Your last resort for mp3s on the go.
Monster is known for their premium quality products, along with their premium price tags of course. It comes as a surprise then, that their iCarPlay 300 FM Transmitter for the iPhone & iPod is such a sub-par product.
Getting it in our hands, the first thing we noticed about the iCarPlay 300 is the glass faceplate on the front, which is a brilliant magnet for fingerprints and dust. On the front are also 3 old school plastic covered buttons accompanied by an LED display which looks straight out of a mid-90s elevator. The last thing you’ll notice, and perhaps the biggest turn-off for many, is the straight base where the adapter is fixed. What this means is that this FM adapter will never sit flush when attached to your iPod or iPhone.
Thankfully the adapter itself is quite small, and will easily fit in your pockets, or the car ashtray for that matter. The unit doesn’t require any external source of power either, relying instead on your iPhone. In the bottom right you will see a mini-USB port which helps you recharge your iPhone, a much needed feature since the FM transmitter actually does suck out a decent amount of power from your iPhone. When you’re not playing anything on your iPod, the iCarPlay will automatically switch off in a minute or two.
So, not impressive at first sight, but what about the sound quality? Sadly the adapter disappoints here as well. Setting up the thing is actually a smooth process: just plug it in and you’re good to go. Select one of the 3 preset frequencies from any of the 3 face buttons, or manually set any frequency you desire for your radio. Once you tune into the selected frequency on your car stereo, hit play on your iPhone and that’s it.
What happens afterwards is anybody’s guess. While there’s a lot of static to be heard if you move around your iPhone in the car, putting it closer to your radio doesn’t ensure optimal audio quality either as anything in your car can cause interference with the radio signals. Often you will also hear other radio stations mixing up with your songs, forcing you to switch the frequency. As a PSA we would like to advise you not to do this while you’re driving! That said, the transmitter worked just fine in terms of volume and overall FM quality whenever there was no static. It’s obviously not as good as an AUX connection, but close to, or better than regular FM stations depending on signal strength. Unfortunately you will start experiencing the audio go from stereo to mono as radio interferences get in the way of an otherwise enjoyable experience.
At this price point ($30), the Monster iCarPlay is only a good option if you’re heading out for a short journey with an car old stereo system and have no other way to connect to your iPhone or iPod. Most modern car systems nowadays come with some sort of auxiliary port, so the need for FM transmitters is quickly dying out.