iPod ‘noise’ interferes with radio listening

Sound Advice

By Don Lindich

Week 33, 2007

Q: I like to listen to AM radio for news and sports, but my docked iPod produces so much noise and static that it’s unlistenable. Is this unusual? I can’t even listen to AM in the garage! When I unplug the iPod from the dock, all is well. Is there anything I can do other than always undock?

Hutchinson, Kan.

A: It would appear the iPod is producing radio interference that is affecting your AM reception. It is either being transferred over the wire from the dock to the radio, or is coming from the iPod itself. Undocking may be the only way to correct the situation, but there are several steps you can take to isolate the cause of interference so you can eliminate it, if possible.

When you undock, do you move the iPod away from the vicinity of the radio? If the interference stops the moment it undocks, then we know it is being transmitted over the wire. If the interference goes away when you move the iPod away from the dock after undocking, then it is airborne interference. Moving the dock to the end of the wire’s length may eliminate the interference.

After trying these steps, trying another iPod will tell us if your iPod is putting out an undue amount of interference. If you have a friend or family member with a dockable iPod, try theirs and see if you still get interference. If you do, the problem may be in the dock itself. If you can, exchange the dock for another one. If the interference persists with a new dock, you know you simply have a product that has been poorly designed and if you want to eliminate the interference, you will have to undock the iPod.

Q: I would like to be able to transfer music I have on Mini Disc to my PC. I have a Sony MXD-D40 CD player/MD player recorder. Can I do that, and how do I connect the two components?CHUCK BROWN
Hutchinson, Kan.

A: First, you need an analog to digital converter. The Griffin iMic, which I recently reviewed on my blog and in print, will work well and costs only $39.95. It connects between the red/white RCA outputs of your CD player/MD recorder and a USB port on your computer. You can see pictures and my comments about the iMic at www.soundadviceblog.com.

After you connect the components, you need software to record and edit the tracks. You can download Audacity for free at audacity.sourceforge.net. It works great with the iMic. If you are a Mac user, the iMic includes Final Vinyl, a recording software for Macs only.

Q: I purchased a Sansui DVD recorder/VCR combo; I have been successful in dubbing almost 300 VCRs to DVDs. I am having problems now as the VCR still plays and records, but it can’t record on any blank DVD and will play only Sony DVDs. Should I have it professionally cleaned? I’ve used my own “cleaning” DVD. Or do I need to replace the entire unit?

Atlantic City, N.J.

A: I recommend replacing the unit, as the price has come down enough that most repairs are likely to approach or exceed the cost of a new unit. In the electronics pecking order, Sansui is generally placed below the likes of Sony, Panasonic and Samsung, so this is even more likely in your case.

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