New car stereo

I finally got around to having a new stereo installed in my car. I went with just a basic Alpine CD player with AUX input. I originally wanted to maximize my music:media ratio by getting one that plays MP3s as well as CDs but decided against it after seeing the sorry state of in-dash MP3 players. Every one I looked at had at least one show-stopping problem, if not more, with the way they handle this:

  • There is no way that, at the end of 2003, I’m going to buy an MP3 player that can’t read ID3 tags. It’s not like this is new technology. Instead, the displays typically only show the filename of the current song. There was even one that didn’t even do that; the display just said “MP3″ or something while it was playing.
  • Every one I looked at seemed to have problems with handling multiple subdirectories in a reasonable way. They could navigate directories ok, but only one level. So if you use the standard Artist/Album/Song_Title.mp3 naming convention, you’ll have to rearrange them before burning them to CD to bring in the car.
  • Related to the last problem, at least one stereo I looked at, another Alpine, played the songs in the selected directory in what appeared to be a completely random order. It wasn’t alphabetical or numeric (if the filename began with a track number). Neither I nor the guy at Al and Ed’s could figure it out.

I also bought an adapter to convert Alpine’s proprietary CD changer input to RCA jacks, and then attached another one to convert those RCA jacks to a 1/8 inch mini plug. I want to mount a 1/8 inch jack in the side of my dash but I bought the wrong jack at Radio Shack so I’ll have to add that later. In the meantime, I’ve got the wire and plug tucked away in the space in my dash below the stereo and it can be easily pulled out to reach an iPod on the center console. It works but it’s a little sloppy. Once I get the right hardware I’m going to have the jack mounted in the dash so there aren’t any visible wires.

Now all I need is my own iPod, which I’ll be able to get once Apple makes the new 20 GB model available in the employee store.

My Ebay auctions ended yesterday and I did much better than I expected to. My biggest sale was my Nurse With Wound box set that ended up selling for $114! I did $450 total, assuming everyone actually pays up (which is actually a fairly big assumption).