Dynex DX-FMDC1/Aerielle i2i & DX-AC101 FM Transmitters
I recently received two Dynex FM transmitters from Best Buy for evaluation. And evaluate them I did... Remember, FM transmitters can be very subjective. Your results may differ from mine, depending on where you live.
The transmitter is a fairly generic looking sort of Lima bean shaped thing... It's manufactured by Procare for
Dynex (Best Buy).
As most FM transmitters in this price range, it has the ability to broadcast on four different frequencies, 88.1, 88.3, 88.5, and 88.7. So if you're in an area that has a strong station broadcasting on one of those frequencies, you can
simply switch to another.
When I opened the package I was surprised to find a dial on the side, labeled "Tuning". As you probably figured, turning this dial fine tunes the signal.
On the back of the unit, you'll find the battery cover, which has a soft foam a pad attached to it. This is nice as it prevents it from scratching the surface it's on, as well as keeps it from sliding all over the place.
The unit runs off of 2 standard AAA batteries (not included).
For the test, I loaded fresh AAA batteries into the unit. I then connected a splitter to an MP3 player, and plugged the Dynex into one jack, and a Belkin Tunecast (Model F8V367) to the other so I could easily compare them. I turned the Dynex on and set the switch to 88.3 which is an empty frequency in my area. The radio I used was an Onkyo HT-R540.
I held the transmitter next to the radio and slowly stepped back. Eventually I ran out of space, and had to back out of the room! So cranked up the volume on the radio, and kept backing up, and backing up, and backing up... the signal finally gave out at an impressive 42'. The Belkin gave out at around 15'. I then sat the transmitter down and walked around the room. The signals from both the Belkin and the Dynex were sometimes disrupted by my body. This is where that tuning dial on the Dynex comes in handy. I rolled the wheel until the signal cleared up. I could then walk all around it, and the signal remained rock solid.
Here's where it falls flat, literally... The audio quality the Dynex DX-AC101 puts out is mediocre at best. The highs are muddy, and the overall sound is very flat. The Belkin was putting out near CD quality sound, while the Dynex sounded a few steps below an FM radio station. Very disappointing.
Listen for your self:
The range of the Dynex DX-AC101 is its strong point. I was very impressed by how powerful it is. With this little thing I can actually broadcast music to every radio in my house! The AC101 is great if you want good solid performance, and don't care too much about audio quality. But if you want good audio quality, you may want to look elsewhere.
The FMDC1 is quite a bit more impressive than the AC101. Probably because it's manufactured for Dynex (Best buy) by Aerielle, Inc. Aerielle manufactures transmitters for dozens of companies including Sandisk, iRiver, Kensington and many others. So it should be a pretty solid product. Let's find out...
The FMDC1 Features...
Built in charger, so you can simultaneously charge your NS-DV or other MP3 player while listening to it. A Back lit display. The ability to broadcast on any frequency in the FM radio spectrum. It has an auto shut off feature. Remembers the last frequency you were on if the power is disrupted. And can store up to three preset frequencies.
The unit comes in one of those annoying blister packs, which contains: the transmitter, (1) USB A to Mini-B cable, (1) 3.5mm to 3.5mm gold plated (or at least gold colored...) patch cable and an instruction manual.
Notice the rubberized plastic body with the gloss black plastic faceplate? The DX-FMDC1 was obviously designed to compliment Insignia NS-DV series, despite the fact that it has "Made for iPod" stamped all over it. But there are quite a few more iPod owners than NS-DV owners, so they'll definitely sell more transmitters by stamping "Made for iPod!" on it, so I can understand...
The unit has a sticker on the LCD protecting it. From the sticker, one would assume that the unit has a pretty blue back light, wouldn't one? Well one would be wrong...
It glows green. Now there's nothing wrong with green. But I think blue would have looked better.
And this is the dongle where you plug the audio cable, as well as the USB cable into. Of course, the USB is power only. There is no data communication between it and the MP3 player.
The unit has an auto shutoff feature. If it doesn't receive an audio signal from the MP3 player in 60 seconds, it will shut itself off. The shutdown process is kind of cool, first LCD fades out, then the back light fades out. A minor annoyance; it takes about 2 seconds to wake back up when it starts receiving a signal again. So you miss just a little bit of what you were listening to.
The transmitter can broadcast on any frequency in the FM spectrum. To change frequencies, you simply press the up or down button. If you hold one of the buttons, it quickly scrolls through the channels, and if you hold it for more than 3 seconds, it starts scrolling very rapidly.
It also has the ability to store three presets. This is VERY useful. For example, while you're at home 88.1 is the only empty frequency, so you broadcast on that. But on your way to work, a station starts coming in on 88.1 and interferes. So you reach down and press a preset button, to go to say, 101.3, which you know should be clear now that you're away from home.
To store a channel, simply press and hold the preset button you want it to be stored to. The unit also remembers the frequency you were on when the car is shut off.
The FMDC1 performed well beyond my expectations. To accurately compare it to the AC101, I needed to test it the same way. So, I connected a tiny 12V battery to it, and plugged my MP3 player into it. I set it to 88.3 which is an empty frequency in my area. The radio I used was an Onkyo HT-R540. I held the transmitter next to the radio and slowly stepped back, the signal gave out at around 25'. I then sat the transmitter down and walked around the room. The signal remained rock solid.
Then I took it out to the car. No problems there, the signal was crystal clear. I think this thing might even be a little too strong! Because even through the metal body, I could also clearly hear the music on the radio in my garage, which was about 12' away from the car. So I hope other people next to you on the road like your taste in music, because they'll be listening to it if they happen to be on the same channel!
The sound quality is the best I've heard from an FM transmitter. The sound is very full, and very clear. MUCH better than the DX-AC101. And even better than my Belkin. It's as near CD quality as FM radio can get.
Listen for your self:
The DX-FMDC1 offers great features, solid performance, as well as excellent audio quality. The only drawback is, that it's tied to your car. But if that's all you need it for, then I definitely recommend this one.
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