What is a Wireless FM Transmitter?

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What is a Wireless FM Transmitter?

Listening to good music is one of the pleasures of driving. A wireless FM transmitter is a handy in-car solution for motorists that want to play tracks from an iPod or smartphone. Drivers simply plug the transmitter into a portable audio source and they can hear the sound broadcast via the car speakers. In order to choose the right model of wireless FM transmitter, consumers should learn about its features. Then they can install the device and enjoy their favorite songs as they drive.

 

How a Wireless FM Transmitter Works

A wireless frequency modulated (FM) transmitter is an aftermarket device that allows listeners to play a portable audio source through any radio with an FM band, such as a car stereo. It has no physical connection to the radio, meaning drivers do not have extra cords trailing around the car or require an upgrade to the existing audio system.

In order for a wireless FM transmitter to work, a converter takes the audio output from an external source and converts it into analog audio within the FM transmitter. FM modulation converts the signal again, this time into an FM signal. Drivers can tune the car radio to the specific frequency that corresponds to the transmitter and listen to music on the FM band as if the broadcast was coming from a regular FM station.

 

Wireless FM Transmitter Frequency Bands

In the United States, all wireless FM transmitters operate within the FM frequency band from 87.7 through 107.9. Drivers need to find an empty band on the FM spectrum; otherwise, the audio clashes with live radio broadcasts. Locating an empty band can be problematic when traveling across the country and moving in and out of the range of different local FM stations.

 

Wireless FM Transmitter Features

Wireless FM transmitter models vary in their features and functionality. Most products on the market have a short range of no more than 100 feet, which is sufficient for in-car use.

 

Feature

Description

All-channels

Allows drivers to find any unused frequency

Drivers can avoid channels with interference

Auto scan

Automatically locates a free frequency

Hands-free use

Preset stations

Time-saving memory feature for drivers that travel across a range of frequencies

Cigarette lighter adapter

Combines a device charger and transmitter

Provides the ability to charge an iPod or smartphone while listening to audio

 

Some wireless FM transmitters are extremely basic and only transmit on one FM frequency, or are only compatible with iPods and no other devices. The transmitter description generally includes information regarding compatibility.

More advanced Bluetooth devices have in-line controllers and display screens that show preset stations and allow the installation of apps to improve sound quality. According to the Belkin website, it offers the only FM transmitter with scanning technology that provides recommendations from other users in the same area based on GPS coordinates.

 

Installing a Wireless FM Transmitter

Very little is required to install an in-car wireless FM transmitter. The driver simply needs a power source, such as battery or connection to a cigarette lighter. Although the car lighter provides easy access to power, it can be a source of static or ignition noise bleeding into the audio.

Transmitters that connect via the 3.5 mm audio jack should work with most audio devices. Once plugged into the earphone jack of the iPod or smartphone, drivers can place the transmitter anywhere in the vehicle; however, closer proximity to the radio reduces the likelihood of interference.

Selecting an FM Frequency

The iPod or smartphone should be playing music on a loop before the driver chooses an FM frequency on the transmitter. As it is easier to change the car's volume while driving, the audio device only needs to be set to a moderate level; this also helps to save the player's battery. Drivers should select a frequency within the range recommended by the manufacturer of the transmitter.

Listening to Music Using a Wireless FM Transmitter

After turning on the vehicle's engine and stereo, the driver can tune into the same frequency set on the wireless FM transmitter. A broadcasting FM station close to this frequency can result in a weak signal. If this is the case, the driver should transmit to another frequency, retest the connection, and repeat these steps until music plays clearly.

 

How to Buy a Wireless FM Transmitter on eBay

You can find a number of wireless FM transmitters on eBay. Use the search field that appears on any page and enter relevant keywords, such as "Belkin FM transmitter" to see the available products. Read the item description carefully to understand the features of the transmitter and whether it is compatible with your portable audio device.

Both new and used products are available, so also check the condition of the item before committing to a purchase. With a wireless FM transmitter, you can create a mini radio station in your vehicle.

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