Top critical review
187 people found this helpful
Works Mostly as Advertised
on February 24, 2010
Works pretty much as advertised: far better than wireless FM, not as good as an auxiliary port.
Basically, if your car's head unit (radio/CD player) doesn't come with a built-in external auxiliary port, you have four options to connect your MP3 player: (1) FM wireless, (2) FM wired, (3) aux port (if available), or, (4) a new radio.
Option (1) is useless; as to option (2), the Scosche FM modulator is probably the cheapest one you can find. There are some better FM modulators (eg, with 8 programmable freqs), but they are quite a bit more expensive. Options (3) or (4), which are also more expensive, offer much better quality. If sound quality is important to you and you're willing to spend the extra cash, look into hooking up through the aux port (if your car has it) or replacing the HU (these days, fairly decent radio/CD/MP3 players are not very expensive).
If you go for this FM modulator, there are a few things you should be aware of.
First, the device consists of the modulator itself and a (very) cheap plastic switch housing, containing the switch which turns the device on and a 3.5 mm female jack for audio input. The housing connects to the modulator via a Molex connector (for the switch) and two RCA jacks (for the audio input). The wires connecting the switch housing to the modulator are insulated, but unsightly and you definitely do not want them exposed. (You connect the MP3 player via the provided 3.5 mm male-to-male cable.) If you listen to the radio, you will likely need access to the switch, because reception of AM and some FM stations can be severely degraded with the modulator on.
Second, mine came with absolutely no instructions or diagrams, and Scosche provides no support on their web site. If you want to do the installation yourself, you're on your own. It's not too difficult -- if you know what you're doing. Basically, you take out the head unit, splice the red wire into an available +12V line (eg, cig lighter), and the black wire into a good ground. Connect the modulator's antenna jacks in-between the antenna and the car radio (here, depending on your car, you might require an antenna jack adaptor). Find a good location for the switch housing, attach the modulator securely, connect the switch and the RCA jacks, choose one of the two FM freqs available, put everything back, and you're good to go.
Third, the switch housing is poorly designed and made out of very cheap plastic. Its back is open (picture it as a cube with one side missing), and the housing itself is too short relative to the depth of the switch and connectors. That severely limits the choice of location for mounting the switch housing, if you don't want to have exposed cables. The housing is mounted by means of a piece of double-sided adhesive tape (provided).
Overall, installation is not too difficult, and, if you can do it yourself, it's worth it. If you have to pay for the installation, consider first an aux port or a new radio/CD player, which provide better sound quality.
Some reviewers complain of humming and/or background noise. I'd be inclined to blame that on a bad installation -- if installed with a good solid ground, this shouldn't be a problem.
Another complaint is that sound volume is too low. In a sense, that's not really the modulator's fault -- it's a basic mismatch between the electrical characteristics of the modulator's audio input and an MP3 player's output; and that's because the latter is designed to drive headphones, not to provide a line-level audio signal, while the former expects a line-level signal. (Test the modulator with any device, such as CD or DVD player, which provides line-level output, and you'll find that the volume level is within normal limits.) You'll have the same problem (volume too low) with any device not designed specifically to handle a headphone signal as audio input.