Q: My car has an auxiliary input jack, which accepts a “plug” the same size as the headphone jack. I have a cable that has a headphone jack-sized plug on each end, and can connect my iPod from its headphone jack to the AUX plug in the car. However, I’m wondering if there is a cable or device that would connect my iPod through the bottom iPod connector to the AUX input in my car? I assume the quality of sound from the iPod to the AUX input would be better through the Dock Connector, but is that right?
A: The main advantage of using the Dock Connector is that it is an un-amplified “line-out” signal, rather than passing through the iPod’s internal headphone amplifier. This means that you do get a theoretically cleaner sound, and the iPod volume control itself has no effect on the audio output—rather the audio is sent via the Dock Connector at a standard level.
There are a few solutions that can be used to provide line-out capability via the Dock Connector. The most basic solution is one of the SendStation PocketDock products, such as the PocketDock Line Out USB (iLounge rating: A- or the SendStation PocketDock AV (iLounge rating: NR), which provides both audio and video output.
The SendStation PocketDock solutions also have the advantage of being ultra-portable, and can therefore be used in many places other than your car.
For car-specific accessories, there are numerous very sophisticated car-kit solutions for the iPod, and you can find many options in our Car Power Chargers, Kits and Adapters reviews. However, one of our preferred solutions for basic portable car use is the Belkin Auto Kit (iLounge rating: B+). Although this has been on the market for some time, it works with all generations of iPod and still remains one of the best solutions for both charging your iPod from your car power and providing a line-out connection via the same cable, without having to get into any sophisticated car integration work.