iPods and car stereos – any experts?

I’m wondering if somebody knows something about this that may help me. I have an iPod that I can hook up to the stereo in my car using a vendor supplied cradle (this is a Land Rover Discovery 3). This allows me to use the iPod itself to select the music I listen to, because the interface on the iPod stays active at all times.

In my caravan I have a car stereo installed as well, which has “iPod integration”. Unfortunately the stereo runs pretty hot in the caravan when using it with MP3 CDs, so I like to use the iPod with it. The integration is through a special cable that comes from the back (I installed this myself, but I don’t recall exactly how it was hooked up — shouldn’t be that important, I guess), I think the stereo is JVC, but not totally sure.

Anyway, the problem is that this integration tries to control the iPod through the stereo itself. As soon as it’s plugged in, the iPod switches off its own interface and pressing its buttons doesn’t do anything. Unfortunately, the stereo itself isn’t very good at controlling the iPod — it’s a pain to select any particular music and simple features like skipping forward and backward by song seem to behave very oddly (not sure exactly what happens since I can’t see it on the display, but it doesn’t seem to do what I think it would).

Now, I guess there have to be different “modes” for hooking up the iPod to external equipment. I like it much better the way my in-car stereo does it, and I would like to have it that same way in the caravan. Is there a name for this “mode”, so I could search for it and find stereos that work this way? Is there some other way I could make this work?

(I have considered hooking up the iPod through the audio connector only, but then it’s not going to be charged — currently, both my solutions charge the iPod while it’s hooked up.)

7 Comments on iPods and car stereos – any experts?

  1. Brad Ascar // July 6, 2010 at 12:49 pm // Reply

    I have a JVC head unit and it behaves a little different with my iPod depending on what it is doing at the time. If the iPod isn’t playing any audio at the time and it then connects, it allows the head unit to control the iPod. If on the other hand I start playing music on the iPod and *then* connect while it is playing it allows the iPod to keep the control.

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  2. Hi Brad,

    in my case it never allows the iPod to keep control. I have used a similar technique though to start a particular album – when I start playing something on the iPod and then connect it, the playing will continue in that place. After that I don’t have any other control through the iPod though.

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  3. I’ve used Dension adapter to connect to my Peugeot 307SW. Dension had two modes – one controlled by adapter (as in your case) and the other that let iPod UI do the job.
    IOW perhaps your stereo has this other mode as well? RTFM?

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  4. Hi Miha,

    Hm, very interesting. I’ll check out the docs again, but I don’t really think there’s anything in there… perhaps it would be possible to use a different adapter though that has the same switchable functionality. How does your adapter connect to your stereo? Does it use one of the vendor specific connectors or something else?

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  5. Dennis Webb // July 6, 2010 at 3:02 pm // Reply

    I have also had mixed experiences with iPod integration using different units.

    In my SUV, I installed a Neucleus NCX2i that supports 2 modes. Auto mode is where the head unit controls the iPod totally, and then a manual mode that allows me to use the iPod interface. The auto mode is really crappy so I use the manual mode exclusively.

    I have also installed a Parrot mki9200 bluetooth adapter that also includes iPod control. This unit only supports the auto mode but luckily the interface is pretty good. It allows me to browse artists quickly with an alpha quick jump feature.

    If the JVC won’t control it correctly, nor will support a manual control mode, you might be better off using a JVC 3.5mm jack adapter in place of the iPod cable. The main downside here is of course that it won’t keep your iPod charged. http://www.amazon.com/CONVERTS-CHANGER-INPUT-3-5mm-STEREO/dp/B000GFH2IC

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  6. Get an A2DP bluetooth adapter (~$40 from Amazon.com) and plug in via 3.5mm aux socket. Wireless and full control via iPod. Be careful charging – I killed a $500 GPS unit with a cheap 12V->USB adapter

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  7. I think there are strong pros and cons for electric cars and one of my biggest concerns in buying one would be what would happen if you were out on a motor way n ran out of charge there seems to be few charging station

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