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I can get an XM commander at a really good price, so I'm considering putting XM into my 2003 Dodge Ram pickup. The stereo in the truck is the OEM AM/FM/CD only unit. My understanding is that the commander uses FM transmission to get the XM programming to my stereo.


How much does that impact the sound? Will it be basically standard FM quality? Since I would have to install myself, I don't have the truck's service manual and I'm really not looking to tear my dash apart as a great experiment, I'm doubting that any type of line in to the back of the stereo is an option. Unless of course, somebody in here has done it themselves and can convince me it's worth the (minimal) effort.
 

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The XM commander has to output options. A hardwired FM Modulator or RCA outputs.


To use the FM modulator you will still need to tkae your headunit out. To hook it up you disconnect the FM antenna from your headunit and connect it to the XM Commander tuner box, you then connect the commander tuner box to your headunit's antenna input. When you turn the commander on it disables the FM antenna so that no FM stations can interfere with the signal the commander is putting out. I doubt your headunit unit uses standard antenna connectors so you may require 2 antenna adapters to connect the commander.


FM modulation will reduce sound quality some. How much depends on how good the FM receiver in your headunit is.


Since you have to take the headunit out anyways; many OEM headunits can be modified with a RCA AUX input by just getting the appropriate adapter. The adapter plugs into the port on the back of your headunit, it has RCA input jacks on the other end. You can plug in any line level source such as the XM Commander.


PIE is one such company that makes these adapters. Check out the list here: http://www.pie.net/aux_appl_chry.htm to see if they have one available for your vehicle.

http://www.blitzsafe.com is another company that makes AUX input adapters.
 

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Would the use of one of these RCA aux adapters allow you to use the OEM head unit to control tuning of XM stations, so you could use something like http://www.xmradio.com/catalog/produ...880&type=Tuner ? Currently I have an AInet Alpine CD changer working off my Honda head unit but if I replace it with an XM tuner, would my head unit be able to change channels when "CD" was chosen? I'd prefer to just swap out the CD changer in the trunk with the above tuner and continue to use my head unit if it was able to change channels rather than add another component to the dash.


For the record, everyone said I couldn't use an AInet CD changer with my headunit but it works fine.
 

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I did a lot of A/B listening when getting XM for my car, and I believe that if the installation is done right FM modulation gets you 98-99% of the sound quality of direct input.


If I'd going the installation myself, I wouldn't go FM modulation. But me and tools don't get along so well. If you are really good at this sorts stuff, or if you pay someone who's an expert, I don't think its an issue.
 
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