Red Fox MP3 FM Modulator

So I got a little itchy and went ahead and bought myself another MP3 FM Modulator. The price has come down and I paid RM$65 for it. This Red Fox version FT20D 6-in-1 MP3/Wireless FM Modulator of course is an improved version over my previous MP3 FM modulator. It has its advantages; however, do not believe what is shown on the packaging as it was misleading. How so? On the packaging it was displayed a 4GB SD card thus giving the impression that the Red Fox MP3 FM Modulator could handle 4GB SDHC and USB Flash Drive.

Red Fox MP3 player FM Modulator


This Red Fox MP3 FM Modulator was much better than my previous version as it could handle SD/MMC Cards as well as the usual USB flash drive and microphone input jack. Its panel display was also more informative, using pixel based LCD display, it was able to display the song that was played and the display will change as you fiddle with its various functions. The frequency transmitting range was increased to 200 frequencies much more than the 14 presets on my previous FM device. This helps as there are way too many radio stations in the Klang Valley and makes finding a clear channel that will not interfere with the MP3 FM modulator much easier. It also comes with a IR remote control that provide additional function like EQ presets (Normal, Rock, Classic, Pop, etc) and volume control.

Looks good, yes? Well, here’s the low down.

The sound quality: don’t expect too much out of it. It can’t compare to a CD player or even a CD player that can handle MP3 songs. Somehow the device cuts off the bass and treble frequencies giving the music a somewhat muted sound. If you are not too fussy it is still quite acceptable. I went with a 160kbps bit rate which was high enough quality and balance off with a file size that was not too big. 128kbps bit rate sounds terrible though you could save on space capacity while a 192kbps bit rate is a bit on the overkill. Same goes with VBR (variable bit rate) which takes up an extra 1MB per song when compared to a standard bit rate. It all depends on how fussy you are on the fidelity of the music played.

As for supported hardware: First I tried it with my Toshiba 4GB U3 flash drive. It wouldn’t read the USB thumb drive at all. I thought, “Oh, no. It has the same problem with my previous MP3 FM Modulator.” So I tried it out with a 1 GB Kingston SD card and filled it up to full capacity. No problem. It could detect all my MP3, whether the MP3 files were located in the root, in a folder or in a sub folder. That’s one up from my previous MP3 FM modulator which could only read files from flash drive and only from the root directory. Subfolders are good for organizing the MP3 files in the flash storage device.

Out of curiosity, I tested it on my Sandisk 4GB SDHC card (‘coz the package showed a 4GB SD card). Nada. Could not read it at all. I guess it didn’t support SDHC hardware. The packaging was quite misleading, thought the picture showed an SD Card but not a SDHC card. It was meant more for the USB flash disk. However it wouldn’t read my 4GB flash drive either.

Then back at the digital mall, another shop who sold the same device said that 4GB flash drive should have no problem, even if it was using a U3 enabled device, because they encountered similar problems and was able to solve the issue. It seems if you have other types of files in the USB flash device, the Red Fox FM Modulator will jam up. “Ok.” I thought, let’s go back and try it.

Instead of deleting those other files, I placed in other folders and change the folder attributes to hidden and gave it a try. Voila! It Red Fox MP3 FM mod works! So I thought I’ve got it clinched and decided to pump up the flash storage full of MP3 songs.

After several hours of removing other files and stuffing it with MP3 songs, I placed tried out the flash drive on the FM mod again. But to my dismay, it wouldn’t read it. “What gives?” Hurling expletives at that the stupid device (which was no point since it is just a dumb device and me dummier fool for scolding it), I took out the Toshiba 4GB flash disk and decided to take it back to my PC for further study as to what was causing the Red Fox FM Modulator from reading it.

It’s strange that it could not read it, so what was the cause?
i) Was 700 MP3 files way too many? (earlier I had 500 MP3 files totaling about 3GB in size and it could read it)
ii) Did it require some MP3 files in the root folder to kick start it?
iii) Were the empty folders causing it to misread?
iv) What other causes was hanging the Red Fox FM modulator?

Sigh…! Perhaps I should not be too ambitious and should get myself a 2GB flash drive instead.



(21/11/2007) Update.

Finally! After scratching my head and thinking hard, I managed to figure out why the Red Fox MP3 FM Modulator was not working. It has a limit to the number of MP3 files it can read. After much walking to and fro between the car and my house desktop PC, I finally managed to find the exact limit – 575 MP3 files. It could still go over a few more handfuls of files, but could still cause the device to hang. To be on the safe side, the number of MP3 files should be less than 575. Fortunately I stayed in a house and not a condo which would have made the trial and error testing process a real big chore!

At my current 160kbps bit rate for 575 files, that came to about 3.5 GB worth of storage used. It seemed quite a waste to leave about 0.5 gig of storage space to waste. Perhaps I could mix and match other type of files but those files will have to stay in some subfolders and not at the root directory.



(23/11/2007) More update

Talk about crappy. I’m using the Red Fox MP3 FM modulator while driving; so I thought, “Let’s see how it goes if the songs were near the last ones.” And there it goes, when I tried to make it play at the no. 500+ song it hanged. It was very difficult to get it unhung by unplugging the device from the cigarette socket plugging it in and pressing various buttons to get it working.

I decided to do another test and did the test after getting back home. After several frustrating hangs from testing it, I found out that there was another limit. The forward button will only allow you to play the next song until 508 then it goes crazy and then hangs. Tested the random play function and it manages to jump randomly to somewhere around song no. 550, if it jumps above song number 550 the number reduces by 100, ie if it hits song #562 it jumps to #462. On normal play it still could play on after song no. 508 and so I presume it could go on playing till song no. 575. But if you wish to manually switch to the next song it will hang.

And so, if you really want a trouble free listening, the recommended number of songs you might want to stuff into your flash drive should be around 500 songs. That would mean a lot of wasted space on the USB flash drive if you were dedicating it solely for the MP FM Modulator.

So the final conclusion about using Red Fox MP3 FM Modulator:

Pros:
1) Ok. So I could still stuff in quite a lot of songs 500+ is still on lot and gets me about 41+ hours of play time assuming each songs length is about 5 minutes.
2) I could use SD/MMC card though the limit is 2GB. Could also use the mic/earphone jack for using with external player like iPod or Creative MP3 player).
3) Good for long distance driving.
4) Many FM channels so the chance of conflict with radio station was much less.

Cons:
1) Buggy software causes it to hang if you exceed 575 songs and to be really safe, about 500 songs. Therefore not maximizing the 4GB flash drive capacity.
2) Cannot expect too much from the sound quality and sometimes some mp3 files seemed to play badly even though you have ripped it with sufficient quality.
3) If car engine is not running, strange thumping sounds could be heard.

Related posts:


29/Apr/2009

I see many people ask the same question over and over again. The answers are in the post or some replies. Here’s the usual replies to the question you have in mind.

FAQ
1) Avoid mixing files – they tend to mess up the player.
2) No. – you can’t change the order of songs. It is based on position of storage, not alphabetical, not date, back to the good old days of Applesoft DOS file listing.
3) Yes, you can organize using folders.
4) Hold the press button to alternate between random and normal. No repeat function.
5) No fuse that I could see. If you are curious, open the device at your own peril.
6) The song will start from the beginning after each car restart. Some MP3 player like Creative Zen Neeon also like that.
7) Don’t simply format USB thumbdrive, you may format to wrong type (eg NTFS). If you really must, make sure it is FAT16/32.
8 ) Find a radio frequency that is clear of radio stations. Kinda hard to find because airwave is very crowded nowadays, but still can find.
9) All buttons for channel selection, play, random, pause, play next, play previous, are all on the MP3 device. Some extra functions on the remote control. Advisable not to use the remote (but up to you).
10) Some MP3/WMA songs won’t play properly. Too bad. Try ripping again.
11) Don’t expect the MP3 modulator device to last. After all, it is a cheapo device. Now so cheap and so many choice, spoil already just go buy another one. Current price about RM25 (if same model as mine).

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52 Responses to “Red Fox MP3 FM Modulator”

  1. courage says:

    Hi, i bought the same thing for RM55 in Penang PC fair last week. Cool gadget, i like it.

    Then i have this one fren and he said having a fm transmitter near your private part (cos the 12V power supply is near the gear) is not so good. He said it is killing sperm..i dunno what it will kill on a girls body. But just wondering have you done any findings on this?

  2. joycelyn says:

    Hi! I just brought the same thing.. but i can’t find the random play button.. where’s it it ar?

  3. Jan says:

    Dear Courage,

    Don’t know about the sperm killing thing but the airwaves is so full of radio waves from handphones, radio, tv, astro, microwave, and what’s not… it is a wonder we don’t glow at night. :)

    Dear Jocelyn,

    Press and hold the play button, it will alternate between normal and random. You need to do a few times coz it jumps very fast to and fro and if let go at wrong time you end up with the original setting. What to expect from a cheap item…

  4. KennyP says:

    It is a great and comprehensive review and guide, thank you 😀

  5. Philip says:

    I am using fm modulator now but when I replaced the fuse it stopped working. I have been through two of them already. Each time I replaced the fuse it does not work anymore. Any suggestions and what type of fuse should I buy?

  6. Alfa Romeo says:

    Dude,

    I bought the same device, and very satisfied with it. Your review is the best and the tips really helps. Keep up the good work.

  7. Jan says:

    Dear Philip,

    I didn’t know it got a fuse… maybe your car cigarette port always got power surge, thus FM modulator always get damaged.

    Dear AF,

    Thanks for the compliments!

  8. Riana says:

    Dear Jan,
    Great review on the stuff. I had a problem though….
    I’ve just bought the Red Fox FM Modulator yesterday for RM69.90. I asked the sales promoter whether the modulator would support a flash disk full of mixed files (eg: .doc.xls.jpg and .mp3) and she said that it will do juz fine. so, immediately after i reached home i stuffed my Pendrive 1GB USB drive with songs without deleteing the existing files. 1st time tried, there are no indication that the modulator functions properly. The LCD screen did not indicate anything (note: no turn ‘ON’ light whatsoever), so i thot that I had to follow what the packaging says which I must format my USB drive first before using it. So I removed all files, formatted it, and re-enter only MP3 files into the USB drive. 2nd try, no ‘ON’ light indicator also.

    My question is;
    1. How to know whether the device is functioning? eg: any light indicator, or the screen will appear anything?
    2. I am currently using the cigarette socket near my handbrake, I am driving a proton persona, so i dunno whether some cars disable the power socket function or what?
    3. I tried using Pendrive USB 1 GB thumbdrive, or is there any specific USB brand to go with the device?
    4. Referred to ‘Philip’; is there any fuse at the bottom of the device? coz the 1st time I tried, the fuse got detached from the device, so the 2nd time I tried, i attached the fuse at the bottom.

    Thanks Jan, really appreciate it if you cld help me.

  9. tanya mc laughlin says:

    does it work in the uk

  10. Jan says:

    Dear Riana,

    There is no on/off switch. Just plug it straight into the cigarette lighter socket. If it doesn’t work, either the MP3 device or the socket is not working. The MP3 panel should light up if it is working. Any brand should work theoretically. I tested with several thumbdrives including Kingston, Toshiba (U3 type), LG, Dell (M-System), and they all worked fine. Pendrive should work too, unless you password protect it. Pendrive has two partitions, perhaps that’s why it doesn’t work, that’s why the sales lady said you should reformat it, but that would not remove the partitions. Check the PenDrive website, they may have some info about how to remove the partitions. Meantime, you could borrow a friends’ USB flash drive and test see. Thinking about it, there should not be any need to fiddle with the MP3 fuse (if there is one).

    Dear Tanya,

    If you got a car radio, a cigarette lighter socket, I don’t see why it shouldn’t work.

  11. Sean says:

    Hello, i just bought the same item for RM47 at PC fair in Kch today… I can’t seem to get it work on my Mercedes E220, i plug it into the cigratte plug and turn on the radio but no power was sent to the modulator… Anyone had the same prob as mine?

  12. Jan says:

    Dear Sean,

    That’s really strange that it didn’t work. Unless the MP3 player is faulty, or your cigarette socket is faulty. I think you may need to push the MP3 FM Modulator harder into the socket ’cause the connectors may not be touching. I have to push mine in to make sure the power is supplied to the Red Fox MP3 player.

  13. Alan says:

    Yesterday just bought 1 at penang PISA PC fair at RM37 plus 8 CD-R, real price should be RM35, cos saw 1 stall selling at RM35. Mine 1 is ‘EDGE’ branded, but same as the picture u post. Got 1 month warranty, cos the seller said is made in China =.=;, got other model cost at RM68 to RM78, which claim sound quality is better with lesser distortion, can reader MS-PRO-DUO, but I decide buy this 1 for testing.

    So i tested on MP3, WMA from apacer n kingtons pendrive up to 4GB. Tested 2GB SD card, oso tested on card reader, work good with MS-PRO-DUO on card reader, dunno SDHC can work if got proper card reader, card reader cost RM9.

    only can display ABC, cannot display chinese character.

    FM radio sound quality, work on all radio device which can reveive FM signal.
    Got 5 band equalizer for sound.

    Great product for wireless streamming of MP3 based on FM signal.

  14. Fiona says:

    hmm thanks for the tips on the random fuction…. does anyone knows about the repeat function?

  15. Suresh says:

    hey would you help on how do set a playlist so that the songs which are in the usb play accordingly?

  16. Marvin says:

    Hello,
    It’s nice to go through your webpage… I am a manager from INNO SUPPLY & SERVICES S/B
    Which the company sole distributor of the Product of RedFox Modulator.This is our Office TEL: 03 80700674. If you are free please do contact me.
    Since there is brand new product coming for The RedFox Modulator, we would like to share some info with you and your friends. ~~~ RedFox Bluetooth Modulator.

  17. agus says:

    after 1 year my modulator getting bad sounds.. sometime make torn sound.. i pull to socket plug again and again but the result is there no stereo sound detect.. juussst a very soft sound can hear. i thought it was a modulator problem, or something to do with my flash disk.. any one can help me..?

  18. Jan says:

    Dear Agus,
    I can only guess.
    1) Our airwaves is getting very crowded. FM channels that used to be empty suddenly got a radio station which then clash with MP3 FM modulator device. Switch to another channel frequency. Nowadays very hard to find one very empty FM frequency which you can use throughout your traveling.
    2) You device finally call it quits. You have to buy a new. It is getting cheaper nowadays with some new models coming out.

  19. agus says:

    thx…….jan

  20. Tom says:

    HI,
    Can anyone tell me how to use the repeat function.
    I can’t find the button at the remote.
    And thanks for the random function.

  21. Wei-Jan says:

    Great review. I still have issues with it though. It can read mp4 files or not? I ripped songs off a pirated CD and the file type turned out to be mpeg-4. Anyway, the FM modulator read my thumbdrive, but the songs can’t be heard.

    Am I doing it right?
    1. I plug the FM modulator into the socket.
    2. Change the station channel on the modulator to the radio station that is on (say, Mix FM, 95.4)
    3. Play?

    I just don’t get it why the songs won’t be heard. Is it the thumbdrive problem? I formatted the pendrive before I plugged it in…

  22. Jan says:

    Dear Tom,
    Sorry. I never tried the repeat button. Can’t test the remote now coz the button battery dead. Not planning to replace the battery for the remote. Didn’t find any need for it.

    Dear Wei-Jan,
    Nope. It will not work with MP4. Only MP3. There are some versions that can work with WMA but those cost more. Check your ripping software settings. eg in ITUNES you can set what format to convert.
    1) Goto “Edit”
    2) click “Preference”
    3) click the “Advance” tab
    4) then the “Importing” tab
    5) change the “Import using” drop down list and select MP3 Encoder
    6) Set your quality to High Quality 160kbps
    7) Press “OK” and you are done.

  23. prav says:

    Dear All,
    I seem to have a problem with the Red Fox FM modulator. I’ve attached a 4GB Kingston thumbdrive to it and it works fine, generally.
    What I don’t understand is that it tends to skip/ not read certain songs. All the songs are in MP3 format. Also, when I sometimes search for a song, the song number appears on the display, but then it skips to the next song. Or, the song in particular can only be played when the previous song concludes.
    Does anyone else have this weird problem?
    Btw, I only have around 400 songs on the thumbdrive, amounting to about 2.5GB.

    thanks, and have a nice day.

    prav.

  24. johvon says:

    Hi,
    I just bought this device a few days ago. I found that the cigarette lighter socket heated up. Will it burn down my mp3 modulator? I am worried about it. I am not sure whether is because of get heated up, there are some ‘sa..sa..’ sound appearing.

  25. nurul says:

    hye, i’m nurul n just brought this device last week. Everything goes well BUT the problem is, it keep on repeat 1 song for 2 till 3 times, i’ve to use remote to control it. Can u pls advice wat should i do?

  26. Ian says:

    Nurul – it sounds like you’ve got the repeat function working. Press the play button for a couple of seconds and it should change back to single play.

  27. infra36 says:

    Hi Jan,
    Good info. After saw a promo, rm39 model FT20e and checking out with my colleague who is using one (older version) too and highly recommended plus info from your review, decided to get one to try it out. Not bad at all. Overall great stuff.

    Have a nice day! Cheers.

  28. Chad says:

    Yes, have bought model FT20E. It,s great stuff for the price of RM39. Plays mp3 and wma audio format.. What’s the sound!!!

  29. enerac says:

    can the song title auto scroll? cos wat i see is something like “this is~.mp3”

    too long issit the title?

  30. biemonday says:

    how i want to play the song on my car? and i’ve already press play and no sound come out. too bad i forgot to ask the guy that show how to use this redfox. anyone,help me!

    • Jan says:

      make sure there are no mix files (eg docs, exe, etc) only mp3 files. If it can’t read from folder, put all mp3 files in root. Also don’t exceed max files in USB drive (depends on mp3 player). Also some USB drive won’t work, try another brand. If still don’t play, return back to shop for checking/warranty claim. tada!

  31. tenchu says:

    hi,
    how do i activate the function bet normal, random and repeat? i know that i’ve to hold play button, but for how many second? is there any indicator on the modulator for normal, random n repeat? i found it was hard to change the function especially bet random and repeat

  32. jmesst says:

    Hi,
    I just bought a Redfox FM modulator as well (the one in white). I does not come with a detailed manual, so I do not know how to change the radio frequency on the device. When I plug in, it shows 88.1 FM. But in my area, it is the frequency of a radio station. So sometimes I can hear static noise behind. How do I change the radio frequency on the device to an empty station?

    And also, how do I know when the fuse needs to be replaced? Can it be done by myself as in I can just open the device and replace it or I have to bring it to a shop?
    Besides, my remote control wasn’t working at all even though it is new.
    Thank you for your advice.

    • Jan says:

      Dear All,
      C’mon readers, all those question you guys asked were already in the post or in some replies. Read through them. The answers are all there!

  33. Peter says:

    hey.. any friend can help my problem?? i brought 2 modulator and 2 modulator also same problem.. have weird sound.. something like aeroplane sound.. “yiiiiiii” my engine more power more loud that “yiiiii” any friend can help this problem??

  34. abs says:

    Hey I also brought the same model in the photo, except it’s from another brand, it has written on it: “Omega Car usb & SD Mp3 FM transmitter”
    Everything else is the same.

    So I plug it into my car’s cig ligter, the car is Citroen Saxo, old model, and the mp3 modulator won’t turn on. Then I tried it on another car, an newer Opel of a friend of mine, and it worked. Then I tried it on my dad’s car wich is a Citroen Berlingo, he already has an garmin gps system into his car cig lighter. And again it didn’t work, then we looked at the garmin input switch (by this I mean the very end of the narrow side of the mp3 modulator, where a metallic piece, a button is located) and at the mp3 modulator imput swicth, then we found the garmin switch looked preety much the same size and shape, except that the metallic piece, the switch button at the very end of the imput switch, was just a little bit longer than on the mp3 modulator’s one.

    So I’m asking is there a problem with french cars?
    Do they have a deeper cig ligter switch holes?

    I think that the Opel one’s switch hole was less deep.
    If so I should try connecting the end of the switch hole, and the metallic piece button at the very end of the imput swtich?

    Thanks, hope you understood my message 😉

  35. abs says:

    Oh yeah, another thing, I forgot to tell you that my car cigarette lighter works perfectly, and as I’ve seen on the Opel car, also the Mp3 modulator works, so there must be a connection issue here!

  36. abs says:

    I already solved the problem next day, I just had to push the switch under the right angle and deeper in roder to get contact.

  37. Felipe says:

    Hey,

    I bought one of these, but it wont work. The message is “fs error”. I am in Brazil and tried in 2 different cars.
    What shoul i do to make it work??
    thanks
    Felipe

  38. Wagner says:

    Hi Guys, I format my one and… It doesn´t work… so i think i broke my mp3 wma wireless fm modulator, because do not work more in the transmitting when i use sd card or the own memory internal or pen drive. Work only in the external rca plug. Could someone help me… Please. I hope ansiously for a answer about it.
    Tks!
    Wagner

  39. TC Yeo says:

    My PC cannot read redfox drive transfer files. Why?

  40. Sanjaya says:

    hi..
    just wondering if i can connect my ipod to the modulator..is it really possible??or i ll need to buy another kind of wire for my ipod..im fail terribly
    in these tech things..

  41. mmas says:

    thx for your review . it helps others. I also bought red fox fm modulator at RM35, model FT44A, i hope i will satisfy with it.

  42. tortugapaul says:

    Jan, Great review this item is on EBay for about $5 but without instructions I was lost until now, Thanks!!!

  43. Case says:

    I just wondering if I have create 2 folders for my mp3 song group in my SD card, then when playing in the FM modulator, how can I switch folder from one to another?

  44. umarluffy says:

    hi..
    i just bought this mp3 modulator.. did’nt know the brand.. RM29.00
    use the 1gb pendrive.. works well..
    1st time put into the socket.. did’nt work..
    solution: put back the cigar lighter to the socket.. push till the coil heats up.. then put the mp3 modulator.. it will work..
    prob comes when the frequency same with the radio station frequency.. the sound will not came out.. set the frequency to the 87.5.. it will works fine..
    sound quality is fine with stock sound system.. my head unit just perodua cassette player..
    reason to buy: boring to hear lot’s of nonsense things at the station..
    lots of advertisements..

  45. Laurence says:

    Jan, I just bought one…no instructions…no joy…not compatible with my thumb drive or SD card…just says no files, no matter how i arrange them in folders

    SORRY, but you have wrong attitude, when you say ‘what to expect…cheapo item’……I expect products to give basic functionality no matter what the price !

    GO away RedFox!!!…come back when you implement some quality in your production…biggest joke is the ‘QC passed’ sticker on the back !

  46. Noebios says:

    Donde puedo encontrar las instrucciones del digital mp3 fox player en español. Lo acabo de comprar y estan en francés y no sé muy bien como funciona…
    gracias!

  47. Ern says:

    I once had a problem where I couldn’t play any mp3 files on my car modulator which was saved to my pendrive. Then my friend told me that there’s a certain file, something like XML or WML, sorry I can’t remember the exact name, which MUST be in the root directory of the pendrive, otherwise the files cannot play. I tested it, and he was right! When I deleted that file from the root directory, none of the songs could play; when I put back that file into the root director, voila! all songs also can play! :-)
    My question now is: what is the name of that file which I must copy to the root directory?
    Thanks!

  48. legambaz says:

    mine gets a lot of hissing noise especially between songs! how to get rid if it?

  49. samy says:

    Hi,
    when I insert it into the cigarette lighter it doesnt power on! what could be the reason for this? has it burn out?

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