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Charging/powering latest iPods/iPhones with Audi iPod interface (Audi A3/A4 B7/TT)

15.6.2009 - This article discusses the Audi iPod interface, not Audi Music Interface, but the older Audi A3/A4 B7/TT fixed interface (or retrofit cable) which mimicks a CD changer. Of course the products linked here will likely work with most car and other iPod chargers and interfaces as well.

Originally many earlier Apple iPods were charged using a Firewire to dock connector cable (12V power pins there) or power adapter connected to a Firewire cable. Later Apple added the option of charging via USB to dock connector cable (5V power pins apparently).

Then Apple started removing Firewire support and advocating USB syncing and charging instead of Firewire in their iPods. They did, however, support Firewire charging up until some of the very latest iPods - even though Firewire otherwise was no longer supported.

Because of the origins and the fact that Firewire is 12V (like your average car electrical system), many car iPod adapters charge using the Firewire pins. This includes the Audi iPod interface discussed here, even (at least some of the) currently latest revisions on the market.

The very latest Apple iPods, such as the latest iPhone and fourth generation iPod nano support charging only via USB. Firewire charging is no longer supported. Connecting one of these to the Audi iPod interface works otherwise, but the iPod is not powered or charged via the interface - eventually running out of power if not removed and charged elsewhere.

So, if you are one of the people with such an Audi iPod interface in their cars (do test first), here is a solution for you. These come from several manufacturers (just Google iPod charge converter), but the one listed here has been successfully tested in an Audi A3 with factory iPod interface and a fourth generation iPod nano (which otherwise would not charge in the car). The interface is marketed by both Ridax and CableJive, the tested adapter was purchased from the latter:

CableJive Charge Converter (the smaller version without extra USB connector)
http://www.cablejive.com/charge-converter

In fact, plug in the Audi iPod interface iPod nano third generation plastic adapter housing in the interface, and the charge converter sits very snuggly in the interface, almost as if it belongs there. iPod is now powered and charged by the device and other functions still work great, too.

Speaking of plastic adapter housings, the factory iPod interface from Audi contains a slot where you can insert various adapter housings to customize the interface for your particular iPod. The problem, of course, is that iPods change so often that not the required adapter housings may not be available yet - and with the charge converter, they wouldn't exactly fit either. Without the adapter housing the iPod sits in the interface without support and won't feel very secure.

Whether or not you use the charge converter, CableJive also has a cool extender cable that is a good alternative for using the adapter housings. Instead, plug in the extension cable to the interface (or the interface with charge converter), and plug your iPod to this extension cable. This setup mimicks more closely the Audi retrofit iPod cable and the Audi Music Interface cable setup, where the iPod is also arguably easier to insert and remove and move around in the glove compartment thanks to connecting to cable instead of a rigid connector in the compartment wall.

CableJive Dock Extender Cable (2 feet, black is good for Audi glove compartment)
http://www.cablejive.com/dock-extender-cable

BTW: The same charging issue also applies to earlier Audi Music Interfaces (AMI), but is apparently rectified by updating the iPod cable and AMI software to a later version. Of course, using a charge converter would probably work just as well there!

Enjoy your music!

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