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Old    Tim (srock)      Join Date: Mar 2002       04-17-2009, 6:49 AM Reply   
My old sound system has crapped out so its time for an upgrade. In researching head units, is seems easier to control the ipod itself than through the head unit controls of most units I have reviewed. What are others doing?
Old    Craig Cox (wakedoctor)      Join Date: Dec 2004       04-17-2009, 6:58 AM Reply   
Some are running RCAs to the ipod by the drivers dash and without question this will give you the best sound. I personally found it easier to make a playlist and sit my ipod in the glove box with a wireless transmitter. When it is in their or anywhere in the boat I don't have a problem with interference. It also gets passed around the boat and others can DJ besides me while I am driving. I still control the volume with my wired remote at my dash. Some will advise against this but it works great for me.
Old    882001 (882001)      Join Date: Nov 2003       04-17-2009, 7:26 AM Reply   
iPod in hand is the easiest and best I have found. I have direct iPod hookup in my boat and truck where you can control the iPod with the stereo, it is very cumbersome and hard to use. RCA to minijack plugs are the best IMO. They sound good and you can still pass the iPod around.
Old    Phil White (philwsailz)      Join Date: Feb 2009       04-17-2009, 7:48 AM Reply   
Hey guys-
This is a topic that can be debated extensively. There are many good solutions, and something that works well for one guy might not work so well for the next. I want to share my thoughts and my system so you can use the information to be better informed. This is not the only way to do it, and it is probably not the best either, but it is what I have put together. Hopefully my comments will help you make a good decision for your needs!

I have not gone to a controller head unit despite the fact that there are quite a few good ones out there. There are two reasons I have not gone to an iPod control head. First is I am using the Sony MEX-1GP, (Malibu owners will be familiar with this radio) that has a 1-gig built-in flash drive. The drive does not hold a ton of music, but it is nice to have it there, for the times when I do not have my MP3 player with me. Second reason is that I am a Zune user, not an iPod user. As a result of this, I sort of am forced to do my control from the Zune player...

Anyway, I want to point to a few things. Using the headphone output is not the best solution for driving a stereo. It is easy to clip the radio input if you have the volume control too high on your MP3 player. If you are using iPod or ZUNE, you can grab a device that takes a fixed line-level audio signal from the multi-pin connector. Soundgate, (as one example) makes a device for both iPod and ZUNE that grabs the audio from the bottom connector, and also has video out, and provides charging for your iPod or Zune. I am using that device with good luck to drive the aux-in of my head unit.

But wait, there is more. Lots of folks pooh pooh FM transmitters, and for good reason. A lot of them are pure junk. However, I have found some real good ones, and I have found a real good fun use for them! is an example of a place where you can find a quality FM transmitter. The trick here is to use a y-cord; even if you buy a transmitter, you still want a hard-wired connection for YOUR boat. The y-cord allows your iPod to drive your radio AND the FM transmitter... Take the output from the MP3 adaptor and split it. Take one set of RCA's and run to the aux in of your head unit. That way you have a pure clean wired connection all the way from your playlist to the sound system. Take the other split output from the y-cord and use it to drive an FM transmitter. Your boat becomes a radio station, and when you go to tie up into a raft, the guy next to you can literally tune in to your radio station and you can both jam to the same tunes. It is a lot of fun to have 4 or 5 boats all playing the same thing!

I have used this setup for several years, and have taken the time to make some fake commercials and radio ID tags in my studio for my "floating pirate radio station"

Legally, when you do this you operate in sort of a gray area, but as long as you are not using fake call letters, (KDKA or WWLS for example) do not over-power or step on a licensed broadcast frequency, (pick a clear channel) and do not use profane or obscene language you are likely going to be okay. 1/4-watt up to 2-watt transmitters usually fall into category where most are used for things like Drive-in movies, Sports events, Those cheesy animated Christmas light displays, etc... Unless you are operating in a manner that can be deemed a public nuisance, you are going to be left alone.

That being said, take the time to find a good solution for your tunes in your boat that does not require you to listen to the FM transmitter. USe the FM only for the "neighbors". Find a good controller head unit or a high-quality adaptor device that allows you to get a quality line-level signal from the multi-pin connector out of the bottom of the device. Put quite simply, if you can avoid the headphone output, your sound system will consistently sound better.

Good Luck!

Old    Tim (srock)      Join Date: Mar 2002       04-17-2009, 7:57 AM Reply   
I may purchase a Wetsounds EQ and plug it into the back and mount the unit under the dash to the left of the steering wheel. I think with a long enough cable, as you both suggest, the ipod would be the most convenient control method. I can just leave it on the dash. My Malibu dash with the receiver under the arm rest is non-functional and the dash has no extra space for remotes.
Old    Bruce Mac (brucemac)      Join Date: Dec 2005       04-17-2009, 7:59 AM Reply   
Peripheral IS75 (nano 4th gen and iphone 3g compatible)
Old    Bruce Mac (brucemac)      Join Date: Dec 2005       04-17-2009, 8:01 AM Reply   
tim, if you buy the 420, you don't need a long cable, just pick up the IS75 and a RCA to mini-jack adapter and you're set. i swear my ipod sounds better than my HU through my system now. no more reaching over to the glove box to turn the ipod on and switch the HU to aux.
Old    Collin McCarty (collin)      Join Date: May 2002       04-17-2009, 8:11 AM Reply   
I use the drive and play. Works great. Upload
Old    Tim (srock)      Join Date: Mar 2002       04-17-2009, 8:27 AM Reply   
You have an older dash. My 2001 does not have any room to add anything.
Old    Tim (srock)      Join Date: Mar 2002       04-17-2009, 8:34 AM Reply   
My other concern is getting wet. Between sudden afternoon rain storms, traversing big water and spray, my occassional saltwater use and again spray, wet bodies and fingers, and a good dose of Florida humidity, any exposed equipment lasts 3 to 5 years then requires some maintenance.
Old    Mattgettel (mattgettel)      Join Date: Jan 2009       04-17-2009, 8:39 AM Reply   
about a year ago i bought a sony that has an ipod connection. the sound is great but as soon as you plug it in you have to scroll through all your music on the display. i strongly suggest not to go this route.
i just bought a 1990 supra and i am going to go with the old tape player adapter deal. this has been pretty reliable in the past.
Old    Collin McCarty (collin)      Join Date: May 2002       04-17-2009, 8:48 AM Reply   
Tim I would think if you mounted the screen under the windshield it wouldnt get wet from rain. The drive and plays are cheap now, I found a sale online last year and grabbed 3 at $14 a piece. I just have the other 2 as spares in case a component goes bad.
Old    Andy Graham (ottog1979)      Join Date: Apr 2007       04-17-2009, 8:48 AM Reply   
x2 Matt G. I had a stereo upgrade last year and my iPod attachment allows for only controlling through the head unit. I'm going to have it changed to iPod control soon.
Old    Mattgettel (mattgettel)      Join Date: Jan 2009       04-17-2009, 9:07 AM Reply   
andy g,
how big a pain in the ass is it to scroll through 7 thousand songs one at a time.
what a terrible idea.
Old    Byron (bkoz)      Join Date: Dec 2005       04-17-2009, 9:15 AM Reply   
I just use one of these plugged directly into my EQ works great. ultDomain_0?hash=item110334729001&_trksid=p3286.c0 .m14&_trkparms=72%3A1205%7C66%3A2%7C65%3A12%7C39%3 A1%7C240%3A1318%7C301%3A1%7C293%3A1%7C294%3A50
Old    Stewart (stewart)      Join Date: Feb 2006       04-17-2009, 9:31 AM Reply   
Bruce, that is the style jack that Phil was talking about above. byron, the jack you linked doesn't work with the newer iPods.

I use to run my iPod through the headphone jack and it was not the best, for all the reasons Phil named above.

To eliminate your HU, just wire one of the jacks like byron posted and put the RCA's directly into an EQ. I use an Eclipse that has a pair of inputs and can be bought for $100 all day long. Clarion also makes a good one.

The above jack could also go into the back of the HSE Revolution volume control (I have one and it is awesome).

If you do use the headphone jack on your iPod, make sure you have the EQ on the iPod off, set the volume to ~75% and adjust the line level input on the EQ or HSE. Than just make sure every time you plug in the iPod you use the exact same volume level and iPod EQ settings.

My next boat will not have an HU.

(Message edited by stewart on April 17, 2009)
Old    Stewart (stewart)      Join Date: Feb 2006       04-17-2009, 9:40 AM Reply   
I forgot to add that I don't know if you need adjust the line level inputs when using the bottom jack like the Peripheral IS75.

I think you would, anybody?
Old    Tim (srock)      Join Date: Mar 2002       04-17-2009, 12:58 PM Reply   
Stewart, is the HSE a variable volume control or is it just a high and low limit control?
Old    Andy Graham (ottog1979)      Join Date: Apr 2007       04-17-2009, 1:04 PM Reply   
Matt G,

It SUCKS! Actually, I only scroll through the Artists which is less than my 2,400 songs but it's still a PITA for the middle ones (L, M, N, O...). This was the first iPod I had hooked up to a vehicle stereo and the installation guy didn't walk me through what the ramifications were of head unit control. Later, I had a DICE unit installed in my BMW where you could "switch" to using the iPod for control. SOOO much better. The boat as it is now will simply not do.

I have no idea why all these companies take so much time marketing and coming up with control of iPod by head units. Near worthless. Why reinvent something that already works perfectly???

Anyway, I guess Tim (OP) knows my take on it now. Seems to be the consensus.
Old    Tim (srock)      Join Date: Mar 2002       04-17-2009, 1:13 PM Reply   
Yea Andy, I see the light. Thanks for all the input.
Old    Bu Coo (brett564)      Join Date: Jul 2006       04-19-2009, 2:01 AM Reply   
Holy SXXX Phil, that was one hell of an answer. Here's my take. One of the positive points of having an IPOD jack is if you have the IPHONE, whenever someone calls, you will notice it because your music will stop and your ring tone will come out of the speakers. Get the stereo with the IPOD jack.

As for the getting wet issue, you can get dry sleeves for the IPHONE on Ebay or lots of other places.
Old    Stewart (stewart)      Join Date: Feb 2006       04-20-2009, 12:32 PM Reply   

Here you go...
Old    Byron (bkoz)      Join Date: Dec 2005       04-20-2009, 1:31 PM Reply   
Stewart, I have an Ipod classic, not sure but I think its about a year old and it works fine with that plug. I tried my girlfriends new Ipod touch and your rite it didnt work at all. Do you know why? Or is there some sort of software upgrade that would make it work?
Old    Tim (srock)      Join Date: Mar 2002       04-20-2009, 1:34 PM Reply   
Thanks Stewart, I see how that box would be nice. I'm always adjusting the volume. Maybe a version that hooks to my wife's brain could be developed. She says its a little loud just before I reach the volume control then the music disappears as the RPM's climb.

So much for my keep it simple installation.
Old    Stewart (stewart)      Join Date: Feb 2006       04-20-2009, 1:39 PM Reply   

Apple changed the plug configuration.

I just ordered the Peripheral iSimple IS75 iPod/3G iPhone Cable/Charger so I will see how that works with my iPhone and iPod classic 6th gen.

(Message edited by stewart on April 20, 2009)


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