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Lead image

What's the best way to play music in the car?

Bluetooth vs USB — which sounds best?

In this article, we'll discuss the best options for playing music from your phone or other device in the car. Hint: USB connection provides the best sound while Bluetooth streaming is the most convenient. Get the details below.  

In the old days, it was easy: CD sounds better than cassette. And that's all there was to it. To get the best sounding music, you'd fumble through your CD wallet and listen to the lucky winner on your car stereo (and you still might). Today, we can choose from a wide variety of music sources (smartphone, portable audio players, USB drives, satellite radio tuners, and more), and also from an array of ways for piping the music from your favorite source into your car stereo.

The question is, how do you determine the best way to listen to your digital music? Some ways are easier than others and some ways will yield better sound than others. So, it really comes down to how you access and play your digital music and getting as much detail out of it as you can. Let’s take a look at the variety of ways to access your favorite tunes while on the road.

The most common ways to listen to music in the car are:

  • USB input
  • auxiliary input
  • Bluetooth® transmitter
  • WiFi
  • FM modulator

Which listening method sounds better?

While the best connection for audio fidelity is a direct or wired connection, there’s a lot to be said about wireless convenience and an ever-growing number of receivers that include built-in WiFi for use with Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ interfaces.

usb input

Some USB ports are right on the front for easy access, while others are on the rear panel for a cleaner looking installation.

USB inputs — the preferred connection

The USB input is now a common feature on aftermarket car stereos, as well as in many factory systems. And that's a very handy thing because the USB input provides the best sound quality possible from an external music source, be it your phone, a portable high-res music player, or a simple USB flash drive loaded with your favorite tunes.

The music signal remains in a digital form until it gets converted into an analog signal by your stereo, so no unnecessary manipulations are made to it. USB doesn't limit the frequency response or signal-to-noise ratio of the music, so what you hear is exactly what your streaming music services or your stored music files are delivering. And besides being the best-sounding form of input, the USB input will often serve as a power source for your device too.

But if you’re keeping your factory radio and it does not already have a USB input, tell us what kind of vehicle you drive. We'll let you know if we have a USB adapter for your factory stereo, as well as the types of music files it’s compatible with. 

Auxiliary Input

Your stereo's auxiliary input is one of the easiest ways to play your music in the car.

Auxiliary inputs — the common connection

Feeding the sound through an auxiliary input will usually yield a strong signal because it's a direct audio connection with full-bandwidth (20-20kHz) frequency response, which is the range of perfect human hearing. An auxiliary input won’t degrade the audio signal, because it’s a direct delivery of the signal from the source to the car stereo, without any unnecessary electronic manipulations. So, it’s important to make sure your source is a good one by adjusting the settings in your streaming service or making sure you use music files with less or no compression when compiling your library.

Aux vs USB inputs

It would seem that auxiliary and USB inputs should deliver the same quality of sound, but frequently, they don't. One reason is the difference between the digital-to-analog converter (DAC) in your stereo compared to the converter in your music player. When you use your music player's headphone jack to connect to your stereo that means you're using the music player's DAC.

Unless you're using a high-resolution portable audio player or an add-on DAC for your phone, the DAC in the stereo is going to be superior to the one in the music player because car stereos have the power required for bigger, better sound over car speakers, so the DAC has to be able to reproduce a high-quality signal. Smartphones and older portable music players on the other hand, like the iPod®, were originally designed only to make small earphones sound pretty good.

 
Bluetooth audio streaming

Bluetooth® audio streaming — the wireless option

Bluetooth wireless technology gives you the convenience of streaming music to your stereo without a cable. The Bluetooth functionality is either built into your music player and car stereo, or added to the stereo using a Bluetooth adapter.

Bluetooth streaming vs FM transmitters

Bluetooth streaming is superior to most FM transmitters (the previous form of wireless connection, see below). First of all, Bluetooth signals are digital transmissions. They can carry more information and thus render better sound quality than FM transmissions.

Secondly, the way the Bluetooth signal is tranmitted greatly reduces the amount of interference from outside signals that often happens with FM. Bluetooth technology uses "spread spectrum" transmissions to broadcast parts of the signal over a constantly changing range of coded frequencies. As a bonus, this frequency-hopping also prevents your signal from being picked up on another piece of gear.

Let's take a look at the numbers. Bluetooth transmissions are full-bandwidth, having a frequency response of 20-20kHz. The signal-to-noise ratio is dependent on the source player, so that number will vary. As a high-quality, short-range, digital transmission, the Bluetooth process itself has little or no impact on the sound quality.

Bluetooth streaming vs USB input

While it is a good wireless option, Bluetooth's sound quality is usually not as good as a direct USB connection. Bluetooth offers higher resolution than MP3 music (320 kbps), but it doesn't offer the same resolution as high-res music or even CDs, like USB does. Check out our article about Bluetooth codecs for more information.

The downsides to Bluetooth streaming are minor. While the signal is resistant to interference, it does sometimes happen and you could get some form of unwanted noise on occasion. The other knock has been its range of 30', but in a vehicle, that's generally not a problem. Using Bluetooth streaming will drain your device's battery faster, so it's wise to have a charger handy.

[Learn how to add Bluetooth streaming to your car.]

 
car stereo with WiFi connection

Many new stereos offer wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which use a WiFi connection to your phone

WiFi and wireless audio

WiFi is the newer kid on the block, primarily in the form of car stereos that offer wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto. Many folks don’t want to have to plug in their phones when they hop in the car, and who can blame them? That’s where WiFi comes in handy to create a small wireless network in your vehicle.

As for audio quality, you can get great high-res results from streaming and stored music on your smartphone when using WiFi. And if you’re using high-res settings for your music, there's no degradation in the audio over a WiFi connection. As with Bluetooth, the one thing to keep an eye on is your phone’s battery draining while going wireless.

FM transmitter

A wired FM modulator is one of the easiest ways to get your music into a factory radio with no auxiliary or USB input

FM transmitters and adapters

First, some numbers. FM radio is restricted (by FCC regulation) to a frequency response of 30-15kHz, which is not full frequency response. When you use an FM adapter to pipe in your tunes, the music is fed into your radio over an FM frequency — the radio thinks it's just another radio station. So theoretically, we can expect the music from our portable to sound about as good as a typical FM station.

There are two types of FM adapters to choose from, wireless and wired FM transmitters. A wireless FM transmitter broadcasts your music over the air to the stereo's FM tuner, just like the real incoming radio signals. It's easier to install but the wireless transmitter is directly competing with all of those radio signals and other FM interference bouncing around inside and outside of your car. So while they're convenient, you can expect some sound interference, especially in populated areas.

A wired FM modulator is directly connected to your radio via the FM antenna connection. It usually requires removing the stereo to get to the antenna connector on the rear (and maybe adding an antenna adapter, depending on your vehicle), but it's much less prone to outside interference than wireless transmitters. So, we can expect that of the two FM options, a wired transmitter will be our better bet for sound quality. 

Receiver in dash

The bottom line for best sound quality

  • A direct connection via USB will yield wonderful results because it eliminates extra manipulations of the audio signal.

  • WiFi provides the wireless convenience, smartphone integration, and excellent sound quality, but it’s often found on higher-priced car stereos.

  • Bluetooth streaming is a great wireless option and can be found on more affordable stereos and factory radios. However, it does manipulate the signal by broadcasting it over the air. And while it doesn’t reach the the bit rates of high-res or CD music, it still offers better resolution than standard MP3 resolution.

  • An auxiliary input is the next best “hardwired” option. It's also one of the most common inputs in a car audio system and one of the easiest methods to use. Consider a DAC for your phone (or using a portable high-res player) to make it even better.

  • FM adapters offer lower sound quality and are open to outside interference, but they are an option if no other connectivity is available for a stereo.

The quality of the source matters

Ever hear the expression “garbage in, garbage out”? Something to think about is how you encode your music to digital files. Music with less compression (CDs, high-res digital music, etc.) will sound better than music that's heavily compressed (MP3's, Internet radio stations, etc.).

If you're ripping a CD to a digital file for a USB drive or portable player, you can set the encoding for less compression on many programs, like Windows Media Player® and iTunes®. Likewise, Internet radio stations like TIDAL, Qobuz, and Amazon Music often let you set a higher quality (usually with a “premium” subscription) for your music in the settings menu. But be careful, higher quality settings consume more cellular data.

Personal experience

The best choice is really up to you and how you’ll play your music in your vehicle. Besides sound quality, you should also consider the ease of hook up and elegance of the connection. And given how noisy the car environment can be, you might not hear much of a difference between any of the connection options.

Tip: Try at least two different options with several of your favorite songs and see what sounds best in your situation. And the next time you install a new stereo, spend the extra couple of dollars to buy the extra cable to connect to the stereo's USB or auxiliary input. It's worth it in the long run.

What are the options for your vehicle?

Your options for playing your digital music through your car stereo depend on a combination of three things: The kind of vehicle, the stereo, and how you listen to your music. You can start the process by entering your vehicle info in our vehicle selector. If you need help figuring out the best option for you and your car, contact our advisors for expert advice. 

Last updated 6/16/2021
  • Greg Galetski from GREENWOOD VLG

    Posted on 6/24/2021

    Hi, I have SE200. I can listen music from TIDAL at home, but outside w/o WiFi I can't. Can you suggest something? Thanks Greg

  • Ken C. from Sugar grove

    Posted on 4/29/2021

    Explained very well , thank you. My favorite is aux line . Bluetooth streaming is not totally safe in high populated areas.. Love u all thank you.

  • John Akins from Richardson

    Posted on 12/24/2020

    I have a thumb drives with flac files loaded. Some of the source matierial is Hi-Res dowload or cd. Is this the best possible sound I can get? I can play the cds in my Kenwood Excelon radio, they sound as good as the thumb drive maybe a little better. Which should give the best response? I do have a Kenwood Excelon amp and Focal speakers

    Commenter image

    Alexander H. from Crutchfield

    on 12/28/2020

    John, if your Excelon receiver is able to play Hi-res files, then that's your best option (but CDs are a great source too). For more on Hi-res in the car, check out this article.
  • Vaibhav Chadha from Hong Kong

    Posted on 6/10/2020

    Hi I have a BMW X1 2019 model. The car has factory fitted headset and after marker match pp86amp and focal speakers. I use tidal premium subscription on my iPhone 11 to listen to music. The car has a usb c and regular usb input. My question is will a premium music player like aster and kernel give better result compared to iPhone 11? Also will adding a DAC to iPhone and then connecting to usb of car give better result?

    Commenter image

    Alexander H. from Crutchfield

    on 6/11/2020

    Vaibhav, the USB input is likely bypassing the benefit of a high-res player or external DAC to use whatever DAC BMX has built-in.
  • Dan Dennis from Annandale VA

    Posted on 4/15/2020

    Since I just bought and installed the Kenwood DDR9906XR (purchased from Cruchfield), it has Wifi Carplay, were do the number fall with Wifi, I would assume the same as Bluetooth, So far love the Kenwood DDX9906XR.

  • RICHARD A WOZNIAK from Saint Augustine

    Posted on 2/10/2020

    My 2020 Explorer doesn't have an AUX port. I have many CD's that I would like to play in the SUV. In the article Bluetooth and USB are stated as the best methods to connect to a car stereo. My problem, after several hours of searching, I can't find portable a Bluetooth CD player that will work with stereo nor can I find a USB cable that will attach either a Walkman or a DVD player to the USB connection in my SUV. You may not sell a solution but it would great to know if there is a solution. Thanks

  • andrew granovsky from los angeles

    Posted on 9/25/2019

    i have a 2017 mini cooper clubman with no cd player. I bought a portable cd player and tried using the aux cable to the aux in port and the sound was inferior to the radio. I next tried my cell phone music app over the aux cable with same result, however the phone over blue tooth was almost as good as the radio. Is converting the cd player to blue tooth the only solution and does anyone make such a converter ? thanks

    Commenter image

    Alexander H. from Crutchfield

    on 9/30/2019

    Andrew, if you can try a different cable for that AUX connection, that might be the best first step since a wired connection is going to give you better audio quality than wireless. If the AUX input is still sounding bad and you don't want to convert your CDs to digital files, then yes, it sounds like Bluetooth will be the only way to interface with that particular radio.
  • Dan from Addison

    Posted on 5/29/2019

    I have a 2018 Kia Stinger GT2 with the upgraded Harmon Kardon system. Have an iphone X with tidal app and have MQA listening capability. Is using the USB direct cable the best way to maximize audio quality or would a combination of Dragonfly Red Dac with camera adapter for iphone via the AUX input be better? I have no clue on how good the DAC is in the factory infotainment so I'm perplexed.

    Commenter image

    Alexander H. from Crutchfield

    on 5/31/2019

    Dan, great question. The Dragonfly/AUX option is the way to go. You won't benefit from MQA using the USB input.
  • Rob from Eagle Point

    Posted on 11/29/2018

    OK... so I know the typical frequency range for cassette tape read heads is in no way phenomenal but that is what I'm relegated to using and it seems like no one in the ENTIRE WORLD has done a review on a single cassette adapter. Having a terrible time finding ANY specs on ANY product. Seems like the current generation forgot what frequency range meant when it went digital and specs nowadays refer to color and size of product...ha Can anybody be so kind as to provide specs on the adapter transmission head of any product/adapter ??? Thx

    Commenter image

    Alexander H. from Crutchfield

    on 11/30/2018

    Rob, we don't carry cassette adapters anymore, but the frequency response of this Tascam cassette deck is 30-13,000 Hz (±4 dB). Hope that helps!
  • Marvin from Vollenhove

    Posted on 9/30/2018

    Is it possible to use a bluetooth receiver and connect it to the USB in on my pioneer DEH3800ui? to transmit digital audio via bluetooth (AAC or APTX with my iphone 8) and use the USB input while maybe even keeping the functionality like pause and skipping on the headunit?

    Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    on 10/1/2018

    Marvin, most of this will depend on the Bluetooth kit you choose. The more common adapter plugs into your aux input, and therefore you wouldn't have control of streaming from your head unit. You'd have to control playback from the source unit.
  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 4/19/2018

    Jeff, unless your vehicle has a built-in hard drive (some do), those two scenarios are relatively similar. They're both external devices connected via USB.

  • Jeff from Charlotte

    Posted on 4/16/2018

    Will my music sound better in my car if I download directly into the car using a flash drive or am I better off just staying with my iphone connecting to my usb port

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 11/28/2017

    Bob, there isn't a factory USB input in that vehicle. If you'd like to add a new receiver with a USB input, give us a call. An Advisor will help your find the right receiver for you and your vehicle.

  • Bob Hart from Rural Retreat, Va.

    Posted on 11/15/2017

    Do you know if a 2011 Toyota Prius has a USB port for a MP3 player? i have ordered a AGPTEK 8GB MP3 player 2nd generation. Thanks Bob

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 11/14/2017

    Barbara, I've passed your question along to an Advisor who will contact you soon. They'll help you find the right solution for your new Subaru.

  • Barbara Bryant from Rapid City SD

    Posted on 11/13/2017

    My daughter recently purchased 2017 Subaru Impreza Hatchback. It has (only) a factory installed radio. She wants to play her CD collection through the Subaru speaker system...... on road trips. What do we need to purchase? How can we play/hear CD audio through the Subaru speaker system? Thank you for your assistance.

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/16/2017

    Mahear, Android Auto conducts all operations via USB. In fact, we offer this caveat as well in the Details tab of the Sony XAV-AX100: "Bluetooth hands-free phone and wireless music streaming cannot be used while Android Auto is being used with a connected Android smartphone." Re: smartphone vs. flash drive, you likely won't hear a difference in sound quality using the same digital files.

  • Mahear Aboueid from Anchorage

    Posted on 10/14/2017

    I just installed a Sony VAX-AX100 from crutchfield. My question is when I use Android Auto is the music coming through USB or is the audio portion still connected via Bluetooth? Also is music stored on my phone and played via Android Auto as good as quality as the same song stored on a USB drive and played through the head unit?

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 2/8/2017

    Jerry, Honda would be the best resource for their own factory radio. If they don't know, you may want to explore Honda customer forums. If there's an app related to HondaLink, you may want to make sure you have the latest version on your phone. Also, beyond charging, if having a wired connection with your vehicle only causes system confusion, you may be better off just using Bluetooth. Good luck!

  • Jerry Sander from Warwick

    Posted on 2/7/2017

    Thank you for this; I just bought a 2017 Honda CR-V EX and the stock system sounds very good (not sure of the specs on it, or the speakers), but I'm running into a confusing difficulty: Android Auto doesn't support TIDAL HiFi (which sounds THE BEST but isn't interested in anything other than being sold, apparently), so I can't use Android Auto to stream it. When my USB cable is plugged in and the car is started up it now defaults to Android Auto. When I switch it out of that -- to HondaLink, the basic default -- it loses recognition of the USB cable. I can bluetooth-stream TIDAL just fine, but it says there is no USB device connected, even though my phone is charging and was the same cable it just ran through. Is this because it DEFAULTS to recognize Bluetooth when given a choice between them? Honda isn't sure.

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/11/2016

    Harrison, turning the volume on your source is a good idea and will put less strain on your receiver/amp to supply power for system volume. As far as a Bluetooth adapter goes, you're still transferring musical information wirelessly so the Bluetooth details above would be roughly the same.

  • Harrison

    Posted on 10/10/2016

    What about sound quality when you have a Bluetooth adapter? (Bluetooth receiver then aux cord to the speakers) Also - I've been wondering if this makes a difference when using bluetooth. From an audio quality perspective, even if it's negligible. Turning up the volume on your phone (the source) vs the volume being jacked up on the speakers? Should you always have the volume on your source at the maximum?

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/13/2016

    Jan, experience will vary depending on the quality of music files, the DAC involved, and other variables, but generally speaking, Bluetooth isn't superior to an AUX connection. Take note of our "Running the numbers" section above. As far as aptX goes, only an Android device will give you the full benefit of aptX sound quality. For iPhone, streaming AAC files will give you a step up in sound quality over standard SBC.

  • Jan R from Denver

    Posted on 7/12/2016

    How is a bluetooth connection higher quality than an aux cable input? I've tried several options in my 2013 Mini Cooper for replacing the ridiculously expensive BMW usb/aux combo cable that plugs directly into the iphone lightning port, and bluetooth options all seem weak even with an aptX usb adapter because the iphone only sends an SBC bluetooth signal.

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/12/2016

    AWW, that should work. The DAC in the DragonFly is superior to the one found in the iPhone, plus the amplification coming out of the DragonFly's DAC is a step up.

  • AWW from Los Angeles

    Posted on 7/11/2016

    I am driving a 2015 Porsche Boxster and use my iPhone for all my music (mostly streaming). It has a USB, but it sound so much better when I use the AUX from my iPhone. Will buying some sort of portable DAC produce better sound? For example, AudioQuest DragonFly® Black v1.5 connected to my iPhone with a Lightning to USC adapter, then running the AUX male to male from the AudioQuest to the car Aux?

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 4/4/2016

    Don, we carry this Maxell cassette-to-CD adapter.

  • Don Pomerantz from New York

    Posted on 4/3/2016

    Do you guys sell, or can you recommend a solid quality cassette /3.5mm adapter? Thanks.

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 3/7/2016

    Tyler, I've passed your question along to our sales team for the best answer. An advisor will contact you soon to help. In the meantime, you might want to take a look at this Bluetooth interface, which could be a good option for you (as long as your music player is equipped with Bluetooth as well).

  • Tyler Z from Orinda

    Posted on 3/6/2016

    I have a 2006 Toyota Land Cruiser with navigation. I have been using a wireless fm transmitter but the sound quality isn't great. I am looking for a way to get better sound quality. I never use my CD player and was wondering if it would be better to get something to replace the CD option with an aux. I have seen a few products but not many. Do you recommend that or a wired fm transmitter?

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 2/8/2016

    G.S., I've passed your question along to our sales team. An advisor will contact you soon to help find a solution that's right for you and your Honda Pilot.

  • G.S. from Manchester

    Posted on 2/7/2016

    I have a 2006 Honda Pilot EX with Navigation. My system has no auxiliary port. I want to be able to listen to audio books and music from my android phone. I have tried an FM transmitter and that is just not loud enough and has a lot of static. I was researching a new cd player with an audio output and blue-tooth but am confused as to whether I would loose the voice commands from the steering wheel. I have also heard of wiring an adapter thru to my glove box but was hoping for a better alternative. What options do I have? I don't want to trade my car in just to be able to hear my audio books.

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 11/9/2015

    Alan, your ears are not playing tricks on you. You'll get a fuller, more dynamic sound with a wired connection. Bluetooth requires signal compression to function and so some musical information is lost in the transfer. If you're interested in better-sounding Bluetooth, check out this article on aptX.

  • Alan from Rock Island, IL

    Posted on 11/6/2015

    When I listen to music via a Bluetooth speaker, it seems to me to compress the dynamic range of the music I listen to in a rather noticeable way. I have a Bose Bluetooth speaker (don't judge, good sound and well-made for a small portable). I have both plugged audio in directly and used the Bluetooth with my phone utilizing the highest quality on Spotify. With an album high on dynamic range (Oceansize-Frames) I get quite perturbed at the loss of dramatic effect from loud to soft when using Bluetooth, but dont detect such an extreme alteration on the wired connection. I assume that part of the effect stems from Spotify, but as I stated, it doesn't seem too noticeable unless I use Bluetooth. Is this just in my head or is there a noticeable difference? PS, in my vehicle I utilize a cassette adapter and find it to be far superior to an fm transmitter. Years ago, I went through probably 5 different transmitters trying to find a good one, but unless you are in the middle of nowhere, I always get interference from radio no matter how many stations I try. For my factory speakers (decent quality in a 2001 Toyota avalon. Can't think of the brand, but it's not the standard audio package. Junk CD player, sadly) it performs very well. I have no complaints about the audio quality. I personally find that it is far superior to a typical cassette, likely due to wear and tear they endure. Also keep in mind that a CD is better, unless it skips. Spotify NEVER skips ;)

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/28/2015

    Melvin, there could be a number of things that could be making your music sound "bad." Old factory speakers, not enough power going to those old factory speakers, a bad connection somewhere, etc. It might be worth borrowing someone else's media player and testing it in your vehicle to see if the sound improves. There's also the possibility that you're not satisfied with the resolution of your media files. To find out more about high-resolution audio, check out this article. If you're sure it's the music player that's at fault and you want to replace it, a wired connection will give you better quality sound than a Bluetooth connection, but you'll need to make sure that your device is compatible with your stereo via USB. Alternatively, an AUX connection will suffice.

  • Melvin Low from Penang

    Posted on 10/28/2015

    I had an AVF car portable media player and it sound really bad although the songs I put is in high quality MP3 320kbps I wonder is the problem related to format problem or the car portable media player is just bad quality sound output I got good quality media player but nowadays I hardly find a good quality cd to burn. So would I change to bluetooth media player or media player with a USB plug or the problem are not those I listed above?

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/19/2015

    Patsy, aside from replacing your radio, a wired FM modulator like this will probably be the only way to play music from your PONO(s). With a wired connection, you'll get a clearer signal than with the universal transmitter you've already tried. If you need any recommendations, just give us a call.

  • Patsy Callaghan from Yakima, WA

    Posted on 10/16/2015

    Hi folks, We just bought a new Honda CRV which has two USB ports and an HDMI port but no AUX port. We had ALSO invested in two PONO music players, which are not Bluetooth equipped. We tried a universal FM transmitter, but maybe because of where we live, there's just too much static. Any ideas?

  • Commenter image

    Dave Delamere from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/5/2015

    Bill, it looks like the Pioneer AVIC-D3 required a separate Pioneer Bluetooth adapter, and its older version of Bluetooth may be causing some issues. If you bought the receiver at Crutchfield, you could call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system. Their toll-free number is on your invoice. If you purchased your equipment elsewhere, you can still get expert Crutchfield Tech Support - 90 days-worth for only $30. Click on this link for details.

  • Bill Kelsey from Copperopolis Ca.

    Posted on 10/4/2015

    Im using a iPhone 5c connected via Bluetooth to a Pioneer AVIC-D3 and some songs sound as if theyre playing at about half of the volume. Im still using version 8.1 IIRC on the phone. Thanks.

  • Jeffrey E.

    Posted on 9/9/2015

    Just here to say this article was exceptional. Not too technical but just enough specificty to provide both a solid base of information and perspective on the differences. First time on the site and will now be browsing around.

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/18/2015

    Johnny, having a laptop set up in your car doesn't sound like the most convenient way to listen to you music, or the safest. As a first step, I'd double-check to make sure the volume is all the way up on your Android device, and then you may be able to move your stereo volume to a more reasonable setting. If that doesn't work, and you're in the market for a new stereo, you could install one with a front USB port for a thumb drive you could load up with your mp3s. An aftermarket stereo will also drive your speakers with more power than your factory stereo, and you'll hear a nice boost in sound quality there as well. You can use our vehicle selector to confirm which stereos fit your car.

  • Johnny from Albany

    Posted on 8/17/2015

    I have a new 2015 Nissan Versa with four speakers. Using a factory CD/Radio/AUX Input stereo system. My problem is I'd like a crisp high end sound quality. I don't want to blow my speakers because the volume knob is really high to actually listen but it seems that the quality is better from my laptop than my android phone using the AUX input. I'm not sure if I should get a DAC converter or a power inverter to use so I won't drain the car battery. I know the best quality is Flac than mp3, WAV files are at best too but takes too much space for music too. I'm not sure if I should stick with my laptop method as my music player or what. At most listen to music without turning the volume so high even though the quality for most of my music is mp3 192 or 320Hz. What should I do?

  • Derek Schaller from Madison, WI

    Posted on 8/5/2015

    Thank you for the well written tutorial that included very objective information (like SNR and FR) that was well organized (progression and chart) with practical context (other factors to consider).

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/27/2015

    Melina, if your Highlander isn't already equipped with a USB input, we don't have a way of equipping your factory radio to read data from your Zune via USB. The only way to gain that feature is to install a new aftermarket stereo compatible with the Zune (which might be a tall order since Microsoft no longer makes them). However, the easiest, cheapest way to listen to music on your Zune through your car stereo is to use a mini-to-mini stereo cable to plug your Zune into your stereo's AUX input.

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/27/2015

    Alex, actually we have several Bluetooth adapters that are wired and don't use FM modulation. Some use your factory AUX input. Some use a wiring harness that links into your factory system. Check out all our options here.

  • Melina from Memphis

    Posted on 7/26/2015

    I have a 2011 toyota highlander. How can I listen to music from my microsoft zune using the usb port? Thanks

  • alex from sydney

    Posted on 7/25/2015

    Am I right that any external bluetooth adaptors are essentially FM transmitters?

  • Naveen from San Diego, CA

    Posted on 7/14/2015

    Thank You

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    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/6/2015

    John, I've passed your information along to a Crutchfield advisor who will be contacting you via email soon. If you'd like to speak with us right away, give us a call at 1.888.955.6000 for a recommendation.

  • John Purcell from United States

    Posted on 7/5/2015

    Hello. I have a very basic 2006 Ford Escape, fitted with the standard factory installed am/fm stereo CD player. This factory unit has no auxiliary inputs of any kind, no external inputs, at all. I almost exclusively listen to books on CD or MP-3, so sound quality is not much of a factor. The radio receiver works quite well, but, sadly, the CD player function is, I think, dying. Despite cleaning the unit, upon inserting a disc, the unit scans ahead, track after track, never stopping to play any track. I have tried everything that I can think of to rectify the problem, but nothing succeeds in getting it to simply play the disc! The car is old, but in great shape and runs well. I don't plan on a new car anytime soon but, with old cars, one never knows! I do not want to spend much money, as I am disabled and on a fixed income, plus, since sound quality is not a huge issue, I don't want to spend much on an expensive new deck or system. Other than buying an inexpensive new deck and installation kit (I am capable of installing such equipment, to a degree) are there any easier, less expensive options, such as MP3 players with FM transmitting ability that I can try? I mostly drive on highways or in fairly rural areas, so conflicting FM signals shouldn't be much of a problem. Would such a set up work for me? Can you suggest any such equipment? My need is rather urgent, as I have a long trip coming up, and I'll need my books on MP3 to accompany me! Please help, if you can. Thank

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    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 6/3/2015

    Lucille, I think you'll find a portable CD player with a USB output to be a bit of a white whale. We no longer carry portable CD players, and most that you'll find elsewhere will probably only have a 3.5mm plug audio output. If you have a laptop, you could spend a bit of time converting your CDs to digital media files. If you load a flash drive or media player with those music files, you may be able to plug that into the factory USB input you describe and play your music that way. However, given your love of CDs, the best solution may be to upgrade your car's system with a new in-dash CD player. You can use our vehicle selector to confirm which stereos fit your car or give us a call and we can help you choose the right fit.

  • Lucille Brandner from United States

    Posted on 6/2/2015

    I have a car with the capability to connect devices to its audio system through a usb port. I have many cds that I would like to take on trips and since my car has no cd player, I am looking for a portable cd player that would be capable of outputing sound through my car audio. Can you recommend a good portable cd player that would do this?

  • Niklas from United States

    Posted on 5/20/2015

    @Dale Any source would be fine... Alexander stated that Blutooth wont be CD quality well CD qulaity is 1,411Kps.... and high end MP3 files are 320Kps, 132Kps will work perfectly fine on blutooth.

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    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/20/2015

    Dale, while streaming music via Bluetooth is convenient and sounds satisfying enough, it does not match CD-quality sound. You could try to connect the hard drive you mentioned to your stereo via USB, but there's no guarantee the two will be compatible. If you have high-res music files, the best way to listen to them is by plugging a loaded flash drive into the stereo's USB port. If you're looking for a new aftermarket stereo for your Infiniti, give us a call. An advisor can help your find the right stereo for your needs.

  • Dale

    Posted on 5/19/2015

    Other than a CD, what is the best way to listen to music in my 2012 Infiniti G37sport? Stored music on the 9.3GB hard drive is stored at 132kbps. I believe the USB connection simply engages Bluetooth. Not sure if there is a way to connect directly thru the USB. I would like to stream music thru my Iphone5 and Bluetooth if the quality is close to CD. Thank you!