Whether you are a sophisticated musical aficionado or a novice, you have some significant audio power in your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. Of course, I'm not talking about the ghastly built-in speakers or earphones that come with the iPhone and iPod, though that might suffice for some uses. You'll have to buy a pair of earphones for the iPad anyway (buying better ones for the iPhone/iPod is also recommended). However, in addition to good headphones, there are several ways you can liberate music from your device and improve your listening experience.
Play music through a stereo dock
This is a relatively simple solution that I often use. You will have to purchase the dock, of course.
- Select the music you want to listen to and download it to your iOS device. Alternately, you can use Pandora Radio (free, app2.me/2410), Pocket Tunes Radio ($6.99, app2.me/2999), or another app to stream music to your iOS device (also see the section on using Line-in later in).
- Dock your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad to the stereo dock of your choice.
- Start the music and adjust volume level to your comfort.
The majority of iOS device stereo docs are designed for the iPhone or iPod touch. There is one from iLuv that will accommodate all three iOS devices (iMM747: $149.99, iluv.com). In addition, many stereo docks have audio jacks that allow you to connect the iPad to the dock via a cable.
When your iOS device is docked, the dock's volume control manages your device volume. To avoid having to get up all the time to adjust volume and advance songs, get a stereo dock with a remote control. Some of the docks from iHome, Speakal, and iLuv are equipped with remotes. For more, search on "dock" at iphonelife.com/blog. Several docks from iLuv and iHome offer an integrated app that enhances dock use (i.e. alarm clock functions, etc.).
Some docks won't accommodate an iPhone or iPod touch when it's inside a protective case. You'll need to remove the case to dock the device. Alternately, you can use a ProCable Shortz Extender ($19.95, radtech.us/Products/iPhone) to extend the sync port on the bottom of the iOS device.
Use a Wi-Fi connected wireless speaker system
I use the wireless Sonos S5 audio speaker, which can be moved to any room or paired up with other similar devices. The S5 allows me to stream music wirelessly from my iTunes collection on my PC as well as my iPod touch using the Sonos Controller app (free, iPhone/iPod touch version: app2.me/3054; iPad version: app2.me/3680). iHome will be introducing a similar Wi-Fi-based speaker called the iW1 sometime this year. (For more on the iW1, go to my iPhone Life blog (iphonelife.com/nate.adcock) and search on "iHome CES.") Here's how to connect to the S5 (or a similar wireless speaker system):
- Set up your wireless speaker.
- Dock your iPod touch or iPhone on the supported dock (if available).
- Select the device in the library list of the speaker's player app. (On the Sonos Controller app, the device will show up as another source.)
- Select and start playing your music.
You can learn all about setting up the Sonos dock/S5 on my iPhone Life blog (iphonelife.com/nate.adcock). Search on "Sonos dock review."
Use Bluetooth speakers, headsets, etc.
All iOS devices have Bluetooth wireless connectivity built into them, and Bluetooth is ideal for connecting to speakers and headsets when you're on the go. With the right accessory, you can play music through your car stereo system, a headset while hiking, or a helmet when you're cycling.
First, get a Bluetooth-enabled speaker system, car kit, helmet speakers, etc. Go to our website (iphonelife.com) and search on "Bluetooth accessories." For more on helmet speakers, search for my "TuneBug" review on our blogs (iphonelife.com/blog). Once you have the Bluetooth accessory, follow these steps:
- Make sure Bluetooth is turned on for both your iOS device and the accessory.
- Pair your iOS device with the accessory. This should happen automatically. If it doesn't, check the manual that came with the accessory. (For more on Bluetooth pairing, check out the how-to on page 22.)
- Start playing music on your iOS device; you should hear it through the Bluetooth speaker.
Play through your existing stereo system using Line-In
You may be able to play music using the line-in jack on your existing stereo system (check the back). You can connect your iOS device to this jack using an audio cable and use the system's controls to adjust volume, balance, etc. Radio Shack and other electronics stores have the necessary cables and adapters. Tell the sales person what you want to do and they'll help you find what you need. (If you have an iPhone/iPod touch 4G, you can take a photo of the port on the back of your stereo system and show it to the sales person.)
Looking for a simple way to enjoy live audio content (from a Mac or PC) through your stereo or audio dock (requires a Wi-Fi network)? Check out WiFi2HiFi (wifi2hifi.com), which uses Wi-Fi streaming to play audio from your PC/Mac to iPhone/iPod/iPad (and to your stereo using line-in).
Use an FM transmitter to play music through your stereo radio
This accessory connects to your iOS device audio jack and transmits the output over an unused FM channel. You can tune your radio to that FM channel and listen to music from your iOS device. A variety of these are available from a number of vendors. A Web search on "FM transmitter for iPhone" will help you find them.
Use a case with a built-in speaker
A vendor has come up with this interesting case with built-in stereo speakers. The iMainGoX (around $69.99, www.imaingo.com) is a zippered case with built-in stereo speakers and a rechargeable battery. It works with the iPhone, iPod touch, and other MP3 players. It also provides 2 audio jacks for headphones and can function as a portable speaker/guitar amp. Check out our blog reviews by searching for iMainGoX at iphonelife.com.