How Car Cd Changers Work

A guide that explains what features to look for when purchasing a CD changer, what a direct connection and an FM modulator is, and comparisons between the two.

Car CD changers are useful in a variety of ways; they give you a wide range of music to listen to, they free up the clutter inside your car, they make it easier to switch from CD to CD, and they do not require you to take your eyes off the road or your hands off the steering wheel in order to change out the music, thus enabling you to drive more safely. CD changers are versatile in that they can be set up either in the trunk of your car or beneath the front passenger seat, and then wired to the stereo in your dashboard for the volume and song controls (a method called "˜direct connection'). Radios that do not have CD changer controls will need RF modulated changers, which has a control you can mount onto the dashboard to change the songs. Depending on the price range and your personal preference, the usual CD changers can hold from four to twenty CDs. Typical prices run anywhere from $120 upwards to past $300.

There are certain features to be aware of when looking for a particular CD changer for your car. The CD changer brand must be the same as your car stereo brand, in order for them to be compatible. If you burn your own music, be sure to find out if the CD changer is able to play CD-R and CD-RW (re-writable) discs. Later versions of CD changers are more likely to have the ability to play CDs with MP3 songs burned on them. "˜Disc capacity' refers to the amount of CDs a changer is able to hold and play. The larger the disc capacity, the bigger the CD player is, and large ones are usually stored in the trunk. CD changers with smaller disc capacities can be installed underneath the seat, in the glove compartment, or within other easier reaching distances, due to their lesser overall size. Anti-skip protection helps to keep the music playing uninterrupted during bumpy car rides, either by mechanical means (of which CDs are suspended) or electronic means (where the CD changer has an internal buffer that continues to play music for 2 to 10 seconds).

In order to install a CD changer through direct connection, you will need an adaptor cable that connects the car stereo to a compatible CD changer. The cable should be of the same brand and company as the CD changer and stereo in order for it to function correctly. A direct connection will encompass an auditory frequency band of 20Hz (Hertz) to 20kHz (kilohertz), well within the audio range of the human ear.



An FM modulator is essentially a separate controller that attaches to the dashboard of your car. It allows you to directly control the CD changer. What am FM modulator does is play the music from the CD changer on your FM radio on an unused frequency, so as not to impede on your usual FM radio reception. However, the sound quality is lesser when judged against to that of a direct connection because it is passed through an FM radio frequency, and will therefore only use that certain FM band spectrum. Although the sound quality may not as good, it is considered suitable enough by those who use them, and is often compared to the quality of an uninterrupted radio station frequency. FM modulators are more commonly used for CD changers than direct connections.

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