Why Can't Some Music Files Play In Car Radios?

From the days of music CDs to the modern era of mobile devices and third-party radio services, there have been problems with playback. The music file format might be wrong, or something might be hooked up correctly. In 2016, why does it matter? Well, if you're not a technician familiar with the deeper parts of the internet and computers, you may be a bit too convinced on how advanced things have gotten--or more accurately, how many things are still the same. If you're having radio problems because the files won't run, here's four playback problems before you buy a new one. 

Incorrect Format

If you're not using popular music services to get your music, it's not difficult to just put everything onto a USB (universal serial bus) stick, SD (secure digital) card, or mobile device and expect playback. Unfortunately, you're assuming that the car radio knows how to run or play the music files.

Computers have the same problem, although it's a lot easier to download a fix for a desktop or laptop. Music files are just data like any other file and require a set of instructions for any music player to run properly. These instructions are called codecs, and there's a lot of them out on the internet.

The problem with codecs is that many unaffiliated, private developers have made better (a subjective argument, but with a few real differences in quality) codecs than major audio industry professionals, meaning that you may have files that are made to play on this innovative codec. A car radio, unfortunately, can't easily download new codecs to catch up. 

Check your car radio manufacturer's site or the box to find out if your files are compatible with the radio. If not, you can either download new files with a compatible format or buy a new car radio that supports the codec.  

Problems With The Cable

How are you playing the music? If you're using an audio cable, you're likely used what's called a 3.5mm Serial Port. This port or jack is a standard audio connector, but it can be broken by being closed in doors or bent drastically.

If you're using a USB cable or vendor-specific data cable, the same damage can happen. Unfortunately, when dealing with specific phone and mobile device problems, device incompatibility can happen with the device and the cable. 

Mobile Device Incompatibility

Just like with codecs, some radios just don't understand the information coming from your specific device. Make sure that your device is compatible by reading the manufacturer information. If your device isn't compatible, you can either change your device or look for a compatible car radio.

Some Apps Don't Like Being Idle

Many public websites such as YouTube have apps that can play music videos. Unfortunately, if you turn off the screen of your device or let it go idle, the playback will stop. In some cases, this is done to preserve your device's battery. In other cases, the site may offer a pay service to allow playback while the phone is idle.  

There's a lot of different options out there, and many problems that have existed for decades haven't been fixed simply because new standards were assumed to take over. Contact a car radio professional (such as one from Safe & Sound) if you're dealing with the many exceptions.