Using the Fuze in my truck - FM transmitter the way to go?

I purchased the 8GB Fuze a little while back, and I love it!  The only thing I have a problem with it is I want to use it in my truck, and I’m not liking how I have to turn up both the Fuze and my truck stereo to max to get really good, loud sound from it.  Some tracks are better than others, and I expected this, but I’m a little disappointed in having things maxed out like I’m having to have it.  Right now I’m using a cassette adapter to use the Fuze, but I’m wondering if I switched to an FM transmitter if I would have better luck with the sound.  Anyone know if this would get me around having to max out the volume on everything?  And if so, what would be a good transmitter to buy?  I’ve only been able to find 2-3 types in searching that say they’d work for Sansa products and I’m not sure which is the better one.

You’re volume issue is typical when connecting a headpone out to a line in, although I would have thought the cassette adapter would compensate somewhat.

There’s really no clear winner for adapter vs. transmitter.  I think cassette adapters might have a slight edge, but opinions are all over the place and there are a lot of variables that can affect the result.  A really good FM transmitter can sound better than a bad cassette adapter.  Some cassete players just don’t work very well with the adapters.  And some cities/locations just don’t have enough open frequencies for a transmitter to work well.  So you pretty much have to try it yourself to find out which is best for you.

The Sony cassette adapter seems to get a lot of really good reviews.  Many say it’s much better than other adapters they had tried, so it might be worth a shot.  I think it’s only about $12, so it’s not too much to risk.


The DLO TransDock Micro for Sansa is the best reviewed FM transmitter I know of, but it’s very expensive ($60-70).  If I absolutely had to buy a transmitter, it would probably be that one, but that price is pretty steep.  A lot the less expensive transmitters get a ton of bad reviews, so it seems like you pretty much have to suck it up and spend some dough if you want a good FM transmitter.  One intersting thing about the TransDock Micro is that is also has a line-out on it.  So you could just use it as line out adapter to plug your cassette adapter into and not even use the FM part.  In theory, that should solve the volume issue.  However, there’s some debate about whether the Fuze provides a true line out over the Sansa connector (there is some evidence it’s just a clone of the headphone output), so I can’t make any promises on that.  If you do get the TransDock Micro make sure you get the Sansa version because there’s an iPod version that looks exactly the same.

There are a couple other things you might try first:

  • Use MP3Gain to adjust the gain of all your MP3s to 92db
  • Use a custom EQ on the Fuze to boost all the frequencies equally
  • Use a custom EQ on your car stereo to boost all the frequencies equally
    Obviously, the EQ boosting is not ideal and you don’t want to get too carried away with it, but it can help when all else fails.  Of course you will still need to have the Fuze’s volume at max.

I tried messing with my eq settings on the truck stereo based on what you said, and while I’m not getting an appreciable sound increase, I did get rid of the muffled sound I was hearing when I had the volume up loud.  Pretty much all I did was turn the bass down a notch and it sounds a lot better to me now (before I just had bass and treble set at the default middle settings.)  Right now I’m just using an adapter that had come with a Phillips CD car set, but I might try and find the Sony one and see if it makes any difference.  My checkbook can handle the cost of that over the FM transmitter a lot easier right now anyway. :slight_smile:

Casette adapters are likely to work pretty much the same. Unless there is something wrong with yours, don’t expect it to change much. I’d expect a decent FM transmitter should work better, but I haven’t used those much.

I would suggest getting an fm transmitter. The griffin itrip auto connects to the player using the 30 pin connector and also charges the mp3 player. Griffin Itrip Aut If you are going to get the itrip auto make sure it says it is made for sansa. There is an ipod version and that will not work with the player and can damage the unit. There is also the macally full channel fm transmitter charger and cup holder. It is made for an e200 but the fuze should be able to fit. Here is a link which gives you a good view of how the player would dock into the accessory. Macally Full channel fm transmitter and cup holder.

FM transmitters should only be considered an option of last resort because their performance generally sucks compared to all other options out there.  You should only consider an FM transmitter if and only if you need to move the Fuze between two or more vehicles.

The best bet is to replace your deck with one that supports an Aux input.  These decks can be found for 100 bucks or so. 

If you have an OEM car stereo that may not have a standard harness, then the installation kits for the deck can easily exceed the cost of the head unit itself.

I have a Venture Van, and the installation kit was going to cost almost as much as the stereo, so I went to a car stereo store and purchased an FM modulator.  While not ideal, it does kick the crap out of the transmitter.  The modulator basically is installed behind your existing deck and patches in between the antenna and the receiver.  You then set the modulator with a set frequency to use, and it ports that down the antenna lead directly.

Most good modulators have an external switch so that you can choose between listening to your MP3 player or listening to the radio.

The Modulators are roughly the same cost (minus the labor of you “installing” it, and are fairly easy to install) as an FM transmitter but does not have all the issues (static, bleeding of stations, etc) that the FM transmitters have.

My FM Modulator works great.  Yes, I have to set the Fuze’s volume to full and turn up the stereo louder than normal, but it still gets plenty loud enough. 

Like I said, FM transmitters should only be used in places where you need to frequently move from one car to another, or if you are using a rental car or something like that.

If you have an option though, the best bang for the buck is to simply pony up for a new head unit.  At approx 100 bucks it’s going to give you better performance than overpriced underpowered FM transmitters, and if you are going to install an FM modulator, you might as well install a new stereo.

I only did the modulator because the new stereo, with installation kit and etc. would cost me over $300 bucks compared to the 75 bucks for the modulator.

Oh, and using replay gain or MP3 Gain to boost the gain of your files is also helpful.  I have all my albums at 95DB and it wokrs well.

Message Edited by p_opus on 06-20-2008 11:56 AM

Based on my experience in using several methods to connect my player to car stereos: cassette adapter, fm transmitter, fm modulator, aux-in, and usb in, I can tell you definitively that fm transmitter is the worst possible solution.  Assuming you don’t have aux-in or usb-in, I would rank the quality (best to worst) for the remaining 3 options as:

  1. cassette adapter (best quality)

  2. fm modulator (distant second)

  3. fm transmitter  (distant third)

It could be you have a defective cassette adapter.  This things are cheap enough to just go out and buy another one to see if that is the case.  Before doing that, though, try cleaning both the adapter and the cassette player where they make contact with each other.  It is very common for oxidation to build up on the player’s heads, causing a muffled, low volume, sound when playing cassettes.  The best way to clean them is with a cotton swab and rubbing alcohol.

Oh, be sure to turn off Dolby and “metal” modes if your cassette is so equipped, as the Dolby mode seriously tweaks your frequency response for the Dolby compression that isn’t there.  Just like earmuffs. 

The adaptor is actually a cassette magnetic head mounted to “talk” with the car stereo unit’s cassette head, making an effective wee transformer.  Despite the dangly wire, it will sound fine.

Bob  :stuck_out_tongue:

On the (off topic) subject of cassettes, I’ve been listening today to Frederik Pohl’s Gateway series.  It’s a sci-fi series about a gateway built into an asteroid by a mysterious race millions of years ago.  Anyway, it was written in the mid 1970’s, but obviously set far into the future.  The author talks about how people were sitting around listening to cassette tapes to pass the time.  In fairness to the author, at least he didn’t say people were listening to 8-track tapes… 

I want to find one of the still shots of Mr. Spock swapping “tapes” in his console monitor, or Captain Kirk (Mr. Scott did so in one shot) loading cartridges into the monitor.  It was in the earliest “The Menagerie” episode I think.

The caption I want: “Note the earliest SanDisk SD cards in beta test.”  Man, those things were HUGE compared to the modern µSD.

As kids, with the original series, we used to have great fun being the first (two brothers) to call which episode being aired.

With the later incarnations, they just took the concept too seriously.  We liked the rough originals best, and Shatner’s corny Shakepearean style.

Bob  :stuck_out_tongue: