Model: iPod Cassette Adapter
Compatible: iPod 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G, iPod mini, iPod photo, iPod shuffle
XtremeMac iPod Cassette Adapter
Pros: A white in-car cassette adapter for the iPod with a gold-tipped cable.
Cons: Nothing special audio quality, with a higher baseline level of noise than our current top-ranked adapter, at the same (or higher) price.
We’ve reviewed a handful of iPod-to-cassette deck adapters, and Sony’s CPA-9C (iLounge grade: B+) has remained on top since the beginning. XtremeMac’s iPod Cassette Adapter ($19.95) doesn’t change that story at all.
Generally speaking, connecting a good and relatively inexpensive cassette adapter to your iPod and car will result in better overall audio than even the most expensive FM transmitters on the market. But not all cassette adapters are created equal. If you pause your music and listen to several of them next to each other, you’ll notice different baseline noise levels. And if you test them for several months, some (such as Coby’s unimpressive and generic adapter) have a fair likelihood of breaking.
Sony’s has proven reliability and a very low base level of noise on its side – hard-core “everything has to be white” iPod accessorizers might not prefer its dark gray and black coloration, but otherwise it’s hard to beat. Available for under $10 if you shop around, it sounds and works great. Monster’s iCarPlay light gray and black cassette adapter offers similar performance in a different color, at a slightly higher price tag ($13+). For $19.95, XtremeMac’s offers a slightly lower grade of performance – a modestly higher base level of noise, including an internal mechanical gear grinding sound when it’s in use – only in iPod matching white, except for the gold-tipped black cable that runs from the adapter to your iPod.
Some people won’t mind the extra noise, but given that there’s no price penalty for picking Sony or Monster’s alternatives, it’s hard to recommend XtremeMac’s product for any reason except its exterior color. Even then, Griffin Technologies promises that its impending SmartDeck will arrive in the same color, and offer additional functionality with superior sound quality. As SmartDeck isn’t out yet, it doesn’t affect our rating, but even in the context of existing options, we’d pick Sony’s adapter any day. If the gold tip and lighter coloration suit your fancy, iCarPlay includes the same features, too.
Jeremy Horwitz is Editor-in-Chief of iLounge.