One of the improvements that the iPod has brought to my life is listening to my music and interesting audio books while commuting to work and appointments. My 1999 Saturn SL2 has a modest stereo system with a cassette deck and four-speaker sound. I’ve been using a Radio Shack cassette adapter to connect the iPod into the system, but became curious about the Griffin iTrip for wireless connectivity as an alternative. I’ve been testing it for a few days, and I thought you might be interested to read how it’s performing.
The iTrip broadcasts on the FM band, and you have nearly every channel on your radio available to receive the iTrip’s signal. I really like this feature — you’re not limited to one or two preset stations for connectivity. Plus, you can change them on the fly so if you lose your “open” station, you can find another.
I mention this because sound quality depends heavily on finding a channel setting with no interference. The cleaner the setting, the better the sound from your iPod. Once I found a clean channel, I added it to my preset stations so I can switch to iPod streaming with just the push of a button.
On the whole, I found the iTrip sound quality to be equal to average FM stations, but not as good as the hard-wire cassette adapter. I tested this by going back and forth between the two connections in the car with the engine turned off.
In actual use, the sound is good enough for rocking down the highway as long as you can find a channel with no interference. The key to success in my Saturn is to have the iPod volume at about 40 percent, and turn up the volume on the car stereo to about 60 percent. I endure the least amount of distortion that way.
The first thing I did was take a hack saw to the iTrip to cut off that annoying prong that inserts itself into my FireWire port on the 10GB (previous model) iPod. The prong forced my to pull the FireWire port cover all the way back stressing the hinge and ruining the iTrip/iPod’s otherwise good looks. Plus, I couldn’t access the “hold” switch with the iTrip “locked” in place, which is an important control for me. So I simply hacked it off, and now the iTrip can swing freely.
Wonder what Griffin will think when I return the test unit? (Just kidding. My iTrip was a gift!)
I really like having iPod music as just another channel preset on the car radio. I can switch between stations without fooling with the cassette adapter, and I no longer have an ugly wire hanging from my radio.
The iTrip is very easy to use. You do have to load the channel presets that are included on a CD that comes with the unit, but that’s a one shot deal, then you’re set. I like the cool blue LED that stays on during play. And I haven’t notice any substantial battery drain while transmitting music, although I’m sure there’s some impact. You don’t get something for nothing in physics. But the iTrip does stop transmitting within 60 seconds of idle time on the iPod.
Overall, it’s fine. I’m hanging on the the hard-wire cassette adapter for the times I want the best sound quality possible. But for the most part, I can leave the iTrip seated in the iPod for convenient music playback while on the go… as long as I’m not too picky about the fidelity.
BTW: My two favorite songs this morning were Two Lane Highway and Amie by Pure Prairie League.