Posted a comment on a friends page and inspired me to post on this subject.
I wouldn’t even consider an FM transmitter and would only resort to tape at last resort.
The best option is to plug directly into your car’s head unit through an auxiliary input. Even with stock car stereos there is a chance an adapter is available. And if not, I’d try a FM modulator (different from transmitters, they plug directly into antennae on the stereo to minimize interference).
I use to have a Kenwood head unit in my old truck and I got the adapter that plugs into the cd changer port and it worked great. Just ran the RCA cable out from under the dash and up to the center console and plugged straight in.
The best list of available adapters I’ve found is at Installer.com.
So in summary:
- FM transmitters (the cheap toys you get at Radio Shack) – avoid like the plague.
- Tape Adapters – Final resort if you are strapped for cash and you actually have a tape player (which is becoming quite rare on newer cars and head units).
- FM modulator – plugs directly inline with your car’s antennae, final resort if you value sound quality.
- Auxiliary input – Stereo manufacturers are finally catching on and Aux inputs are becoming more widespread. They offer the least amount of sound quality loss and depending on your setup can be pretty affordable.
I think a lot of people view hooking up their Mp3 player the same as the headphones they use, they simply see no reason to upgrade. After dropping $200-300 on a very capable Mp3 player, most people will not spend the extra money to upgrade their headphones. This is why you see the trendy Ipod masses on college campuses walking around with their white earbuds stuffed in their ears. Spend another $35 on something like these Sennheiser PX 100‘s and increase the quality of your music, unless looking trendy and “cool” matters more.
The same goes with hooking your Mp3 player up in the car, don’t spend $15 on the FM crap emitter, invest a little more and get a higher quality signal with less hassle. I look at it this way, how much is it worth to not have to listen to crappy radio music and commercials? Stick it to the man and hook your mp3 player up to your car stereo.