to be connected to the car radio. Than includes stuff like thumb drives, mp3 players, phones, even cameras or card readers; from hundreds of different vendors.

In short it's a solution that works for all parties involved; both the vendors and the customers. How is this a bad thing?

Or are you hung up on FW for fanboi reasons?
Um, what? Your reply had absolutely nothing to do with my comment, which regarded the statement that FireWire was dead (which it most certainly is not). It was also overly and unnecessarily belligerent. But ad hominem aside, if you must be pedantic, while a single compressed audio connection is doable over USB bandwidths, full, lossless audio strains it to it's limits, and add a single HD video stream, or even just multiple lossless audio tracks, especially if you are working with 7.1 surround, and USB fails utterly.
It is a solution that works for all parties involved, because the parties are forced to operate within the confines of the technology specs. Companies don't put out devices and formats that support in-car 7.1 surround because there are no players, and there won't be, because USB can't cut it.
Nor am I "hung up on FW." It has its place, just as USB and now LightPeak.
I am not the person with the hang ups. Perhaps this is an ABA issue?
ManifolsSky has it right. USB is CHEAPER to implement, but truly appreciative audio fans that understand how digital audio really works know that FW is better.
One thing is that the majority of the fabricators and vendors prefer the cheaper USB to save some pennies instead of offering both interfaces in Laptops, or only the ubiquitous USB in portable devices, but it is only because of cost and the ever present trend of pushing mediocre solutions onto the unsuspecting consumer. (it seems their CEO's think: "Why give the people more, if most of them won't notice, lets keep it mediocre and cheap...)
For those who care to understand why USB is NOT the best in Hi quality audio (or video), check on the concept of Jitter in the signal. It is not only a matter of bandwidth, but the way the information stream is handled, the timing.
My comments are not intended to criticize people or the Instructable, but to promote a better understanding, Remember when the first CD players were highly touted and proclaimed as "perfect"?, only to be declared "irritating" and brittle sounding a few years latter. We now can easily compare the sound of those first players against the reallly better sound of newer CD designs; but it took knowledge and patience to be able to discern the differences.
It is sad that consumer electronics could be better designed, but industry in general, has a disgusting inclination to keep producing less than it could, so that the consumer ends having to "up-grade" endlessly. This process of up-grading is not bad in itself, because in this way people become gradually educated and can become appreciative consumers, but this is too costly and lenghty, and produce an enormous quantity of (still working) discarded products, that only go to landfills. And I agree with wkearney99 in one aspect: FW could be dead soon if people continue to believe that USB is "better" (which isn't true, but even some Apple products lately lack the FW port (Apple developed Firewire, BTW)...
Best wishes to all.
Folks, we're talking low cost car audio here. That's the scope of the instructable post. Not some audiophile fanaticism crusade. Playing back portable audio through an existing car radio setup, that's the point here.

Yes, everything could always be "better" but there's the eternal rule: Good, fast or cheap... pick two. There are many costs to consider, hardware interfaces, software, end-user ease of use, and licensing. All of them come with 'pick two' scenarios. FW and so-called "superior" formats lose by failing to recognize this simple equation.

The playback situation in an automobile is not one that requires or even benefits from an excessive amount of 'precision'. It's background entertainment behind the primary task of driving. Not endlessly obsessing about whether the music or consumer audio industry is "out to get your money". Yes, they are, but then so is everything else.

If you really want to get an eye-opener on vendor evils, look no further than Apple. You can't even use ANY kind of interface beyond the audio line out to play any of the media. Not without paying through the nose for highly proprietary methods and hardware interfaces. Sony's UniLink might have it's issues but that's nothing compared to Apple's evils. It's no wonder nobody pays mind to Firewire.
You are missing the point here. You took a parenthetical aside (not by me, BTW) and have turned it into an anti-FW crusade, making a number of grossly inaccurate statements along the way. First, FW is NOT expensive, and adds only pennies to the cost of a device. Second, you are employing circular reasoning. The reason that USB is more than adequate for current car audio is because few people are pushing car audio, because USB is the standard, and can't handle audio with greater demands, like lossless 5.1 surround. USB is the bottleneck, not the desires of car audio enthusiasts. Third, your statement about the "playback situation" for car audio completely ignores the ENTIRE billion dollar plus car audio industry, where car audio is not treated as just "background entertainment behind the primary task of driving". This statement is just simply absurd, and not supported by the facts.
Finally come the statements about Apple. You are just simply misinformed. First, what is wrong with audio line out. That is the only option MOST players offer. Apple is one of the few with alternates. Second, 30-pin dock connectors are not expensive. Where are you getting that idea. Clearly you have not priced iPod accessories lately. You can get 30-pin to AV cables for under $5 online, docks with 30-pin connectors are plentiful and cheap, and made by a number of manufacturers. And many cars now come with 30-pin dock connectors standard.
And again, it simply is not true that no one pays mind to FW. It is the industry standard in a number of industries, including video, as well as audio. Again, just go to ANY DJ trade show. Tell me how many USB devices you see.
With what facts do you support there being any significant percentage of car audio being driven by anything more than background entertainment while driving? Just what would that market be?

You ignore the fact you can't get full quality audio out of an iPod anyway. Apple won't let you. No access to the files. Line level audio only. And then you're forced to use the built-in UI on the device. With a USB device you're just plugging in a block device and accessing files. No restrictions or other limits. If your device can play the media you're good to go.

And what would any DJ market have to do with CAR AUDIO? While it's certainly possible that community might want more, so do many others like professional media editing. But, again, those have NOTHING to do with the car audio market. So what bother going off on that tangent?

I don't have the numbers handy but I'd venture the whole argument about USB lacking bandwidth is likewise weak. Just what portable sources are you thinking people are going to be using in the vehicles? Not at DJ stations or editing suites, in the CAR. Just how large is the source data going to be? And what benefit are they going to derive from it? Arguably no benefits given the poor playback environment.

So, sure, there's always going to be some better 'thing' out there. But not everything better has it's place in something like a portable audio playback situation. Or are you so blinded by typical audiophile fetishes that you can't see that simple reality?
The size of the after-market stereo add-on market is over 10Bn dollars in the US alone. One only needs to stop by a local Best Buy to see that there are significant numbers of people who do NOT see the car stereo as simply background entertainment while driving. In fact, for many people, it is more important than the car itself. It is used to make a statement. Where were you during the 80s and 90s, when an entire culture sprang up around after market car stereo add-ons?!?
Also, I am not ignoring anything about audio quality. You are just plain wrong. First, in the original iPod, audio data WAS available from the firewire port, thus immediately invalidating your comments about line-level audio, as well as those about USB. In the newer units, as I have already stated, audio data is available on the 30-pin dock connector. So again, your statements are not correct.
Nor is it necessary to have access to the files. Doing so affords you no greater sound quality or reduces any real restrictions. What are you claiming to do with the files over USB in a car stereo? Certainly nothing that can't be done with the data stream over the dock connector.
The DJ market is an example of how USB can not handle the data throughput needed for high end audio. Funny how you make that such a concern above regarding line-out, but now fail to ss its importance when it becomes inconvenient. It has to do with the car stereo market, and the market for PMPs, because what those players can do, and the quality of the audio, is restricted by the fact that they have standardized on USB. The DJ market is an example of a market with no such restrictions, and there FireWire abounds. It is also an example of how your contention that FW is dead, which was NOT qualified as being a statement about the car audio market, is disproved by the facts on the ground.
As for bandwidth, you don't need to google numbers. You can calculate them. Take a lossless 16 bit audio file at 48kHz stereo and do the math. You will find that you are just under the practical headroom of what USB can achieve. Add in ANYTHING, just center audio even, let alone 5.1, or even 7.1 surround, and you are well beyond what even the theoretical limits of USB, even 3.0, can support.

As for you continued unabated insistance on making your point with ad hominem, it appears that the only person with vision issues in this regard is the one unable to see the legitimate restriction created by USB, and manufacturing issues with devices that simply do not correspond with the facts.
The only audio out of an iPod is LINE LEVEL AUDIO. No better than what's available out the headphone jack. You're stuck with whatever their onboard chipset creates and the limited number of formats they deign to support. There's NO WAY to get at the stored data files on any current iPod devices. So much for needing more bandwidth, you can't even use either FW or USB. Fortunately there's more to portable media than being stuck with Apple device, thankfully.

Again, the DJ or editing community is well outside the scope of this instructable. Yet you continue to beat that horse as if it mattered for CAR AUDIO. It doesn't.

The point remains, for the limited audio needs of a car audio setup using USB for access to data files remains a great option.
Sorry, but I am not the one venturing off-topic, and beating a dead horse. This instrutable, if you recal, has NOTHING to do with USB, or access to files, it has ONLY to do with getting line-level audio out of a device and into a car stereo via RCA jacks. Or did you forget that?
And again, the capabilities of car audio go well beyond the limited scope you discuss. Certainly you will be hard-pressed to find examples of car stereo equipment that uses USB to transfer files. That comment is WELL outside of this discussion.
At issue is simply your completely baseless comment that firewire was dead. This comment was NOT restricted to the field of car audio, or even audio in general, it was a over arching, broad sweeping generalization that was entirely wrong.

And again, car audio does not generally use USB to acces data files, so this is a clear example of a red herring.
Plenty of new car audio systems use USB, and it works quite well. All without requiring any proprietary interfaces.

You're desperately beating a dead horse. Why?
And even more cars have iPod docks, without any difficulty.

And which USB? USB, MiniUSB, microUSB, USB A, USB B? You know they're different and not port compatible, right?

The person beating the dead horse is the one making the continued, false claims about both FireWire and now, the 30 pin connector.
Also, pins 22-30 of the dock connector carry USB and FW data signals, NOT line level audio.
Lastly, you write:
"There's NO WAY to get at the stored data files on any current iPod devices."
Quite simply, this is 100% false. Per se. There are any number of applications that allow one to transfer files onto and off of iPods. In addition, as the iPod mounts as a drive, one can store datafiles in the data partition, INCLUDING audio files, and they can be copied simply via the desktop.
They might carry the data signals but the current model iPods itself prevents you from getting to the media tracks themselves. Kinda the point of a file interface to the media so a player can access them. So you CANNOT play the media files themselves using what would likely be a more robust playback chip in the player. Without that you're stuck with ONLY the line-level audio, period.
And again, this is not correct. Any number of third party utilities allow you to access files in the music partition. Alternately, anyone is free to store their music files in the data partition., which is easily accessible.
There seems to be a large amount of assumption here about the internals of iPod operation based solely on word of mouth, and not at all on actual factual information.
NO. You are entirely incorrect, at least in the context of an in-vehicle radio using the connection (via USB or FW) to obtain access to the music tracks. It cannot be done. Because Apple has explicitly blocked access to the music tracks, as loaded by Itunes (protected ones or not) and accessible via the player's interface. The data partition is NOT where the music is loaded.

No assumptions here, I've dealt with interfacing with iDevices.

Face it, you don't know what you're talking about.
Sorry, but I am not wrong. Again, there are any number of third oarty apps that let a user access the music partition on the drive, and there is NOTHING stopping a device manufacturer from using the same techniques, or even this same software, to access the files directly. You are just simply misinformed. It most certainly CAN be done, I HAVE done it, and a quick trip to google would have verified that.
http://www.lmgtfy.com/?q=access+music+filed+iPod
I mean jeeze, it is only using standard unix invisible file structures, easily made visible with minimal work.
All you need is a minimal knowledge of unix. But here, I'll do the work for you:

find /Volumes/[deviceName]/iPod_Control/Music -print | awk '¬ { gsub(/ /, "\ "); print }'

Being that you are talking about accessing the tracks for playback on an external device, whether or not they are accessible via the player interface is totally irrelevant.
Nor does it matter if the music is not loaded in the data partition, because there is nothing stoping you from loading music files there, files that are directly accessible from external devices.

Again, I know exactly what I am talking about, because I have done it.
The point about accessibility is to address how the end user loads music on to the device. Most (all?) will be loaded via iTunes; likely from the store. Which does not load to the data partition. Once upon a time Apple didn't block users from accessing the tracks, now they do. This prevents anything from using a simple interface via USB. No disk mode means no access to the files. Many newer iDevices don't support disk mode.

Yes, it's possible to apps on a computer to use the apple mobile framework to use the itunes protocols to create a disk-like interface. Not exactly a feasible solution for a car audio setup. Certainly not worth it when plain old filesystem access is dead simple.

Beat your dead horse at your leisure.
"Most (all?) will be loaded via iTunes; likely from the store," and "This prevents anything from using a simple interface via USB. "

So what? Again, as I have now stated several times, there are a number of WELL-documented programming techniques to access this data. NOTHING prevents this. Certainly not "anything" like you claim.
Again, to make this clear, the song files in the music partition on the drive ARE accessible if one uses well-documented techniques, as done by several third-party applications.

As to whether is it "worth it" to employ these rather simple techniques to gain access to the files in this partition, I suspect that the size of the aftermarket iPod accessory market makes a rather convincing case that this would indeed be worth it.

More to the point, even if these files were NOT accessible, claiming that "this prevents anything from using a simple interface via USB" is simply not reconcilable with the facts. How, pray tell, are you claiming that all the accessories that accomplish this manage it?

The horse may be dead, but I am not the one who killed it.
YEAH! Firewire could be dissapearing thanks to the ignorant public taking whatever industry throw to them as the "best", when the opposite was true. "Market has Spoken" has prevented too many great ideas to be displaced or buried alive, only to maximize the earnings of industry managers. The only way intelligent consumers can significantly raise the level and quality of the consumer electronics industry, is by DEMANDING better results; which results from consumers becoming more knowledgeable, and then more Discerning!
Just reason why High Definition TV, or 3D TV took SOOO MANY years to just start to become available again, when the principles needed to achieve them were ready DOZENS of years ago... (Remember "View-Master 3D color slides discs? or that Japan had Hi definition analog TV MANY years before the USA?) It is clear to me that industry has a vested interest in KEEPING things as mediocre as possible for the public at large, being that technically it is quite easy to have HDTV and 3D TV, nothing magical about it, but industry asks itself: "Why give people more than the absolute minimum necessary?... Let's give them breadcrumbs and circus to keep them happy...!"

And by saying "move-on", you are really becoming STUCK on a false concept! USB vs FW is the same kind of struggle, and by perpetuating myths some unsuspecting consumers help keeping those myths alive, for industry economic benefit. More knowledge helps, but needs straightforward study.
Firewire's only advantage is speed....and the bandwidth in even USB 1.0 is more than adequate for car audio...and it's a heck of a lot cheaper and more ubiquitous.
Really??? Bandwidht is NOT the only aspect that plays in high quality audio reproduction...

While you are partly right in pointing out that USB is cheaper and more ubiquitous, (say pennies vs a couple of dollars a FW port in a consumer device, which are fabricated in tens of thousands of units), then USB is ever present only because it costs pennies, but resulting audio is NOT the best, and cannot be. Please read about "dropped frames" in video, or "jitter" in audio to begin understanding why USB was the wrong way to go. USB is mediocre not because of transfer rate, but the way it works.

Firewire, on the other side, is a Peer-to-Peer link. Videographers and High Quality Audio experts all agree FW was the way to go. Unfortunately, USB costs LESS than a FW port (by a fraction of a dollar), so that ever greedy industry managers push towards USB for everything. I'll give you an example: in really high quality audio home equipment, the DAC (Digital-to-Analog converter) determines much of the quality of sound. Well, really good present day DAC's that use USB tend to cost ABOVE 1,400 US dollars...Fhewww!

Why? Because those DAC's NEED TO De-Clock, filter and Re-Clock the time base signal to keep "jitter" to the minimum. And there are USB implementations that limit audio quality to 16 bit/48 kHz. A really good digital Audio signal would be considered ABOVE that level, say 24 bit/96 kHz, or even higher (24/176 or 24/192 kHz). Talking about video; Have you heard about "dropped frames"? Really good video cameras use Firewire, not USB!
Please stop disseminating the myth that USB is "better", and that difference between the two is ONLY about "bandwidth", there is MORE to that, a lot more! Amclaussen.
Notice that my comment dealt only with CAR audio (the issue at hand) where road noise, lousy speakers and a ridiculous "room" shape are the real limits on your sound. I don't know what universe you're living in, but the rest of us are going to go with standards which are generally accepted and cheap. At the bandwidth and reproduction quality which is actually required of a car audio system, USB is the way to go.

Besides, we ALL know that the only REAL way to listen to music is with live musicians and real instruments...everything else is just a sad attempt to relive the experience....good luck fitting a band in the average vehicle though.
rondk1 Phil B2 years ago
For less than $10 your headaches will go away,
http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-Car-MP3-Player-Wireless-FM-Transmitter-USB-SD-MMC-Slot-Yellow-/280759711217?pt=Other_MP3_Player_Accessories&hash=item415e9535f1
Coolboyme2 years ago
NICE!!! i have the same cd player.. and the cd reading thingy wont work... this is gr8!! thanks a bunch! :)
johnsid (author)  Coolboyme2 years ago
I used to have the same problem, a friend suggested that I should open the device and apply with a cotton bud a little bit of engine oil on the threaded axle that moves the cd head .After you're done with this gently move the head all the way back and forth without touching the lens a few times. After that your cd will play cd's just fine.If it doesn't then you need a replacement cd head!
but, do you think this will work, given my player doesnt at all make a response to CDs...? it doesnt even know that there's a CD in there!
thanks a bunch!! i'll try that!! :)
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