Written by 2:47 pm Audiophile News

Are Computers Tweaky? Nah…

Music may be becoming more and more of a digital medium, but it is interesting to see that computers are seemingly becoming more and more like the old tweaky audiophile components of yore.

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One of the knocks against audiophiles and our hobby is how “tweaky” everything is. Raising a phono cartridge’s VTA a couple of microns can completely change its sonic personality. We all KNOW that. I could fill up the page with other examples of how small changes can cause giant sonic effects. But I’ve come to the conclusion that computers, even Apple computers, are every bit as irrational and sensitive to small disruptions as the most esoteric audio gear.

Here’s my most recent tale of computer weirdness. It’s mild by comparison to the hundreds of “my hard disk crashed and my only back up was broken…” stories we’ve all heard. But I posit this as “exhibit A” in my case to prove that computers are every bit as tweakily irrational as audio gear.

It all started when my iPod Touch wouldn’t synch with iTunes. If an iPod can’t synch with iTunes it’s doomed to eventual brickdom since its operating system can only be updated through iTunes. The day the problem started, wednesday March 9, also happened to be the day Apple rolled out their new iOS 4.3 operating system for iPhones and iPod Touches. So, I HAD to figure out why, suddenly, my iTunes wasn’t recognizing my iPod. Or should I say iPods, since my iPod classic 160 wasn’t being recognized either.

The odd thing was that when I connected my iPods to either of my other Apple computers they recognized the iPods instantly. So I made a trip to the Apple store where my genius gave me a few helpful ideas, such as deleting pLists, and ways to figure out whether it was a software or hardware issue. I returned home, armed with some tricky new things to try and my iPod Touch updated to the latest OS courtesy the Apple store.

I deleted pLists. No change. Then I tried something drastic – I attached the iPod USB connector cable to the USB inputs in the BACK of my 1st gen Intel Mac Pro computer instead of the ones so conveniently located in the front that I usually use.

Reaching around to the back of my MacPro desktop is not for the fat or stiff, as it requires a spelunker’s sense of where you can and can’t fit your body into. No one in their right mind would choose to go fooling around with the back of my computer when they could connect a cable up nice and fast to the front.

I given you enough foreshadowing to guess what I happened next… When I plugged the iPod USB cable into the USB on the back of my Mac the iPod popped up on the desktop and iTunes opened and began synching as if to say “Brother, where have you been so long?”

But the oddest part is that neither of the front USB inputs connectors are completely dead – they still work fine with my iKey for Amarra and my card reader. But for iPods and printers these front USB ports are deader than Federico Franco. Now if that ain’t tweaky, I don’t know what is…

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