The 9 Best FM Transmitters
Just because you don't have an auxiliary or Bluetooth connection in your car doesn't mean you should suffer top 40 radio stations. With an FM transmitter, you can enjoy music or podcasts from your smartphone or MP3 player in your vehicle or, using the most powerful options, broadcast anything you like throughout an office setting. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best fm transmitter on Amazon.
How An Fm Transmitter Works
FM transmitters are conveniently compact devices and can often fit into your pocket, and operating them is exceedingly simple.
They will let you hear all of your favorite songs and podcasts stored on your MP3 player over the bigger-sounding speakers of your car stereo, or any other FM radio you have.
With the emergence of compact digital music players, FM transmitters have become increasingly popular. FM stands for frequency modulation, and this type of transmitter allows portable devices like MP3 players to communicate with an FM radio. They will let you hear all of your favorite songs and podcasts stored on your MP3 player over the bigger-sounding speakers of your car stereo, or any other FM radio you have. Most FM transmitters plug into a headphone jack, so they can work on any device that has a 3.5mm port, though others are designed to interface with microphones and act as office-wide PA systems.
FM transmitters are conveniently compact devices and can often fit into your pocket, and operating them is exceedingly simple. All you have to do is plug them directly into your iPod or similar device, and their converter turns the audio output into an analog audio signal that your FM radio can understand. Next, you tune your radio to the frequency that corresponds to your transmitter and you’ll hear your music playing loud and clear.
In the United States, FM transmitters work within the frequency band of 87.7MHz and 107.9MHz. Certain websites help you find unused channels in your city. You may have to click through all of these channels before finding the one that’s picking up your tunes, but once you’ve found it, you can count on that as your go-to frequency. Outside of that set frequency, your music will interfere with live broadcasts, and you’ll hear a bit of your personal collection, a bit of some mystery show, and a lot of static. Even within the proper frequency, there are still other factors that can interfere with your signal.
The History Of Transmitters
The very first transmitters came out in 1887 and generated radio waves via a high voltage spark between two conductors. These original units could not transmit audio, however, and sent information through radiotelegraphy. They tended to be very noisy, and by the 1920s, vacuum tube transmitters trumped all of these more primitive technologies because they could transmit sound using amplitude modulation, and so the creation of AM radio came about. Modulation in media is the process by which a message signal, like audio, for example, is carried inside of another signal that has the ability to travel.
In 1993, a man named Edwin Armstrong created frequency modulation (FM) transmission, which had less static and less noise than AM. The very first FM radio station came on the air in 1937. This year also saw the emergence of several major radio shows because performers previously-known for their television work finally found radio a suitable medium to explore. W.C. Fields was on his first radio show the “Chase and Sanborn Hour” in 1937, and NBC put out the “Charlie McCarthy Show.”
Special Features To Look For
If you go on a lot of road trips, consider a transmitter with auto scan. As you cross state borders, the corresponding frequency will change, but auto scan will help you quickly find the locally operating one. Another handy feature is preset stations – these let you save the appropriate channel for the cities and states you commonly drive through. For especially long trips, you’ll appreciate a transmitter that has a cigarette lighter adapter with a USB port so you can charge your device on the go.
The distance between your transmitter and your car’s antenna is also important, which is why it’s best to position your unit in the front of your car.
If you want to be able to use your transmitter while moving around – like when you’re on a camping trip and want to control the music from across the site – look for transmitters with larger ranges. Most transmitters only have a 10 to 30-foot range, which is fine if you’re only listening to audio files in your car, but won’t satisfy your needs if you’re walking around your home with your device. The distance between your transmitter and your car’s antenna is also important, which is why it’s best to position your unit in the front of your car. That being said if you want to relax in the back seat while still controlling the music, purchase a model that comes with a remote control.
If you live in a highly populated area, you might struggle to find a clear station to connect to. In this case, look for a model with a wide frequency spectrum. Ideally, your unit offers the full spectrum of channels from 88.1 to 107.9 and doesn’t skip over anything. Some more advanced models have noise filters that remove any static or disruptions to your music. For ease of use, get a unit that has a Radio Data System (RDS). An RDS simply shows information about what you’re listening to – like the name of the song and artist -- on the display screen of your radio. That’s much better than waiting to get 20 seconds into a song before you know if you like it or not.
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