Outupt to Car Stereo

I currently have an old Sansa c200 and am thinking about upgrading to a 2GB Clip.  I use my c200 to listen to audio books through my car stereo.  I have noted a previous poster’s comments about having to crank the volume up all the way to be able to hear anything - this is very true.  On my old Sansa I have to: a) max out the volume setting in the c200 menu, b) crank up the Sansa volume control all the way, c) use an external amplifier (Boosteroo) and d) crank up the volume on my car stereo to about 3/4 volume.  It’s a pain and if I ever forget to turn down the volume on the car stereo before shutting the car down it blows me out of the car the next time I start the car and the stereo has automatically switched back to radio mode.  You would think the car stereo manufacturers would figure this out and provide multiple input settings to handle a feeble little MP3 player (they seem to think everyone uses IPods I guess). 

Does anyone have experience using the Clip with a car stereo?  As much trouble as it is to use my current Sansa I’m concerned that the Clip might have even less power than the old c200 and I won’t be able to hear anything at all. 

It has the same output power or more. 

Hi  - although I can’t compare it to the c200, I can confirm that the Clip when connected to my home stereo (mini-jack to line-in) also need the Clip volume way up and the stereo quite high too…

I just think it is related to the normal power output one can expect from a headphone jack - my laptop is similar to my Clip when hooked up to the home stereo.


I listen to my Clip using my vehicle’s radio/audio.  I tried a few FM transmitters, and they were all pretty bad (too noisy, and too variable depending on local radio stations in various neighboring cities/towns, etc).  At any rate, I realized I could use the aux input in my rear DVD player (this is usually used for the kids to plug in some plug-n-play games to be viewed on the rear DVD screen and heard thru the vehicles speakers).  I can’t believe it took me so long to realize I could take advatage of that as an aux input to my radio…ugh.  I figured that since I didn’t have an aux input jack on the radio faceplate I was hosed.

Anyway, once I started using this DVD aux in jack, my Clip sounds very, very, very nice in my vehicle.

It is, however, still a tad quiet compared to the normal radio/CD/DVD volumes.  I do have to still do as you describe: turn up the clip to max volume (about 4 clicks down from max on a few audiobooks that are not the best recordings/performances - pop’n Ps&Bs, etc), and turn up the vehicle’s radio volume much more than I normally would when listening to the radio/CDs, etc…it may be near 3/4 max as you mentioned, varying as needed depending on the situation.

So, yes, the Clip is still somewhat quiet in this application, in my experience.

This is very typical when connecting a headphone out to a line in.  It’s a general issue and not really specific to the Clip.  The problem is due to differences in voltage and impedance between headphone and line.

There are a few easy things you can do to boost the level:

  • Use MP3Gain to adjust the gain of all your MP3s to 92db
  • Use a custom EQ on the Clip to boost all the frequencies equally
  • Use a custom EQ on your car stereo to boost all the frequencies and tune to personal taste

Obviously, the EQ boosting is not ideal and you don’t want to get too carried away with it, but with some experimentation you can usually find a good balance where the volume is significantly boosted without impacting sound quality too much. Luckily, the Clip’s sound quality is truly exceptional, so you can get away with quite a bit more than with most other players.

Some newer car stereos with front Aux In connections also have an adjustable gain on the input that can help compensate for the lower headphone level.  So anyone thinking about spending any significant amount of money on various adapters, FM transmitters, etc., might want to consider just replacing the head unit instead.  For example, the DLO TransDock Micro FM transmitter costs around $60-70, while the JVC KD-G340 only costs $100.  Not that much more for a much better solution and probably a big improvement over the factory stereo in both sound quality and features.

I’ve used my Clips (yes, I have a two, a 1 GB and a 2GB, long story) to feed my two family cars audio systems. One have a modern amplifier and the other an very old amplified equalizer. The clip works nicely with the equalizer, but has a hard time connecting to the amplifier, even adjusting the gain. I think that´s because RCA outputs are more powerful now than in the old times. I haven’t tried today’s minijack inputs. But my experience is that the Clip output is very robust and doesn’t distort at very high volume levels like many players, so is not a big problem. In the other hand, if you listen mostly old or quiet music, maybe you need to apply some of the Skinjob’s suggestions.

I arrived here by doing a search on the topic/question below, so I hope I’m not taking this thread in an inappropriate direction. Anyway…

Can I use (a) safely and (b) effectively the auto adapter that came with my CD player (it’s a cassette-shaped cartridge that inserts into the car’s cassette deck & connects to the headphone jack of the CD player) with my 2gb Clip?

Thanks in advance to anyone with knowledge of or experience with this.

Yep (to both)–it’s the next best thing to having an Auxiliary in on your car stereo.

Yes, the Clip will drive a cassette adaptor just fine.

Cassette adaptors are essentially a tape head mounted in a cassette shell, with the output from the Sansa driving a pair of teeny magnetic head coils rather than a headphone coil.

Sometimes, the output will be distorted with any cassette adaptor.  If your cassette player has auto reverse, you can try the reverse setting, or switch from side 1 to side 2; this uses the alternate head path.

Bob  :smileyvery-happy:

Thanks, Miikerman and neutron_bob, not only for responding so promptly but for giving me the answer I wanted. Most gratifying.

My experience is the output level from the headphone jack of the Clip is identical to the output level from an iPod, so I don’t understand your “feeble little player” comment.  That level is only slightly less than the “line out” level I get from my Sirius radio or old Creative MP3 player (which I actually had to EQ down by -3dB or so to prevent it from distorting).  I have to turn up my car radio a little bit louder than when I listen to the radio but certainly not to the extent you’re describing.  It sounds more like there’s something wrong with the “line in” signal path for your car stereo, or your audiobooks are recorded at really low levels or something, it shouldn’t be that big of a difference.

My experience is that there are drastic differences in the line-in/AUX sound levels (using the max volume of the Clip or other MP3 player) of car stereos in comparison to their radio or CD sound levels at the same volume setting.

My current Clarion unit uses a 3.5mm plug at the Clip end going to RCA jacks on the back but also includes 3 different “sensitivity” levels.  Even the loudest of these sensitivities makes the Clip (and every other portable audio player at max volume) lower in sound levels than the radio or the CD player (using MP3s ripped from the same CD as in the Clarion) at the same volume setting.

The sound levels are the same while listening to the CD and the MP3 on the computer through headphones so I know it isn’t low recording levels on the MP3 files.  I need to lower the volume about 5 on the current Clarion before changing from AUX to radio or CD to get similar sound levels.

My previous Clarion head unit at the highest sensitivity was similar in needing to lower the volume about 5 from AUX to radio or CD.

My inlaws’ car stereo is much worse in that you need to lower the volume by about 20 when switching from AUX to radio or CD to maintain a similar sound level.

I don’t necessarily think there is something wrong with the line-in/AUX path on any car stereo head unit other than the manufacturers not testing to make sure that a typical MP3 player at full volume through the AUX jack produces sound levels nearly identical to the radio or CD player of the head unit at the same volume setting.

I went ahead and purchased the Clip 4GB (on sale at Costco for $60 - a great buy) and found the output level significantly higher than my old Sansa (it was actually a c140 1 GB, not a c200).  I can run the Clip through the aux in at full volume without my Boosteroo auxiliary amp and only have to crank the car stereo volume about half way or slightly more, or if I use the Boosteroo with the Clip at full volume I can leave the car stereo volume about where it normally is for a CD or radio.  This is far better than having to use the Boosteroo + c140 @ full volume + car stereo at 3/4 volume.  Just a tip for folks who need a boost in the input level going into an aux in – the Boosteroo is really helpful and only costs about $30.  It would be much nicer if the auto stereo manufacturers would recognize the problem and build in a line level boost control to account for MP3 players, IPods, etc. but the Boosteroo is a good band aid. 

Just want to report that I use my Clip in the car with a Phillips FM transmitter ($5 from Woot.com and worth about that much, but it lets one select channels from the full spectrum rather than just the ends of the FM dial, which are occupied in my metro area) and the Clip’s volume is set at 4/5 of the way (not my preference but any lower and the auto-sensor on the transmitter thinks there’s no signal, aaack!), and I have to turn up my radio a couple notches but not so much that if I unplug the transmitter the noise is overwhelming.  I like that I can clip the Clip to the stuff hanging from the rearview mirror, so can skip tracks just by reaching out without looking down.

A direct line-in connection to your radio is preferable but if you don’t have one, you wind up going the FM method.  

Or if your car has a cassette player, use one of those CD adaptor things and forget transmitting. :stuck_out_tongue: 

Message Edited by Mushroom on 06-21-2008 04:08 AM