How to Play CDs In Newer Cars Without CD Player

Learning how to play CDs in newer cars without CD players is a bit tricky, but it is possible. There are several options available to help you keep your music library ready for those long road trips. I’ve been a car audio enthusiast for quite a while now, and the thought of losing accessibility to every album I own is simply unwelcome.

Unfortunately, fewer cars are hitting the market with built-in CD players. The writing has been on the wall for some time: CDs are an artifact of the past, and they are slowly fading in popularity. So, what do you do if you have a huge CD collection that you want to listen to in your car?

Thankfully, there are workarounds. There is an option for just about every budget and experience level. Below, we’ll look at some of these options. We’ll also explore if a CD player can be installed in a new car, and which gadgets you’ll need to keep listening long after the CD is extinct.

How to Play CDs in Newer Cars

Many new cars don’t come with a built-in CD player. There are a few reasons for this, including the fact that CDs have been declining in popularity in recent years. The rise of cell phones and music players with Bluetooth capabilities has slowly pushed CDs out.

Audio streaming services and satellite radios have added to the slow death of the compact disc. So what do you do if you have a huge CD collection that you want to be able to play?

The good news is that there are a few options for you. There are at least four ways to be able to listen to your CDs in your newer car, including different types of CD players and other digital devices.

1. USB CD Player

The first option you have is perhaps the simplest. If your newer car’s radio has a USB port, you can connect a USB CD Player right to the radio. USB CD players used to be everywhere, especially when this trend began to develop with newer cars.

However, they are a bit harder to find in recent years. The vehicle CD players that are available now are a bit pricey, but they are easy to use.

To use this method, you must purchase a USB CD player like this one from Automotive Integrated Electronics. Make sure that you buy a USB CD player that is specifically for use in your car. Some USB CD drives only work with computers – these are more numerous and less expensive. Always double-check to make sure you are buying the right CD player.

You should also check the ‘fit chart’ to make sure that the CD player that you are buying will work with your car. Certain models only work with certain radios.

The great thing about these USB CD Players for your car is that they work immediately once plugged in. Use the USB cord that comes attached to the CD player to plug it into your car’s radio.

usb cd player

The unit should be paired immediately, allowing you to play CDs and still use radio controls on your car’s radio to play, pause, and switch songs.

Most CD Players will have a small ‘indexing’ period before the CD starts to play, usually between 10 and 20 seconds. After this time has passed, the CD should play normally.

That’s it! Now you can listen to your CDs in your newer car. You can mount these CD players wherever you have space in your car. Most have suspension features so that the CD won’t skip while you go over bumps.

2. Bluetooth Portable CD Player

Your second option is also simple. It’s also a bit less expensive than buying a dedicated USB CD player.

Because of the car radio situation (and the rise in popularity experienced by Bluetooth speakers), some portable CD players will have built-in Bluetooth transmitters. This can be a great thing for you, though you will experience some small loss of quality on the connection.

Portable Bluetooth CD players like this one can still get pricey. However, you don’t have to physically connect the player to your car’s audio system.

First, choose a portable CD player with a Bluetooth transmitter. Some newer models are rechargeable, so they won’t eat through batteries. As with any Bluetooth device, always check the Bluetooth codecs the CD player uses against the codecs your car uses. Getting this right will ensure that the CD player can pair with your car radio.

Portable Bluetooth CD PLAYER

Next, you’ll want to make sure that you have enough charge (or new batteries) on the portable CD player. Once your car and the CD player are both turned on, pair them together using your car’s Bluetooth interface. Each CD player will have a different method for entering pairing mode, so make sure to read your manual.

Once paired, you can insert any one of your CDs into the portable CD player. After a short indexing procedure, the CD should play without any issues. There will be a small quality loss, and the CD player must stay within the range of your car radio. Still, it doesn’t require you to mount anything. You don’t have to mess around with files or installation. It can be the perfect option if you just want to listen to your music.

3. Portable CD Player with AUX (3.5 mm) connection

what is a 3.5 mm jack or AUX connection?

A 3.5mm jack is a standard connector used to transfer sound from an audio source such as a CD player to another audio source such as a stereo receiver. The 3.5mm jack was originally designed for connecting two devices together.

It’s now commonly used to connect mobile phones to MP3 players, but it can also be used to connect other devices such as portable CD  players.

If you have a car that is newer or is probably several years old, most likely it has an AUX connection. All you need is a 3.5 mm connector to connect your CD player to your car AUX input and you are all set. You can play your CD and control the music through your portable CD player. Usually, a cable with male to male connection is needed for this. You can find this cable here.

4. Portable CD Player with FM Transmitter

Basically, this type of CD player will transmit the played songs within a selectable frequency range selected by you, the user. Then you will have to adjust the receiving frequency range of your car radio to the same range and you can now listen to your music normally.

We recommend this CD player if you choose to go with this option.

FM stands for frequency modulation which is one of the many ways to modulate signals to transmit. This is not something you need to worry about and you don’t need to understand it to be able to play CDs in your car.

5. Rip CDs to Your Phone

Ripping your CD to your phone simply means, transferring your music into a digital format or digitized format. As an example, MP3 is one of the most popular lossy audio formats and WAV is a known lossless format. Having said that, in order to be able to play CDs in your newer car, you don’t need to get too much into these technical terms

Let’s get down to this method.

To implement this one, you need a few different things. First, you must have a personal computer with a CD drive. It can be hard to find those nowadays. If you have a newer computer, you might have to purchase an external CD drive to use this method.

Next, insert your CDs into the drive one by one. You can ‘rip’ the media files off of the CD using just about any music managing program. Each song will become a separate song file on your computer.

Now, connect your smartphone to your computer. For the file transfer, you must connect your phone with a USB cord.

Once your smartphone is connected, you should be able to find and open the file directory on the phone. This will allow you to move the song files you ‘ripped’ from the CDs into your phone’s music folder.

We also advise saving a copy of all your songs on a flash drive for later use.

Once the files have finished transferring, it’s time to pair your phone to your car’s radio. By using your phone as a media player and connecting it right to your car’s Bluetooth radio, you’ll be able to stream all your music directly from the device. If you would like your phone to be charged while listening to your songs, you can connect your phone to your car’s media player using USB. Then your music can be streamed using either “Apple Car Play” or “Android Auto” and you are all set.

If you have a large CD collection or a phone with little to no memory, this option may not work. However, if you only want to transfer a few of your favorite albums over, this is the best way to listen to your music in a newer car with no CD player.

6. Cassette Tape Deck Adapter

This solution is very simple and easy to do. All you need is a cassette tape deck adapter. These adapters usually come with a built-in amplifier so you won’t need anything else. The adapter plugs into the cigarette lighter port and then connects to the stereo system via RCA cables.

The adapter has two inputs: one for the tape deck and another for the source (i.e., the sound coming out of the cassette). When the adapter is plugged in, the tape deck plays through the speakers and the input from the cassette goes straight to the amp.

The advantage of this method is that you can enjoy your cassettes in your car even though they’re old technology. In addition, you can easily carry them around with you when you go camping or hiking. You can find one here to see if this is a good fit for your car.

7. Install A New Media Receiver or After Market Stereo

The last option for how to play CDs in newer cars without a CD player is the most complicated and expensive.

You can purchase a new media receiver and install it in your car. This might not work with all models, as some don’t include the costly hardware required. However, you’ll have to check with the manufacturer of the new radio as well as your car’s manual to determine if it’s possible.

You can purchase a new media receiver like this one. It uses Bluetooth (which your newer car will like), but it also has a CD player. As always, make sure that it’s compatible with your car before purchasing.

Installing these media receivers can be a pain. It requires a working knowledge of how your car’s stereo system works, where to plug in the cables, and how to make all of the components work together.

It’s a viable option, but it also requires tearing out your new car’s media receiver. In many new cars, these include screens and information for your car as well as the media player. Do this at your own risk.

Can A CD Player Be Installed in a New Car?

Replacing the built-in audio unit in your new car can be an option, especially if you are determined to play your CDs in your car. However, there are a few issues that might arise from this.

Some of the newer dashboard systems won’t support a CD player. As I mentioned above, most manufacturers have stopped putting CD players in their cars.

CD players take up a lot of space, require more connections, and can be more expensive to add during manufacturing. Newer center consoles may have touch screens or other large entertainment units that don’t leave enough room for them.

There is more than one drawback to this if you’re trying to install a new CD player or media receiver.

Your car might not have the right hardware or systems to support a different CD player or media receiver with a CD player. Ripping out your factory entertainment console can be expensive, and you may have to install expensive new adaptors to get it to work properly.

You can install a CD player in your new car. However, the process can be expensive and complicated. There may be no way to take the CD player out once you are done installing it. Due to the difficulty and the expense, use caution before installing a CD player in your newer car.

Final Verdict

Your large CD collection doesn’t have to go to waste! The methods above will allow you to listen to your entire collection in your car, no matter how new it is. Of course, there are some difficulties associated with getting your CDs playing, but with the right equipment, you’ll be jamming to your music in no time.

How to Play CDs In Newer Cars Without CD Player
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How to Play CDs In Newer Cars Without CD Player