One area that my Mustang is rather lacking is in-car audio. It comes with a pretty basic radio and a single slot(mp3 capable) CD player. That causes some issues when we use the car for the family as we have fairly varied music tastes.
In the Jeep the answer is fairly simple – we have a 6 CD in-dash changer so swapping CDs and having some variety is easy. Back in Australia we had an old iPod and an FM transmitter, but here there is so much contention on the FM waveband that it wasn’t really a usable solution.
The Mustang does have a 3.5mm audio input jack (mini-jack) but to use that from either an iPod or the Zune requires you to push the volume up to maximum to get a decent signal and by that point the quality is pretty compromised.
Luckily it turns out that there is a solution. SoundGate have a product called ZuneCore which provides a simple solution for my Mustang but also pretty much any other vehicle on the market. They provide solutions which allow full integration with your existing head unit and steering wheel mounted audio controls through to a generic solution (which can even integrate with a fairly common Sony wired remote control).
As my solution is one step in a longer plan (and I don’t have steering wheel mounted controls!) I went for the Universal Zune solution which comprises of a Zune Sync cable which connects to their breakout box. That then has connectors for audio out (3.5mm and RCA audio and video), power in (either from a cigarette lighter/auxiliary socket via the supplied adapter or a supplied fused direct splice) and remote control input (for a Sony wired remote).
The ZuneCore breakout box is so small that mounting it in the floor console under the cup holders was all of about 10 minutes work. The Zune Sync cable then comes out in the passenger footwell while the power and audio cables go under the console to emerge in the storage compartment where there is a handy Line In and auxiliary power jack (given time I’d have spliced power and connected to the back of the radio directly but this was quick and easy!)
That just left the mounting solution itself. Luckily that turned out to be just as easy. ProClip USA supply a series of universal mounts (3 different choices of location for the Mustang, only one location for the Jeep Liberty but it’s perfect to mount the GPS). Once you’ve selected the mount position you then pair it with the accessory mount (which means it’s easy to change the device in the future without having to replace the bracket).
To mount the Zune in the Mustang was pretty simple… the mount sticks to the sidewall in the passenger footwell (one friction clip and two sticky pads) and the Zune swivel mount connects to the front with a single screw. The Jeep mount was a little harder as there were two parts to align and clip into creases in the dash but not much harder.
Now for about 20 minutes work all told I have my Zune mounted securely in the car. It charges, I control the volume through the built in head unit and quality is as good as a CD with no FM transmitter or line level audio interference. The best thing about the solution is when I park in my drive I can even sync my recent plays back to my PC and grab new music via WiFi and never remove it from the car.