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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
- Red Fox FT44 MP3 Wireless FM Modulator 2009
- Red Fox MP3 FM Modulator player, 2nd review
- Red Fox MP3 FM Modulator, 1st review
- MP3 FM transmitter for car
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.
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).