Sunday, March 23, 2014

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How to add MP3 support to your Mazda MX5

It's quite strange how Mazda finds it appropriate to equip it's MX5 models with 7-speaker sound systems that can only play the radio. My unit's fascia features the MP3 logo but to my disappointment I found out that the logo is present on all models even though the unit doesn't support MP3 - it's put there just to save you the trouble of buying a new fascia in case you would upgrade the unit and wanted to reflect the change.

MP3 logo but no MP3 support
As I mentioned, there are OEM head units that you can buy to handle MP3 discs and also there is the option for the CD changer you can put in the trunk - if this were 2004 then all these would have been viable options. Fast forward 10 years and you would want to connect your iPod or USB drive to your sound system. For this, I found a pretty nice device that connects to your CD-changer interface connector and acts as one but instead of playing from the CDs, it plays from you iPod or USB drive. The device I am talking about is the Audio-Link for iPod and if you don't have an iDevice then you can buy the Audio-Link with USB and Line-in

The installation of this device is a little complicated as you need to reach the back of the head unit to plug the device into the CD-changer connector. There are two ways to do that. I, for instance, managed to cram myself with my head on the pedals and squeezed my hand through the spider net of cables behind the dashboard and reached that connector - it was painful but it's doable. If you can't do that, then you will need to remove the head unit and the plastics around it. The process is explained in detail here.

I placed my device in the glove box because I sometimes have to pull the USB drive out to update my tunes, but if you use the iPod version, then you can hide the device somewhere under the dash and let only the iPod wire out. Mine looks like this:


The best part of having such a device is that you can control it from the steering wheel controls as it acts exactly like the CD-changer so it feels integrated with the car. Needless to say, the quality of the audio is crystal clear.





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