AUX

A few years ago, we bought a car. We’re not car people. We don’t really care all that much about doodads and amenities, and we prefer inexpensive things, so we got a pretty basic Prius. Its fanciest feature is probably power windows. The guy who sold it to us tried to sell us on an upgraded media package that would have included I believe Bluetooth for playing music from our phones, but we preferred not to finance $300 more for a feature that we figured we could emulate using the portable Bluetooth speaker we already owned.

Over time, the sound quality (or at least the volume) of our Jamboxes has decreased. You can hear music well enough (if not quite loud enough for my tastes) if you’re sitting in the front seat, but sometimes we like to load up an audio book or listen to some Radiolab on longer trips, and the Jambox doesn’t work well at all for this. The kids can’t hear it if we mount the speaker on the dashboard, and I can’t really hear it over road noise if we set it on the console between the front seats so that the kids can strain to hear it. So over time, I’ve begun almost to regret not getting the media package that would have let us stream from our phones to the car’s speakers.

We did briefly try out a device that lets you stream your phone via a radio station, but it didn’t work well at all. I recently found myself thinking that it’d be neat if somebody invented some kind of fancy device that would work somehow with the CD player in a way somewhat analagous to but technologically more advanced than those old cassette tape deck adapters we used back in the olden days. I imagined that it’d have some receiver in it that you could connect to via Bluetooth and that it’d do something like flipping bits on the media on the fly so that the CD player could read it and play whatever audio was being sent over. This no doubt ludicrous idea probably illustrates pretty well the depth of my ignorance about how audio technology works.

Last weekend, I was in my friend’s car, and for some reason I noticed that his radio was set to AUX mode. I asked what that was about, and he said that it was how he could play music and podcasts from his phone on his car speakers. Here let us imagine the sound of a needle being dragged across a record in that universal “stop and let’s consider what has just occurred” sound we’re all familiar with from the movies. I felt like a moron. All these years I had been complaining about crummy audio in my car and all I’ve had to do was find the auxiliary jack in my car and push a button to play music from my phone?

I came home that night and ordered a cable for the purpose, and I’m pleased to report that yes indeed I have been a moron, and now I can play whatever I like from my phone and figure that the whole family will actually hear it. This bodes well for belting out holiday tunes on the way to visit my dad for an early Christmas in a week or two.

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