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How-To by Steinola
Steinola


So you're driving along, and it hits you that the FM stations in your area just aren't cutting it for you anymore.
You've thought about a CD changer, but all the changers for a New Beetle ("NB") seem a) expensive, and b) cumbersome.
You think to yourself that you might like the ability to play digital audio files (MP3, WAV, etc.) through your NB's stereo system, but you just can't find any information about options or how you'd go about accomplishing this feat.

A lot of people are dealing with this same problem... MP3's being all the current rage.
Hence, I decided to put together this How To to discuss, not one, but all the solutions that are available to you, the advantages and disadvantages of each, and how you might get them to work with your NB.

This will be a living document... changing constantly as new options or new information become available. If you have anything to add, or feel any of the current information has changed or is just plain wrong, just let me know.

I'll attempt to keep all pertinent information linked from this top post (or top couple of posts, depending on the wealth of information), so you shouldn't have to sift through pages and pages of the thread to find the most recent information... just come here first.

So, if you're ready to take the plunge, read on.


The ability to listen to digital audio media in your car brings with it a whole new level of driving enjoyment. You're not subjected to the moronic banter of morning DJs as you wait to hear your favorite tune, you don't have to listen to a single commercial, you can listen to music at a quality that far exceeds cassette tapes, and you don't have to fiddle with a lap full of CDs after you've tired of listening to the same one over and over.

"But how is this possible? I don't see a 'MP3' button on my car stereo!" I hear you cry.

It's easy, if you have an in-dash CD player
VW introduced the OEM ("Orginal Equipment Manufacturer"... ie - from the factory) in-dash CD player headunit (aka "HU"... the thing with all the station memory buttons and volume controls) sometime in the 2005 or 2004.5 model year. And these OEM in-dash CD player HUs are capable of playing MP3s that are burned onto a CD-R recordable disc.

In addition, if you have one, or care to install one, many aftermarket in-dash CD players are capable of playing MP3 files as well.

[ learn more about using an in-dash CD player for MP3's ]


I don't have an in-dash CD player, what now?
Well... if you don't have an in-dash CD player, it's still definitely possible to get MP3 tunes playin' in your NB, with relatively minimal effort actually. But you need to be able to make a few decisions that only you can make:


1. Do you want to base your system on a built-in MP3 player or a portable MP3 player?
A built-in MP3 player is typically a box, about the size of a CD changer, that you bolt down inside your NB's trunk and hardwire into your car's stereo wiring harness (relax, it isn't as hard as it sounds). An example of a portable MP3 player is the Apple iPod or Creative Rio. These players are pocket-sized (or smaller), and you would typically hook them into the car's stereo system using a removable connector so that you can easily disconnect the player whenever you want.

Advantages to a built-in MP3 player:
- it's typically installed inconspicuously, so it doesn't become an added temptation for theives
- it's built specifically to use in your car, designed around all the odd quirks that a car presents

Disadvantages to a built-in MP3 player:
- it's usually a car-only solution (though some manufacturers offer companion accessories to use parts of the system in your home, it requires additional hardware and expense)


Advantages to a portable MP3 player:
- you can take the music with you and listen to it in places other than your car
- it's small size means you can stash it just about anywhere in your NB (glovebox, center console, etc)

Disadvantages to a portable MP3 player:
- if the player is ever left in your car, it's vulnerable to get stolen



2. Do you want your solution to be fully integrated, or semi-integrated?
A "fully integrated" MP3 player means that you can control many aspects of the experience from your car's headunit: playlist selection, tune skip/repeat, etc. so you can hide the actual player in an inconspicuous place (trunk, glovebox, center console) and still have the control you need. A "semi-integrated" MP3 player means that the solution supports "audio in only"... the sound from your MP3 player will be heard via your car system's speakers, but you'll use the player itself or a separate remote pad to select your tunes and control the playback rather than the headunit.

Advantages to a fully integrated solution:
- operation is exactly the same as what you're used to (tuning to a radio station or using the in-dash tape deck)
- you don't have to fumble with anything while you're driving

Disadvantages to a fully integrated solution:
- full integration is typically very specific to the type of MP3 player you have (not all makes/models of MP3 player can be fully integrated, and if you fully integrate one make of player chances are that, if you ever decided to buy a different make, the solution you bought previously would not work for the new player)


Advantages to a "semi-integrated" solution:
- the solution is much more generic and can typically be used for just about any audio source (MP3 player, Walkman/Discman, XM radio Roady, etc)

Disadvantages to a "semi-integrated" solution:
- controlling the playback is, at the very least, less convenient than a fully integrated solution



3. Do you wish to buy a system "off-the-shelf", or build your own?
An "off-the-shelf" system is one which you can buy, in a box, from the manufacturer or dealer. All components are typically included in the box or available as packaged options, and you can generally even pay an additional amount to have them professionally installed. A "build-your-own" system is one which you buy in parts and pieces and assemble yourself (often using soldering irons and some sort of programming interface for your computer). Most install places won't install home built components for fear of liability issues.

Advantages to an "off-the-shelf" solution:
- everything is already put together for you
- instruction manuals and product support most likely exist
- can typically be professionally installed

Disadvantages to an "off-the-shelf" solution:
- it doesn't always function the way you'd like it to function


Advantages to a "build-your-own" solution:
- you build it the way you want it, and update it as appropriate
- home-built solutions are much less expensive as a general rule

Disadvantages to a "build-your-own" solution:
- typically requires more in-depth experience and knowledge (soldering, maybe even computer programming)
- requires lots of patience (if it doesn't work, there's no one to blame but yourself)


So let's start with your answer to that first question... but keep the answers to those other questions in mind as you go through these next pages:

[ learn more about built-in MP3 players ]

[ learn more about solutions for portable MP3 players ]


I'll also add a couple of pages on how to actually put some of these solutions together, hopefully with pictures. Stay tuned.
 

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Advantages to using an in-dash CD player:
- if you have the OEM in-dash CD player you don't have to do a thing component- or wiring-wise to get it to play MP3s
- the HU controls allow you to skip or repeat tunes
- some aftermarket CD player headunits display track information - title, artist, album, etc
Disadvantages to using an in-dash CD player:
- capacity is pretty limited
- you're still storing/fiddling with CDs
- you need a CD-R drive in your computer or other separate hardware/software to burn your own CD-Rs

What is a CD-R?
"CD" stands for "compact disc", as you probably know. The "R" stands for "recordable". Hence a CD-R is a "recordable compact disc". Meaning you can write your own data to the CD. Not all CDs are recordable. You need to buy CD-R's specifically. And there are even different types of recordable CD; CD-R, CD-RW, and the all-too-confusing siblings CD+R and CD+RW. The "RW" stands for "rewritable"... meaning rather than only being able to write data once to your CD (as with CD-R's), you can write and overwrite data many times on the same disc (just like it was a hard disk). The "+" series accomplishes the same thing... just using different writing technology. The "-" and "+" disc types are not generally interchangable, so you want to make sure you buy the right one. And the only type of recordable disc that I have personally tested the factory CD player with is the "CD-R". Use others at your own descretion.


What, exactly, is "burning a CD"... and how to I do it?
Don't worry, it has nothing to do with any type of conflagration. Rather, "burning" is the term used to describe the act of writing data/files to a recordable CD disc. In order to burn a recordable CD, you would need the following:
- hardware capable of recording a CD. Typically this has traditionally been a desktop or laptop computer with a CD-R drive. But there are now also home-based products that are dedicated to burning CDs. They look like DVD players or VCRs, but they burn CD-Rs (and/or DVD-Rs) directly from audio and video signals from other sources (like your home stereo). Again, make sure the hardware is capable of burning the type of recordable disc that you want to use (CD-R, CD+RW, etc).
- software capable of recording a CD. If you're using a desktop/laptop, you'll need software specifically for burning data to CDs. Favorites are: ahead's Nero Burning ROM, and Easy CD Creator. But Apple's iTunes, Sony's Sonic Stage, and even Windows Media Player will perform the task too (though with fewer options). If you're using a home-based unit, the software is probably built in... you'll have to read the manual.
- a recordable compact disc. Available at Fry's, BestBuy, or most electronic's stores nowadays. You can buy single discs, or packs of 10, 25, even 100 discs. It's up to you. Don't buy into discs that are supposedly marked as "Enhanced for MP3" or "Improved Music Quality" (and are priced higher because of it)... they aren't any better than "regular" discs. My recommendation, though, is to look for something mid-priced rather than the el cheapo brand. Memorex, Teac or TDK make reasonably good discs for the price. Again, make sure you're paying attention to what type of recordable technology they are ("CD-R" is what I recommend, because I know it works in the VW headunit).

With desktop/laptop systems, you will typically copy all the MP3 files to a folder somewhere on your harddrive and then point the burning software at it. Make sure whatever system you use understands that you want the MP3 files burned to the CD as files (MP3's) rather than music tracks ("redbook audio"). Just how you designate this differs from software to software, so it's best that you read your particular software product's user manual. And for home-based systems, I haven't a clue how you do it, so you'd definitely want to read up on it in the manual.


Why would I burn tunes to CD-R as MP3s rather than audio tracks?
One reason: capacity. The average CD-R will hold 80 minutes of redbook audio (standard CD audio tracks) which equated to about 20 songs. Whereas it will hold 700MB of digital files. 700MB of MP3 files would equal roughly 150-200 songs depending on compression. That's 1 hour and 20 minutes of redbook audio vs. around 10 hours or more of MP3 files on the same CD.

How do I use a CD-R with MP3 files in my VW factory CD headunit?
Insert your CD-R into the slot just the same as you would an ordinary audio CD. The headunit should automatically detect that it has MP3 files, and play them. If the headunit doesn't recognize the MP3 files, it could mean one or more of a couple of things; you didn't burn the CD correctly (read the software manual again), the particular MP3's that you burned are encoded with a codec that the VW CD player is too old to understand (I won't go into encoding or codecs here... just suffice it to say that even though the files are MP3's, they're in a language that the CD player can't read), or even that you used a type of recordable CD that the CD player can't deal with (could be the difference between CD-R vs. CD+R, or it could even be the specific brand you used). It may take a couple of tries to find a method of burning and a type of CD that works for you. And once you find it, it's best to not deviate from it for future CD's.

Does this mean that my factory 6-disc changer can play CD-R's with MP3's as well?
No. I have not seen this to be the case. I suppose it could depend on the date of manufacture, but all VW changers I've seen to date have been incapable of playing MP3 files.

How do I use a CD-R with MP3 files in my aftermarket CD headunit?
I can't be sure. Most will operated the same as the factory CD headunit. But some functionality of aftermarket decks may be different. You'd have to read your headunit's user manual to be sure.

Can I install a OEM in-dash CD player into my older NB that currently only has the OEM cassette player headunit?
The good news is, yes, the VW in-dash CD player should be completely compatible with all model years of NB. So you could replace the cassette unit in your 2000 NB with a factory CD player unit. And it's virtually plug-and-play. All the connectors are exactly the same. Unplug the old unit, and plug in the new.
The bad news is the in-dash units are in short supply (as separate part numbers), and if/when you can find one, they're typically still quite expensive. If you are going to make the switch, be sure that you buy the grade of CD player that matches your existing headunit; a Monsoon CD player to replace a Monsoon cassette deck, and a non-Monsoon CD player to replace a non-Monsoon cassette deck.


More options and information coming soon.
 

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Several MP3 player systems are available that install as an integral part of your NB. They are meant to be permanent fixtures in your car, and not meant to be removed. Most offer some method of updating your tune library that doesn't involve removing the entire system.

Fully integrated off-the-shelf systems:


Phatnoise's Phatbox
This system is also branded under the Kenwood name as the "Music Keg", though the software that drives it is a little different... so the two probably are not completely interchangable. Phatnoise has developed a Phatbox specifically for VW/Audi automobiles.
It integrates beautifully with any factory VW headunit that has CD changer control (most, if not all HU's in NB's... at least in North America). The specialized software (firmware on the Phatbox) actually tricks the headunit into thinking that the Phatbox is a CD changer. Playlists can be selected, tracks browsed by artist, genre, etc, and tunes skipped/repeated via the buttons on the headunit. Since the factory headunit is not capable of displaying anything more than "CD xx TR xx" when in CD mode, the Phatbox is designed to literally talk to you. Speaking the name of your playlists, title and author of tracks, etc through speech synthesis via your car speakers. A brilliant solution, and definitely a "wow factor" for anyone who happens to be sitting in the car with you.

The library of MP3's for the Phatbox resides on a removable DMS cartridge (digital media storage... basically a removable hard disk). You remove the DMS and plug it into the included docking station connected to your computer to make any updates to your library (via Phatnoise's Music Manager software - a rebranded version of Sonic Stage). Transfers are very fast (I believe the docking station is USB 2.0 capable). And DMS's come in 10, 20 and 40GB sizes (DMS cartridges are interchangable with those from the Kenwood Music Keg, if you find a good price for those somewhere).
Once you have your library all set, you plug the DMS back into the Phatbox in your car, and just leave it there as long as you care to.
The Phatbox is also built to automatically power up whenever the CD mode is selected on the headunit (or when the car is started, if CD mode was active when the car was last shut down), and will automatically pause/resume when you switch to another mode (ie - FM, tape) and back.

Installation is fairly easy, but depends on what model year your NB is.
For 2003 and older hardtops, it's pretty much just plugging it directly into the CD changer connector in the trunk.
For 2003.5 and newer hardtops, and all convertibles, there is no CD changer connector in the trunk... so you have to run one. VW makes a special cable for this purpose. You plug it into the back of the headunit, run the cable down under the trim along the floorboards, and back to the trunk. Then plug the Phatbox into it.
Either way, the bracket and mounting hardware will go in exactly the same place (in the trunk, along the driver's side wall).

[ more information about the VW-specific PhatBox ]

[ more detailed installation instructions ]

Right now, I believe 1stvwparts.com is still offering the Phatbox, with 20GB DMS (but no cable for the 2003 applications) for $119... making it very nearly the least expensive route to take at the moment. Though, that price is also designated as "close out"... which indicates that VW may no longer support the PhatBox in the not-too-distant future.


Semi-integrated off-the-shelf systems:
(these systems are not controlled via the headunit, but rather external remote pads)



OmniFi DMP1
The DMP1 is cool in that it has 802.11B WiFi built in. So you don't even have to take anything out of the car. If you have a 802.11B router (and buy the additional D-Link WiFi receiver), and your car can get close enough to your house, you can transfer MP3 files and manage playlists wirelessly. If you don't want to go wireless, the hard drive is removable so you can take it inside.
Unlike the PhatBox, however, the output connectors from the OmniFi are RCA jacks. So you'd still need an adapter to get the signal into your car stereo system (the same type of generic RCA adapters discussed in the Portable MP3 Players section).
The DMP1's remote control pad is a thin controller that you'd need to mount somewhere in your NB (looks kind of like a standard aftermarket headunit, but doesn't require a full-depth DIN slot... you can just surface mount it somewhere).
The OmniFi DMP1 is really just the car audio part of an overall MP3 entertainment system, though. Along with the OmniFi DMS1, you can share your MP3 library with your home audio system as well (again, wirelessly with the appropriate WiFi hardware).

[ more information about the OmniFi system ]

[ product also available at crutchfield.com ]


Neo Car Jukebox (Neo-35)
The Neo-35 is much like the OmniFi, but without the WiFi capabilities. The hard drive, however, slides out of your car, and with the optional IDE PC Frame, slides into your PC as an IDE harddisk... allowing for transfers at full IDE bus speed (in most cases faster than USB). With the Neo Caddy, you can also slide the hard drive into a base fully connected to your home stereo.
The remote control pad is small enough that it could probably just be stashed in the NB's center console.


[ more information about the Neo-35 ]



Build-it-yourself systems:
Depending on the components used, and depth of programming knowledge, these home built systems could theoretically be fully integrated or semi integrated.

BookPC [ more information ]

The Fantabulous MP3 Car Audio Extravaganza [ more information ]

CMMS (an operating system well-suited for home-built MP3 players) [ more information ]


Typically, you would connect a home-built MP3 player to the NB's stereo system via a CD changer adapter
[ visit the "Adapters for the factory CD changer harness" section at the bottom of the generic solutions page ]




More options and information coming soon.
 

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Integrating a portable MP3 player into your car stereo system has it's challenges, but the reward is that, with a single component, you can take your music library wherever you go; listening to your tunes in your car, at home through your home audio system, or anywhere else through a set of earbuds or headphones. And portable MP3 players provide a wealth of opportunity to fill your ears with tunes. In fact, even with the smallest capacity MP3 players available today, you're looking at having 2-4 hours of CD quality music at your fingertips. Maybe a little bit more than you'd get out of a 6-disc changer. With the highest capacity players, you'd get 15,000 tunes or more, all at top quality. That's somewhere around 60,000 minutes of music, or to put it another way 1000 hours, or better yet... 40 days!




Apple iPod:
The best selling portable MP3 player series at the moment is the Apple iPod. As such, the Apple iPod currently has the widest range of product-specific integration solutions; from integration directly with aftermarket headunits, to adapters that connect to your NB's CD changer connector, to FM transmitters that require no other setup other than to tune your headunit to the proper FM frequency. I own an iPod, as do most of the other folks that I've helped with their integration. So, admittedly, this is where the bulk of my research and experience are.

[ Learn more about off-the-shelf iPod solutions: ]



Other portable MP3 players
Of course, that doesn't mean you're out of luck if you have a player other than an iPod, it just means the solution that I will suggest will be somewhat more generic and only offer a semi-integrated system. If you have another make of player, there may be solutions specific to yours that allow for full integration that I'm not aware of at this time. So start with the generic solutions page, and once you understand the gist of what needs to happen, you can do a little research to see if you can find something more tailored to your particular product.

[ learn more about generic solutions for other portables ]
 

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Fully integrated iPod solutions:
If you want to fully integrate your iPod, and control it's operation from your car's headunit (or some other device other than the iPod itself), and in most cases even charge your iPod while it's in your car, you have several different types of options:


After-market headunits

- Alpine has developed a number of their new headunits to be "iPod interface ready", using a special interface adapter (KCA-420i) and the Ai-NET bus. Currently, I believe the compatible headunits are the IDA-D300, CDA-9835, CDA-9831, CDA-9830, CDA-9833, CDA-9820XM, and others. You replace your VW factory headunit with one of these Alpine products, hook up the KCA-420i adapter, and plug your iPod to the adapters dock connector. With this setup, the headunit will display tune information (title, artist, album), and you can fully control the iPod via the HU's buttons. With the IVA units, I believe there is even a way to render a virtual iPod control wheel on their touch screen so you can control it via the screen.
[ more information about Alpine products ]


Adapters for OEM factory headunits
If you don't want to give up your VW headunit (to maintain the look of the dash), then you'll need an adapter to make your iPod work.

- Griffin Technology makes the "SmartDeck" which is the world's first "intelligent cassette adapter". It's specifically for the iPod... but it will actually allow you to control the iPod using the buttons that usually control the cassette tape. [ more information about the SmartDeck ]

- Ed Schlunder's VWCDPIC is currently out of production. But both the schematics for the 2.0 and 3.0 versions are available on his website (so you can build one yourself), with an inference that he might start producing and selling the 3.0 version in the near future. With the proper firmware, the 2.0 version (and presumably the 3.0 version) allows for control of the iPod via the buttons on the headunit. It's big advantage is that it was cheap to buy... and would be even cheaper to build yourself. It's also one of the few interfaces that allows for control of other portable MP3 players as well (namely, the Archos Jukebox, and the homebuilt PJRC MP3 Player). [ more information about the VWCDPIC ]

- Peripheral iPod Adapter and USA Spec iPod Interface connect to the CD changer connector of your NB, and your iPod connects to the dock connector on the adapter. Control some simple iPod functions via the headunit. Both units are available at crutchfield.com

- PIE iPod Interface, again, connects to the CD changer connector, or optionally, to the back of the factory headunit itself. Allows full control of the iPod via the buttons on the headunit. The interface puts the iPod into an advanced remote control mode, while will prohibit any control via the buttons on the iPod itself. But since you can control everything you'd need from the headunit, it's not a big deal. [ more information anout the ApplePIE ]

- AudioVox iPod Mobile Interface System, like the Peripheral and USA Spec units. Also provides an additional set of aux in jacks so you can connect another audio source simultaneously with your iPod.

- Dension ice>Link: Plus is the grandfather of iPod/car integration. It functions just like the PIE interface above, but also includes a custom-designed cradle/dock to hold the iPod in a convenient location. [ more information about the ice>Link: Plus ]

- Monster Cable iCruze the first of the ultra-high end iPod integration solutions. Functions much like the PIE and ice>Link, but what sets it apart is it's optional remote LED display. Since the iPod's display is not designed to have it's backlight constantly on (heat build up will begin to degrade the hard drive), the remote LED display is a fantastic option. Not only will it not adversely affect the iPod, but it's actually easier to read than the iPod's tiny LCD display. It's also made by Monster Cable - known for audiophile-level quality components. [ more information about the iCruse ]



Semi-integrated iPod solutions:

- Griffin iTrip is an FM transmitter specific to the iPod. It suffers from all the same short-comings as other FM transmitters; namely that the audio quality is not going to be great. But it's a very easy, relatively inexpensive solution [ more information about the iTrip ]

- harman/kardon drive+play is not yet released, but promises to give the iCruze a run for it's money. Like the iCruze, it features an external display (prettier design, IMHO). But from all the literature, it appears that iPod control is accomplished via a (rather cool looking) external remote control pad, rather than the headunit... making this product, technically, a semi-integrated solution. But like the iCruze, it's made by a company with first-rate roots in audiophile country, so it should be something to look forward to. I'll find out more details as they become available.[ more information about the drive+play ]



More options and information coming soon.
 

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If don't care about being able to control your MP3 player via the headunit, you probably only really need the ability to get the sound from your MP3 player into your car stereo system. You have several different types of options:

Cassette adapters
The cable on these remarkable little devices plugs into the headphone jack on your MP3 player. Then the cassette-like piece gets inserted into your tape deck. Turn the headunit to "tape", and you can play your MP3's through the cassette mechanism in your radio. The advantage of this option is it's dirt cheap. But the disadvantage is that sound quality is not great. Not only does the device degrade the quality of the audio signal, it also typically makes quite a racket as the plastic spindle in the cassette deck spins the gear in the device. I can only recommend that this solution be used for stopgap measures; as your waiting for your real solution to be shipped or repaired. I think for long term use, you'll be very disappointed. That said, here are a few makes:

- Sony makes probably the best quality cassette adapter out there. Mainly because it's higher quality gear doesn't squeak nearly as much as other brands as the cassette spindle is turning it [ more information about Sony's car adapter ]

- Belkin makes one, too, that's alright [ more information about the Belkin Mobile Cassette Adapter ]

There are several other manufacturers. You should be able to find them just about anywhere.



FM Transmitters
An FM transmitter is a small device that plugs into the headphone jack (typically) of your MP3 player, and turns the audio signals into FM radio waves which your car's FM receiver can pick up and decode back into audio signals. The quality of sound you get using an FM transmitter is somewhat lacking. If you live in a metro area with lots of radio stations already, the broadcast from your MP3 player will get "stepped on" causing noticable interference. It's also a wireless connection, which degrades the quality.

- Belkin TuneCast is a universal FM transmitter for just about any device with a headphone jack. It allows you to tune the transmitter to different frequencies so that you stand a chance of getting a clearer audio signal to your radio. [ more information about the TuneCast]

- VR3 MP3 FM Modulator is a pretty cool product sort of in a class by itself. It's an FM transmitter that you can plug your portable MP3 player into, just like the TuneCast, but it's also got an MP3 decoder built-in. You plug a Flash drive with MP3's to the VR3's USB port, and it will automatically play them through your radio. [ more information about the VR3 ]

- There are also several portable MP3 players with FM transmitters built-in.



FM Modulators
A little bit different that an FM transmitter, these little devices actually plug into the antenna jack on the back of your radio, with the antenna then connecting to the back of the modulator. The audio source then also plugs into the modulator... essentially creating a hard-wired solution. The modulator is smart enough that, if it senses a signal coming from the external audio source, it "turns off" the actual antenna... so it won't pick up any unwanted broadcasts that would step on your MP3's playing. The audio won't be quite as good as a connection directly into the radio's source in harness, but the solution is fairly inexpensive and fairly universal (though VW's do have a proprietary antenna connector, adapters should be widely available at electronics and stereo install stores).

- AudioVox, Power Acoustik, Scosche and others all make hard-wired FM modulators. [ more information about FM modulators ]


Direct connect to factory headunits
In the 2005 model year, VW started including an aux in jack as a standard feature. It's located under the center section of the dash, right about the right-side cup holder. It just looks like a hole, the size of a headphone jack, with a metal collar inside. If your car has one, you can run out to Radio Shack and buy a "mini-phono plug (male) to mini-phono plug (male) patch cable" for able $5. Plug one end into your aux in jack in the dash, and one end into the headphone jack of your MP3 player. Push the CD button on your factory radio once or twice and you should start to hear tunes from your MP3 player. [ more information about the patch cable ]


Direct connect to aftermarket headunits
Many aftermarket audio manufacturers are now including aux in jacks on the front or back of select headunits. For headunits with mini-phono jacks, you'd want the same patch cable as above and connect it the same way. For headunits with RCA jacks, you'd want a "mini-phono plug (male) to dual RCA plugs (male) Y-cable" [ more information about the Y-cable ]

With any patch or y-cable, you really want to buy the shortest cable you think you can make due with. The longer the cable, the more opportunity there is to introduce external noise.


Adapters for the factory CD changer harness
These adapters will plug into either the 12-pin CD changer connector or the 8-pin connector in the back of the headunit, and provide one or two sets of aux in jacks. The adapter will trick the factory headunit into thinking that whatever source you've plugged in is actually a CD changer, and it allows the audio signal through. There are now many many options available. With no real differentiating factors between them. So I'll just list them.
- Blitzsafe [ more information ]

- PIE [ more information ] (PIE also makes an identical adapter with the ability to switch between three input sources [ more information ])

- USA Spec [ more information ] (also available at crutchfield.com)

- VWCDPIC while also listed on the iPod page, the VWCDPIC also includes RCA jacks for generic solutions [ more information ]



More options and information coming soon.
 

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MP3's?

I am an old audio pro, I detest MP3's, they sound worse that a good cassette deck. All of my music is stored uncompressed, so I can make CD's that offer much better fidelity. My car has the factory "Monsoon" audio system, and it sounds pretty good. One thing I can warn you about, my brother had about 500 classic blues records and he imported them into iTunes without changing the preferences to AIFF so he got all compressed files and then sold off the records. Well there is no way to rescue MP3 files and restore them to full fidelity, so don't make that mistake!
 
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