Car stereo enhancement
April 11, 2018 5:40 AM   Subscribe

I have a 2001 Audi A6 with a Bose Symphony stereo. It has a cassette player and a cd player. Currently I have a cassette tape adapter that I plug my phone into play mp3 files. I was wondering if it would be possible to set it up to play music from my phone via bluetooth or by USB stick.

Photos here.

What are my options?
posted by falsedmitri to Technology (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This is apparently the Audi Symphony I .

If you're comfortable with soldering, you can splice in an an AUX port to the CD output, but you won't be able to play CDs.

You're probably better off talking to someone like Crutchfield and swapping out the stereo.
posted by zamboni at 6:23 AM on April 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

This is designed specifically for your car.

Alternatively, for some reason the aftermarket receiver market is still booming and there are any number of replacement in-dash receivers that will will do what you want. Any car audio shop will set you up, or find compatible parts on Crutchfield and set it up yourself. Shouldn't cost more than $150.
posted by FakeFreyja at 6:24 AM on April 11, 2018 [3 favorites]

This is designed specifically for your car.

Note there's a one star review: Returned item after calling tech support and being told it wouldn't work with my 2001 Audi A6 with a Bose Symphony Radio even though the website said it would.
posted by zamboni at 6:29 AM on April 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

I came here to recommend Cruchfield. A couple of years ago I put in my make/model, and it spit out all the compatible receivers, wiring harnesses, and steering remotes that I needed to replace my stereo. I spent a couple of hours on a Saturday swapping it out. At one point I had to call them because I was confused. They not only picked up the phone (on a Saturday!), but they immediately emailed me annotated photos showing exactly what I needed to do. Now I have Bluetooth and it's awesome.

The wiring was mostly plugging connectors into other connectors, though I did have to splice a wire or two. No soldering required.
posted by bondcliff at 6:49 AM on April 11, 2018 [3 favorites]

Yea, I'm not sure if this is in the 'ok' list for your options but replacing that whole radio with something newer would be the traditional option.

You'd likely need 3 major components: the radio itself, a moulding to fit the new radio into the dash (yours looks like double din if I'm remembering terminology right, but don't quote me), and a wiring harness to match the new radio's wires to the wires your car has easy peasy.

Beyond that a few wire nuts and/or black tape (or crimp on butt joints if you want to be fancy) is about it.

Tools can be as simple as a screwdriver and a butter knife for prying or you could upgrade to legit prybars made of plastic if you want to be fancy but it's really not necessary.

Crutchfield is a good resource but you could use them to get an idea of parts/nomenclature and then buy elsewhere as well.

Your budget for this could range from $50 or $75 to $300 bucks, with the vast majority of that being the cost of the head unit (read: radio) you choose. If you choose to have a pro do the install (which isn't necessary if you're any degree of handy at all) then add that in as well.
posted by RolandOfEld at 6:56 AM on April 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

Another vote for Crutchfield. You may pay a very small premium over rolling your own from parts sourced elsewhere, but their "Buy these three things, and put them together exactly like this. Call use if you get stuck, and we'll walk you through it." is exceptional.
posted by piro at 7:18 AM on April 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

Or you could get a bluetooth adapter with a headphone jack and plug the tape adapter into that. Pros: Cheap, stupidly easy to DIY. Cons: Dangly wires everywhere, no built in controls

The Wirecutter has reviews:
Headphone adapters - battery powered, but your tape adapter will plug right into them
Car adapters - plug into your car, but the two they recommend have a male plug, so you'd need an adapter like this

You can also get a bluetooth - FM adapter (that second Wirecutter link has one), but the sound quality probably won't be as good
posted by natabat at 7:19 AM on April 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

They have cassette adapters that are Bluetooth receivers, you can get them at AutoZone, Pep Boys, whatever your local auto parts store is.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 7:53 AM on April 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

The Bluetooth to FM adaptor is probably the most painless option providing you live and (mostly) drive in an area that has a single consistent available space (or maybe 2 max) in the FM band. I used one quite happily for a while, but it might be a pain if you frequently travel to areas that don't have a common free spot in the FM band and you have to retune. There used to be a couple of websites that would map your journey in FM and let you know the best frequency choice, but I don't know if they're still around.
Unless you've modded your 2001 model into a hover car powered by pixie dust, the sound quality will be fine in the context of the engine and road noise.
posted by Jakey at 1:28 PM on April 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

The easiest option would be something like this, connected to your existing cassette adapter.
posted by kickingtheground at 1:28 PM on April 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

You can get a Bluetooth cassette adapter, which can stay in the deck all the time and you play by Bluetooth. No need to involve FM or a physical plug. I had a generic one that needed to be charged every few days by USB, and kept the cable in my car for this.
posted by a halcyon day at 11:51 AM on April 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

N'thing the "get a new radio" advice. They're cheaper and easier than you think, even if you have a pro install it for you, and the leap in functionality from cassette headphone jack to Bluetooth will make you feel like a worthwhile human being again, at least for a short while.
posted by whuppy at 6:05 AM on April 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

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