In-Car Audio

iPodding on-the-cheap

Audio purists may blanch at the following, but if you want the convenience of instant iPod "integration" without the need for the modifications and expense of a factory-installed or sophisticated aftermarket unit, you can opt for one of the plug-in FM transmitter solutions which let you become your own personal "radio station", sending your tunes directly to your sound system via a neutral FM band.

The best of this genre usually combines an iPod caddy with an FM transmitter and plugs into your auxiliary power (cigarette lighter) socket, so it also charges your iPod while you drive (eg, the Griffin RoadTrip and the DLO Transpod).

While generally quite effective, totally transportable from car to car and relatively cheap (around $150-$180) the drawback of this system is that in heavily built-up areas it can sometimes be hard to find a clear "blank" spot on the FM band to tune into, and your sound quality may suffer.

Head of the class

iPods aside, the part of your sound system that you will deal with most is the head unit. This is your main interface to whatever you have hooked up to the system. It is from here that you switch between modes (radio, cassette, CD, minidisc, MP3 player etc), control volume, balance, fading and the general sound geometry of your system.

Head units these days come in an amazing variety of looks and configurations, often with dazzling animated front display units, some in full colour. Go to any car audio retailer or electronics store and you will usually find an extensive array of them to compare and choose from.

Head Unit

Some of them are real showstoppers, with an array of lights, buttons and display options that would stump a jet pilot. Others have a slightly more understated look. Most will have similar basic functionality but with head units you need to find the look that suits your car (and personality) as well as the features you need.

Be prepared to spend some time playing with the display units and comparing look, feel and functions with others. Most importantly, if you are mixing and matching the components of your whole system to get the exact sound capacity and features you need, you will have to make sure that the head unit and other components are all fully compatible and will work happily together once you have assembled the system in your car.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

GoodGearGuide Staff

Good Gear Guide
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?