Many people unknowingly make the mistake of MP3 FM modulators and confuse them with FM transmitters. Although they are very similar, they can be very different and give you very different results. We will try to help clarify the difference between FM modulators and FM transmitters in this article.
FYI, for the sake of simplicity, we’ll assume you’ll be using this in your car, and when we talk about FM transmitters, we mean a personal FM transmitter that you can buy off the shelf, not a big commercial or home-made one.
Mistake #1 Installation complexity
Most people don’t realize that if you’re using an FM modulator instead of an FM transmitter, you’ll need to install it next to the FM radio. This means you will have to take out your car’s FM radio and hardwire it to your car’s electrical system plus mess with your car’s audio system.
Not only is this time consuming, but you can easily mess up your car’s electrical and audio setup, as well as potentially injure yourself. That’s why most hire a professional to install an FM modulator, but it will cost money, which can end up being more than the cost of the MP3 player, modulator, and FM radio combined.
Transmission Mistake #2
The second mistake people make about FM modulators is that they don’t realize that the reason it’s close to the FM radio is because it passes the signal from your audio source, which in this case is your MP3 player, to the car’s FM Radio.
And since the FM modulator is usually only a few inches or a foot or two at best, it needs to be very close to the FM radio, which requires the installation process mentioned above.
Error #3 Frequency options
The third mistake most people don’t realize when using an FM modulator is the number of frequencies you can choose from. Since manufacturers know you won’t be able to change the frequency once it’s installed, they usually only give you one frequency to choose from, or at best several.
This means for you that you either have to pick a frequency that is not in the public FM band from 88.0 to 108.0, like 87.7 or 87.9 FM for example, or you will have to hijack a frequency that is in the public band and hope that it doesn’t come across a commercial station that is also trying to broadcast on that frequency.
So how do you avoid these 3 big mistakes?
Quite simply, if you want to output the sound from your MP3 player to your car’s FM radio (or any radio for that matter), you’ll want to buy a GOOD FM transmitter. I say good because there are so many that just stink. Either they don’t go very far or the sound quality just isn’t acceptable. FYI, you can click on the links below to see a good FM transmitter to check out.
So let’s just assume for a moment that you’ve chosen a quality FM transmitter. With it, you can use it not only in your car, but also in your home, office, etc. if you want. Plus, you can easily power it up without having to connect it to your car’s electrical system. And you can plug in your MP3 player without messing with the car audio setup. Finally, if you choose the right kind of good FM transmitter, you can also broadcast other audio sources such as satellite radio, home stereo, computer and even TV.
This way, you can avoid having to deal with the expense and time of installation and hard wiring, as well as possibly screwing up your car’s electrical and audio systems. You can also transmit further than a modulator and on more frequencies, so you won’t have to compete with commercial radio stations.