Noise-Reducing AUX Audio Cable
About a year ago, I reviewed two devices from Kensington called The LiquidAux and LiquidAux Deluxe. These devices attached to your cigarette lighter or car power plug, and then to your “AUX” input of your car’s stereo. You then dock or connect your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPod to the device, and you can now listen to you music through your car’s own stereo. It even came with a small remote you attach to your steering wheel to wirelessly control your music. I loved the idea, and have the Deluxe model still in my car, and use it almost daily. But sadly it had one flaw that I listed in that review: “Cons: Needs better power supply filtering…” Sadly, I can hear all kinds of whines and humming being passed from my car’s noisy power system through my iPod, and into my stereo, and it drives me nuts.
Even when at home with my iPod connected to my stereo, I could hear the 60 cycle hum of a crappy AC adapter leaking into the music, especially in quiet passages. Suffice it to say, Apple did not put a lot of effort into audio filtering on the power line, because most of the time, you are not plugged into a power source. But in my car, this was especially a problem.
Well, Kensington listened to the comments of myself and others, and has come up with a low-cost $20 add-on that solves this problem. The Kensington Noise-Reducing AUX Audio Cable is designed for just this kind of issue, and will work with any device that connects to a stereo in the house or the car via a 3.5 mm jack (think headset sized jack with a cable attached.) This device replaces the existing audio cable that goes between your music player and the amp, and includes an in-line noise reducing filter to get rid of those annoying sounds that do not really add to your music.
No power supply is needed, this small device (2.8″ x 5.2″ x 1.8″ inches) weighs in at just shy of 2 ounces, and stretches about 4 feet long cable end to cable end, so it can reach those hidden audio jacks, even in the back of a stereo or in the dash of the car, and it will not take up much space. The audio cable is braided for extra strength and durability, and it also seems to help eliminate cable tangle as it is a bit more stiff than a regular wire.
But does it work? In a word, YES! I took the LiquidAux back to my car, plugged it in, and attached it to my iPod touch, pressed the AUX button on my car stereo. and turned up the volume. I immediately heard all kinds of hums and whines from the speakers, even before I started to play music. Sure, loud music drowns much of that noise out, but not when the music gets quiet or between songs. So I unplugged the cable from the AUX jack and attached the cable from the filter to the AUX jack instead. The other end I plugged directly into the iPod touch’s earphone jack, and pressed AUX on my radio again (necessary every time you disconnect an audio source sadly.) This time, I was not even sure my stereo was turned on. There were no sounds of any kind, be it beeps or whines, coming from the speaks, even when I turned it up to full volume. The audio was completely silent. Then I pressed play on the iPod, and the music came though LOUD and clear (I forgot to turn down the stereo, DOH!) Yep, it was on alright, it was just that silent when not playing. What a difference!
OK, to be fair, I do not have any audio test equipment available, but to my ears, I did not hear any audio degradation at all. I switched back and forth a few times to hear music with and without the cable, and the music sounded the same to me. Of course, I am sure that some audio attenuation at certain frequencies must be taking place as they are eliminating noise after all, and filters eliminate something good with the bad, but it was not immediately noticeable when playing music, either classical, jazz, or rock. And quiet passages were no longer filled with noise. What a pleasure!
Sadly, I do not have the small audio adapter I mentioned above, so I could not test it directly with the LiquidAux Deluxe, but I suspect similar results will be heard.
PROS: I think Kensington hit a home run with this little device. It is priced right, it cleans up those annoying sounds as expected, it does not noticeably degrade the sound, and it is small and lightweight as well.
CONS: Given the 15 cent price of the audio adapter, there should have been one in the box, as many installs may need it.