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Review - iCarPlay Wireless Plus
Wednesday, March 1st, 2006 at 12:30 PM - by
Having gone through at least a dozen FM transmitters and been disappointed by most, I've learned a couple things along the way: first, no FM transmitter will ever sound as good as a quality cassette adapter or, of course, a direct line-in connection; second, FM transmitters that double as iPod chargers, and thus our powered by a vehicle's 12V plug, sound better than stand-alone FM transmitters. With that in mind I tackled Monster's newest iCarPlay Wireless Plus FM transmitter and walked away satisfied with what I found.
Monster iCarPlay Wireless Plus
As far as FM transmitters go, the futuristic looking design of the iCarPlay Wireless Plus is quite attractive. The 12V plug is outfitted with 24k gold connectors—which are surely more for marketing than performance purposes— and the Monster logo glows red when connected, a nice alternative to the typical green LED. The controller supports three FM presets and can be adjusted between bright and dim modes for nighttime driving.
The iCarPlay Wireless Plus supports the typical frequency range of 88.1MHz to 107.9MHz. While this means that it can't take advantage of those virtually unused 87.x frequencies that are ideal for personal listening and that some car stereos can tune into, I was impressed by how cleanly the iCarPlay Wireless Plus could transmit to frequencies that were anything but open. Even in the crowded Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex it wasn't difficult to find a frequency that the iCarPlay Wireless Plus would be able to transmit to with only a barely audible level of static, if any.
Audio quality, while good as far as FM transmitters are concerned and probably satisfactory to many listeners, is still far from perfect. Highs don't sound so sharp, bass is slightly muffled, and the overall tonality is on the flat side. But this is true for all FM transmitters, and Monster at least deserves some kudos for including a disclaimer informing purchasers that "no FM transmitter will ever sound like your favorite 50,000 Watt radio station."
Like most Monster products, the iCarPlay Wireless Plus won't be winning any value awards any time soon. Retail is pegged at $80, but you can find it for closer to $60 from many resellers, in line with the going rate today for more "premium" FM transmitters. That's still twice what Newer Technology's RoadTrip!+ (5 stars) will set you back, however. While the RoadTrip!+ is fixed to 87.9MHz and looks totally bland, it does an equally fine job of beaming tunes to your radio.
The Bottom Line
It's not cheap, but Monster's iCarPlay Wireless Plus FM transmitter is one of the best FM transmitters we have come across for automative purposes.
Just The Facts
Pros: transmits one of the strongest signals we've seen, attractive design, good audio quality for an FM transmitter
Cons: can't transmit to 87.xMHz frequencies, audio quality is still impeded by FM transmitter limitations
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