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Please help me improve the sound of my iPod through my car stereo.
September 6, 2011 3:22 PM   Subscribe

The stereo on my Toyota Aygo has an iPod jack, but the sound is AWFUL. If it's loud enough to hear, there's as much hiss as there is music. I've tried every possible volume adjustments between iPod/stereo. Will one of these headphone amps help?

Any other reasonable solutions? I've considered just getting an aftermarket stereo, but they're SO UGLY I just can't. The stereo is, as I said before, crap, but radio and CD sound is loud enough with no hissing and I'd just like to listen to my iPod with the same sound quality.
posted by cilantro to Technology (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Are you certain the jack is supposed to be iPod-compatible out of the box? My guess it that you're running an iPod's headphone output into an input designed for a line level corresponding to "Line out" applications. You need an adapter of some sort (no ties to this firm, just seems most convenient on a quick Google).
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 3:34 PM on September 6, 2011


Inspector.Gadget may be on the right track, but I'll note that I've plugged the headphone jack of my iPhone and my iPod Classic into a generic AUX IN port on my car stereo (an OEM stereo on a Nissan Sentra) and have not run into this problem. It's conceivable that the Nano doesn't put out as much voltage, though; what kind of iPod do you have?
posted by Johnny Assay at 3:43 PM on September 6, 2011


If the stereo has a 3.5mm input it sure ought to be designed to handle headphone output (which isn't really that different than line out, anyway).

Do you have anything else with a headphone output that you could test?
posted by The Lamplighter at 3:45 PM on September 6, 2011


If it's loud enough to hear, there's as much hiss as there is music.

Where are you adjusting the volume -- on the ipod, or with the car stereo's controls? It sounds like you might be using the car's volume setting to compensate for a too-low volume setting on the iPod itself.
posted by jon1270 at 3:50 PM on September 6, 2011


I'm seconding jon1270. Generally speaking, you want to have the ipod turned all the way up. Then it should come close to the regular radio volume.
posted by DaddyNewt at 3:52 PM on September 6, 2011


I'm with jon1270; a lot of hiss sounds to me like the volume is too low on the iPod, and too high on the deck. But then, you've said that you've tried every possible adjustment between the two, so I'm not sure.

Does your deck automatically switch to the aux input when it's connected or do you have to manually switch to it? Is it perhaps possible that you don't actually have the aux input selected, but what you're hearing is just bleed-over from a poorly isolated circuit? My mom has a Mazda with a factory stereo, and with the CD player selected, silence playing, and the volume up fairly loud, you can faintly make out the local FM radio station. Maybe it's something like that, and you just don't have the iPod input "really" selected?
posted by xedrik at 3:55 PM on September 6, 2011


Another thing that can happen - and it's a very simple thing to fix - is that the connector on your cable does not push all the way into the jack.

Double-check that the end of your cable is actually going all the way into the audio input. If it catches on the edge of the plug-hole or something, that can cause this exact behavior by shorting one of the inputs.
posted by fake at 4:20 PM on September 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


My vote's with fake, especially if the stereo quality of the sound is fucked up. If the passenger hears more hiss than the driver, I guarantee bad connection contact is the culprit.
posted by Netzapper at 4:25 PM on September 6, 2011


Swap things around!

Borrow another media player or a Walkman or something.
Try another cable.
Try your iPod in another car.
posted by krilli at 4:26 PM on September 6, 2011


Try another cable first. It possible that the cable just isn't well made, doesn't make proper contact in either socket. I'm now more surprised when a cable works first up than when it doesn't.
posted by dantodd at 6:36 PM on September 6, 2011


FWIW, my Toyota Siena also sounds kinda crappy/hissy with either of the two mp3 players we own are plugged into the aux jack. Fiddling with the volume controls on both car and mp3 player doesn't really fix it. I'm not really a stickler for hi fi sound in the car, but it's distracting enough that I've resorted to burning mp3 cds to listen to instead, as they sound much better.
posted by 2N2222 at 6:44 PM on September 6, 2011


Yeah, the auxiliary jack is specifically advertised as "MP3 Audio Player Integration" so that's definitely what it's there for. The cable worked fine in the Ford Focus work hired for me recently so I don't think that's the problem.

I've tried it with the iPod volume all the way up, at 75% as recommended by the stereo manual, and at every other possible volume.

I've also tried one of those things that plays your ipod through the radio, which is a TINY bit better, but there simply isn't enough dead radio space around here to make it work - I would have to change the stations three or four times just on my five mile drive to work.
posted by cilantro at 11:42 PM on September 6, 2011


The cable worked fine in the Ford Focus work hired for me recently so I don't think that's the problem.

I wouldn't necessarily write this explanation off. Small differences in the shape of the jack and the plastic molding surrounding it can mean that the same cable can work fine in one car and poorly in another.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:09 AM on September 7, 2011


1. Are there any compression settings on the iPod right now?
2. Is the hiss just as loud regardless of the song playing?
3. Have you tried a headphone amp?
4. Have you tried using a different cable/different iPod to see if that makes a difference?
posted by fantasticninety at 2:37 PM on September 7, 2011


In case anyone else has this problem, a line-out dock cable did the trick. The headphone line-out is severely volume limited to protect your ears, apparently, but sound through the main dock connection doesn't have that limitation.

A headphone amp would have probably worked as well but this was 1/4 the price and doesn't require batteries.

Only problem is that you can't charge the iPod while you listen, but my trips are rarely long enough for that to be a problem.
posted by cilantro at 4:15 AM on September 9, 2011


That was an interesting twist. Thanks - that's useful to know.
posted by krilli at 5:45 AM on September 10, 2011


The headphone line-out is severely volume limited to protect your ears, apparently, but sound through the main dock connection doesn't have that limitation.

If you're referring to the feature that I'm thinking of, then you can raise the Volume Limit in the Settings menu of the iPod. If you want to be able to charge your iPod while driving, you might see if that fixes the problem.
posted by Johnny Assay at 10:15 AM on September 10, 2011


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