How to Use an iPod With an RCA Input

by J.T. Barett

Although Apple's iPod music player comes with a set of stereo earbuds, many other options exist for listening to songs. One of the least expensive is the use of an adapter cable to connect the iPod to a stereo equipped with RCA connectors, as many of them are. For a few dollars, you can connect the iPod to your stereo amplifier and enjoy room-filling sound.

IPod Headphone Jack

The iPod plays through its headphone jack, a standard stereo 3.5-millimeter mini plug connector. It accepts Apple and third-party earbuds and headphones as well as adapter cables that terminate on one end with the mini plug. Although the iPod has the power to drive headphones and earbuds to decent listening levels, it does not have enough oomph to run full-sized speakers; for this you need a standard stereo amplifier. As most consumer stereos have RCA jacks for external devices, they can accept the output signal from an iPod.

RCA Adapter Cable

An RCA adapter cable is a standard audio accessory available at most electronics stores. It consists of a stereo mini plug at one end and a pair of RCA male plugs at the other. The cable comes in various lengths including 3 feet and 7 feet. It's usually convenient to leave the iPod near the stereo, so the shorter, less expensive cable is adequate for the task.

Setting the Volume

Before you plug the RCA adapter cable into your stereo, set the stereo's volume control to zero. This prevents the speakers from making loud thumps or popping noises as you plug the adapter into the iPod. After it is connected, set the iPod's volume to about half way and turn the stereo volume up slowly until you obtain a comfortable listening level.

Correct Inputs

Examine the RCA connectors on your stereo; they are typically located on the rear panel. The RCA connectors are lined up in pairs, with one pair representing a right-left stereo combination. Do not use connectors labeled "output" or "phono," as these are not appropriate for your iPod. Connectors labeled "Aux," "External," "Tape" or "CD" are fine, as these are line-level inputs suitable for devices such as MP3 players. Match the color of the RCA plugs to their corresponding jacks and plug them in; red indicates the right stereo channel and black or white is the left side. Plug the mini connector into the iPod's headphone jack and press the "Play" button.

About the Author

Chicago native J.T. Barett has a Bachelor of Science in physics from Northeastern Illinois University and has been writing since 1991. He has contributed to "Foresight Update," a nanotechnology newsletter from the Foresight Institute. He also contributed to the book, "Nanotechnology: Molecular Speculations on Global Abundance."

Photo Credits

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