It is with great joy that I am now the owner of the Griffin iTrip Auto FM Transmitter and Auto Charger for iPod, and I humbly bring you this review so that you too can make the choice to buy or not to buy. FM transmitters for iPods have been available for several years, almost since the inception of the iPod itself. But all, including the Griffin FM transmitters, have received largely mixed reviews. I had always avoided temptation to purchase one because of these reviews, and also because I live in New York, where the availability of free radio stations from which to broadcast my music was rather sparse.
I instead relied upon a standard cassette adapter in my car, which worked fine for many years without incident. Unfortunately, my new car did not have a cassette player, so my iPod was relegated to being played at work and home, and CDs became the norm whilst I was traveling. But finally, I relented and decided to try the Griffin iTrip Auto FM Transmitter, and I have to say that I am quite pleased.
Firstly, I will say that if you insist upon superior sound and claim any sort of audiophile status whatsoever, than an FM transmitter is not a product for you. But if you simply desire a way to be able to hear your beloved iPod in the car, and you don’t mind radio quality sound, then by all means, purchase the Griffin iTrip right away. You will probably not be disappointed.
Griffin has been a pioneer in the iPod accessory market, and the new iTrip FM transmitter is designed to be universally compatible with nearly every iPod available today, as well as other portable audio players, (basically any portable audio device with a standard headphone jack).
This universal iTrip consists of a plug which connects to the audio out connection of your iPod or iPod dockstation, attached by wire to the FM transmitter, which in turn connects to your car via a plug that is inserted into your car’s 12V cigarette lighter. This in turn helps to charge the iPod as it is playing, as well as powers the transmitter itself.
The transmitter is small and compact, similar in size and style to the iPod shuffle. It bears an LCD screen which displays the current FM station reading, and the plus and minus button located tot he right of the screen can change the frequency. The iTrip works by adjusting the radio tuner in your car to the same frequency, and the transmitter then broadcasts your iPod music through that FM station and out your car’s speakers.
The trick is finding a station that plays nothing, so that your iPod music can be heard as clearly as possible. In cities with a lot of radio stations dominating the dial, like New York, this could be difficult. However, when I first plugged in my Griffin iTrip, it powered instantly and was already on a selected preset at the beginning of the radio dial, where stations seldom tend to be. I adjusted my car’s tuner to the same frequency, and heard my iPod instantly. I was overjoyed at last to finally be able to play my iPod in the car again, and I left the parking lot with a large grin on my face. I love my music!
As I drove around my neighborhood, I did notice a few things that might concern others who are not so easily pleased as myself. For starters, the broadcast tends to be at a fairly low volume. You will need to turn your car stereo volume significantly higher. Also, at times in between songs, you will likely hear a definite radio hiss, and sometimes I heard sounds that may have been akin to something SETI listens to on a daily basis.
The following day, I attempted to try the Griffin iTrip Auto FM Transmitter with another frequency setting, and I noticed that the hiss was almost absent this time. Still, the sound quality is somewhat muffled, and if you are used to CD quality sound and can’t bear to put up with anything less, then you will be disappointed. I, however, did not mind the slight muffle, as I was tired of dealing with skipping CDs and weeding though all the crap on the radio. To have my iPod full of tunes at my disposal while driving was worth a little muffle. The combination of being able to charge your iPod at the same time is an extra bonus.
The universal Griffin iTrip also has an automatic shutoff, allowing for nearly a minute of silence before doing so. It also has the ability to transmit either in stereo or mono, though during my use, I saw no feasible difference.
Small, compact, easy-to-use, and worth the inexpensive price when compared to other FM transmitters that have also received mixed reviews, I found the Griffin iTrip Auto FM Transmitter and Auto Charger to be great accessory with good transmission capabilities.