The single best stereo improvement under $50 - Mazda 6 Forums : Mazda 6 Forum / Mazda Atenza Forum
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-17-2018, 07:12 PM Thread Starter
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The single best stereo improvement under $50

I just wanted to post this here as a helpful tip to anyone who might be wanting to get a little more out of their stereo, whether it be the factory stereo or an aftermarket one.

This mod may take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours depending on how in-depth you want to go, and involves no knowledge of stereo installation, and can be done on a leased vehicle because it can be reversed in about 2 seconds.

Here it is: buy a used iPod. An iPod touch or classic, or even someone's old iPhone would work. Put your music on there and plug it into the USB port, and leave it in the storage box as a permanent sole-purpose unit.

For a long time, I was streaming my music via Bluetooth and once I plugged my old ipod in, I was amazed at how much better the sound quality was. Bluetooth compresses the sound significantly, and going straight from USB was like night and day.

The ipod I'm using is from 2010 so even the old ones work. The Mazda infotainment system interfaces really well with an ipod, letting you select music by artist, song, playlist, etc all from the root menu. And since it's always plugged in, it loads up super fast, and never runs out of power.

You can get them on ebay for as little as 35 bucks. If you get one with a cracked screen it's probably even less. It doesn't have to be pretty, as you'll almost never see it. And then you don't have to worry about it getting stolen, since it's so cheap to begin with.

The bulk of the time commitment with this will just be organizing all your music on iTunes (if you don't already have an iTunes library).

I realize that this won't really help folks who stream music through their phones, but for people like me who have a bunch of music it's a very easy and helpful change.

Happy driving!
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-17-2018, 10:02 PM
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I did something similar and just dumped mp3 files on a low profile USB and leave that plugged in the center console - works and sounds awesome as well. No iTunes for me. If you leave it as the last connected, it takes some time to load and hear music, so I try and remember to put it on radio prior to getting home - radio/music comes on quick that way and once underway, I can switch over.

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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-17-2018, 10:34 PM
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Thanks to the both of you for those tips! I'm still getting used to not having a CD player, and I'm getting sick of the few tunes I have on my cell phone... (Yes, I'm old, so what? lol)

Question: I still like listening to whole albums, so if I store mp3s in separate folders on the USB drive (by album), will the player recognize the files, and even play them in order by track?

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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-18-2018, 12:01 AM
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Or you could just download your music onto a USB... as long as the files are at least 256KB the quality will be great.
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-18-2018, 09:18 AM
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Agreed. The USB option also works pretty well. I've used both USB and an iPod classic with my Mazdas (also have a CX-3). I am currently using the iPod in my Mazda6 as it allows for gapless playback which is nice to have when listening to some albums. I keep thinking that the music files on the iPod sound better in the car compared to the same music files on a USB drive, but I have no way to quantify that. One nice benefit of using a USB drive is that a low-profile drive takes up none of that limited space inside the console. The audio quality from either of these options should be much better than what you get through bluetooth.

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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-18-2018, 09:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mz6GreyGhost View Post
Question: I still like listening to whole albums, so if I store mp3s in separate folders on the USB drive (by album), will the player recognize the files, and even play them in order by track?
As long as the music files are tagged properly (and I think any CD ripper should do this), the Infotainment system can group by Album, Artist, etc. For albums, it will play the tracks in the correct order - this is on a 2017 with software version 59.x.

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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-18-2018, 12:37 PM Thread Starter
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I havent tried USB yet, but yes using a USB would produce the same great sound quality. I think one of the advantages of an ipod would be music organization. I'm not sure exactly how music would be organized on a USB drive, but organizing music on iTunes is really easy, and however you put things on iTunes is how it will transfer over to the ipod. When you're like me with 5000+ songs, organizing music manually is just not a feasible option.

The ipod also let's you make playlists, which I use almost exclusively. I don't think you could make a playlist on a USB, though I could be wrong about that.

I would also imagine, as some have hinted at, that the USB drive takes a while to load up music. This is because the car has to read and process the entire drive. With an ipod, the ipod itself does all the processing and the infotainment system only has to view text information. On my setup the music starts playing after about 20 seconds, and it takes maybe a minute before you can access the ipod menu.

At the end of the day, it's down to personal preference, but I that given how much a used ipod is, the benefits far outweigh the small cost.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mz6GreyGhost View Post
Thanks to the both of you for those tips! I'm still getting used to not having a CD player, and I'm getting sick of the few tunes I have on my cell phone... (Yes, I'm old, so what? lol)

Question: I still like listening to whole albums, so if I store mp3s in separate folders on the USB drive (by album), will the player recognize the files, and even play them in order by track?

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G870A using Tapatalk
Haven't tried USB, but you can definitely play by album on an ipod.
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-18-2018, 02:10 PM
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If you're willing to get into the $50ish range the best option on non-Bose systems for improving the sound is to replace the dash tweeters. I've posted on this before; Db351s and bass blockers (I believe I settled on 47uf, non-polarized of course) make an AMAZING difference standing alone.
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-18-2018, 09:36 PM
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Note that the new Android Auto update will use the USB connection from the phone when playing back audio through the AA interface even if Bluetooth is paired. It only uses Bluetooth for phone calls.

I don't know how Apple Carplay works, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that it, too, uses the USB interface for the audio.

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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 10-08-2018, 07:53 PM
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Excellent tip, thank you. IMO going lossless with your audio files should bring even better results. I'm going to go this route, and also finaggle a CD player into the system just for grins. Nothing like a hardcopy.
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