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Getting most of your stereo system with non-destructive additions.

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XJ XJ8 / XJR ( X308 ) 1997 - 2003

Getting most of your stereo system with non-destructive additions.

 
  #1  
Old 05-08-2015, 08:34 AM
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Default Getting the most out of your stereo system with non-destructive additions.

Hi All,

I have recently tried some solutions to enhance the audio experience and get some more modern functions to the aging stereo system in my Jaguar XJ8 with Premium Sound system. I have choosen to evaluate products without any need for "hacking" or modifications to amplifier, soldering, cabling etc...Because of the pure look of the sound system in the console, I would not dream of replacing it with a modern aftermarket stereo. No way! In addition I also tried to find a solution that requires as few cables as possible in the car.

Jaguar sound systems from this period can hardly be described as "high end" by todays standards, so everything must be judged relatively to that. In these short reviews I rate the CD player output as highest sound quality reference.

Read on, you may get a surprise or at least save a few bucks on bad products I already tested for you.



The first unit out is the Ion audio bluetooth cassette adapter.This unit can be bought on ebay for $25-35, + postage to wherever you are. At first sight this looks very nice, and there is only a on/off button and a micro usb socket for charging internal battery. Battery life is is stated to 4 hrs playtime before charge is needed.There is a small compartment in the unit with a microphone for bluetooth calls.This will go out of the cassette lid when in use. The unit also supports audio over bluetooth. By inserting unit in cassette player it automatically works. Paired without any problems with my Samsung S5. Tried a call from phone and had no problem hearing caller, I was also clear in the receiving end of the call. A bit "thin" sound from the speakers, but OK. Then I fired up the audio player on the phone. The sound was thin, and signal was low. If I turned volume on phone over ~ 75%, there was a horrible distortion, and lowering volume gives a very low signal out. Quite a disappointment. If you accept sound quality far worse than CD and FM radio, I guess the sheer easy operation and setup can appeal. Charging the unit may also be an issue in long term use. The space needed by micro usb power cable makes the adapter unable to be used when charging. A bit pricey for the results, if you ask me.


Next out is the Monster audio cassette adapter. This is a pure audio interface with a min-jack cable connection to your phone, iPod or audio player, but no phone functionality. Reviews on the internet states several places that this is the best cassette adapter. It charges trough a micro usb socket, charging cable is included. Adapter goes right in the cassette player and audio cable to your audio player. The output level is far better than the Ion, and the sound quality is quite good. A little low onsignal out, but good dynamic range. Connecting my Apple iPod Classic 7th gen. also works well. If audio playback is your thing and no phone function is no issue, this is a good sounding, simple and easy product to use.



The BelkinTunecast II is a FM transmitter you pair with your radios frequency andconnects to phone, iPod or audio player with a short cable with mini-jack. For those of you who are not familiar with the concept, you simply tune your radio to one of four preset frequencies on the Belkin. Just like you would tune in a radio station. It is important to find a frequency that is not occupied by a regular radio station to avoid noise. Once you have tuned your radio, just plug your audio device and hit play. Sound quality is actually surprisingly good, well above my expectations. It is very similar to a radio station with good reception, but there are ever so slightly some background noise, more noticeable the higher volume you play. In use with myiPod I hoped to be able to put away the ipod to a suitable place, such as underthe armrest, but this had a bad impact on reception and a lot of hiss and noise presented itself. It only works acceptable placed by the gear shift lever or close to center console. Also no phone functionality.



The next unit I bought for test is an unbranded FM bluetooth transmitter from ebay. I payed $ 10-12 for it, and to be quite frank, I had no high hopes for any quality results for this price. Oh boy, was I in for a surprise. This unit is plugged into the cars lighter socket, where it obviously gets power. Since this is an FM transmitter you connect as you would with the Belkin Truecast II. Instead of having presets to choose from, you can dial the exact frequency you want. I connected to the same station as I did with the Belkin, and low and behold, a gentle female voice told me the unit was ready to pair with bluetooth device. Searched for device on my phone and the very same woman told me that connection was a success - quite nifty, like it already. The true surprise came when I played the audio files from my phone. The sound quality was rich and clear with very good dynamics and stereo spread. There are no distortion, feedback, noise or radio hiss what so ever. I tried to stop playback and turn volume on radio up as high as I could, no other noise than the system itself is heard. Amazing! When you add line input, SD/TF card support, two USB ports, one supporting USB audio through memorystick, and one high output for charging i.e. tablets, this is almost to good to be true. The sound quality is very darn close to CD, actually better than radio stations due to constant stable high output FM signal. If this is not enough, there is also an EQ in the unit, with a few presets. Personally, I liked the EQ off, but with a little experimentation the EQ is great when playing acoustic and classical tracks at low volumes, but I guess this is left to personal preferences. The phone functions are very good as well, but since there are few controls on unit you will have to make calls from phone, so no phonebook e.a. on unit. Receiving calls and hang-up are controlled from unit. The unit supports two bluetooth connections at the same time, so both you and the Missus are taken care of. I bought a 16 Gb Sandisk Cruizer USB stick i filled with mp3s for direct playback. This works very well, but controls are limited to"next" and "previous" on the unit, so it comes with a remote control which also have buttons for folder +/-, so if you have a lot of files/folders on your USB stick, than this can be a bit tedious. I have noticed that it is a bit indecisive about which track to play, and skips tracks in folder.



But the unbelievably functionality for me is the ability to add a Sandisk Cruzer USB stick with a lot of audio files, connect my phone via bluetooth and also connect my iPod Classic with a Kokkia i10s bluetooth adapter (see pictures above) all at the same time, with auto-dim audio signal when receiving incoming calls. All this with not a cable in sight - Pure genius!!! When you consider the small size of the unit with good esthetics, the price, functions and unbeatable sound quality, this is a no brainer.



In fact, it is so good that I have dropped the search for an “Factory Radio” modified stereo unit with aux in (picture above). Actually, I think I will buy a couple more to modify them so I can have it out of sight under armrest or in glovebox.

Note: I have seen this unbranded unit onDealExtreme, AliExpress and eBay. The units looks exactly the same, but I cannot guarantee the internals are the same. At least, the one I got was from seller “digital-house”on eBay.

Try for yourself – all my audio worries are gone and I have a modern solution with no cables in my Jag!
 

Last edited by Oddman; 05-08-2015 at 09:02 AM. Reason: Spell checks
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  #2  
Old 05-08-2015, 11:03 AM
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As my Jabra Cruiser is losing it's ability to charge, I had also peeked at that last one you reviewed but didn't really pay it much mind. I might just go ahead and get one for the time being, as the stereo install had to be pushed out another month or two. And the placement of the unit right in front of the armrest sure would be convenient. Thanks!
 
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Old 05-08-2015, 11:09 AM
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Have a go, Charlzo,

You can't go much wrong with $10. I assure you, the sound quality is noiseless CD close. A bit to be desired with usb stick playback, but with my iPod Classic on bluetooth... Smashing! In fact, buy a couple and detach lighter socket and have a power connection in your glovebox.
 
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Old 05-08-2015, 08:43 PM
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This is a very helpful review!

I am of the same mind with my X300 XJR where I don't want to add an aftermarket radio, and instead want to keep it looking stock, but also support some new media.

I was about to head down the road of cutting into the CD changer M-Bus cable to add a switch where I could switch between the CD input and my phone/iPod or any other line-in.

I had seen these 'generic' FM transmitters before too, but the 'no name' and inexpensive nature made me think that surely they were junk. Plus I've heard many FM transmitters like these that just sounded bad.

But I'll give one of these a try and see now that you've given them such a glowing review

.
 
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Old 05-09-2015, 09:39 AM
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Thanks for the info about a new entry to the FM-bluetooth adapters.
I've gone through a series of these units starting in 2004 when the iPod craze was in full swing.
There were some that worked very well. But they all had the same problem:
They had to plug into the lighter socket.
I had problems with the socket overheating(?) or not keeping a firm connection and falling out.

I like the suggestion of wiring up a 12vdc connection in the glove box and putting it there.
But, you lose the accessibility of the tuner, USB, and mmc card slot.

I am glad there are other products available now that give the "older" model Jags
access to the new technology products for sound and mobile phones.
All of my other vehicles have a cassette deck and the ION product is the most convenient
way to use my iPhone in all of them.
All except the 2001 GMC Jimmy. I had to wire up a antenna feed FM adapter to the back of
the radio. What a mess that was due to removing the whole dash panel fascia just to get the
radio out .
 
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Old 05-09-2015, 12:12 PM
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Based on another thread I saw where the poster bought the ION bluetooth tape adapter and had good results. I ordered one through Amazon and it came in just a couple of days ago. It's currently still sitting on my coffee table. I will test it out this weekend and report back with my own findings.

If this ends up working well, perhaps just fixing the blown sub, and replacing the door speakers with more modern ones could be the more sensible solution to modernizing the sound in our cars.
 
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Old 05-09-2015, 02:47 PM
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Scarbro2011:
Thanks a lot. I have trough the past few days found out that I don't hardly touch the unit anymore, tuning to radio is done once, USB-stick is sitting there, and bluetooth connects automatically.

I have bought two more units to experiment with. Soldering a power cable/plug, taking power from ashtray lighter and placing it in the armrest is first of.

VR6Guru:
The Ion bluetooth adapter was the one that gave the worst sound quality result of the items I tested, also the most expensive. But, by all means, works well with phone calls.
 

Last edited by Oddman; 05-09-2015 at 02:56 PM.
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Old 05-11-2015, 02:44 PM
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So I got the ION Bluetooth working. It pairs up with my iPhone with no issues.

As the OP mentioned the music quality is not that great. Not terrible, but not great. But the clarity of phone calls, on both ends is superb. The people I called had no problem hearing me loud and clear.

Also for music purposes you have to find a good balance of volume on your iPhone and on the car stereo.
 
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Old 05-11-2015, 09:55 PM
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I recently bought something similar to unbranded FM bluetooth transmitter. It did not have the ability to connect to a phone, and only had one usb port and an SD card slot. Works well, sound is good, and I like the way that it sits just in front of the armrest so I can adjust it easily.
 
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Old 05-23-2015, 12:55 PM
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I just installed Airplay in my car. I used an old Airport express with a homemade 12v to 5v+3.3v converter. For input to the headunit I used an FM transmitter, not a wireless one but one that plugs in to the antenna jack on the HU.
Works really well.
 
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Old 05-25-2015, 11:26 AM
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Shopped around and tried 3 BT/FM units. The one I like best is the SoundFly View. It was the most expensive, but is feature rich and is built well. I got the genuine Satechi version. (There are Chinese Knockoffs for much less.) Very satisfied. I hold all my contacts, makes phone calls right out of the unit. No need for me to ever get my Iphone6 out of my pocket! (not as good as the 2015 XF I drove while my '00 VDP was in the shop however.). Plays my music library brilliantly.


Satechi SoundFly in my '00 VDP.
 
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Old 05-26-2015, 06:16 PM
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Wow! These are great reviews !
I do not want to get into any device that requires cutting and splicing the
signal/power wires.
Although, I am still looking for a dash mounted GPS/Rearcamera/tunes playing/phone
system that can use the OEM stereo system.
So far the Tunes playing/phone system using the bluetooth cassette adapters or the
bluetooth/FM radio adapter covers the majority of my must have electronics.

I am not that enthusiastic about GPS because I like paper maps and I like to
"find my way" even if I get lost. GPS is a distraction to the fun of actually driving
the road.

Keep those reviews coming.

Happy Trails and Tunes !

Bob Scarborough P O R (Press On Regardless)
 
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Old 11-21-2017, 09:52 AM
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I finally bought one of these for a mighty $11.67 on eBay. It worked great! I can't believe I didn't try it two years ago. Thanks for the recommendation!
Originally Posted by Oddman View Post


The next unit I bought for test is an unbranded FM bluetooth transmitter from ebay. I payed $ 10-12 for it, and to be quite frank, I had no high hopes for any quality results for this price. Oh boy, was I in for a surprise. ...
 
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Old 11-21-2017, 11:45 AM
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Really happy with one of these. Plugs into the Antenna lead and automatically switches using an app on the phone when it senses a bluetooth output. They make a version with a mike that I would likely upgrade to if doing over. Appears manufacturer has discontinued this one.


https://www.amazon.com/iSimple-ISFM23-Universal-Bluetooh-Transmitter/dp/B00DHQ6K7Q/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1511286197&sr=8-1&keywords=ISFM23 https://www.amazon.com/iSimple-ISFM23-Universal-Bluetooh-Transmitter/dp/B00DHQ6K7Q/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1511286197&sr=8-1&keywords=ISFM23
 
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Old 12-03-2018, 11:57 AM
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Okay. A few years later and wiser. The technology has really progressed on the FM-Bluetooth products !
I just purchased a Nulaxy KM28 and VicSing FM-Bluetooth units for my prebluetooth era 1994 XJS and 1999 XJ8 rides
because the Law concerning "hands free" cell phone use pretty much requires it. That is if you are inclined
to use a cell phone while driving a Jaguar . . . a questionable practice.
Any way both of those products connect to the Jags via the 12vdc power outlet (us retrominded senior citizens
call them cigar/cigarette lighters).
They are on the end of a 6 - 8" flexible stalk which can be bent for the best viewing angle. They offer multple
USB connections for charging USB devices and connecting USB memory devices and SD memory cards along
with direct audio plug between the media devices and control unit
for playback of WMA/MPG3/4 files using the Jags FM radio stereo sound system.
The units also connect to a variety of Bluetooth smartphones and media playback devices.
The smartphone calls use the microphone built into control units and the car radio speakers.
Both units have a very nice playback of the music and phone calls.
Best part of all - NO WIRING required !
Just plug them in and power on your radio and find a quiet FM spot (87.9MHZ here in the Atlanta, GA area)
to tune the FM radio and the media control unit .
Apparently there have been some upgrades to the FM channels that improve the data transfers between
the media control units and the FM radios. Very nice sound and little if any background noise if the
best FM channel is used.
The units will find your smartphones via bluetooth and ask to pair with them.
Only downside, you have to be tuned to the FM channel to use the bluetooth adapter for phone calls.
I have a preset channel button for the devices so if I happen to be listening to a different radio station and
a phone call comes in, I just select the radio channel preset button and then hit the accept button on control unit.
I get to use the Jaguar built-in tape player/cd changer/AM-FM radio with no expensive modifications to the
vehicles and add a Bluetooth connectivity to beautiful Jaguars.
These FM -Bluetooth devices really work nice and don't cost a lot for us Jaguar owners who have to pay
for other expensive stuff like insurance, petrol, taxes, and gut sucking maintenance inspections and repairs.

Press On Regardless and Happy Trails
Bob
 
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Old 01-08-2019, 02:21 PM
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Has anyone had any luck with utilizing the factory system but instead of streaming using the lightening cable to usb and simultaneously charge the phone??
 
 
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