Learn How To Listen To Your Entire Music Collection In Your Car!

Did you read the title of this blog post and assumed you’d have to drag your entire vinyl, tape and CD collections around in the car with you? Well, you could do that but it wouldn't be a good idea!

Instead, what you need to do is keep reading! You can then learn about the different options open to you for digitizing your music collection. Yes, I know - I mentioned the “D” word: digital! All you hardcore vinyl fans are doubtless feeling a little upset about moving your music into the 21st century.

The good news is you don’t have to get rid of your collection of cassettes, vinyl records and whatever other media you have. All you are doing is just moving them over into another usable format.

There, that doesn't sound so bad, does it? The following are examples of how you can listen to your music collection in your car. Trust me; once you have moved over to a new digital format for your car, you will wonder why you haven’t done so ages ago!

car music

Get a DVD head unit installed in your car

Car stereos are also called “head units” in the motor industry. These devices power your car’s audio system. Most aftermarket models have built-in CD players as standard. The only trouble with CD head units is that they can only play CDs.

If you fit a DVD head unit to your car, you can play both CDs and DVDs. But why a DVD head unit, you may ask? After all, you can’t exactly watch your favorite films whilst you’re driving, right?

The answer is to do with capacity. CDs can only store around 650 Mb of data or 74 minutes of music. In comparison, a DVD can store 4.7 Gb or more of data. The only caveat is that you cannot make audio DVDs in the same way you can make audio CDs. Instead, you have to burn audio files like MP3s to DVD discs.

When you go shopping for a DVD head unit, make sure that it offers features like 3.5 mm auxiliary inputs and USB ports.

Convert analog music to digital formats
Analog music comprises of music stored on vinyl records, cassettes and so forth. I’m afraid the process of converting analog music to digital is rather long. That’s because you have to supervise the process from start to finish.

Vinyl records can't stop playing and turn over to the other side of the record. Whereas auto-reverse cassette players can. You might also need to edit the converted tracks to remove any silence before or after each track.

To help with the process, some people use USB turntables connected to their computers. But, if you’d rather not spend the money, you can just run a standard audio cable from your hi-fi to your computer.

I recommend saving your converted music as high-quality MP3 files. That’s because most aftermarket head units can read these files without issue. Whereas if you used some obscure format, it’s likely you will run into problems.

Now that you have converted your analog tunes into a digital format, it’s time to think about what formats you want to use. As you’ve got a DVD head unit for your car, there are plenty of options open to you. They are as follows:

Vinyl Records

Option 1: CD

CDs are a well-known digital audio format. As I mentioned earlier, you can have up to 74 minutes of audio that you can listen to from any audio CD player. If you want to cram some more tunes onto it, you’ll have to burn MP3 files instead of raw audio.

To do this, you will need to use some decent burning software. Check out some examples at burnworld.com, which may fit the bill. Blank CDs are cheap to buy. For the ultimate in cost savings, I recommend buying a load of blank CDs on a spindle.

Of course, you can buy blank CDs that come with jewel cases but they will cost you more money. I prefer the spindle approach and just keeping my audio CDs in a “wallet.”

Option 2: DVD

Blank DVD discs cost more money to purchase. But they aren’t silly money! You can fit a lot more data onto DVD than with CDs. As you’ve got a DVD head unit, it makes sense to stick with DVDs.

As you will know from earlier, you can’t make native audio DVDs like you can CDs. You also can’t play DVDs in CD players - although the opposite is possible. Given that you are only using DVDs for your car, the downsides don’t matter too much in this case.

Option 3: Blu-ray disc

Blu-ray is like a DVD on steroids! You can put so much more data onto Blu-ray discs than you can with the other two formats. The only downside is you can’t play Blu-ray discs on CD or DVD players!

It’s an expensive format, and one I wouldn’t recommend for most people given the cost. If this is something you want to go ahead with, you’ll have to rip out that shiny new DVD head unit you bought and fit a Blu-ray head unit instead.

Option 4: USB drive

It’s no secret that USB flash drives are smaller and more compact to carry around than discs. If space is at a premium in your car, you might want to consider saving your MP3s on a USB flash drive.

Your new head unit will support USB devices so it’s just a case of plug and play! It’s possible to buy USB flash drives with a capacity up to 128 GB. For more space, consider a 2.5-inch external hard drive instead.

Do you own a smartphone? If so, you could always save your music onto it and plug it into your head unit’s USB port! The added benefit of this approach is you can listen to tunes on your mobile. Regardless of whether you’re in the car or not!

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