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  1. #1

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    Question Streaming music to car radio from a music player?

    I am only interested in lossless files, e.g. WMA or FLAC (i.e. mp3 not allowed) and I am not interested in Apple solutions.
    It must be possible. What are the options? A few solutions I have found are
    1) Use a music player like a Latte Espresso mp3 player that uses a FM transceiver so the FM car radio picks it up.
    2) Use a car tuner with DLNA and plug the music player into a front aux jack.

    Anybody make either of these work?
    Is there another way to accomplish this?
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    I don't really see the point of using lossless files if you are going to send them via FM, since an FM tuner has a S/N ratio of 70 dB at best.

    Of the in-car media receivers designed to take a USB input, I'm not aware of any of them that will accept a lossless codec. Doesn't mean there aren't any, but I haven't seen any.

    The Kenwood Music Keg system was able to do FLAC, but it is no longer in production. You can still find them on eBay, but it requires both the Music Keg HDD and a Kenwood "Phatnoise" HU capable of running it. Might be the way to go, however, if you don't mind used gear.

    Personally since a car is such a high-noise environment I wouldn't worry too much about lossless in the car, unless it's just a convenience thing, i.e. don't want to have to transcode all your music for the car. In that case, not sure what to do other than play the music from a portable player that supports FLAC into the aux input or build/buy a carputer.

    I'd just get a Sony DSX-S310BTX and feed it 320kbps MP3s on a USB stick. In a car environment you're not likely to be able to hear the subtle differences between the two formats over the noise floor.

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  3. #3

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    I was hoping someone else would chime in on this. I agree that there is a lot of back ground noise in a moving car but my experience with mp3's has been that they are noticeably below the quality of a decent car radio. I have converted a lot of my music from flac to mp3's to get them on my Nook tablet. They don't sound that great through a decent set of headphones but it could be the Nook. I converted them using Dbpoweramp but it only goes to 240 kpbs. Perhaps they would sound better if fed in the way you mentioned.
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    Yeah if anyone has any other ideas I'd like to hear them too. Wasn't aware of the 240 kbps limitation on dbPoweramp. That's a bummer.

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    what is ur goal here? play Flac or WMA files on in a vehicle?

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...ls_o00_s00_i01

    Just got one of those, it was on sale for 22 bucks.
    Had the girlfriend get me a 32gb microsd card to go along with it.
    My christmas gift from her this year.
    Play it thru an Aux and you are golden.
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  6. #6

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    Is an Aux input on a car radio common? I've never seen one. But I've never looked for one.

    Does it go thru the DAC in the player so it wouldn't matter what the format was because it has already been changed into analog by the time it gets to the radio?

    Pardon my ignorance.
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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by HHStuart View Post
    Is an Aux input on a car radio common? I've never seen one. But I've never looked for one.

    Does it go thru the DAC in the player so it wouldn't matter what the format was because it has already been changed into analog by the time it gets to the radio?

    Pardon my ignorance.
    All I have seen is the 3.5mm analog input for aux.
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  8. #8

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    Aux inputs are fairly common on aftermarket stereos... not sure about factory stereos. I know they are becoming a lot more common, but I don't know how widespread it is yet. Best thing to do is find out if your car has one.

    And yes, an aux input will be in the form of a 3.5mm analog input, so the DAC in the player will be used. Of course the major downside to going this route (IMO) is that controlling the music will also be done strictly with the player. OK if you set up a playlist or set it to shuffle before you start driving, but you don't want to be fiddling with a portable audio player on the road.

    If you use an iPod, you can find factory and aftermarket stereos that can control the iPod through the stereo's interface. That is not all that uncommon either, but of course that means you're already invested or willing to become invested in Apple's closed ecosystem, which I suspect you are not--and I don't blame you.

    The best of both worlds would be a factory or aftermarket stereo with a USB input. A stereo with a USB input will read the filesystem off of a USB mass storage device (thumb drive, most any digital media player that isn't an iPod), and all playing/controlling of the files on the USB device will be handled by the stereo. This IMO is the best way to go. But as mentioned previously, the drawback with this method is that no devices currently on the market with a USB input support lossless audio (not that I am aware of anyway), so 320kbps MP3 would likely be the best you could expect. But again, I think that should be fine for the car. Many people cannot distinguish between 320kbps MP3 and FLAC in a noiseless listening environment. In a moving car, obviously it would be even more difficult.

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  9. #9

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    I was at Best Buy today and you are right - aux inputs are common.
    Currently, when I drive long distances with unsuitable radio stations, I put a CD in the player and let it run.
    If the signal from the player runs through the DAC on the player then as long as the player supports that format, them it looks like I am fine.
    I agree that it would be unsafe to fiddle with the portable audio player on the road but if my wife is along, it would be easy to pick from many albums to play through without having to carry the CD's.
    When I stop, I could also pick an album on the player and I would be good until that runs out. I also could set up an extensive playlist that would run for as long as I want. I could just put it on shuffle and if it would not be difficult to poke the "next" icon if I didn't like the song, then I would have a lot of music with occasional rejects. These should not be common.

    I wonder if their are differences between players in the quality of their DAC's?

    Thanks for the advice.

    It seems like we have the choice nowadays of which corporation owns us. Buy Apple products and they own you - you buy from itunes. Buy a Kindle from Amazon - you can only read books from Amazon. I prefer open source as much as possible. I bought a Nook tablet for that reason. It can only play mp3's. I am afraid the quality won't be good enough but you be right - I haven't tried it.
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  10. #10

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    just typed out a long response... and it didn't post.


    Tell me your exact goal please, i will give you a few options.
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  11. #11

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    Play music from a Portable music player on a car radio. Hopefully better than mp3 quality. Not with Apple products.
    So far it looks like the simplest solution is to use a Sandisk or Samsung player and plug a line in the front of the radio.
    I would need to replace my car radio as it does not have an aux line input.
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  12. #12

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    I would also add the Zune's were known for their sound quality, and can be had cheap for a huge amount of space. I saw a 80 gig version on my local craigslist for 80 the other day. Also, if you don't want to purchase a new head unit an installer can most likely figure out a way to jimmy a a hard line aux input into your stock receiver. Probably cheaper, depending on the installer of course.

    Another question is do you have smartphone? If so and you are going to invest in a new head unit anyway, then get one with blue tooth and you can stream directly without any wires, and if you get a call it will transfer right over. Also, if your phone is 4G LTE, you can do MOG.com for 10 bucks a month. It is 320 kbps mp3, but that is the best sound quality of all the streaming options, and you can download the songs to your phone. I find the sound quality more than acceptable when I am listening thgout cans at work or in the library or when I am driving. I find it VERY hard to beleive that you can hear the difference in your car unless you have a pretty sweet after market system. Stock head units have crappy dacs, crappy power, and the speakers in my sonata were literally made of plastic and foam. NO MAGNET! I don't know how they made sound, but it sure was pretty bad. In my sequoia with the stock jbl system its definitely better, but I still find it hard to tell the difference when I am driving. Obviously it matters to you, so you will be stuck with the limitations of the DACS in the player, and the crappy amp in the head unit, and the speakers in your car.

    Also, I use Media Monkey to convert my files to flac, then upload them to google music which is free, which automatically converts them to 320 kbps. I can then stream music on my HTC One X and it works very well and sounds pretty darn good, again considering the mobile factor.

    Good luck and let us know your solution.

  13. #13

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    if you are going to replace the head unit, you might as well get one with USB and just store your music on USB drives.
    They are dirt cheap now and very convenient to remove from the car and bring inside when you want to make changes.
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  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by eloplayspolo View Post
    if you are going to replace the head unit, you might as well get one with USB and just store your music on USB drives.
    They are dirt cheap now and very convenient to remove from the car and bring inside when you want to make changes.
    Problem is that most CD players are VERY limited on the bitrate of WMA files they will play via Flash Drive and they WONT play FLAC that I have seen.

    I tried to find a solution for this and gave up. Lossless simply isnt possible or even really needed. I used 320 bps off my Zune HD 32 with an Aux and use Pandora off my iPhone and honestly cant tell the difference in my system (polk db6501 components with a 2 channel amp, and also had a 10" sub with its own amp till recently).
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    The Sony DSX-S310BTX which I mentioned in post #2 of this thread is just such a device, and it is capable of 320kbps mp3, WMA or AAC.

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  16. #16

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    Actually, any of these will do 320kbps (aside from the USB-less Jensens--not sure why they are listed in this category), and some will even do uncompressed WAV:

    http://www.crutchfield.com/g_300/Car...Media_Receiver

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  17. #17

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    I guess my original question should have been what are the weakest links in a system that will use a car radio to play tunes from a mp3 type music player. My original assumption was that mp3's were a weak link and needed to be avoided. The consensus seems to be that other links in the chain (including road noise) limit the sound quality just as much or more. Assuming you have a high quality mp3.

    By a USB drive, does this mean using a flash drive? How would you choose the tunes you want? There wouldn't be an interface.

    I won't deal with this until January but you all have been very helpful.

    Thanks.
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  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by HHStuart View Post
    By a USB drive, does this mean using a flash drive? How would you choose the tunes you want? There wouldn't be an interface.
    That's the beauty of these particular car stereos. They provide the interface for reading/playing the flash drive. So instead of having a separate portable player to fiddle around with, you navigate the files on the flash drive using the car stereo itself.

    I am particularly fond of the Sonys due to their physical layout. Where you would normally expect to see a CD player, Sony has put a drawer where you can store your flash drive. With other devices, you either have the flash drive sticking unceremoniously out the front face of the stereo, or have it lying loose somewhere attached to the stereo via a wire.



    And as shown in the picture, you can use an iPod or a regular MP3 player in the Sony as well, if you'd prefer that over a flash drive. Either way, the player/drive would be hidden away inside the Sony and you'd navigate the files/playlists via the Sony.



    The other digital media receivers operate in a similar manner, just without the nifty drawer.

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    I have an After market Kenwood car stereo and it has USB and I just load 16G worth of Flac files and it plays them no problem..
    I can't remember what model it is but it only cost $180.
    I run all Kaption Audio speakers and 10" sub it's AWESOME..
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  20. #20

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    Jahyman,
    How do you choose the music you want to play? What's the interface? The car stereo?

    Thanks.
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  21. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by HHStuart View Post
    Jahyman,
    How do you choose the music you want to play? What's the interface? The car stereo?

    Thanks.
    Yes the Car stereo acts as the interface..
    It's awesome..
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  22. #22

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    I am playing FLAC and other lossless music files in our car. Our 2003 Honda Accord does not have a USB, AUX or iPod connector, so a friend helped me install a GTA car kit, which plugs into the AUX connector on the stereo (removed the storage pocket to get access to the connector). Attached a 3mm (3/8") aux/headphone cable and an iPod cable and I'm in business. I installed the Neutron music player app on my Android phone, high quality software designed for audiophiles, has its own driver, plays WAV, FLAC, Wavpack plus many lossy codecs. Sounds great to me. Investment: $100 for GTA kit; $4.99 for Neutron app; $50 to friend for help with installation (well-earned by him!).

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    may not be what your looking for but Interesting to say the least bluetooth amp
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    Definitive BP7001sc mains
    Definitive C/L/R 3000 center
    Polk RT800i's rears
    Definitive supercube I Sub
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    OPPO BDP-103 Bluray
    Directv x's 2

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