Gadget Review: Griffin iTrip Auto Universal Plus

iTrip1

When the Griffin iTrip Auto Universal Plus arrived at my doorstep it dawned on me.  People are still using FM transmission!  Aww man, I’m lucky I never had to deal with any of that as I went from a Mini-Disc car set up (laugh all you want, I loved Mini-Disc) to a deck with an 3.5mm aux input on the faceplate.

The Griffin iTrip Auto Universal Plus is an FM transmitter that works with virtually any MP3 player the accepts a 3.5mm jack.  Operation couldn’t be simpler as you plug the MP3 player into the 3.5mm jack end with the other end plugged into the cigarette lighter socket.  From there you press the smart scan button and the iTrip designates the most optimum FM frequency to broadcast your MP3 player’s music.  Then lastly, you match the frequency on your car stereo to the one displayed on the iTrip and you are good to go.  Self explanatory at this day and age really.

The iTrip AUP is a nice looking FM transmitter with black glossy and matte finishes.  Construction is solid enough and it’s very light weight and has a smooth feel to it.  The feature that will make this FM transmitter stand out from the pack is the USB socket embedded in the cigarette lighter adapter.  Almost any device can be charged like this provided you have the right USB to whatever connection.  Very useful when on the go and away from a wall outlet.

Ok, the sound provided by the iTrip AUP is downright horrible.  A ton of hiss and really, really low volume output, which in turn makes you turn up the hiss.  I don’t have a lot of experience with the way a FM transmitter should sound but can’t be like this.  Right?  For the record I live in Portland, Oregon on the North side of town.  The radio reception I get is decent and I tried a bunch of channels.  I just don’t understand.  It seems so archaic.  There are gonna be those type of people out that don’t really have that discerning audio palette and all they wanna do is hear their tunes, but I honestly couldn’t bear it.

I think FM transmission should be a last ditch effort at this point as there are better ways.  It would be worth it in the long run to have a 3.5mm cord hard wired to the back of your car stereo if you can, or just pay for a cheap deck with a 3.5mm in.  Probably to no fault of its own, the Griffin iTrip AUP does what it is supposed to do, but what it is supposed to do is an antiquated technology in my mind.  The best part is easily the USB socket cigarette adapter charger but you can buy that as a stand alone product.

Pros:

  • Very easy to use
  • Attractive design and aesthetic
  • Scans for optimal signal frequency or lets you choose your own

Cons:

  • Straight miserable sound from my location in Portland, Oregon
  • Uhh…If FM transmitters work for you give it a shot!
  • Repeat 1st Con

Buy it here for $30.52!

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9 Comments

  1. Works great for me. I drive for a living in PHX. The international mode is the way to go. I set mine at 87.9 and it sounds super clear coming from my XM Radio.

  2. Unless you live in a radio station black hole, have a top of the line auto stereo, and never travel, this item may work for you.

    The radio transmitter in this item is unable to over come even the smallest source of external interference and you will be listening to cracking and popping your entire trip. I spent 30 min looking for a ‘clear’ FM frequency on my top end truck radio, set my unit to this frequency and prepared to enjoy my music from my iPod Touch. Now, I live in a fairly rural area, away from any big city and did not expect the noise I was getting. Almost every electrical pole, transformer station or other utility pole seemed to render my music full of cracks pops and noise. This interference is not there when just listening to my FM local station. Between noise sources, I noted that the quality of the sound was “tinny” and foreign sounding. Even using my Graphic equalizer, I was unable to get a good quality sounding music.

    If you have an auto with a rear-mounted antenna, forget it. I tried this in my wife’s Grand Prix, with a rear-mounted antenna; and it was nothing but noise. Totally unacceptable noise, week reception and poor sound quality.

    Oh, if you do buy this item, thinking it will charge your device, be prepared to purchase additional hardware. Yes, it provides a USB port, but you need to provide the proper cable for your device.

    I would highly recommend avoiding this unit.

  3. Works fine for me – would not be able to use my mp3 player in my car without it.
    I have an ancient Subaru with cassette deck & CD that will not let me use a cassette adapter for my mp3 player due to the auto reverse function.
    This allows me to use my player without having to burn everything to CDs.
    The female USB port is more convenient than I realized on purchase- it’s a nice added feature.
    Am happy with this product.

  4. I have to agree with Dan. I just got my iTrip Universal Plus, andd it works great, even though the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area is packed with FM broadcast stations. What works really well for me is to set the iTrip and my car’s FM radio to 87.9 MHz, which is a frequency used only for a few low-power FM stations in the United States, and hence is very unlikely to interfere. The trick is to get the iTrip switched into International mode so you can tune below 88.1 MHz. Press and hold the Select button in a manner similar to the process for picking DX/LX (distant-mono/local-stereo) but keep holding the button down. Eventually, instead of blinking LX, it will blink US. At that point, release Select and press + or – to change from US to INT. Then press Select again to pick it. Now, you can tune to a frequency that is (almost) always clear. And, if the device is close enough to your car’s antenna, you should have excellent reception.

  5. Jeff, the static has nothing to do with the fact that you live in Portland, Oregon and every thing to do with the distance from the iTrip AUP and your FM antennae. The power output of such devices is regulated by the FCC so that the transmission does not disrupt the reception in adjacent automobiles. If the iTrip AUP is located near the front seat dashboard and your FM antennae is in the back of your car, then that, dude, is the cause of the hiss. Had you tried placing the iTrip AUP near your FM antennae, you would have discovered stellar sound quality. This device therefore is really designed for those cars where the FM antennae is integrated in the front windshield.

    Since you did not clarify this, a great number of people for whom this product (and other FM products like it) would work perfectly, may not even give it a try after reading your review.

    Next time you might consult someone that knows something about the technology you are dealing with (in this case FM), rather than blaming poor product performance on obsolete technology. This was not a case of an inferior product or obsolete technology. It was a case of a reviewer that didn’t know enough about the technology to do a competent review.

  6. i agree the sound is downright unbearable. i purchased this for $50.99 at bestbuy, which i’m surprised i was dumb enough to do. i’m returning this sucker right now because the static is downright unbearable and since i commute to college, even when i get a good a good signal it will die once i travel far enough away. that means i have to change stations every day and some days no radio frequency will provide good sound quality. also you can’t turn up the music very loud so this product in my opinion wouldn’t be worth 15 dollars. i’ll be glad to return this and get my 50.99 back.

  7. If you have a 2.5 Aux input, why are you using a FM Transmitter. Just get a cable that plugs directly from the iPod output jack into the aux input jack…they make those ya know.

  8. I have an itrip but it pauses the music everytime i move it, and the static is just annoying am thinking of opening it to see if any wires are cut.

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