: FM Modulation

06-03-05, 11:50 AM
Looking to connect an MP3 player via FM signal.

I would prefer a hard-wired configuration with a hidden power switch somewhere low on the dash, but my mind is open to one of these new cigarette lighter, wireless transmitters.

What do you guys recommend?

06-04-05, 05:02 AM
I use one for my XM Satellite radio. It's ok. No more no less. There's some background noise and you better hope there's no real radio broadcasting on the same frequencies used by the transmitter (or even near it, apparently it could interfere, or so I read). Also you lose the cigarette lighter if that's how you're gonna power yours (and if you care about the cigarette lighter lol).

The one I use was part of the car kit for XM. So I can't really name any good brands. The stupid thing with this one is that it uses 6V, not 12. So to hardwire that, I'd have to either use the built-in power supply (defeats the purpose of hard-wiring) or... err... think of something. In other words, I didn't bother. Cigarette lighter it is, hanging wires and all unfortunately.

06-05-05, 04:14 PM
FM modulators have terrible sound quality. They're no better then the tape player adapter. If your planning on using an ipod 3rd or 4th generation and you have factory cd changer cable, there are a few manufacturer's that are now making adapters to connect that way. They also support your regular radio controls...track select, volume. Check out these sites:

06-05-05, 07:26 PM
Thanks, Eric. You answered my question. I think I want to steer clear of the little transmitters. I have three power outlets up front, so that's not really the problem.

I put an XM Commander in my father's Envoy, and I'm satisfied with that FM modulator's quality. It's not as good as I would like for an MP3 player, but you have to consider the sampling rate for the MP3 files. It's not always as good as the original CD (if you're a thief like I used to be).

EldoLak, I'll check those sites out. I'm not sure if they'll help me, because my head unit is itself an in-dash 6-disc changer. It is both XM and Sirius compatible, so that jack will be in use as soon as I come up with the $199.98 it costs to add it.

I'll probably buy the XM add-on and hook up an FM modulator the same time I have the dash torn apart.

Thanks to both of you.

06-11-05, 05:43 PM
i bought a cheap $20 modualater from best buy and it sucks!, it runs off of 2 AAA bateries, and there is such a weak signal it is constantly making static and weird noices....so for some simple advice, dont waste the money, on a cheap one

06-17-05, 09:49 PM
i bought a cheap $20 modualater from best buy and it sucks!, it runs off of 2 AAA bateries, and there is such a weak signal it is constantly making static and weird noices....so for some simple advice, dont waste the money, on a cheap one

I couldn't resist the temptation. I bought a $20 Magnavox FM wireless transmitter from Target.

It's adequate, but I agree, it sucks. Definitely not a long-term solution.

It seems to be worse in the morning. There was less interference in the afternoon.

08-06-05, 08:54 PM
All done now! I realize I'm driving a damn Ford now, but what I did last night and today can easily be done to ANY vehicle, and I recommend it to someone who has little or no experience. It's a do-it-yourself project ANYONE can do.

I ordered this FM modulator from Crutchfield:


Installed it last night. Crutchfield offers two very good modulators, one has a power switch, the other one doesn't. I bought the one that doesn't have a power switch because it can do eight different FM frequencies (the other one only did two frequencies). Then I wired my own power switch and mounted it in the side of the console about mid-thigh. There's about a one-inch gap between the seat and the console.

The MP3 player sounds great. I'm very pleased. I'll probably need to find a new power source for the FM Modulator. I tapped into one of the power outlets in the console, and it stays on all the time. I hoped it would cut off with the ignition but it doesn't.

THEN I researched XM radios. There is an add-on unit that will plug directly into my head unit. But the display on this head unit is pathetic. Doesn't do satellite radio justice. I'm sure the sound quality would be better with a direct-connect, but one of the big advantages to XM is knowing who and what you're listening to all the time. It also has a stock and sports ticker now.

So I bought the Delphi SkyFi2. It has a built-in wireless FM modulator, as well as an output jack. I hooked the thing up and planned to use my new WIRED FM modulator. But just for fun I tried out the wireless feature--IT'S GREAT! I'm shocked at the quality, the signal coming out of this thing must be pretty strong.


This will be fine. I may upgrade the speakers at some point, but overall I'm pleased with the quality of this sound system.

I'll post pics of this install when I get a chance.

08-07-05, 04:23 PM
I mounted the XM antenna on the dashboard near the alarm LED. You can see it at the top edge of the picture.

You can see my little FM modulator switch near the bottom edge of the picture.

I'm not really sure what Ford intended the tray in the console for. I think it's a carry-over from the Navigator, which has the shifter in that location. Perfect fit for an XM receiver if you axe me.

I might cut into the cigarette lighter plug and tap into a permanent power source that shuts off with the ignition. Inside that plug is some kind of converter that reduces the power from 12v to 6v, so I'll have to take that into consideration.

You can see the little 1/8" plug for the MP3 player if you look closely. There's plenty of slack in the cable, probably about 3 feet. I may get fancy with it and mount a recessed female 1/8" plug into the console somewhere. There are plenty of options and plenty of room to work under there.