Tech Q&A: Despite name, ‘digital’ computer speakers are really analog

Question: My Boston Acoustics BA735 digital speakers came with a previous computer, but I’d like to connect them to my MacBook Pro. The speakers and the Mac both use the same 3.5-millimeter jack system, but the speakers are digital and the Mac only outputs an analog signal.

Is there some kind of analog-to-digital converter I can use to make the speakers compatible with the MacBook? — R.B., New Orleans

Answer: You don’t need to convert anything, because the term “digital speakers” is a misnomer. All speakers are analog, whether they connect to a computer or a stereo system. Because your speakers have their own power source and use a 3.5-millimeter connecting jack, you can plug them into the analog “audio out” port on your MacBook and they should work.

If the speakers aren’t getting any sound from the Mac, make sure the Mac’s sound is on and clean the audio port with a paper clip to remove lint. If that doesn’t work, try restarting the Mac.

If those things don’t get results, perform an “NVRAM reset” (see tinyurl.com/3jpepmpb). NVRAM (nonvolatile random-access memory) is a computer chip that stores Mac settings. Resetting it will return the Mac’s audio and video to their default settings, which should enable your speakers to work properly.

Note: In a column two weeks ago (see tinyurl.com/frr35pcs), a reader said that his Android Phone and his 2016 Toyota RAV4 had stopped communicating. I blamed an outdated version of the Android Auto program, and suggested a software update for the car. But longtime automotive writer Mark Houlahan, of Lakeland, Fla., said the 2016 car probably uses non-Android Auto software and older hardware, which could stop connecting when a phone’s software was upgraded. If he’s right, the car needs new hardware and software.

Question: Nearly everything in my iPhone 7 contacts list has disappeared. Verizon Wireless said I should re-enter the contacts from my old Kyocera phone. But Apple said I should first do a factory reset of the phone, which would erase my pictures and emails. What should I do? — F.C., New Orleans

Answer: You should perform the factory reset, but back up your data first.

Your email isn’t at risk; it’s backed up on your provider’s server and you can download it again. But your photos probably aren’t backed up, and would be lost. Here are some backup options:

Back up your photos to your computer via iTunes and a USB cable. It’s free, and you can move the photos back to the phone later (see tinyurl.com/4kj54suv and tinyurl.com/3a2sewp7).Back up your photos (and any other data) in Apple’s iCloud storage service. You will need to buy more storage; the free 5 gigabytes that came with the phone isn’t enough. For $1 per month you can get 50 gigabytes, or for $3 per month 200 gigabytes (see tinyurl.com/c8ns29mw). (To restore the iCloud photos to your phone after the reset, see tinyurl.com/yrjz8nb5).Buy online storage space from Dropbox ($10 per month for 2,000 gigabytes, see tinyurl.com/m2nj2asr and click “Plans & pricing”) or Google (you get 15 gigabytes of free space with a Google account, and it’s $2 a month for another 100 gigabytes, see tinyurl.com/2zmfy8z2). (To restore online photos to your phone after the reset, see tinyurl.com/fb7jdchv for Google and tinyurl.com/5e9hvvp8 for Dropbox).