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Different Ways To Play Music In Your Car




Whether on a free highway or stuck in traffic, listening to music while driving provides for a better experience. Many times while in your car, rushing to work or on your way home, listening to music uplifts the mood of the car. Whether you want to listen to your favorite music, listen to an audiobook or a podcast from your phone, all these options are now available especially with newer stereo models that make this possible.


There are different ways to play music in your car, with or without your phone. Some of the methods mentioned below may not require connecting your phone to your car. Others like the USB flash would not require connecting your phone to the car.


Connecting your phone to your car to play music often includes the use of Bluetooth function, USB connection, AUX connections etc.


You can play music in your car through the following methods:


  1. Cassette Adapter
  2. Bluetooth Audio
  3. FM Transmitters
  4. Portable Speakers
  5. Radio
  6. USB Port/Cable/USB Flash
  7. Auxiliary Port/Cable
  8. Apple Carplay/Android Auto


  1. Cassette Adapter


This applies to older car models that includes cassette players. The cassette adapter allows you to play music from your phone or other devices. Cassette adapters are shaped like a cassette that include an auxiliary audio cable on the outside.


To play music from your phone through the cassette player, you plug the adapter into the cassette player and then connect it to your phone via the auxiliary cable. You can now play any music on your phone and it will play through the cassette player.


There’s also the Bluetooth cassette adapter that allows connection through the Bluetooth. Rather than plug a cable into your phone, you can connect your phone to the cassette player through Bluetooth.


The sound quality of the cassette player is not so good compared to other options, but it is handy if your car comes with allowances for a cassette player.



 A Cassette Player


  1. Bluetooth Audio


Bluetooth audio is one of the most convenient ways to play music on your car from your phone. Many car models, especially recent cars, come with Bluetooth receiver functions. Recent stereo models also come with this function, so even on an older car model, you can install a newer stereo and enjoy this feature.


Using this is quite simple. You simply link your phone to the stereo by Bluetooth as you do with other devices. For the first time, you might have to answer some questions. Some stereos might also come with a password requirement which is often 0000. Once paired, you can play any music in your car through the stereo.


Some cars also come with steering wheel control. This allows you to control the music from your steering wheel. With the Bluetooth option, you can also receive calls on a hands-free mode. Once connected, depending on your car make, the details of the song playing can be displayed on the stereo player.




If your car does not come with a Bluetooth function, you can buy a Bluetooth Adapter that plugs directly into your car's 12V power outlet or an AUX port to enable Bluetooth connection with your devices.


  Car Bluetooth Adapter


  1. FM Transmitters


These allow your phone to broadcast music stored in its memory on FM frequencies, so that it can be tuned into a nearby FM receiver such as a car radio. It is mostly used for cars that do not have an auxiliary port. This is a good option as it is quite cheap and easy to set up.


A FM transmitter is a low-power FM radio transmitter that broadcasts a signal from a portable audio device (such as an MP3 player) to a standard FM radio. Most of these transmitters plug into the device's headphone jack and then broadcast the signal over an FM broadcast band frequency, so that it can be picked up by any nearby radio. This allows portable audio devices to make use of the louder or better sound quality of a home

Audio system or car stereo without requiring a wired connection. 


Playing music with this method varies with the type of phone, but a general way is to plug the transmitter into your car outlet and connect it to your phone through Bluetooth. After fixing it up, you set the device to broadcast on an unused FM station in your area. Then you can play your phone’s audio through the car stereo by tuning to that station.


While the audio quality of this method is not so excellent, many people are okay with the result. The quality of the adapter determines the quality of the audio.


  1. Portable speakers


This is an individual option that doesn’t require any connection to your car. It’s advantage is that it can be used both at home and in the car. As it doesn’t require the use of cables and cords to connect the speaker to the your phone, most often requiring a Bluetooth connection, it is quite convenient.


There are different sizes and classes of portable speakers. Some of these speakers are battery operated, others are rechargeable. Portable speakers allow you to enjoy music from both your phones. Laptops, tablets etc. Without a Bluetooth connection, you can play music on your portable speaker with SD cards. Most portable speakers come with a slot for memory cards.



 Portable Speakers


  1. Radio


You can also play music in your car by tuning into your favorite music station on the radio. When it comes to the radio, there is the FM radio, the satellite radio and the HD radio. The bandwidth of the first two is quite low, hence the sound quality might be quite poor.


On the other hand, the HD radio is on a higher bandwidth. HD stations transmit in digital in addition to analog, resulting in deeper, richer, more layered audio. Check the car’s owner’s manual to see if it possesses an HD-compatible radio.


  1. USB Port/Cable


One of the best ways to play music in your car is through the USB port. Many cars now come with a USB port. Aside playing music through your phone, you can also charge your phone and connect a flash drive to your car.


With a USB port, you directly plug in the cord into your phone and play music from your phone. The USB has also made it possible to take calls on a hands-free mode. Aside from playing music through your phone, you can also connect a USB flash drive to the port. You must have downloaded music into your flash drive. When you plug it into the port, you can now access your saved audio, controlling it from the stereo.


One of the advantages of the USB is the sound quality, which is much better than other methods. Other benefits that come with a USB connection is that some units can take control of the phone through the connection. Hence, allowing you to switch songs from your stereo unit.



 USB Port

 USB Cable


  1. Auxiliary Port/Cable


There are cars that come with an auxiliary port, either on the stereo or on the car itself. This method would require you to get a cord that would suit both into the aux port and your phone.


You simply need to connect your phone via the aux cord and you can play music from your phone. The quality of music played from the AUX port is much better than the result from the FM transmitter and the cassette player.

 AUX cable


  1. Apple Carplay/Android Auto


This is a function that has appeared in many recent stereo models. It allows you to connect your phone to the stereo. As their names imply, Carplay is for iPhones while Android Auto is for Android phones. Once connected to your stereo, you can control your phone through this function: play music, receive phone calls, control your map navigation, send messages and many more. You can also use Google Assistant’s and Siri’s features while driving. If your car supports this function, it’s fantastic features will provide for a smooth ride.


If your car doesn't support it, you can use Android Auto on your phone's display. Combined with Bluetooth or a USB cable for audio, this setup offers nearly the same experience as having Android Auto on your head unit. CarPlay has no equivalent for this, unfortunately.




Connecting Your Phone Via Carplay/Android Auto


In this section, we will briefly discuss how to set up the Carplay/Android Auto connection for your car.


  1. Setting Up Apple Carplay


Carplay allows you to use your phone through the stereo while driving. Once connected, you can access your messages, map navigation, music, call history, contacts, etc without needing to look at your phone. This function provides for a safer driving experience, reducing distractions while driving. Some stereos also come with the steering wheel option that increases this safety mechanism.


Now, let’s move on to setting up the Carplay function. Some cars support wireless Carplay connection while others require a USB connection. For the latter, simply plug your iPhone into the USB port of the car.


For cars that support wireless Carplay, this function is done through Bluetooth. First put your phone on Bluetooth pairing mode. On your iPhone, go to Settings > General > Carplay > Available Cars, then choose your car.


Once connected, you can use Siri to to control Carplay. One way is by pressing and holding the voice command button on your steering wheel, then asking Siri a question or to do something. The other way is to touch and hold the Carplay Dashboard or Carplay Home button on your stereo screen. Then you ask Siri a question or to do something.


While using Carplay, the stereo screen will display available apps. You can add, remove or arrange the order of these apps on your iPhone. Go to Settings > General > Carplay, select your car then tap customize. Use the + and - sign to add or remove apps. Drag apps to arrange their order.



 Navigation via Apple Carplay


  1. Setting Up Android Auto


To set up the Android Auto function on android phones, you would need to first download the app from Google playstore. You can also download it by plugging your phone to the stereo with a USB cable and downloading it when the prompt comes up.


Once downloaded, open it in your phone and allow the permissions that would follow up. Connect your USB while leaving your phone screen unlocked. Give Android Auto permission to access your phone’s features and apps.


Connecting Android Auto wirelessly requires the same steps mentioned above. A USB connection is needed for the initial setup. The next time you turn on the vehicle, the Bluetooth will be activated automatically. Note that wireless connections might take a few seconds. For a smooth wireless connection, ensure that your phone has a strong and fast cellular connection.


Once connected via Carplay or Android Auto, you can play not just audio files but also video files through your stereo, answer calls, control your map navigation etc.




The above mentioned are ways to play music in your car. You can make a choice of which method to use depending on the make of your car and the functions it comes with. For newer models, the Carplay/Android Auto, USB and Auxiliary connections offer a better sound quality than most other methods. The sound quality of the music being played can also be affected by other factors such as your phone’s audio quality, car speaker’s quality, noisy car set up, or noisy environment.


Note: Though there are studies that show that listening to music while driving can improve the mood of the driver and the occupants of the car, reduce aggression and aid concentration, you should be careful not to play too loud music while driving as this can cause distractions on the road.