Car stereo connection: USB or auxiliary input?
November 24, 2006
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I'm looking to purchase a new car stereo and use my MP3 player (non-iPod), and I see that some brands offer a USB connection in the front of the stereo. I was wondering whether USB has better audio quality than an auxiliary input connection or if they're the same?
Technically, USB-compatible systems will produce a better sound because there are fewer connections on the way to the speakers. Stereos with a USB connector let you plug in a USB key filled with MP3 files, and the stereo will use the key as an audio source, just like a CD. With an auxiliary input, you are playing the music on your MP3 player, then running its output into the stereo, where it gets amplified again, as opposed to the single amplification step with the USB key. In reality, you probably won't notice a difference in audio quality, because it will be minimal. You may need to crank up the volume on your MP3 player to hear it through the auxiliary jack.
has covered technology since the nascent days of the Web, and his car knowledge goes back to helping his father replace engines in the family Volkswagens.