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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Ultimate iPod Integration Guide

Hi guys. It’s my first post here. I bought an IS300 2003 in May 2006 and I’ve been hanging around on this forum since then. I must say that I learned a lot and I did want to put something up to thank you all. I don’t know that much about cars yet, but I’ve been playing with iPod since 2001. Therefore, I decided to write up this guide. I know that pretty much everything in this guide has been said before, but now you can find it in one place. I used many existing guides and tutorial to build mine:

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Ultimate iPod Integration Guide
So you have an iPod and you want to be able to play it through your IS sound system? There is a few things to consider before spending any money. There 2 things you must think of for your integration kit:
• An audio connection to your stereo (and the possibility to charge your iPod)
• A mount to prevent your ipod from flying around in your cockpit (optional)

Connecting the iPod to your IS300’s stereo
Here are the 5 most common solutions:
1) FM Transmitter
2) Tape cassette adapter
3) AUX-IN mod
4) After market iPod adapters for stock head unit (HU)
5) After market receiver with AUX-IN

Just a side note on outputting your iPod to your car stereo: it’s always much better if you can use the dock connector instead of the headphone port to connect your iPod since you will bypass the iPod internal amplifier and therefore reducing distortion at high volume level. Where or not you can use the dock connector depends on the devices you buy and the method you use to connect your iPod.

1) FM transmitters
FM transmitters turn your iPod into a mini FM radio station, attempting to overwhelm an empty channel on your car’s stereo. The FM Transmitter is the choice for those one who don’t want to spend too much and don’t mind having some loss in the sound quality. Most transmitters flatten your music and introduce static or other distortion into the signal; there is only a few great exceptions. Belkin’s TuneFMs for iPod and iPod nano ($50 each) are portable transmitters that hang off of your iPod’s bottom, delivering legitimately good sound quality. Each comes with a detachable car charger cable that lets you broadcast and charge your iPod simultaneously while you drive; station selection is handled on the iPod’s screen. By comparison, Kensington’s earlier Digital FM Transmitter/Auto Charger ($80, street price $50 and up) has its own easy-to-read LCD screen on a car charger-mounted station tuner, and provides clear, dynamic sound when used with iPods, nanos, and minis. Griffin Technology’s iTrip for iPod nano
($50) uses oniPod tuning and is shaped like a sled for the best portable nano design we’ve seen, but you’ll need to buy a charger separately.

The system is wireless so it’s a pretty clean installation. It also offers the possibility to take his iPod from one car to another really easily and just carrying the FM transmitter.

2) Tape cassette adapters
The tape cassette adapter is a usual cassette that you insert in your tape deck which has a wire hanging out of the deck letting you to connect any audio device. It’s a major step forward in sound quality compared with the FM transmitter, not far from CD-quality if connected the proper way. The best choices in the tape adapters market have hardly changed for years: the Sony’s CPA-9C Car Cassette Adapter ($15) is the best value. Griffin’s more recent SmartDeck models ($30) fused Sony-like sound quality with the ability to use your car stereo controls to also control your iPod, but the nano/5G-compatible SmartDeck won’t let you charge your iPod while it’s attached. Sony wins. If you go with Sony, I highly recommend that you use a charging accessory like Belkin’s Auto Kit ($40) that provides audio output from the dock connector of the iPod instead of plugging the cassette directly to the headphone port of your iPod. That way you will achieve near CD-quality sound.

3) AUX-IN MOD
Since our stock HU doesn’t provide any AUX-IN to plug the iPod, we must do it ourselves. To discover how, just follow the instructions given in this wonderful thread:
http://my.is/forums/showthread.php?t=277880

Here it’s down for a RoadyXT, but it’s basically the same for an iPod. Once again I higly recommend that you use the Belkin’s Auto Kit ($40) to charge your iPod. On the charger itself, there is an audio output that you must use for the best sound possible. You will only have a dock connector cable going to your iPod.

4) iPod Car Integration Kits
If you don’t want to risk yourself into the AUX-IN mod, there are several ways you can guarantee a CD-quality connection between your iPod and car stereo - the only catches are pricing. Plan to spend $150 or more, depending on the quality of the solution before picking from below.

Add an auxiliary input: Companies such as PAC sell kits to add an auxiliary input to your car’s stereo ($99 plus installation); this port will let you hear iPod and non-iPod music, but won’t charge your iPod’s battery. So you’ll want SiK’s imp cable ($30) for charging and line-level audio output.
Add a dedicated iPod integration cable: For an all-in-one iPod audio and charging solution, try USA-SPEC’s iPod cables for various car models ($150 plus installation). PAC, Peripheral, and many auto makers now sell iPodspecific cables, too ($199 plus installation). See Apple.com/ipod/ipodyourcar.
Add a complete iPod audio integration kit: The top-rated audio kit is Harman Kardon’s Drive + Play ($200 plus installation) kit, which includes iPod audio and charging, plus an iPod control knob and nice LCD screen that can be mounted for easy music access while you’re driving.

Sincerely, I don’t think that any of the above options worth spending that much money to plug an iPod to an IS300 sound system. The AUX-IN mod is not that difficult to do and is much cheaper. Of crouse, you don’t have the possibility to control the iPod through your HU, but the iPod interface is so nice that I don’t see the point. If the iPod is properly mounted, you better use the iPod directly.

5) Aftermarket iPod-Ready AV/Navigation Systems
It’s hard to find a more deluxe in-car iPod integration option than this: an aftermarket, touchscreen navigation and/or AV system ($900-$2300) connected to a system-specific iPod cable ($30-120). When you’re done, iPod track and artist info appears on the car’s screen, and you can navigate the iPod’s library without using the iPod. Unfortunately, not all of these iPod integration kits were created equal - some offer features that markedly distinguish them from others.

Alpine IVA Systems
Across two different models - the double-DIN IVA-W200 ($1100, shown) and single-DIN IVA-D100 ($1200) - Alpine offers a key feature we haven’t seen in other iPod-ready AV systems: Full Speed iPod browsing, which lets you scan the iPod’s library on the 6.5” touchscreen almost as fast as using the iPod’s own controls. The company’s new KCE-422i iPod cable ($30) is compatible with virtually every iPod case, too, unlike Pioneer’s cabling. What’s missing? Without special rigging, the IVA systems won’t play iPod
videos - they’re audio-only - and GPS navigation is sold separately.


Clarion VRX765VD/MAX675VD
Like Alpine’s units, Clarion’s single-DIN VRX765VD ($1100) is a 7” AV system only - no GPS - but there are some novel twists. Its the industry’s first in-car unit to promise full video integration for iPod, which we consider a very big deal, and boasts a less obviously useful 5.1 Surround Sound feature for iPod (and other) audio too. You need to pair it with the audio-only CCA670 iPod cable ($70), or yet-to-be-released CCA Video Cable ($TBA). We’re excited about mid-’06’s double-DIN 30GB HD-based AV/GPS system MAX675VD which looks better, but has no price.

Eclipse AVN6600 and iPC-106
Though we’ve liked Fujitsu-TEN’s Eclipse navigation/AV systems when we’ve seen them in person, they’re not standouts when it comes to iPod integration. Paired with the iPC-106 iPod Adapter ($120), the company’s AVN6600 DVD navigation system ($2000) uses a 6.5” touchscreen to provide artist, album, and song details, plus searches by
playlist, artist, album, genre, or song. The company’s CD7000 ($700) and CD5000 ($550) feature far more limited displays and GPS features, but offer similar iPod control with an easy-to-use dial on their faces.

Kenwood DDX and KVT Series
As with Clarion, Kenwood’s numerous AV system kits ship GPS-less, and there are lots of them, ranging from the 6.95” double-DIN DVD playing DDX-6019 ($1000, shown) and 7” single-DIN screen-only KVT-M707 ($1000) up to the single-DIN 7”, 5.1-channel Surround, remote controlled DVD/CD system KVT-817DVD ($1800). In each case, Kenwood’s KCAiP500 iPod Interface Kit ($100) charges and integrates your iPod.


Pioneer AVIC-Series AV Systems
Pioneer makes several iPod-ready AVIC navigation systems - the deluxe
AVIC-Z1 ($2250), midrange N3 ($1800), and cheapest D2 ($1500). The
double-DIN Z1 includes a 7” touchscreen with its own DVD player, plus a
30GB hard drive for GPS navigation, with 3-D maps and voice command
features. The N3 and D2 both have 6.5” touchscreens, N3’s a single-DIN
pop-out screen with a DVD player, while D2’s a double-din screen with
only a CD player. All work with the CD-IP100II iPod Interface Adapter
($100), which charges and displays track, artist, and album info.


Mounting your iPod
If you want to mount your iPod in your car, but don’t want to spend a lot of money, you have several choices – none excellent, but all fine for their prices. Griffin’s iSqueez ($10) is a foam rubber cupholder that’s better suited to full-sized iPods and old iPod minis than iPod nanos. It fits basically any car cupholder, with rubber that easily adjusts for a firm grip. Similarly, Nyko’s Universal Car Mount (now commonly sold for $10) is made for full-sized iPods and minis, with spring-loaded clasps that hold most models well. It attaches to virtually any car’s air vent with metal clips. Finally, Handstands’ iSticky Pad comes in two sizes - regular ($9, shown) and XL ($10), each working in the same way. You stick one to a flat surface on your dashboard, then stick your iPod on it. If the surface is really flat, the sticky but non-adhesive pad will keep your iPod in place – readers swear. If not, the iPod will fall.

Low-end car mounts can only take you so far: they typically aren’t designed to perfectly grip your IS, iPod, or both. That’s where ProClip comes in: the company’s deluxe car mounts come in two pieces, the first custom-made to fit a specific car, and the second made to fit a specific iPod model or models. The top ProClip mount is the Padded
Adjustable Holder with Tilt Swivel ($40) which has soft anti-scratch side brackets that will hold an iPod with or without your favorite case attached. As the name suggests, it tilts and swivels on your choice of angles for a perfect view in your car. Another noteworthy option is the Padded Holder with Tilt Swivel for Cable Attachment ($50), which internally mounts many popular iPod car chargers. The car-specific piece costs $30 more for a total of $70-80 when assembled, but you’ll be thrilled with the look and fit of this solution.


Three- or Four-in-One (Transmitter/Line -Out/Charging/Mounting)
Single-bullet car integration solutions aren’t cheap, but they do pretty much everything you’d get from buying separate accessories. One of the best is Belkin’s TuneBase FM ($80), which uses a metal gooseneck to mount, charge, and broadcast tunes from any iPod - full-sized, nano, or mini. (A nano-only version is sold for the same price.) Today’s TuneBase FMs have better FM transmitters than ever before and are stably mounted in virtually any car thanks to stiff gooseneck mounts. The only bummer is that both versions omit a line-out port, so they’re only good for FM broadcasting, not cabled connections.

By contrast, DLO’s most recent TransPod/TransDock ($100, iLounge rating: B) has an internal FM transmitter and both audioout and audio-in ports; it also comes in three different colors - silver, black, and white. Though we preferred TuneBase FM’s broadcasting and gooseneck mounting arm, TransPod sounds pretty good and, depending on your car, might or might not be easy to stably mount with its included plastic pipes. Unlike TuneBase FM, TransPod’s tuning is accomplished on a frontmounted blue screen rather than on the iPod’s display. Both units charge any docking iPod without any problems.


CONCLUSION
I hope that you have a better idea of what are the possibilities for plugging an iPod to your sound system. Of course, those are suggestions and you are welcome to mix them and come up with something original. Here is an example of a unique solution from one of our members which worth mentionning:

-Custom in-dash iPod install via aux-in: http://my.is/forums/showthread.php?t=280407.


Sources:
- iLounge: http://www.iLounge.com (check it out for review of any products mentioned above)
- iPod Book 2.0 (http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/library/download/summer-buyers-guide-the-free-ipod-book-20)
- my.is: Another Successful AUX-IN: http://my.is/forums/showthread.php?t=277880
- my.is: Custom iPod integration: http://my.is/forums/showthread.php?t=280407
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My Setup
My choice of iPod integration setup has been based on the following criteria:
- Cheap
-Near CD-quality to CD-quality sound quality
- Clean installation
- Easy access to iPod screen and control
- Never pull out my iPod from its case

This is the route that I chose to follow: I used the Sony tape cassette adaptor and the Belkin Auto Kit charger. Those two items allowed me to have a relatively good sounding solution while keeping costs at a minimum. The Belkin Auto Kit uses the dock connector to output the iPod audio which gives a really nice sounding solution. I ran a test comparing few CD tracks played through the Head Unit (HU) and the same tracks played via my iPod and I was impressed by the results. The difference was barely noticeable.

In order to have a clean set-up, I hid as much as possible the cables behind the HU and inside the gloves compartment as shown in the tutorial.

I used Pro-Clip to mount my iPod next to my HU, where it is easy to control and see its screen.

Shopping List
- Sony Cassette Adapter CPA-9C (30$ on Sony Website or 10$ on Amazon.com)
- Belkin Auto Kit (40$ on Belkin Website. 25$ on Amazon.com. 5$-10$ on eBay)
- ProClip Angled mount for IS300 (29.99$)
- 12V DC Accessory Outlet (10$)
- Swivel Belt Clip with Dash Mount (10$)
- Optional: If you don’t have an iPod case with a pin for a Universal belt clip you can use Pro Clip Padded Adjustable Holder with Tilt Swivel (39.99$) instead of the Swivel Belt Clip with Dash Mount
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Total: 70$ if you have a case with a belt clip. 110$ if you use the Padded Adjustable Holder with Tilt Swivel. Items from Pro Clip must be order from their website since its customized for your car so you might have to spend another 20$ in shipping.

Tutorial
Ok, now here is how to proceed to have the best sounding and best looking solution possible. There is 4 principal steps: Removing the HU, Installing the additional 12V socket for the Belkin Auto KIT, hiding the cassette wire and Mounting the iPod. I used the following tutorials as references:
- Another Successful AUX-IN MOD:
http://my.is/forums/showthread.php?t=277880
- Antz way of Hiding cassette adaptor:
http://my.is/forums/showthread.php?t=210686

Removing the HU.
1) Pop lint tray out with screwdriver



2) Unscrew dash tray - 2 Philips head screws



3) Pull dash tray out and up to remove from dash. If it’s your first time, you will have to pull really hard on the dash tray.





4) Pull out switch tray from below radio by simply pulling on it.



5) Tape up sides of dash to prevent nicks from radio as you remove it. Believe me, DO IT. Even if I taped my dash I now have few scratches:



6) Unscrew two 10mm bolts on the top of radio and the two below the radio


7) Unplug AC harnesses, radio harness, and antennas from behind radio and remove the HU


8) Pop console up with a screwdriver behind the chrome trim and remove, need to unhook cigarette harness, ashtray light, cigarette ring light. It is the same for both manual and automatic. On manual, you will have to remove your shift knob.



Plugging the Belkin Auto Kit
1) Unplug the 12V socket from dash plate.
2) Add the new 12 socket in parallel to the existing one (pink wire on the factory socket is positive).
3) Plug your Belkin Auto Kit into new socket.
4) Test your connection by starting the car and plugging your iPod to the Belkin dock connector. If your iPod charges, your connection is fine. You should also check if the factory socket is still working.
5) Stop the car
6) Stuff your iPod charger on the right of the dash, next to the black wire covering. I suggest that you tape or ZIP TIE the socket to this covering to prevent it from moving. Make sure that the audio port is accessible.




Sorry if there is no pictures for the place were I put the iPod charger. I had my camera after doing the mod and I didn't feel removing again the HU.


7) I routed the wire that goes from the charger to the iPod through the gloves compartment. If you look carefully above and on the right of the charger, there is a hole that connects the gloves compartement and the place where your charger is currently located. This way the wire will be hidden in the glove compartment when not used.





Hiding the cassette wire.
I wanted to have the cassette adaptor inside my headunit with the wire running through the rear of the headunit. In addition the headunit's cassette lid is in the close position.

1) On the HU bloc, separate the HVAC (cliamtisation block) from the sound system by unscrewing the 4 screws of HVAC and remove the HVAC from the rest of the bloc.
2) Gently remove the faceplate from the radio unprying the tabs from the side of the radio. Be gentle you don't want to break any tabs or the faceplate.
3) Once you have fully detached the faceplate slide the faceplate one or two centimeters off. Now pull the wire through the cassette opening.
4) Now you fish the wire through the radio to the back. You will need to remove a plate in the rear. You will see like a half circle opening. Run it to that corner. Once you have the cassette wire coming out the rear just check and make sure the wire is not obstructing anything else.
5) Snap the faceplate back on and the lid is already in the close position and put back the HVAC bloc.
6) Now plug the cassette wire to the audio port of the iPod charger, reconnect the HU and put it back into place.
7) Start your car and test your setup. If the iPod plays through your sound system when you use the tape, you have done everything successfully.
8) Put everything back into place.


Mounting the iPod
Now your iPod can be stored in the glove compartment while playing. Its pretty clean (no wire at all), but not practical to change tunes and go through menus. We are going to mount the iPod using the PRO Clip car mount. Don’t worry, the gloves compartment still closes even if the there is a wire coming out of it going to the iPod.
1) Follow the instructions given with the mount
2) I didn’t use the adhesives in order to keep my dash as clean as possible and its nonetheless really sturdy and stable.
3) If you don’t have an iPod case with a universal belt clip, install the iPod Pro Clip Padded Adjustable Holder with Tilt Swivel.
4) If you have an iPod case with a pin for a universal belt clip as I do, do the following:
a. The pin on my case didn’t slide all the way down in the Clip Dash Mount so I had to enlarge it with a knife. I also added some layers of electric tape to the Clip for a tighter fit. This prevents the iPod from moving when the pin is in the clip.
b. Remove the protective paper at the back of the clip and use the adhesive to fix the clip to the car mount.
5) Slides your iPod in and enjoy!












I hope this tutorial helped or inspired you. If you have any questions, let me know. Comments are welcome. I would be great also if you could post one or two pictures of your iPod set-up.

PS: Sorry if there is no pictures for the hiding of the cassette wire part and the place were I put the iPod charger. I had my camera after doing the mod and I didn't feel removing again the HU.


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******* UPDATE : AUGUST 11, 2006 **********
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I'm not using the ProClip Mount anymore. Unfortunately, one of my friend accidentally hits it somehow hard and the mount broke. I didn't feel like paying again for that mount, even if it was well built. I think that mounting your ipod beside the head unit higly increase the risk of breaking it.

So I came up with this custom mout:


If you want more details and a tutorial, check out this thread: Custom iPod Mount - http://my.is/forums/showthread.php?p=4369280
 

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That's great stuff man. Please put up some pictures when you do get the camera for us to see what you have done? Thanks again.
 

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Nice write up!

And I am glad there are others that enjoy my cassette adaptor mod. I currently still use it and I couldn't imagine anything better and more simple.

Passangers to this day still don't understand how it all works. I love it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I finally got my camera, I added a few pics of the installation. I was too lazy to remove the head unit again. Its too scratch risky, sorry.

To Antz: yeah the cassette adaptor mod is awesome. Cheap, good sound quality and really clean.
 

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Nice write-up and investigative report. Also thanks for the reference to my post!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you all...

Anyone else use the Pro Clip Mount? I know that when you buy it you must choose where you want to mount it (there is 3 possibilities). I would like to see how it looks mounted somewhere else than mine.

Also it would be great if everybody post a picture of their iPod set-up on this thread.
 

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Great info. + rep to you.
 

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Ok, any reason to show off my daughter again. This is the Pro-Fit mount, they have an Ipod accessory attachment you can buy. I just put my Ipod in the space under the armrest, and when I'm using it I put it on top of the cup holder box. I have the silicone sleeve on my Ipod, so it doesn't slip.





That ^^ pic ^^ was six months ago, she is a lot bigger now (see below). She will be 1 on Monday.

 

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Very cute! She looks very comfortable in the IS seat!!!

I also have the pro fit mount with my ipod mounted to it as well as my XM delphi reciever. All on one mount.
 

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I will snap pics and post them online. I just charged the batteries in my digital camera. should have it up in no time!!!
 

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As promised here are pics of my current install of an iPod Mini and XM Delphi unit using the pro-fit mount. The mount itself is not plastic.










The bracket holding the XM Delphi unit is plastic and also made by pro-fit. I was under the impression it was going to made out of the same material as the mount itself. But it does job I want it to do without a hitch....

It works perfectly!!! Tell me what you think..
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
The mount seems really well built. Did you have to remove the head unit before installing it?

I'm worried about the place were you routed you dock connector wire. There is supposed to be almost no gap between the HU and the dash. Are you putting pressure on the HU or risking to cut the wires by doing so?
 

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P5yk0 said:
The mount seems really well built. Did you have to remove the head unit before installing it?

I'm worried about the place were you routed you dock connector wire. There is supposed to be almost no gap between the HU and the dash. Are you putting pressure on the HU or risking to cut the wires by doing so?
No I didn't have to remove the headunit to install it. Just had to unbolt the bolt at the top that holds the AC unit and headunit to the dash. then slip in the mount.

No worries with the dock connector wire. I was concerned when I first tried it but amazed and how it sit in with out applying pressure to make it fit. It was like the wire was meant to be there.

The reason this works is with the mount installed the whole AC unit and headunit move to the left just a tad. So there is like the slightest gap difference. Hardly noticable.

I hope this helps with your fear of the dock connector wire?

As for the two XM wires. Because it is smaller than the dock wire easily clear the small opening between the dash. But is tight enough to hold it in place.
 

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Very nice. I was thinking of running my adapter through the radio. That looks better than I could have imagined. +rep coming your way.
 

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P5yk0 said:
What do you mean run the adapter through the radio?

He means the adaptor wire running through the side of the radio. Like I have in the pics above.

I hope I was able for you to understand what he meant...
 
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