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MP3's on External Hard Drive in Car?

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  • MP3
  • External Hard Drive
  • Audio
Last response: in Home Audio
August 15, 2006 3:39:06 PM

I have an LG 120GB external hard drive. I want to know is there any way to play the MP3's on it in my car. Are there any adapters, cd players, anything that will allow me to do it short of putting a computer in my car?

More about : mp3 external hard drive car

August 16, 2006 2:34:31 AM

There are no off the shelf products to do what you want. Not that I've ever heard of or seen. Even if your hard drive was a USB device, the appliance and your car's head unit would still need to be compatible with the file system, let alone read the fiels as mp3's and play them.

Why not just get a DVD and mp3 compatible head unit for your car? I took out the factory radio in my Jetta and upgraded to an Alpine DVA-9860 along with a 6 disk changer in the back...7 disks @ 4.7GB each of door thumping mp3's...
August 16, 2006 2:14:16 PM

I saw some car stereos recently at a retail shop that had a front usb port, it might work.
Related resources
August 16, 2006 3:21:30 PM

Your question intrigued me and I did some looking around...while I still don't know of any devices that allow for an external hard drive to be hooked up, however there are car stereo head units with built in hard drives specifically to store mp3's, like the Pioneer DEH-P90HDD or the Sony MEX-1HD...availability seems limited...at this point in time, this is prolly the closest you're gonna get to what you want...

Good luck!
August 29, 2007 5:18:13 AM

I did it successfully. Just tonight in fact. What I done was take a normal 3.5" Hard drive in a external case. My car's stereo has a USB connector on it. But the only way you can get it to work is you have to format the hard drive to FAT32 file system. Its quick and painless and you can do it though windows or MAC. Leaving the drive in the external case makes life easier since you can just hot-swap from your computer to your car. Once formatted to FAT32, put whatever songs you want on it, have a 100 watt DC/AC inverter in your car, plug in, plug USB in, turn it on, and it should read the disk.
February 28, 2009 9:15:53 PM

How do you format to FAT32?
July 24, 2009 12:54:33 PM

First of all u need to make a 32gb partiotion on your HDD, u don't need any special software (if ur using XPpro like me) u can just go into start control panel then adminstrator tools.Click on computer management then go to disk managment. right click on the volume if there is no unalocated space and click on shrink volume then make the size of partition u want for the unalocated right click on unalocated space click new simple volume follow on screen instructions then its finished, hope this is some help if not let me know set up remote assistance and i will show u through that.
November 9, 2009 3:54:51 AM

This should work, as long as drive is fat32. I have plugged USB Sticks in car stereo just fine. The only thing that I was ever worried about with USB HDD is they have moving parts inside, and your bound to hit bumps etc which could make the internal disks clash and wreck the drive. Solid State Drive takes care of that. That is to expensive right now. I am thinking of using one of those western digital passport USB drives so its not huge loss if it gets wrecked.

How are you planning to power it?
Anonymous
November 12, 2009 5:05:32 AM

Hey, I recently been to a car audio shop and the installer had a 250 GB external drive and plug it into a JVC usb port and it played all the songs read the usb fine.
November 27, 2009 6:37:56 PM

I use a 120GB ext Hard Drive in my car connected to a Kenwood Headunit. I have used it for over a year and it runs fine. The only problem is when its cold like now, it doesnt wake up until its reached operating temperature. Has anyone got a solution? Its frustrating driving half the journey to work in the morning with no music.
December 8, 2009 2:07:26 PM

motman1531991 said:
First of all u need to make a 32gb partiotion on your HDD, u don't need any special software (if ur using XPpro like me) u can just go into start control panel then adminstrator tools.Click on computer management then go to disk managment. right click on the volume if there is no unalocated space and click on shrink volume then make the size of partition u want for the unalocated right click on unalocated space click new simple volume follow on screen instructions then its finished, hope this is some help if not let me know set up remote assistance and i will show u through that.


Hey I was wondering if u could help me. I think I have tried everything and I cant get my Sony CDX GT54 to work with my hard drive. I have a 120 GB WD Scorpio that I have recently created a 32 GB fat32 volume. It is the only volume on the drive with the rest unallocated. I have the volume set to active and primary and for the life of me I cannot seem to get this head unit to recognize that there is a device plugged in. I have a 150 watt inverter so power isn't the problem, I just don't know if I'm looking too deep and its obvious or if its something minute maybe that's preventing the two units from connecting. Maybe driver issues? Compatibility? Lemme know what you think please.
December 13, 2009 5:24:01 PM

Quote:
Hey, I recently been to a car audio shop and the installer had a 250 GB external drive and plug it into a JVC usb port and it played all the songs read the usb fine.


Would yiu know waht make and model of ecternal drive it was?
I have a JVC KDR 600 with a USB port and looking for drive as well.
March 19, 2010 7:52:12 PM

if you want to use your hard drive at full capacity you can google for "iomega fat32 formatter", and format your hard drive in NTFS and after that run this software it will convert your hard drive to FAT32,
March 25, 2010 9:51:54 AM

If your hard drive is SATA port that you just need to purchased a SATA Media Player
you can play mp3s on your car.
March 30, 2010 2:39:11 AM

i have a pioneer deh-p4100ub and have an 80gb hard drive hooked up to it. there was a program and some wiring i had to do to get it to work right still have some kinks to work out to hide and to get everything to work right. but i used a hard drive out of a computer and a free downloaded program from the internet. for more details email me at unspokenartist1@yahoo.com
April 26, 2010 10:26:40 PM

using a USB Y cable and a cigarette lighter to usb adapter (69 cents shipped on ebay) solves the power issue, if you jave tried everything in the forum so far and still you can get it work. This was my first problem too.
Now I have a question for those who have FH-P8000BT. This fella is limited to 32GB. If I format a 120GB to fat32 and I put in 80GB of music it recognizes only the first 32GB. Anyone found a way around it?
April 26, 2010 10:44:06 PM

and I just found my answer: my pioneer won't read more than 250 GB, 500 directories and 15000 songs. Make sure that you don't have the same limitation in yours. If so, you will have me same problem.
May 6, 2010 3:38:51 PM

gabromail said:
using a USB Y cable and a cigarette lighter to usb adapter (69 cents shipped on ebay) solves the power issue, if you jave tried everything in the forum so far and still you can get it work. This was my first problem too.
Now I have a question for those who have FH-P8000BT. This fella is limited to 32GB. If I format a 120GB to fat32 and I put in 80GB of music it recognizes only the first 32GB. Anyone found a way around it?



Shouldn't the USB port on your car stereo be able to power the external hard drive? I have a no-name brand CD player in my car and it powers up my USB stick so I am hoping it will also power up the Transcend hard drive I just ordered. If not, I will try getting a cheap cig lighter to usb adapter like you mentioned. Pretty sure the Transcend comes with a Y cable since the description of the hard drive says to use one if possible.

I just hope I am not limited to 32GB of space, the hard drive I ordered is 320gb as I am hoping it will hold all of my music.
Anonymous
May 13, 2010 3:14:59 PM

laptop HDs in an appropriate external enclosure can be powered through the USB cable, and are designed to be more resistant to bumps and exposure (as they're in laptops). Desktop HDs cannot.
August 24, 2010 9:05:02 PM

gabromail said:
and I just found my answer: my pioneer won't read more than 250 GB, 500 directories and 15000 songs. Make sure that you don't have the same limitation in yours. If so, you will have me same problem.



What pioneer head unit have you got? I am having the same problem with a F310BT. I have a 320gb HD with Y cable and extra power in the car. I have formatted it to FAT32 (but still at 320gb) and it keeps saying no audio
January 13, 2011 1:38:01 AM

gpfullmann said:
Hey I was wondering if u could help me. I think I have tried everything and I cant get my Sony CDX GT54 to work with my hard drive. I have a 120 GB WD Scorpio that I have recently created a 32 GB fat32 volume. It is the only volume on the drive with the rest unallocated. I have the volume set to active and primary and for the life of me I cannot seem to get this head unit to recognize that there is a device plugged in. I have a 150 watt inverter so power isn't the problem, I just don't know if I'm looking too deep and its obvious or if its something minute maybe that's preventing the two units from connecting. Maybe driver issues? Compatibility? Lemme know what you think please.



did you find out any information...i think im in the same boat
Anonymous
February 5, 2011 10:35:30 AM

chunkymonster said:
There are no off the shelf products to do what you want. Not that I've ever heard of or seen. Even if your hard drive was a USB device, the appliance and your car's head unit would still need to be compatible with the file system, let alone read the fiels as mp3's and play them.

Why not just get a DVD and mp3 compatible head unit for your car? I took out the factory radio in my Jetta and upgraded to an Alpine DVA-9860 along with a 6 disk changer in the back...7 disks @ 4.7GB each of door thumping mp3's...

I have a INOi external 500g hard drive which is compatible with my pc/tv/in car player. It takes audio jack/scart lead/and cables for pc obviously. Think i got it from Maplins.
March 5, 2011 10:57:22 PM

I've been looking into this myself and so far from what i understand this is what needs to be done to get it to work:

1) If you're using a 1.8" HD you only need the USB cable to power it up

2) If you're using a 2.5" HD you need a USB Y cable and a cigarette lighter to usb adapter to get enough power to the HD

3) Format the HD to FAT16 or FAT32

4) The head unit USB option should support a bigger HD..

Ok now I solved all these issues...and this is what I'm planning to buy:

A Kenwood KDC-MP345U and a Cirago CST1000 250GB external HD..

So this should work fine based on what people are saying...but the only problem now is that I hear people saying even after formatting to FAT32 they can only use 32 GB...what's this mean and how do you go around that?...the kenwood I'm planning to buy says it supports up to 250 GB HD...shouldn't this work fine?...why would I be able to only use 32 GB..i don't get it

Any help is greatly appreciated..thanks
April 13, 2011 5:18:51 AM

scorp7 said:
I've been looking into this myself and so far from what i understand this is what needs to be done to get it to work:

1) If you're using a 1.8" HD you only need the USB cable to power it up

2) If you're using a 2.5" HD you need a USB Y cable and a cigarette lighter to usb adapter to get enough power to the HD

3) Format the HD to FAT16 or FAT32

4) The head unit USB option should support a bigger HD..

Ok now I solved all these issues...and this is what I'm planning to buy:

A Kenwood KDC-MP345U and a Cirago CST1000 250GB external HD..

So this should work fine based on what people are saying...but the only problem now is that I hear people saying even after formatting to FAT32 they can only use 32 GB...what's this mean and how do you go around that?...the kenwood I'm planning to buy says it supports up to 250 GB HD...shouldn't this work fine?...why would I be able to only use 32 GB..i don't get it

Any help is greatly appreciated..thanks


I would also be interested in finding out if those things worked together, if you've bought them by now.

If your last question went as unanswered as it appears on this forum thread, the reason for the 32GB limitation is entirely due to windows, which refuses to create FAT32 partitions larger than that. To do a larger drive in FAT, you have to have some other utility besides format.exe.. most that I've seen ran at boot and bypassed mounting the drives at all, like maxtor maxdrive. I don't know if the iomega program referenced earlier in this thread is a windows application or also must be run from a bootable drive (cd/flash)
May 7, 2011 12:50:22 AM

scorp7 said:
I've been looking into this myself and so far from what i understand this is what needs to be done to get it to work:

1) If you're using a 1.8" HD you only need the USB cable to power it up

2) If you're using a 2.5" HD you need a USB Y cable and a cigarette lighter to usb adapter to get enough power to the HD

3) Format the HD to FAT16 or FAT32

4) The head unit USB option should support a bigger HD..

Ok now I solved all these issues...and this is what I'm planning to buy:

A Kenwood KDC-MP345U and a Cirago CST1000 250GB external HD..

So this should work fine based on what people are saying...but the only problem now is that I hear people saying even after formatting to FAT32 they can only use 32 GB...what's this mean and how do you go around that?...the kenwood I'm planning to buy says it supports up to 250 GB HD...shouldn't this work fine?...why would I be able to only use 32 GB..i don't get it

Any help is greatly appreciated..thanks


You can use a program called Fat32Format

http://www.softpedia.com/progDownload/FAT32format-Downl...

go to one of the mirror links. I used this off windows 7 at 64bit on a 500gb and 1.5gb hard drive and it only worked on the 500gb. So their is a 50% chance I'm wrong. It did format the whole 500gb together and both my computer and ps3 could read the files. Give it a try and tell us if it works cause I wanna do this too. If you need a video on how to use the file go to this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_n1_oXATv0
May 31, 2011 3:51:28 PM

radioradio said:
You can use a program called Fat32Format

http://www.softpedia.com/progDownload/FAT32format-Downl...

go to one of the mirror links. I used this off windows 7 at 64bit on a 500gb and 1.5gb hard drive and it only worked on the 500gb. So their is a 50% chance I'm wrong. It did format the whole 500gb together and both my computer and ps3 could read the files. Give it a try and tell us if it works cause I wanna do this too. If you need a video on how to use the file go to this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_n1_oXATv0



use WD media player or Amkette Flash TV n connect ur 500 gb hard disk and there after connect it to car media receiver
July 20, 2011 12:13:59 PM

The problem with using HDD is that most decks will not take more than 255 folders, some take 512 but that is the most i have found. It is a big problem if you want to store all your music and have it sorted into artists and albums... If anyones knows a deck that doesnt have this limitation please let me know!
July 25, 2011 10:20:40 PM

Metallifux is correct but it is even on a larger scale. Keep in mind that music players / decks including ones that comes with cars have computer circuitry but they are not personal style computers like desktops, laptops, netbooks and smartphones. They have pre-designed limitations and normally can and will never be upgraded - you need to buy a newer unit / car for newer functionality.

Case in point - just bought a brand new 2011 Toyota Prius last week. I expected it to be technology friendly and had a bunch of audio surprises when it came. The package I purchased it with came with an upgraded audio system which included a "USB" port.

Now keep in mind certain USB ports in some cars or the ones you purchase that go into the lighter port, are purely for power. However, this one is designed to play music. Four types of music devices can go into - a memory stick, an MP3 player which is acts like a USB device (like my old Sandisk Sansa MP3 player), an external hard disk or an iPod (or Apple device with iPod software like an iPhone or iPad). For all but the last (for which it has more intelligence), the device is mainly looked at as an external device with folders. It will recognize some ID tag information in the music files such as Title (which it significantly truncates) and Artist. It ignores other information such as Album.

So here is how the USB works in the car which you find very similar if not identical to other cars and the decks mentioned here above:

1. The device must be FAT32 (or FAT16) formatted (incl. the MP3 player)
2. It will only recognize the basic file structure of folder names and file names. You will not be able to browse or search any other ID tag information. If you want to play your music based on the album, you will need to create a folder with that name which contains just the album tracks as files.
3. Folders are limited to 255 files.
4. There is no pause button so if you want to make changes you need to turn off the volume and let the track play since by hitting the off button, not only does the track stop but the display goes away as well.
5. Here is something VERY important that has not been discussed here (I think), when the tracks are played, they are played in the order the files were physically written to the stick, hard disk, MP3 player. You may think it is sorted someway, but it may not turn out to be that way. To get the music to play in the order you want it to, you will have to physically have to sort the folders on the media. There are lots of software to do this. The one I am currently using is called "DriveSort" and it can sort physically in various ways and also has a "playlist" function to allow you to physically put the files in an exact order you want. It does not do sorting based on any of the ID tags.

Luckily for me, the Prius also supports "Bluetooth Audio Players" which allows me to play my music from my iPhone 4 directly through the car speakers in a lot more flexible and intuitive way - though I may still use a 4 GB memory stick to play music sometimes so I don't have to clutter my iPhone with temporary music. It's a shame that iPhones do not have a USB port so I can attach one of my external hard disks and circumvent some of the issues and limitations above.

Hope this helps explain and enhance the above discussion.

Joel
July 26, 2011 3:12:42 AM

if there is a folder limit..
i think it would have everything to do with the amount of memory inside the radio.

picture browsing through a computer hard drive with an operating system.
you start with the drive letter.
c:/
then move forward deeper and deeper into the folder structure.
c:/documents and settings/all users/desktop

above there are 4 dives into the folder structure.
every time you go in a layer deeper, the car radio has to remember the layer before it.
so if you are browsing the 'desktop' area.. you would have to save 3 layers, while browsing in the 4th layer.

if there isnt enough memory available.. you wont be able to dive into the folders.
and if the car radio counts the folders to see if there are more than it can handle..
-the folder might not show up
-the entire drive might be rejected


but
it really depends on how the car radio uses the memory it has.
you could store only the layers you have gone inside of.
or
you could store all of the subfolders within each layer.

for example..
you start at c:/
then you look inside of c:/ and you see 'documents and settings' .. 'program files' .. 'windows' .. and whatever else is there.
if the radio is trying to store all of that in its memory.. you are going to use the memory up faster.


there is always some conclusion as to how many folders the car 'computer' will read.
and it is supposed to have everything to do with the amount of memory the car radio's computer has.
some might call it memory.. some might call it a buffer.


maybe... just maybe...
the tiny operating system to browse the folders has been written short and small.
so it cant handle all of the folder diving because the operating system wasnt programmed to dive that deep.


say you start with genre/year/artist/album
and maybe you could go 60 folders deep.
but
if you have ANOTHER genre/year/artist/album..
maybe then the operating system says you can only go 30 albums deep, because that is how the operating system is programmed inside the radio's little computer.


maybe the information isnt really necessary for most average people.
but
in that case.. you simply hunt down a radio that will do what you want.
or
throw a computer in the trunk and connect the soundcard to the radio's auxilery inputs.
August 16, 2011 2:17:31 PM

After a couple of years searching apparently Soundstream's new ingenix series will support NTFS which should mean more folders! Apparently they will be out within the next 2 months. I have no idea about the brand as its not common in Australia any USA guys got opinions on Soundstream?
August 24, 2011 2:23:58 PM

I'll keep an eye out for Soundstream's stuff.

I used to (well, still have) an empeg. Originally a british company, the unit came with one or two laptop hard drives, ran a customized linux kernel on an ARM processor. MSRP was around $1200 at the time, they just couldn't compete. SonicBlue (now Rio) bought them, decided to EOL it, liquidated their stock of empegs, and I bought one for $500. Absolutely gorgeous machine: the unit was fully removable to move between vehicles, play music in your house, had interfaces to sync your music on your computer, do play lists, all kinds of awesome things, and a great interface to boot. Very easy to navigate your music, very straight forward, but it was a single purpose device: to play music from a hard drive. That's it. But that's all I wanted.

Unfortunately, they were EOL'd quite some time ago, close to 10 years at this point. I should've bought two, as mine's no longer working.

So I've been trying to find a worthy replacement, and candidates are lacking.

Everything I've been able to find has already been talked about in this thread: Sure, connect your iP[hone|od] to pretty much any modern receiver and it'll work - if you have one of said devices, and are willing to deal with the otherwise crap interface for managing play lists, rewinding, go to next song, etc. Okay, so pretty much every modern receiver also has a USB port where you can connect an external hard drive - but everyone I've seen is limited to a single partition of FAT32 with all the limitations listed in this thread. Oh, and if you want to specify an order of play, you have to name your files in alphabetical order, and creating directories as your play lists and navigating through them is tedious at best. Not a great option. It works, sure, but if I were to deal with something as archaic as that, I'd get an iPod - if they made one that would hold my entire music collection.

Why it's so hard to read m3u files? I couldn't tell you. If they did, I might actually give the USB option a try.

There are some manufacturer options (Lexus?) where it comes with a hard drive that you can put your music on, and seems to work reasonable well (though I haven't actually seen one.) But I have yet to find a useable aftermarket unit that'll do something .. useable.

I'm even going to begin the search for threads on how to build you own linux based car stereo, because the sheer lack of options is astounding for something I consider an obvious next step in car stereo evolution.
September 9, 2011 7:14:18 PM

The only way any of this works really well is with a laptop PC porting your audio into your stereo. Now you have the world, and not just MP3, but the possibility of playing FLAC (a lossless audio file format) too! I have done this, it' works great!
My hard drive has over 70, 000 MP3 and FLAC files, all played through a MediaMonkey database. You don't even need a nice car
stereo, just a good amp and speakers. I never listen to AM or play A CD anymore. And FM? What would be the point if you have it all on your drive? It's WAY more fun for your friends too.
October 16, 2011 7:16:15 PM

Gary_Busey said:
I have an LG 120GB external hard drive. I want to know is there any way to play the MP3's on it in my car. Are there any adapters, cd players, anything that will allow me to do it short of putting a computer in my car?



Hey Gary,

I'm looking to do the same thing and did find a site that may have exactly what you need. Search for my thread. Here's the link: http://www.gromaudio.com/
December 16, 2011 5:07:50 AM

I just got it to work. I've got a 250GB Western Digital external HD. I used EaseUS's Partition Master to create a 40GB partition in the drive (since I only have 37GB of music anyway), and had it formatted as FAT32. You can use windows to create the partition, but it was giving me some problems so I just used EaseUS's program. The download link I used is here:

http://download.cnet.com/EaseUS-Partition-Master-Home-E...

I made the 40GB partition the only active partition on the drive (the rest is just unallocated space). I think this may cut down on load times since the stereo is only looking at 40GB for information instead of 250, but that's just a guess.

My stereo is a JVC, Model KW-XR810. I think this will work with any stereo that supports USB, as long as it gives enough power for your hard drive. Luckily, my little portable drive doesn't need much power to run. I just tested it with about 12 songs on the drive just to see if it would work, and it did. It loaded very quickly, probably faster than it takes to read my mp3 CDs I've been using. I imagine after I put close to 40GB of music on there, the load time will increase, but for now I'm pretty happy with it.