Listening to a portable CD player in your car seems like a good option, right? However, the challenge is finding a good power source for your portable player.
While every vehicle makes use of some kind of charging system in order to run various electrical components such as the headlights, interior lights, sensors and engine management computers, that power originates from your car's battery and is DC, or direct current, power. To play at peak performance -- and perhaps more importantly -- to maintain that level of performance, a portable CD player requires AC, or alternating current. Alternating current is the same type of power that is sent to your home to power the lights, kitchen appliances, clock radios and really anything else that you might plug into a wall outlet. Of course, batteries will work, but unless you have a pile of money that you're willing to spend on C- or D-cell batteries, a portable CD player will operate much more consistently using AC, or alternating current, for continuous power. So how do you harness that AC power and take it with you in your vehicle? A DC-to-AC power inverter is the answer.
A DC-to-AC power inverter does just what the name implies: it takes your car's DC battery power and changes it into AC power. The three types of inverters available are square wave, modified sine wave and pure sine wave. Pure sine wave inverters produce AC power with the least amount of harmonic distortion and may be the best choice; but they're also typically the most expensive. Square-wave inverters are the most cost-effective and can be found at most electronic retailers. All three types of inverters will power a CD player equally well; however, if you've got a good ear for this type of thing, you may notice the difference in the amount of interference you experience with each type of inverter.