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How best to listen to smartphone audio files while driving
Old 10-23-2017, 09:49 PM   #1
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How best to listen to smartphone audio files while driving

I'm preparing for my 19-hour "cannonball run" from MI to FL in a few weeks. I downloaded some audio-books and music onto my Android Samsung S8 smartphone via Hoopla (a free app which works with the local public library). I am wondering how best to listen to these on the road? In an ideal world, I'd be able to somehow connect to the existing sound system in the vehicle -- thus listening to the nice built-in JBL speakers.

My car is 12 years old (2006 Toyota Highlander), so it doesn't have any nifty plug-in connections nor bluetooth.

I do have a Garmin nuvi 2589 (I think that's the model #) that has bluetooth connectivity to the phone (for hands-free calling), but I don't think it allows for playing audio files from the phone.

I'm concerned that the smartphone's volume might not be loud enough to hear easily/comfortably for hours on the road.

Somewhere around here I do have a cheap set of $10 speakers I bought 6-7 years to connect to an iPod. Maybe that would be the best and cheapest quick solution?

Or is there something else I could try? Suggestions?

I usually just listen to the radio or CDs as I'm tooling around town or on shorter 2-3 hour drives, so this set-up might only get used on my north-south migrations.

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Old 10-23-2017, 10:17 PM   #2
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Buy a Bluetooth speaker and put it on the dash. Make sure you have a 12V car charger for both the phone and speaker.

You my be able to use a FM transmitter to use your existing speakers. Connect the phone via Bluetooth to the FM transmitter, then dial the transmitter to an unused channel. And tune your radio to that channel. That works OK, but you will need to adjust the channel as you drive as different frequencies get used.
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Old 10-23-2017, 10:27 PM   #3
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Trade in the Highlander for a 2018 Lexus RX ...
Probably not legal, but I used ear buds last trip when the CD player crapped out.
Senators FM transmitter suggestion used to work for me. It plugged right into the audio out of the iPod a hundred years ago.
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Old 10-23-2017, 10:28 PM   #4
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If your car stereo has a CD changer input on the back of the radio, then you can get a single cable which plugs into backside and 3.5mm aux male plug ready to plug into smartphone. This is high quality digit sound quality.

Does take extra effort to install yourself. Maybe consider visiting a car audio installation shop. They may have an affordable solution and install it for ya.
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Old 10-23-2017, 10:41 PM   #5
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Is your car old enough to still have a cassette player? If so, get a cassette to aux adaptor like this:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00CR...+adapter&psc=1
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Old 10-23-2017, 11:06 PM   #6
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Buy a Bluetooth speaker and put it on the dash. Make sure you have a 12V car charger for both the phone and speaker.

You my be able to use a FM transmitter to use your existing speakers. Connect the phone via Bluetooth to the FM transmitter, then dial the transmitter to an unused channel. And tune your radio to that channel. That works OK, but you will need to adjust the channel as you drive as different frequencies get used.
Thanks, Senator.

I just found this #1 bestseller on Amazon (rated 4.5 stars with 22,179 reviews). https://www.amazon.com/dp/B010OYASRG..._t2_B073BVWRSP

Sounds like it might fit the bill. When not in the vehicle (where I can even stick it in the cupholder), it can be used at home paired with the echo Dot, or I can take it poolside or beachside for tunes/podcasts/audiobooks. (It's sort of funny -- one of the very positive reviews was by a UPS driver. This unit has a 'big brother' for a few bucks more that got a very favorable review from a USPS driver.)

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Old 10-23-2017, 11:09 PM   #7
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Senators FM transmitter suggestion used to work for me. It plugged right into the audio out of the iPod a hundred years ago.
Now they have bluetooth to connect the phone. Probably not as reliable, but I used one for a few trips this year.

The OP may just want to install a bluetooth stereo system for $200... You can put a 2017 radio in a 2006 car, no problem.

That is what I eventually did. The new radio can do Android Auto and Google Maps too.
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Old 10-23-2017, 11:10 PM   #8
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Is your car old enough to still have a cassette player? If so, get a cassette to aux adaptor like this:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00CR...+adapter&psc=1
We used that to listen to a CD Walkman back when our car had only a tape player. We also used the cable Turboslacker mentioned above on another car. Both worked well.
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Old 10-24-2017, 05:03 AM   #9
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There is an audio in jack. Look for a two-ended RCA mini jack stereo, and hook between your smartphone and the jack.

Jack is just above the snow rocker switch. Should also see USB at same location.
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Old 10-24-2017, 06:20 AM   #10
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The OP may just want to install a bluetooth stereo system for $200... You can put a 2017 radio in a 2006 car, no problem.

That is what I eventually did. The new radio can do Android Auto and Google Maps too.
That's the way to go. Look at crutchfield dot com. You put in your vehicle make, model and year and they'll even sell you a face plate that snaps in the odd-shaped radio hole in most dashboards for a custom install. I was so happy with the one I installed in my truck I bought the same one for my wife's car (different face plate).
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Old 10-24-2017, 06:52 AM   #11
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You can get a bluetooth receiver for your audio jack and connect it to the phone, then it plays through the car speakers. After my SO tried to convince me it was worth getting a $200+ display, I convinced her to try this $15 thing instead. So far, it's worked great, and will hold a charge for a long, long time.

It's also worth getting a USB charging port for the cigarette lighter. It makes charging the phone and receiver so much nicer on a long trip.
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Old 10-24-2017, 08:36 AM   #12
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There is an audio in jack. Look for a two-ended RCA mini jack stereo, and hook between your smartphone and the jack.

Jack is just above the snow rocker switch. Should also see USB at same location.
Are you saying that this is the case for her particular car/radio (2006 Toyota Highlander)?

If so, that is the best way to go. Straight audio wired connection. Done.

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Old 10-24-2017, 08:47 AM   #13
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There is an audio in jack. Look for a two-ended RCA mini jack stereo, and hook between your smartphone and the jack.

Jack is just above the snow rocker switch. Should also see USB at same location.
I don't think so. A 2006 with a USB connection? I've got a 2004 Highlander, and I can guarantee there's no audio jack in mine. I still have to do the old cassette tape adapter trick, which doesn't really work all that well. Of course my radio is crap anyway. I turn the volume knob and sometimes it goes up, and sometimes it goes down. Usually in the opposite direction that I want it to.
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Old 10-24-2017, 08:49 AM   #14
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In my 2003 Camry I used a small speaker set to listen to audio files -
AT-SP21 BK Compact FashionFidelity™ Speakers || Audio-Technica US

This worked fine driving around town but on the highway they were not loud enough.

That car had a cassette player so for road trips we used a cassette adapter which worked very well and was cheap.

Many years ago (in a previous car) we drove cross country using one of the units that plays through an unused FM radio station. It was a big pain to use because when you are traveling you have to keep finding a blank station. The cassette adapter worked much better.

A few months ago I passed the 2003 Camry on to DH and my new 2014 Corolla has Bluetooth. What a wonderful improvement! I have the controls on the steering wheel which is just too much fun! This car also has the AUX input and USB.

My son's 2007 Toyota has a AUX input. What year did that become standard?
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Old 10-24-2017, 09:22 AM   #15
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Bought my "Stickup" bluetooth speaker from Menards for $3.00 and thought I got a good deal... Now, checking it out, found almost the same speaker on EBay.. new, for $2.02.
I like it a lot, especially the simple bluetooth automatic connect. Volume and sound quality is (IMHO) great for a speaker this size. Suction cup, waterproof, fits anywhere. smaller than a tennis ball. Haven't tested the running time, but has worked perfectly for me for more than a year.

https://www.ebay.com/i/322103592626?chn=ps&dispItem=1
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Old 10-24-2017, 09:38 AM   #16
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Bought my "Stickup" bluetooth speaker from Menards for $3.00 and thought I got a good deal... Now, checking it out, found almost the same speaker on EBay.. new, for $2.02.
I like it a lot, especially the simple bluetooth automatic connect. Volume and sound quality is (IMHO) great for a speaker this size. Suction cup, waterproof, fits anywhere. smaller than a tennis ball. Haven't tested the running time, but has worked perfectly for me for more than a year.

https://www.ebay.com/i/322103592626?chn=ps&dispItem=1
That's amazing for $2-$3, I may get one just for the heck of it.

But I can't recommend something like that for listening to music in the car for hours. Might be good enough to make something "louder", but a $2 speaker/receiver/battery just isn't going to produce music quality sound above the noise of the car.

-ERD50
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Old 10-24-2017, 09:57 AM   #17
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That's amazing for $2-$3, I may get one just for the heck of it.

But I can't recommend something like that for listening to music in the car for hours. Might be good enough to make something "louder", but a $2 speaker/receiver/battery just isn't going to produce music quality sound above the noise of the car.

-ERD50

Remember to come back with your review.
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Old 10-24-2017, 10:01 AM   #18
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Is your car old enough to still have a cassette player? If so, get a cassette to aux adaptor like this:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00CR...+adapter&psc=1

OMG -- I think I just ran across an old one of these when I cleaned out my glove box a few weeks ago. Luckily, it's probably still in the garage in a ziplock baggie with other 'car tech type stuff'. Will have to check.

UPDATE: Yep, I still have it. Will do a trial run this afternoon as I have about an hour's drive to/from an appointment.

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Old 10-24-2017, 10:08 AM   #19
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There is an audio in jack. Look for a two-ended RCA mini jack stereo, and hook between your smartphone and the jack.

Jack is just above the snow rocker switch. Should also see USB at same location.

My car is a 2006 model. I just checked, there's nothing above the "ECT Snow" switch. There are lovely steering wheel controls (volume, station, etc.) but no aux. jacks anywhere. Sounds like perhaps the 2007 Toyota models were the first ones with that feature?

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Old 10-24-2017, 10:21 AM   #20
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I had a similar problem in my 2007 Escape. A stand alone bluetooth speaker worked but was inconvenient. I ended up replacing the head unit for about $150. The new head unit also had a display screen which let me add a rear camera. I tried a FM transmitter, but in urban areas there was too much interference.
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