We’ve noted in a number of reviews that to get your iPod’s music to play through your car stereo, the best audio quality is provided by a direct connection: Provided your car stereo has an auxiliary input jack, you simply run a cable between your iPod’s headphone jack and your stereo’s input jack. But even better audio quality can be obtained by connecting to your iPod’s dock-connector port, which provides a true line-level audio output (rather than the headphone jack’s variable output).
To get audio out of that dock-connector port, you need a dock or adapter of some sort. We’ve previously recommended SendStation’s $30 PocketDock Line Out adapters, which connect to the iPod’s dock-connector port and provide a 1/8″ line-out jack. But an even better solution is Logic 3’s new “iPod to 3.5mm Stereo” cable (model MIP142), a retractable, Zip-Linq-like cable with a dock-connector plug on one end and a 1/8″ (3.5mm) miniplug on the other end — plug one end into your iPod’s dock port and the other into your stereo’s aux-in jack. Fully extended, the retractable cable is just under 30 inches long; collapsed, the plugs and reel are just under 4 inches in length. You can extend the cable to four lengths in between.
In my testing, the MIP142 worked well, providing better-than-headphone-jack audio quality to several miniplug-equipped systems, including several “computer” speaker systems, a couple portable headphone amplifiers, and a home stereo system — so it’s not just for car stereos. The only drawback to the MIP142 is a consequence of its retractable design: In my experience, the thin cables and mechanics used in these types of retractable cables don’t always hold up well over time. But its convenience makes it easy to recommend.