For vehicles without built-in support for AUX input, it often gets challenging to connect to their speakers.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to connect phone to car speakers without AUX input, so you can use navigation, hands-free calling, or hear music through your car’s speakers.
Depending on the existing audio system of your car, you may choose to use an FM transmitter, a cassette tape adapter, USB input, or a sound routing app if your car already supports hands-free Bluetooth.
You could also replace your head unit with one that supports AUX. But that may get expensive, and you’ll also have to rely on a professional to get it installed.
With the help of this article, you can use your car’s speakers without an AUX input and not break the bank. Let’s get started!
How to Connect Phone to Car Speakers without AUX Input
All the methods you’ll find here are inexpensive and simple to set up. However, their audio quality and convenience of use may vary. That being said, here’s how you can connect your phone to a car’s speakers without an AUX input:
1. FM Radio Transmitter
The cheapest option on this list, an FM transmitter, is a device that connects to the car’s pre-installed stereo via radio frequencies and plays audio from a phone.
There are two types of FM transmitters; one uses a 3.5mm jack, and the other relies on a wireless Bluetooth connection.
The former is cheaper, but a lot of modern phones don’t have 3.5mm jacks – keep it in mind if you’re getting an FM transmitter.
Regardless of which type you get, they both work by converting the input signals from your phone into FM radio waves that can be picked by your car’s stereo.
Here’s how to set it up:
- Plug the FM transmitter into the car’s cigarette lighter port (also known as the auxiliary power outlet)
- Tune your car’s radio to the FM frequency displayed on the FM transmitter or to the frequency given in the instruction manual
- Connect your phone to the FM transmitter via Bluetooth/3.5mm jack
- Test the connection by playing audio on your phone
As an extra feature, some FM transmitters include charging ports, so your phone will never run out of juice!
However, one problem with FM transmitters is that they’re easily affected by interference from other electronics and even radio frequencies. But this shouldn’t be much of an issue if you aren’t living in a crowded region.
2. USB Input
Connecting to your car’s speakers via a USB connection is only possible if the stereo has a USB port.
If it does, all you’ll need is a cable to connect your phone to it. Apart from playing audio, your phone will also get charged by the USB port.
It is the most reliable way of connecting to speakers without an AUX, as there is no hassle in using it.
Besides, the audio quality via a USB connection is much better than an AUX input!
3. Sound Routing via Hands-free Bluetooth App
Some cars support hands-free Bluetooth calls, but you can’t play audio with them.
As a workaround, you can use apps on your phone that’ll trick your car’s stereo into thinking that you’re engaged in a call, whereas you’ll actually be playing some audio.
It is an ingenious way to connect your phone to the car’s speakers, as it won’t suffer from interference, and the audio quality is great too!
4. Audio Cassette Tape Adapter
Although cassette players are hard to find these days, some old cars still have them.
If your car’s stereo has a cassette player, you can get a cassette tape adapter to play audio on it from a phone!
The cassette itself may use a 3.5mm jack or Bluetooth to connect to your phone.
Needless to say, the Bluetooth variant costs more, but it is also more convenient.
How to Add AUX Input Compatibility to Your Car
There are two ways to go about this – you could do something with your existing head unit or replace it with a brand new head unit.
Use the RCA Input Ports of the Existing Radio/Head Unit
If there are RCA input ports at the back of your car’s head unit, you’ll just need a cable that goes from RCA female to 3.5mm male jack.
Use the CD Changer Ports of the Existing Radio/Head Unit
For head units that have CD changer ports, you can get aftermarket adapters. These adapters have to be plugged into the CD changer port, and audio can be played via a 3.5mm jack from your phone. However, you’ll have to be careful when choosing the adapter for your specific vehicle model.
Getting a Brand-New Head Unit
If you decide to go the other way around, i.e., upgrading your head unit, you’ll have to consider a few things.
In older cars, the head units were quite small, so installing an aftermarket head unit means that the dashboard has to be cut up to fit the set. This will also affect the resale value of your car significantly.
On the bright side, you’ll also get a plethora of features such as Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, support for Android applications, hands-free navigation, and much more!
How Can I Improve My Car’s Audio Sound Quality?
When it comes to enhancing car audio, the trick is not to invest a lot of money. Instead, you should know where to invest and which element to upgrade to get the most out of your car’s speakers.
Here are a few things you can do to improve the sound quality of your car’s speakers:
1. Replace Factory Speakers with Aftermarket Speakers
Generally, the performance and output from factory speakers aren’t as good as aftermarket speakers. In most cases, factory speakers lack sufficient bass and often produce over-saturated sounds.
With aftermarket speakers from a reputed manufacturer, you’re sure to get clearer vocals and punchier bass.
If the budget isn’t an issue and you dig bass, you can add in a subwoofer to get deeper bass!
All in all, replacing a car’s factory speakers with aftermarket units can enhance the overall audio quality by a great deal.
2. Installing Signal Processors, Band Equalizers, and Amplifiers
Although the factory audio system of a car can get the job done in most scenarios, it’ll never please an audiophile’s ears. If you’re one of them, you’ll need to add a few components to your car’s audio system.
Considering that you have great speakers and a head unit with additional preamp outputs, you could add signal processors, band equalizers, and amplifiers.
Although the process may get expensive, these components can easily transform your car’s average-sounding audio into incredible!
3. Sound-proofing the Interior of the Car
The most effective way to enhance audio quality inside your car is by dampening the noise from the outside environment.
In order to soundproof your car’s cabin, you’ll have to install dampening materials inside the door panels, beneath the floor, and in any place from where external sounds can get in.
It is also a good idea to add some dampening materials around the speakers to prevent undue vibrations.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can you use a cigarette lighter as an AUX?
No, it is not possible to use the cigarette lighter socket (also known as an auxiliary power outlet) as an AUX directly. But you can plug an FM transmitter into the socket and play audio from other devices via a 3.5mm jack or Bluetooth.
2. Can you put Bluetooth into a car that doesn’t have it?
Yes, you can add Bluetooth support to a car with aftermarket Bluetooth kits. The most cost-effective way is to use a Bluetooth-powered FM transmitter that has to be plugged into the auxiliary power outlet (cigarette lighter socket).
3. Is Bluetooth or USB better for car audio?
Although using Bluetooth to play audio in a car is more convenient, the sound quality is not as good as using a USB connection. This is because USB supports higher-resolution audio than Bluetooth connections.
4. Can I use HDMI for audio input?
Yes, HDMI carries audio and video signals, so it can be used for audio input. In comparison to Bluetooth connections, HDMI offers significantly better audio quality.
5. Is AUX better than USB in a car?
In general, a USB connection is more convenient, and it also delivers better sound quality than an AUX connection, but they are only available on digital head units. On the other hand, AUX connections can be handy when there’s no USB port or a digital interface in the car’s head unit.
6. What year do cars have AUX input?
Most vehicles manufactured after 2004 come with AUX input. Although later models switched to Bluetooth input, auxiliary inputs can still be found in many of them.
With all of that being said, you should now know several ways how to connect phone to car speakers without AUX input.
If sound quality is important to you, check whether your car’s stereo supports USB or HDMI connections. But if you just need something to get the job done, an FM transmitter should serve you well.