How to use your iPad as a car stereo (WITHOUT A HEAD UNIT!)

Connection and wiring -

How to use your iPad as a car stereo (WITHOUT A HEAD UNIT!)

In my T-Bird, I am using the iPad as my only audio source. This is a great way to keep your system simple and save space if you don't have room for a car stereo head unit, or if you prefer not to run one.

This can be setup by using an external preamp DAC such as the Dragonfly USB DAC from AudioQuest (amazon link to buy) (AudioQuest's website). The DAC will connect to your iPad and then to a volume controller or to an amplifier that can support a dash mounted volume control, such as the JL Audio XD700/5. Below are some examples of how this can be done.

The diagram above shows the iPad connecting to AudioQuest Dragonfly, then an AudioControl Overdrive (two channel volume controller) which has two RCA pre-outs to connect to your car amplifier/s. A 3.5mm to RCA cable will be needed to connect the Dragonfly to the volume controller. The AudioControl ACR-1 Dash Control will also be required to adjust volume from your dashboard. 

If you are planning a small system, the JL Audio XD700/5 Amplifier has the ability to accept two channels of audio in, from the portable DAC, to supply signal for all five channels of amplification by setting the input switch to two channel. With the HD-RLC volume knob, you are able to control the volume of all five channels.

An Apple Lightning to USB 3 Camera AdapterApple USB-C to Lighting Cable and Belkin USB-C 36 watt Car Charger are recommended to enable fast charging while connected to the Dragonfly. 

For systems with multiple amplifiers, you may choose to use a Digital Signal Processor as your volume controller. Most DSP units feature six to eight channels of output (RCA outs) and more features such as an Equalizer, Digital Crossovers, Time Delay, Balance, Fader and Subwoofer level control. Audison Bit Ten D and AudioControl audio processors shown below.

AudioControl also manufactures a line of quality audio processors. The D-6.1200 Is a six channel amplifier with a built in audio processor. Volume can be controlled from the dash via the ACR-3 Dash Control and audio can be streamed directly to the D-6.1200 with the AC-BT24 accessory. NOTE! that the iPad will not automatically pair to the AC-BT24, you must pair from settings.

If you want to connect an iPad to your OEM audio system or aftermarket car stereo deck click here.