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Installing an Aftermarket iPod-Ready Car Audio System

If your current car doesn't offer iPod connectivity, all hope is not lost. You can replace your current car audio system with a new one that does let you connect and control your iPod. And lots of options are available.

Many new aftermarket car audio systems offer connections to either the iPod docking connector or the iPod's earphone out jack. The docking connector option is the best way to go, because it lets you operate the iPod from the in-dash controls, display now-playing information on the in-dash display, and recharge the iPod while it's connected. An auxiliary connection to the iPod earphone jack offers none of these control or display options, it merely funnels the iPod's audio into the in-dash system.

For example, the Alpine CDA-9857, shown in Figure 14.3, has an iPod Direct Connection on its rear panel. Connect an optional Full Speed Connection cable between the back panel and your iPod's dock connector, and the in-dash unit controls all the iPod's operations. The in-dash display also shows artist, album, and track information. It's available for $349.99 from www.alpine.com.

Figure 14.3

Figure 14.3 Alpine's iPod-compatible CDA-9857 in-dash car stereo.

Which car stereo manufacturers offer iPod-compatible units? It's a long list, including the following:

Prices on these units run from the sub-$100 range to more than $1,500. To my eye, you'll find the most options in the $200 to $400 range, including units that offer full iPod operability via the docking connector.

Installing a new car audio head unit is typically a job for a professional car audio installer, although many individuals choose to do it themselves. Make sure you choose a unit that fits in your particular dash; most car audio retailers offer charts or searchable databases that let you find the right systems for your car's specific make and model.

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