The '06 model year is from a sort of audio no-man's-land. It doesn't have a cassette player, because those were dead tech at the time. But it also doesn't have an auxiliary input jack, because not everybody in the entire world owned an mp3 player yet.
Here's the problem. I got the upgraded interior option with the fancier Shaker 500 stereo. But I'm still listening to the iPod over an FM adapter, which sort of sucks. The thing works okay, but the signal is so attenuated that the volume levels are really knocked back. If you turn up the volume even halfway if you're listening to a CD, it'll blast your ears off. But if you're listening to the transceiver's FM output, if you're on the highway with the windows down you can barely hear the thing over the wind roar even at full volume. It's pathetic.
So I have a few options, listed with their pros and cons.
1. The head unit has an auxiliary input, but it's not what you think, it's not a 1/8" jack in the front panel. It's a big multipin connector that's essentially a data bus for Ford vehicles. If you have a Ford head unit and you have factory satellite radio or seatback DVD players or any of that crap, it's the control interface for those. There are companies that make interface patch boxes that let you add either an aux input that'll take anything you can plug in as an audio connection, or dedicated iPod interface boxes that'll even let you control the iPod with the factory head unit.
Pros: Probably the cheapest way to go, abougt $75-100 for the adapter, maybe another 20 or so for wiring harnesses.
Cons: The ones that are iPod-specific seem to require disconnecting the factory 6-disc changer, so I'd be sacrificing functionality in exchange for the functionality I want. The ones that aren't iPod-specific won't charge the iPod, so it'll still have to sit there in the 12v-adapter cradle, with a cord running from it into the glove box. Which I guess isn't a big deal.
2. Next time I've got the car in for service, see if they can sell me a newer OEM head.
Pros: Probably the easiest way to go. Quick swap of head units, and I've got the aux input.
Cons: More expensive. Maybe something like several hundred bucks, judging by ebay. Maybe more buying a new one from Ford, instead of a used one that someone pried out of his dash without really giving a shit about because he was sticking a Kenwood in there instead. That's a lot to spend on what is still a fairly mediocre head unit.
3. Replace the head unit.
Pro: Probably the most effective way to go.
Cons: Probably the most expensive, too. Also, tricky. Don't want to give up the CD changer, so that limits what I can put in there. I'd like it to be the same size, since I don't want some ugly adapter cradle looking at me. Then there's the problem that actual specs on this factory head don't seem to exist, anywhere. Ford claims 500 watts, but that's a bullshit manufacturer spec. Not only is that peak power rather than RMS, it's also the sum of all the channels, not per channel. And all the channels aren't equal; there are two subs, and I'm sure they get more power than the tweeters do. So how the hell do I pick a head unit that won't blow the factory speakers? Replacing those as well is getting into a ridiculous level of expense just to get an auxiliary input I can hook my iPod up to.
I don't know what the hell I want to do. Opinions are appreciated, particularly from people who have replaced the head unit on their Mustang GT and kept the factory speakers.