Review: An Introduction to Cassette Tape Adapters
If your car has a cassette tape deck, you’re (most likely) in luck. Cassette Tape Adapters are the cheapest and easiest way to get quality in-car sound from an iPod - far superior to the more popular FM transmitters. They typically range in price from $10 to $25.
A cassette tape adapter (also called a cassette adapter) looks like a standard cassette tape with a single cable dangling from its side or corner. You insert the tape into your car’s tape deck and connect the cable to your iPod in one of two ways, most commonly its headphone port. Press play on the tape deck and on your iPod, and voila, you’re hearing iPod tunes through the stereo.
Given its highly reasonable price and solid quality, why isn’t the cassette adapter a perfect option? Fewer cars these days have tape decks, and there haven’t been major improvements in adapter sound quality or technology since the iPod was released. To date, only one company has released an adapter with advanced features, but they work unpredictably from car to car. We have also received scattered reader complaints that certain cars are incompatible with all of these adapters, but these issues are rare, and the adapters cheap and easy to test for yourself.
As of June 2006, we’ve awarded our first-ever high recommendation to a cassette adapter: Philips PH2050W (iLounge rating: A-), which thanks to slight design improvements over Sony’s well-established CPA-9C (iLounge rating: B+) is the most compatible and best-sounding such adapter we’ve seen, though none has scored a flat A rating overall. You can check out all of our Cassette Tape Adapter reviews here.