Mysteries of the IPod

Since January, my car has been a sanctuary of musical selection, free from obnoxious DJs and advertising barragement. I have an iPod with iTrip hooked into a PowerPod.

However, there are strange side effects when using this setup. The PowerPod, which draws electricity through the cigarette lighter, has some weird behavior when used in conjunction with the iTrip.

First, there’s this high pitched whine that I can only pick up on quiet songs. The whine grows when the RPMs shoot up (I drive a manual), or my headlights are on. So listening to classical music at night on the highway is out.

I can only surmise that high RPMs will feed more electricity into the alternator, and there isn’t a bottleneck on the cigarette lighter or PowerPod. So that excess power is generating some sort of electromagnetic field that is messing with the FM signal the iTrip. I highly doubt that the iPod itself is adding the whine into the digital audio output – all the MP3 translation is done in software – there’s no way changes in the power field would enter into the equation.

Aside from the whine, the iTrip’s performance can drastically change, depending on terrain and surrounding traffic. I tune my radio to 87.9 for the iTrip. Normally it’s empty – very infrequently infiltrated by a rogue country station – so it’s a good candidate for the musical sanctuary. But sometimes I’ll pass another vehicle and my aural paradise will be raped and ravaged by – horrors – someone else’s music!

It’s to be expected, I guess, when using a pussy transmitter like iTrip. The thing’s range can be measured in centimeters. But it beats having this guy yap your ear off.

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