Q I just got a new iPod for my new car. The car has a dedicated iPod input. What cabling/charger do I need?


A It depends on whether your car has an iPod interface or an auxiliary port. Either connection will sound dramatically better than the FM transmitters or cassette adapters typically used to play iPods through a car radio.

An iPod interface is part of a car's factory equipment or a dealer-installed accessory. The interface will charge the iPod when it is connected and allow you to control it via the radio's controls. Usually track and song info is shown on the radio's display. You can navigate by playlist, artist or album, just as if you had the iPod in your hand.

If your car has an interface, the cable will be provided by the manufacturer, and all you need to do is connect the iPod and go. Be sure to check the manual for details on specific playlists you might want to create. For example, on some BMWs, you create five BMW playlists named BMW 1 through BMW 5. By pressing the corresponding numbered preset button on the radio, you access the playlist.

If your car has a simple round auxiliary connection socket, you control playback with the iPod. You need a miniplug-to-miniplug cable and a USB charger that goes into the cigarette lighter outlet. The charger looks like the typical plug used on a car cell-phone charger, but it has a female USB port. Plug the charger in, plug the iPod's USB cable into the USB port on the charger, and use the miniplug cable to connect the car's input to the iPod's headphone jack.

Be sure to set the volume of the iPod at about 75 percent so you send a strong signal to the radio. Set the radio to AUX, and you are set.

Muddled movies

Q I'm hoping you have advice for what to do about the problem of movie sound, where music swallows up speech and makes it impossible to hear what characters are saying. We tried getting a new speaker (just one) for our digital TV. It helped only a bit. Is there any way to split the sound of music and speech so that they can be controlled independently?


A If you have a surround-sound receiver with separate speakers, you can turn up the center channel's volume relative to the others. That is not the solution to your problem, however.

Go into the setup menus of your TV or disc player, and access the audio menus. Look for a setting called Dynamic Range Control. By turning it on, you will bring the voices more in proportion with the rest of the soundtrack. It takes away from the dynamics and is not true to the program material, because it makes soft sounds louder and loud sounds softer, but it makes it much easier to hear in a typical home environment.

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