So you’ve got a brilliant MP3 – be it a PodCast or a new dance track – and it’s stored on your Smartphone. Then, you get in your car and you wanna listen to it on your way to work. Options? Well, you could use your headphones – y’know, the ones you got with the phone. That’d do it. I guess your other option would be to have never put the music on your phone at all – burn it to a CD and stick that in your car right ? Sure.. but that’s messy and you’ll have to fiddle around burning the CD, labelling it, bla bla blaaaaaaa!
This all came about when I saw a story on SmartPhoneThoughts and I figured maybe us in the UK (and the rest of the world) could get in on this too. The deal is that this little Audia-x FM Transmitter plugs into your phone (oh, you’ll need one of these adaptors too to convert the tiny 2.5mm plug on your Smartphone to a 3.5mm plug for this transmitter) and then broadcasts the audio out on a specific frequency (this is digital, so it shouldn’t have a “drifting” FM signal sometimes found in these mini-transmitters) which can then be picked up on your car stereo.
Yes, yes, people may say, “that’s illegal you know” but I don’t give a stuff – it only broadcasts around 2 metres at an absolute maximum, and you’re going to choose a “free” channel to broadcast on so that it doesn’t clash with radio stations. Are you gonna get pulled over by the Police because you were in traffic and someone in a car next to you was searching through the FM band and found your MP3 “broadcast” for a brief few minutes? I don’t think so.
I received this quickly from the USA after buying it here for a little over 20 quid. It’s a bargain at the moment, especially with the US dollar not worth a great deal. The Audia X is very small – around the size of your middle finger – and incredibly light. It comes complete with a AAA battery plus a plug to connect it direct to your cigarette lighter. This is a real bonus and shows that the makers know who their market is. I wouldn’t have even thought about buying this if I had to worry about swapping the battery all the time. Another bonus about it being powered from your cigarette lighter is that it’ll go off automatically when you reach your destination.
I’ve now fully tested this with my Orange SPV C500. This Smartphone has a 2.5mm headphone plug, however the Audia X has a 3.5mm plug. Because of this (a lot of Windows Mobile handsets have 2.5mm plugs), you’ll need to pay about 99p (around $2) for an adaptor like this, which I got from Maplins. Here’s a shot of it.
Getting everything going out of the box is incredibly easy. First, tune your car-radio in to a “free” frequency (i.e. one that isn’t used in the area you’re in or going to drive to for a radio station) – I selected 100.9 Mhz FM, because there’s nothing on that frequency where I drive. Then, I plug in the Audia X into the cigarette lighter and press the power on. You’re presented with a back-lit screen (good for night driving) and a digital frequency – I tuned this to 100.9Mhz to match my car stereo. Then – that’s it. All done! All I do now is save the frequency as a present on my car radio so I can find it easy, then plug in my MP3 player or Smartphone.
From now on all I need to do is turn on the Audia X, plug in my Smartphone or MP3 player, hit “play” and then hit the preset on the radio. Boom! Above you can see the Audia X broadcasting on 100.9 Mhz. Two cables come from it – the power cable (which can be unplugged so you can use the Audia X with its own internal battery) and the coiled 3.5mm phono plug. This then feeds into my rather long black 3.5mm to 2.5mm adaptor from Maplins.
Sound quality is excellent, although you may need to turn down the bass / treble or other graphic equalizer settings if you’re using an MP3 player as it can distort the output. In testing it seems that the unit broadcasts quite a distance, and you may find this useful for broadcasting one MP3 / Smartphone around all the radios in your house!! :) I also found that the output from the Smartphone is pretty much perfect – no bass, treble adjustments OR VOLUME adjustments were needed on my Smartphone. The car radio received it pretty much perfectly too – I didn’t have to ramp up the volume on the car stereo or tweak the bass up and down to compensate. Nice one!
Above you’ll see my car stereo – I’ve preset the 100.9Mhz frequency to number “6” on my radio so I can find it easy. It’s also worth noticing the “ST” symbol on my radio, which proves that the Audia X unit pumps out full stereo sound.
The digital read-out is spot-on and the audio quality is sharp and clean, I’ve not noticed the FM signal “drifting” either. Some othe transmitters seemed to suffer from this, but the digital read-out stays solidly on whatever you’ve set it too.
In the shot above I’ve put the unit in this weird position so you can see the power plug in the cigarette lighter. It’s an “L” shaped plug and doesn’t protrude much at all – very nice. I’ve now started putting the Audia X and my phone in the small compartment at the back of the hand-brake, so it looks nice and neat. All you’ll see then is the power plug, nothing else.
Where and how much?
Buy or get more info on the Audio-x FM Transmitter here. It’s about £20.80. Don’t forget you’ll need a 3.5mm to 2.5mm adaptor to fit it to your Smartphone – they’re available here at Maplins for around 99p. You can also get this excellent device from the UK – Ian Moore found one here at iPodWorld – although you’re gonna be paying almost double for exactly the same device!!! Buy it from the USA guys – mine only took 5 days to arrive and it was only a nudge over 20 quid. You can also get this device from various UK audio outlets and Ebay.co.uk
Lee Smart has detailed his experiences with a Belkin FM transmitter and a C500. Read all about it here.