Interfacing iPods to Range Rover Stereos
complete installation

Preparatory Work
Wiring Procedure
Problems, Troubleshooting and Future Upgrades

Photo: Completed iPod Installation in Todd Pfortmiller's 95 RR Classic


Todd Pfortmiller felt that having access to only six CDs in his 95 Range Rover Classic was insufficient for long trips. He reports "Six CD's are not enough! I need all 6053 songs in my iPod at all times! Not really but it's a boon on long drives! My dream was to be able to play my iPod through the Range Rover's OEM stereo without any loss of fidelity."

The desire for highest fidelity excluded FM modulators and cassette adapters from consideration as a solution. Todd was looking for a line level input, like the CD player uses. He decided to hack into this input! The remainder of this page illustrates the process Todd developed to achieve this result. He used the Pioneer sourced head unit / 6 CD changer from a 1995 Range Rover Classic, which may have been used on Discovery vehicles also. The following narrative and photos of the operation were kindly supplied by Todd.

Preparatory Work
On removal of the head unit I found the CD player (the only line level input into the head unit) was connected via a 13 pin DIN connector. This did not seem like good news, I was not that excited to dig through 13 wires to find the right one, especially these tiny wires. When in trouble call Rob Dassler! I asked Rob if he was up for an adventure. He likes guts of Land Rovers very much, and he seemed to be willing to watch me and save me from destroying anything if he could.

The plan hatched! Rob was lined up for the future, when all the parts came together. Dan Barton was my next victim. I cornered him at the club meeting one month and he told me to check Electronic Supply or similar for a switch for easy changeover between CD and iPod inputs. You need a DPDT switch (DP = Double Pole, meant we could switch right and left channels at once. DT = Double Throw, meant we could select two inputs ( CD or iPod )). I also got some ultra geek white transfer letters and labeled the switch for both! (see photo below right).



Underside of Radio Head Unit

DPDT switch, labeled IPOD/CD

Best Buy was next. One cigarette lighter adapter with the correct plug for the bottom of the iPod for power. This adapter also had a 3.5mm plug output for line level signal from the iPod! Bonus! Now some inter connect cable.  Comp USA had the Belkin cupholder to iPod holder conversion -- I decided to use this since I have the Disco I center console cup holders in my Range Rover (see photo below).

iPod Holder

Todd's iPod holder installed  in a cupholder  in his Range Rover

Wiring Procedure
Soon came the surgery day! I pulled up to Casa de Dassler with a Starbucks greeting and we got to work. Out came the head unit. Cut into the cable jacket! Crap, that is a lot of skinny wires. Tape up cable jacket. Rob had the idea to open the head unit and tie in there! Genius!  We opened up the top of the head unit and found where the 13 plug DIN became a 13 wire inline connector to the head unit's PC board.

Inside of Radio Head

Inside of radio/cassette head mechanism with top cover removed.

Using the following link :  (long search for this one!) I found a GIF (reproduced below) showing what all the 13 wires do! With an Ohm meter we found the right wires right away! The 13 pin linear plug to the PC board do not go in order so don't skip the Ohm meter test!


We ran a jumper between ground pin 1 and 3 and tied the shielding from my new interconnects to it. (not positive this is necessary, but it works). We then cut pin 2 and 4 and added in our two sets of interconnect cable back to the switch mounted in the glove compartment. The glove compartment was chosen due to lots of room behind it for wiring and the fact that I don't have to access it very often since all my CD's are already on the iPod's hard drive. So the input interconnects went to the center pins of the DPDT switch. The CD out put went to the pins opposite to where the switch was labeled CD, and the new 3.5 mm cable from the cigarette lighter adapter went to the last set of pins. I have heard the CD player must be on due to pin 12 wanting data from it to allow signal in, however I have noticed that if I leave the CD player powered up but no disc playing the head unit will say no disc but will allow the iPod signal through anyway! And save wear and tear on the CD mechanism.

For power to the cigarette lighter adapter I chose to buy a second 12v socket to be hard wired to the car and hidden behind the glove compartment for security, aesthetics, and keeping the function of my in dash one for cell phone charging, etc (see photo below of wirring behind glove compartment)


Wiring, back of switch and the cigarette lighter adapter in its new socket (back of glove compartment)

As usual, assembly is the reverse of removal!  DONE! (See photo at top of page for completed installation).

Problems, Trouble Shooting and Future Upgrades.
1. I noticed that the signal cuts out, I have traced this to the 3.5mm plug not being fully seated in the cigarette lighter adapter even though it was taped into place. This is also rare.
2. There is some alternator noise in the system. Only noticeable when volume is way up and a quiet passage in the song occurs, admittedly this is rare for my music but it happens. I will try to eliminate the ground loop I created by powering the cigarette lighter via the plug where the daytime running light relay goes. Or possibly I will get a switch with a full Faraday cage around it. Or I will use a noise suppression device of some sort. This problem is also rarely heard, except during Violent Femmes songs. I will get to it someday.
3. I am searching for a better way to hide the set up, even though this is very convenient.




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Page revised February 1, 2012