hooking laptop to built-in quad speakers through built-in radio

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dwdanby

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This may be a question with no answer. I have a 2004 Forest River Cardinal 32 ft fifth wheel. It has a built-in radio / cassette deck connected to four speakers on the ceiling. I would love to be able to connect my macbook to the radio and get music out the four speakers. (It would be the most luxurious music experience I've ever had.) I don't plan on selling the trailer, and if I do, perhaps the new owner would also like their music in luxury. So I'm ok with alterations to the radio. Is there a simple way to do this? I'm heavily techno-challenged, but I have a dear friend who absolutely can't stand to admit to failure, so he'll give it his best. Thanks for your help!
 

Lou Schneider

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Does the radio have an Aux In jack?  If so, all you need is a 1/8" stereo jumper cord to go from the laptop's headphone jack to the radio.

My radio/cassette deck doesn't have an aux input, so I use a cassette adapter to play music through it:

https://www.amazon.com/MP3-Cassette-Player-Adapters/b?ie=UTF8&node=13981611

If your Macbook doesn't have an 1/8" headphone jack you can get an adapter to create one:

https://www.amazon.com/Apple-USB-C-Headphone-Jack-Adapter/dp/B07K25P3N1

Or you can try a Bluetooth version of the cassette adapter if your Macbook if has Bluetooth capability:

https://www.amazon.com/Aluratek-ABCT01F-Universal-Bluetooth-Cassette/dp/B06XDDHXRN/ref=psdc_2230642011_t1_B083BX9FPT
 

Ex-Calif

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You could also get a 3.5mm wired version of an FM transmitter adapter.  Most of them today accept bluetooth from your phone and the device transmits on an FM frequency of your choice which the radio picks up when you tune the radio to the same frequency.

However I have seen the older ones that accept a 3.5mm input from a phone/laptop etc. Here's one on Amazon for $12.

https://www.amazon.com/JETech-Wireless-Transmitter-Phones-Charger/dp/B00URUJWPW/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=3.5mm+radio+fm+transmitter&qid=1609412232&sr=8-3

My Marvin has a really old radio (on the upgrade list) and this is what I am currently doing for tunes...
 

John From Detroit

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Forget the FM transmitter.  I have used them.

Most Vehicular radios today have either a AUX-in or Blue Tooth capability and the ones that do not. Generally on the back side there is a multi-pin jack and you can (From the radio's maker) get a "Box" that plugs in and has Right and Left Phono (Also called RCA) coxial jacks (standard audio connectors) you should be able to get the needed "patch" cable from the same radio store or .. Well a long list of places including office supplies. wal-mart Target. and even truck stops and gas stations.
 

Ex-Calif

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John From Detroit said:
Forget the FM transmitter. I have used them.

Most Vehicular radios today have either a AUX-in or Blue Tooth capability and the ones that do not. Generally on the back side there is a multi-pin jack and you can (From the radio's maker) get a "Box" that plugs in and has Right and Left Phono (Also called RCA) coxial jacks (standard audio connectors) you should be able to get the needed "patch" cable from the same radio store or .. Well a long list of places including office supplies. wal-mart Target. and even truck stops and gas stations.

I presumed 2004 vehicle, radio with cassette deck - probably no aux in or BT. That's what I've got. I have two vehicles with FM transmitters and they work fine.

I will say forget the cassette adapters - those were and are garbage.

If you have aux in that's a better choice than FM transmitter for sure.

OTOH - A radio upgrade is also a great idea. I am assuming it's a dash radio? You can get a single DIN BT capable with 3.5 aux in (for the laptop hookup) for like $10. A very well worth it upgrade.

Here's an example - I don't even want CD as all my music is streaming from my phone these days.

 
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Tom55555

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dwdanby said:
This may be a question with no answer. I have a 2004 Forest River Cardinal 32 ft fifth wheel. It has a built-in radio / cassette deck connected to four speakers on the ceiling. I would love to be able to connect my macbook to the radio and get music out the four speakers. (It would be the most luxurious music experience I've ever had.) I don't plan on selling the trailer, and if I do, perhaps the new owner would also like their music in luxury. So I'm ok with alterations to the radio. Is there a simple way to do this? I'm heavily techno-challenged, but I have a dear friend who absolutely can't stand to admit to failure, so he'll give it his best. Thanks for your help!

I'm assuming you want to sit or lay down with your laptop anywhere in your RV and hear the music through the existing four speakers.

You can also just upgrade. Speaker technology has really improved in the last decade. I used to use two 12" speakers in 3' cabinets. It was great in the eighties. The last decade I installed five little 4" speakers and one bass which out performed those. Now you can buy speakers that are the size of a 12 ounce pop can and produce amazing sound quality.

 

SeilerBird

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Tom55555 said:
I'm assuming you want to sit or lay down with your laptop anywhere in your RV and hear the music through the existing four speakers.

You can also just upgrade. Speaker technology has really improved in the last decade. I used to use two 12" speakers in 3' cabinets. It was great in the eighties. The last decade I installed five little 4" speakers and one bass which out performed those. Now you can buy speakers that are the size of a 12 ounce pop can and produce amazing sound quality.
Tom is 100% correct. I am a lifetime audiophile and in the 60s and 70s I had massive 15" Tannoy dual monitor gold speakers in cabinets I built myself but could never move it myself, it weighed more than me. Now I have a three speaker stereo system in my bedroom and it pumps out as much bass in a tiny 5" speaker. It is the Echo Studio speakers and sub woofer. It is pricey but since it comes with Alexa and 2 million songs and it is so cool. I lay in bed and tell Alexa to play some Beatles tunes or whatever I want to listen to and three seconds later it is playing.

 
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Tom55555

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SeilerBird said:
Tom is 100% correct. I am a lifetime audiophile and in the 60s and 70s I had massive 15" Tannoy dual monitor gold speakers in cabinets I built myself but could never move it myself, it weighed more than me. Now I have a three speaker stereo system in my bedroom and it pumps out as much bass in a tiny 5" speaker. It is the Echo Studio speakers and sub woofer. It is pricey but since it comes with Alexa and 2 million songs and it is so cool. I lay in bed and tell Alexa to play some Beatles tunes or whatever I want to listen to and three seconds later it is playing.


That's funny, I got a hair cut today and heard Green Eyed Lady and said Alexa volume up three times. Not sure if they liked me doing that but after fourteen years and I tip well they let me do it. After all, it's a good song. LOL

 
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Larry N.

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After all, it's a good song. LOL
In your opinion. Just to give a different point of view, there are some folks (like me) that don't much care for that type of music, so had I been there when you raised the volume, I'd have left. Distorted instruments, excessive bass, rap, and strained voices (among other things) drive me nuts. If the volume is very low I can sometimes tolerate it, though.
 

John From Detroit

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Tom55555 said:
That's funny, I got a hair cut today and heard Green Eyed Lady and said Alexa volume up three times. Not sure if they liked me doing that but after fourteen years and I tip well they let me do it. After all, it's a good song. LOL

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u83P_UO1oJ8

Well if I ran the shop .... I'd have looked at you and said "Thanks".
 

Tom55555

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Larry N. said:
In your opinion. Just to give a different point of view, there are some folks (like me) that don't much care for that type of music, so had I been there when you raised the volume, I'd have left. Distorted instruments, excessive bass, rap, and strained voices (among other things) drive me nuts. If the volume is very low I can sometimes tolerate it, though.

I respect your opinion. There's very little music I don't like. My favorite is Classical.

 
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Goodspike

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Larry N. said:
In your opinion. Just to give a different point of view, there are some folks (like me) that don't much care for that type of music, so had I been there when you raised the volume, I'd have left. Distorted instruments, excessive bass, rap,

So I guess The Chronic by Dr. Dre isn't one of your favs? :-*

But thank you! I realized early today when I was not yet in front of a computer that I had not heard either Christmas Wrapping, by the Waitresses, or John Lennon's So This Is Christmas. I like to hear those at least once each season. The word "rap" caused me to remember, and it's not yet New Year!

I didn't know there was one, but the video for Christmas Wrapping is so bad it's almost funny. (A lot is stolen from another video, so maybe not an original video.)

 
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Tom55555

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Tom55555 said:
I respect your opinion. There's very little music I don't like. My favorite is Classical.


My Mom's favorite singer was Andy Williams. I listened to this stuff as a baby.
 
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CharlesinGA

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Ex-Calif said:
I presumed 2004 vehicle, radio with cassette deck - probably no aux in or BT.  That's what I've got. I have two vehicles with FM transmitters and they work fine.

I will say forget the cassette adapters - those were and are garbage.

I have a 2003 RAM 2500 truck. It has an AM/FM/Cassette radio in it. I never listen to a radio and have never owned any cassettes, but I wanted to install a mount for my phone and saw a Youtube video where a guy bonded a piece of metal to a Bluetooth cassette adapter and then used the metal to clip a phone mount onto (the type that attaches to dash vents, etc.

Well, my new Motorolla phone (like all smart phones) has an FM radio in it and since it came unlocked it also came with the FM tuner app, but requires wired earbuds or other wired device plugged into the jack to act as an antenna.

I went to the thrift store of a local Christian ministry that has a large electronics section and people who specialize in sorting and testing the electronic stuff donated. I asked the guy for a cassette with the cord to plug into a Ipod/phone/etc and he dug in a huge box of tangled cables till he found the one he remembered seeing. I paid a dollar for it and left. I cut a piece of .040 aluminum to fit to part of the cassette that was exposed inside the radio after the lifter mechanism grabbed it and seated it in place and then attached the aluminum with 3M double sided super strength tape. I put thin sections of antiskid on both sides of the metal that stuck out and attached the cell phone holder to it, and it worked. I have to help it thru the slot in and out as it drags somewhat but does go.

To test it out, I plugged it into my phone, tuned the phones radio to a station and it came thru loud and clear on the trucks speakers. Later I tested the speakers while driving and talking on the phone hands free in the clip. worked great.

So no, they are not all garbage, as this worked great.

I found another Youtube video where a guy took a corded cassette adapter and an older "around the collar" bluetooth headset and disassembled both and with a little soldering connected the bluetooth receiver to the circuit in the cassette and removed the cord and made a bluetooth cassette adapter for free (they are only about $20 on Amazon so this was more of a "see what I can do for the hell of it" than to actually accomplish something useful.)

The only reason I will ever replace the radio is to possibly install a double DIN with a screen for a backup camera to connect to for the back of the trailer.

Charles
 

Larry N.

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I will say forget the cassette adapters - those were and are garbage.
Not all of them are garbage. I've had (and still have) a couple of CD players (a Bose and a Sony) with the cassette adapter and they sound mighty good. Of course it's slightly more awkward than having the CD player built in to the car, but they work well. DW's 2002 Mercury has a cassette player, and they're still handy to use in her car, if we're going far enough to be worth the trouble.
 

Lou Schneider

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One of the reasons you may get a crappy response out of a cassette adapter is the head inside it (the same kind of head used to pick up the signal) has to be aligned with the head in the cassette deck.  Sometimes the adapter doesn't drop down all the way into the deck and the heads aren't aligned with each other, giving a partial signal.  This occasionally happens with mine and I've found ejecting the adapter and re-inserting gives it another chance to align properly and clear up the sound.
 

JayArr

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Another possible reason is that the cassette deck is cheap and the head is sub standard, it's not always the adapters fault.

If you're going with an adapter spend $35-$50 or more, get a good one, I'd look at the Sony or the XM radio or the ION. Don't spend $8.99 unless you're just a sucker for disappointment.
 

Tom55555

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Larry N. said:
In your opinion. Just to give a different point of view, there are some folks (like me) that don't much care for that type of music, so had I been there when you raised the volume, I'd have left. Distorted instruments, excessive bass, rap, and strained voices (among other things) drive me nuts. If the volume is very low I can sometimes tolerate it, though.

Green Eyed Lady is classic rock. Some of the instrumentals are pretty good. Classical is my favorite.

I love both of the videos below but they are very different.


 
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Larry N.

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Yes, that Canon in D is very nice music, and well performed. Freebird wasn't too bad for the first couple of minutes, then the distorted instruments and such made it unpalatable, so I stopped.
 

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