iTrip

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while, but I initially had some issues with it to work out with it first – I didn’t want to slam a product without giving it a fair chance, particularly when it looks as good as this one did. You see, iTrip is the best possible iPod accessory design to date.

iTrip is made by a little known company called Griffen Technologies. I say little known because Griffen is known for making Mac related accessories and peripherals, and while Mac people are incredibly outspoken and energetic, they are still less than 10% of the personal computer market… consequently they get around by word of mouth. This is not a bad thing, either. I get the impression that Griffen likes being an “underdog” because it allows them to really innovate their product line – translation: they’ve got some of the coolest gizmos out there and they keep one upping themselves. Also, a lot of their products, like the iTrip and the iCurve, are cross-platform, inspite of them being mostly a Mac company. Even though they might have had the Mac in mind when originally designed – hence the i – they can be effective with a PC-based platform. The iCurve, as an example, is currently the stand that I use for my drum module for my electric drum set, so a Mac is hardly required.

Anyway, on to the iTrip. The iTrip is an FM-transmiter for an iPod – it will play music over an FM band frequency so that an FM radio can pick up the music and “rebroadcast” it. This is hardly a new concept, right? In fact this is the third FM-transmitter product I’ve tried for my iPod. Since the first two were shit (either not powerful enough or not enough frequencies to choose from) I was skeptical. I gotta admit it – the iTrip is the best there is.

What makes it different? First off, it was designed for the 1st and 2nd Generation iPod, instead of being some “one size fits all” solution. Because of this, there’s no extra battery required for the transmitter – the iTrip uses the special “remote earpiece” jack to get it’s power. It was also designed to look very iPod-ish. Vanity? Hells yeah! The iPod is elegant in all three generations, so who wants a dongle or neon-looking attachment for playback? No, the iTrip is small and looks like it’s part of the iPod. In fact, I had to explain it to someone on the train just the other day, because they had heard about the iPod and had seen pictures but wanted to know why mine had this extra piece on top of it.

What about the new 3rd generation iPod? Yes, Apple did change the design of the iPod this generation, but it’s OK. Really. Griffen already announced that they’ll have a new version of the iTrip by the end of July (it might even be the end of June – I don’t have to care because I’m an old school-Gen1 owner.) There’s actually a guy with a Gen3 sitting next to me – I am a bit jealous of the blue backlit and the red buttons – matches my Passat’s dashboard, actually – but I still like my moving wheel. Either way, Griffen is rushing to support the new generation of iPods, which is always a good sign from a peripherals company.

And how does it work? This is where the iTrip is pretty freakin’ cool. Out of the box it’s set to 87.9 FM, so you don’t need any special software for it. However, the iTrip comes with a a CD with a playlist on it. Granted, for my Gen1 iPod, I had to move my play list over by hand – it’s not very XPlay friendly – but that was no hardship. Gen1 Mac users and all Gen2 users will have no problem. See, this play list is what allows you to change the play back frequencies on the device. This was a huge deal for me, living in Connecticut, believe it or not. While I had shit for cable and broadband options for years, I have about two available FM frequencies available without a station on them already. The rest of the dial has either a full radio station signal or next to a station that is so powerful that it breaks through; that’s why there’s only two frequencies that will work for me, as there’s so many stations around here. For example, I once got 99.9 FM – from Bridgeport, CT – in central New Jersey. It’s one of those stations that can be picked up by putting a wet finger in the air and just listening. With the iTrip, I can pick any frequency I want for play back – makes it a perfect solution for the car – which I need to have. The last FM-transmitter I tried (the iRock) offered just four different frequencies in the 88’s and none of them worked for me.

It makes for an [almost] perfect solution. I mean, if it was that perfect, why did I have to wait to write about it? It seems that the iTrip wasn’t too Jeep friendly, the first couple of times I tried it. They do note, in the troubleshooting section of the FAQ, that there can be issues with cars that have specially lined windshields, but my 95 Jeep isn’t one of them. However, it seems that the engine vibrations that my Wrangler makes – 95, entry level, stock, and no cushion to speak of – and chatters my lock-box/drink-holder were wreaking havock with the iTrip/iPod combo. I’ve used one of those “cassette with a wire” solutions without a problem, so this was a new thing and only effected the FM play back method. On a whim, I dropped the iPod into my computer bag – it was still playing through the iTrip – and that caused the distortion and static to disappear. Sort of a shock, actually – it only needed a slight cushion and the iTrip is pumping out enough FM to broadcast through a bag.

So if you have an iPod, and you want to play back in a car, or even boom box, pick this up. I personally hate the “cassette with a wire” bit because both my car stereos think it’s a metal tape and that muffles my treble something awful. In the house, I’ve found that my stereos have shit for FM reception, but yes, it’s worked on those too, if I got the iPod closer to the antenna. The whole thing only works if the radio can pick up radio signals, after all! Basically, you can just roam around the world, overriding other people’s radio stations with your iPod music… that’s just good times!

Oh, and a Gen2 iPod user just sat next to me – three generations of iPod spinning next to each other in harmony on the train this morning… this is the closest thing to good digital karma that a Geek can get.

Great way to start a new work week, for a change.


37 thoughts on “iTrip”

  1. hey there,

    i just got the itrip also but can’t seem to get it to work with my xplay… tried making a playlist and just dropping all the radio station mp3s into it, but that didn’t work. i was wondering how you got it to work? thanks!

  2. Hi fac63,

    I just copied all of the MP3 files into a directory and then let XPlay sync it automatically… is it that you aren’t seeing the playlist or you can’t change the station for broadcast?

  3. hi,

    well… i think i did the same thing. just copied the station files to my playlist folder and gave the playlist a name. when i plug the itrip in it blinks 3 times then stays lit for about 60 seconds and then goes off. if, in those 60 seconds, i browse to the playlist, select a station and hit the play/pause button the station starts playing the 5 second track, but the itrip doesn’t do anything (isn’t it supposed to blink or something?). so the 5 second track ends, it goes to the next one, and so on. after the 60 seconds and the itrip shuts off i figure it’s not gonna do anything. maybe it hates me :/

    — a

  4. Hey – Sounds like the MP3’s made their way over there OK, but there’s something up with the setting. I would try to play the track as soon as ya plug it in and it goes lit. It might not pick up on the setting MP3’s if it’s off… if not, give Griffen a call… ya mighta gotten a defective one! Otherwise it sounds like ya did the setup right…

  5. fac63 when you play the 5 second track for the station you want u have to hit play/pause halfway through and then the iTrip will lock to that station

  6. Not a clue… some days I get the impression that it’s one guy in a garage and on other days it feels like it’s a few thousand ppl in R&D and production… would be nice to see a good company extend their reach with an IPO.

  7. i have the same problem as fac63, only i hit the play/pause button halfway through and it still doesn’t play on that station.

  8. josh and fac63, we’re in the same boat. I dont think this iTrip actually works. Another rip-off from another rip-off artist

  9. I just got it. I had trouble setting the station at first until I set the volume up to 90% and learned when to pause it (after the green light starts blinking slowly… just before the channel-change track ends.) Apparently not enough power is going out the headphone jack at lower volumes. Still have to experiment with clear stations– I’m having trouble picking it up clearly on my (admittedly old) antenna. I have a convertible so there shouldn’t be any glass issues :).

  10. Just got back from vacation with my new iTrip and had similar difficulty locking in stations. Turns out I was not hitting the play/pause the 2nd time. Got home, read the instructions and all works fine. I did have a little trouble on vacation with the iTrip stopping transmitting for no apparent reason but that seems to have stopped. Maybe had something to do with shuffle or something. I am very pleased with the iTrip. It works in my house at least 25 ft away from the stereo. No problems in cars as long as it was not too far from the antenna. I love it.

  11. I had the same problem. It simply wasn’t playing on the frequency I set. I tried a couple and finally one worked. The one I used wasn’t absolutely clear but became totally clear once Itrip started up. As long as you have the ITrip playlist and know how to set the station correctly you should be okay…just look around for a frequency that picks up.

  12. I just got a new iTrip and now whenever i play it is obviously on the right frequency but it isnt playing loud enough as it used to. If you turn the iPod all the way up, and the radio all the way up you can barely hear it!! this is ridiculous considering the fact that on my old one that broke it was perfect!! Whats going on??!?!

  13. I’m having the same volume problem. Even if I turn the iPod all the way up, and the radio all the way up, you can barely hear the music. Has anyone else dealt with this?

  14. Im having the same problem. It used to work great. Now I can barely hear it… guess I need to spend $34 every 2 months… anyone have an answer/solution? Was I not supposed to go through an x-ray machine at the airport with the itrip? Could that kill it?

  15. HEY, I figured it out. When you select an Itrip station ( this is on the Griffen website ) don’t let the whole 5 second song play… As soon as the little red light starts blinking fast PAUSE the song. Then you will get full volume at the station you are trying to set it to. I was so thrilled to get it working again, I hate the radio…

  16. My iTrip doesn’t work. It worked for about 5 minutes and then stopped. The problem is – when I hit play on the station that I want, the LED does nothing. If on, it stays on, if off, it stays off. It does not flash fast or slow. I thought maybe the iPod needed full battery charge. Nope. No affect. Did I get a defective iTrip or is this thing just a big fat P.O.S.?

  17. Sounds defective actually – I’ve have two different ones that have all worked like they were supposed to… granted I don’t use them because I’d rather use a tape adapter, but they’ve all worked OK (as in not a piece of shit :)) – I’d drop Griffin Tech a line.

  18. There are four of us in Tajiksitan who can’t get their iTrip to work. Mine did, brilliantly, for months, and then died. The light still works, but it does not transmit.

    Another one appears to have gone dead, with no red light (similar to a possible defect, above)

    Are there any known environmental interferences which would cause this? Any other thoughts? We’re quite remote, so it’s not like we can call them, or go buy another one. I have written to Griffin, but other users thoughts would be appreicated.

  19. I haven’t heard of anything particular, and my normal advice would be to ping Griffin – they’re usually pretty understanding and responsive to feedback, being a relatively small (and cool) company…

  20. I had the same effect. It didin’t even last a year it was awesome on the radio but oen day it stop transmitting to the radio. But the light still went off godamn it cost me 100 bucks.

  21. hey ross! you rock!!! that tip on how to make the itrip work, really worked. i was so annoyed when i thought all three itrips we bought were messed up. and just coz of your post, i got all three to work!!! good thing we can really use all three. :D thank you! thank you! thank you!

  22. Hey there

    My itrip was working perfectly on 87.9 until today. Now it won;t play. The light comes on but it doesnt seem to tune itself in any more. Any ideas. Im pretty desperate cause its a friends and im affraid she’ll think i broke it!!! EEK!!!

    Thanks

  23. My ITrip worked fine until now – Suddenly it broadcast very softly, I have to pump up the volume all the way on my stereo = only to barely hear anything… Anyone know if I can still save it?

  24. My iTrip worked perfectly for about 5 months, then one day I got in the car, and it wouldn’t turn on. The light stayed off and nothing happened. I tried updating it, re-installing it, wiping the iPod, everything! Someone help!

  25. I just bought the ipod nano, and the itrip that goes with it. Is this one different to tune then the full size ipod itrip? I’m capable of following directions, but when I go to playlist then press play/pause half way through the station, the light doesn’t blink. I can only use the pre-tuned 87.9. Maybe Griffin kinda sucks and it’s hit or miss. The more forums I read, the more complaints I come across. All the rating sites I’ve read gave it low stars as well.

  26. Got me – I haven’t used an iTrip for a long while and it was a generation 1 – they’ve made a LOT of changes since then.. the one for the nano is unique to the nano. I’d contact Griffin: they should be able to help more.

  27. I’ve had my itrip since christmas (its the one with the LCD display). just recently when i plug in my itrip and turn the volume at any level, the itrip turns my volume all the way down!!! anyone know how to fix this?! I can’t listen to anything because the itrip turns down my volume. The ipod works perfectly fine when the itrip isnt connected. if you think you can help, please email me (swimwithme21@yahoo.com)

  28. I’d check with Griffin Technologies: they make the iTrip (and will need to be contacted if it’s defective hardware.)

  29. From Griffin’s Website:

    The iTrip’s LED does not stay lit up anymore!When you first turn on the iPod and play a song at 70 percent volume level, you should see the iTrip blink 3 times slowly, and then light up solid. However, if it does not remain lit up, you’ve probably accidentally played the LED OFF file at some point. (This is one of the files located in the iTrip Stations Playlist). This file will actually turn the LED off, which obviously can cause quite a bit of confusion if you are trying to retune the iTrip. Simply navigate to the iTrip Stations Playlist, and play the file called LED ON. The iTrip will start blinking rapidly, which will be your cue to pause the iPod. The iTrip will then blink 3 times slowly, and then light up solid. At this point, you can go back and retune the iTrip to the desired radio frequency, if needed, using the regular tuning steps.

  30. ive had the itrip for a year and its worked fine up until today on 87.9…….now it wont connect to the FM…it blinks..it goes on…..but the radio is still static…and its not connected…..i had this prob before but thats cuz the battery was dying……now it just wont connect…what should i do? the LED works fine…..and its always worked fine up until toay

  31. I also have had troubles with the iTrip turning the volume down. According to the Giffen website you should try turning the iPod’s volume to between 30-70%.

    The iTrip is made to automatically adjust the volume to cut down on distortion…I think what happens is sometimes it reads that the distortion just hasn’t been corrected so it keeps going. Anything lower than 30% will make the iTrip keep turning itself down. It could also be that the radio station isn’t dead-on center and it could be picking up distortion that way.

    I like to listen to old-time radio shows and sometimes the recordings themselves seem to have a lot of static-this confuses the iTrip and it will lower the volume. I have sent an email to Geffin to ask them specifically about this problem. If I can find the site again I will let you know what I hear from them.

  32. how can I change station from 87.9 to another one? I have playlist called itrip station; it has a lot of channels but I couldn’t change it. can you tell me how to do so because I don’t have the ipod manual.?

    thank you in advance


Leave a Reply to Ginger Gargoyle Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.