a good ten years ago, apple had already identified the car as the third most important place to put the ipod (!) uses. This device not only serves as a mobile player and can be integrated into the stereo system in the living room, it also offers skip-tuning. despite all of apples initiatives, cooperations with car manufacturers and the establishment of new standards, the iphone integration into the car is not progressing as one would like it to. The reason is banal: a new car is bought far less often than a new iphone and then the connection of the mobile radio to the in-car system is not the main criterion for the purchase. Our family car is about year of construction 2008. The construction took place probably sometime in the years 2003 to 2007. At least there are accessories that can be retrofitted for a lot of money: essentially a cable with a dock connector (!) what connects ipod or iphone to the integrated stereo system. It has a decent radio and a CD player, but not USB, not bluetooth, not even an aux-input. In fact, you would have to buy a new car or at least a new radio, but that’s beyond your vacation budget.
But in order not to be dependent on the radio on long journeys – the main stations with the traffic radio all play the same program – there are alternatives to bring your own music to the loudspeakers. Two require a little accessories, the third a little preparation. Advantages and disadvantages they all have.
Method 1: funky music via FM radio
long before apple approached car manufacturers about integrating the ipod into the car stereo, peripheral manufacturers came up with the idea of sending the music signal from the ipod to the car radio via FM radio. Small, compact devices for the dock connection or headphone output are already available for little money, the sound quality is more than sufficient for a loud car ride. Technically, devices for the dock output or the lightning jack are at an advantage in terms of sound quality, but in our car we would not hear a difference. But be careful: what still works well in the city, for example if you tune the transmitter to a frequency at the edge of the spectrum that can be received by the car radio, can soon fail on the road. More and more frequencies are occupied by powerful transmitters that interfere or even completely prevent the reception of the ipod/iphone. constant readjustment would be necessary, but you would need either a tech-savvy co-driver or a pit stop every now and then. the stronger the transmitter power of the device, the better the reception, of course. But more than 50 nw radiation power is not allowed and such strong transmitters need constant power supply, the battery of ipod or iphone is not enough. we tested a suitable device some time ago: the holder of the technaxx FMT-X4000 is meant for the ipad itself. Not everyone’s taste, and not every passenger’s taste, to have such a bulky device stuck in the windshield. conclusion: our funk-experiment failed shortly after the city limits.
Method 2: bluetooth speakers
For entertainment in the vacation apartment, a battery-powered bluetooth speaker comes along anyway, in our case the token portable from speedlink. In macwelt-test he had still convinced, but we were not in the car. on the desk, it emitted a surprisingly good sound for its size, the rubber feet provided a stable hold on the flat surface. But there is nothing to see from flat surfaces in our travel carriage and with the noise in the car you can’t hear your own music anymore. And when the traffic radio comes on from the otherwise switched off radio, we have the most beautiful cacophony. We’ll try this again with another, somewhat louder device, but as with the method with ipod/iphone and plug-in FM adapter, a basic problem remains: at some point the battery is empty, either from the phone or from the speaker or from both. With a full charge, however, this should only be the case after eight to nine hours, and there’s no desire for much longer journeys anyway. Of course, there is another obvious solution: headphones while driving are taboo.
method 3: MP3-CD
There is still one method from the last century: the CD. Due to the lack of a CD changer, however, we would have to change the CD twice for each section of the journey (we take three breaks per 1000 kilometers and also make a fuel stop), with all the risks that this entails. Either one distracts oneself while searching from driving, or the passenger puts in the completely wrong disk. At least our car’s sound system understands the MP3 CD format. On 700 MB fit a good eight hours of music in compressed form, with the mentioned noise conditions in the vehicle, the quality difference to the audio CD is not noticeable. this method proved to be the best in our case, with one hitch: on the way back, the slot-in drive went on strike due to high interior temperatures, and the second MP3 CD we had just put in could neither be read nor ejected. The only thing left was the radio, which knew only four different songs in the last five hours of the trip in three broadcasting areas. How to create an MP3 CD from your music library on the mac is explained in the following box.
create mp3 cds from itunes library
700 MB fit on a standard CD blank, which corresponds to about eight hours of MP3 music at a sampling rate of 192 kbit/s, enough for most vacation trips. First we create a new playlist "car entertainment" in itunes and add to it the last albums bought in itunes store or elsewhere.
In order to convert the tracks into mp3s and get quick access to them, two more preparations are necessary. First we have to adjust the import settings in itunes. This can be found under the "settings> general" behind the "import settings" button. But be careful: not only can the tracks in the library now be converted to mp3 format, from now on every newly imported CD would be ripped to mp3 as well. After the conversion, so the back conversion to apple lossless or AAC not forgotten.
We also define a smart playlist in which we can find the mp3s. Itunes leaves the original files in the library and in our playlist "car entertainment" and does not simply overwrite our high quality files. For the smart playlist the criterion "added on" is sufficient, but we want to be absolutely sure and also specify the sample rate selected during the MP3 import as a criterion – maybe we just downloaded a new album from the itunes store today for our car entertainment, which we would otherwise still have in the original in the list.
The rest is easy: all the tracks in the "car entertainment" playlist and select the command "Create MP3 version" from the context menu call. The conversion takes a few minutes. In the meantime we are looking for the CD blanks that have been sitting in a corner somewhere for years.
Found? Finished converting? Good, then just select the smart playlist MP3 and call again the context menu. You can then burn the MP3 CD. We had already limited the playlist to a maximum of 700 MB when we created it. Otherwise itunes would complain about overcapacity – and offer to split the content on two MP3 cds at once.
Now, of course, the itunes library is loaded with mp3s that we don’t need on the mac per se. you can’t delete them from the smart playlist, so you have no choice but to switch to the track view of itunes. Let’s sort the tracks by the criterion "added", let’s quickly find the mp3’s created today – get rid of them. If we accidentally catch the album we just bought today during our deletion action, it’s not so bad – we can always download it from the itunes store again. Just select "purchases" from the intelligent playlist it is then gone.