iPod 4G Audio Defect: The Details and Test | iLounge Article


iPod 4G Audio Defect: The Details and Test

This page is a central hub summarizing known information on an audio defect affecting certain fourth-generation (4G) iPods. Our previous news stories on the topic are available here, here, and here.

What is the Audio Defect: “Users of affected iPods will be able to hear a hard disk-like whirring sound in their earphones, coupled with several seconds of light static at the start of a song that has just been loaded. This should not be confused with the quiet hard disk loading sounds that an iPod makes, which sounds are not audible through earphones, or with normal static-like compression artifacts in your audio.”

Who is affected by the Audio Defect: iLounge initially believed that the Audio Defect was limited to a small number of units, perhaps only 40GB iPods, as three of iLounge’s four total 40GB test units have now exhibited the problem. However, user comments subsequently established that both 20GB and 40GB units are affected. The exact number of problem units is not known, or for that matter knowable. iLounge has been gathering user input for three weeks, and emphasized “that [while] the results of our inquiry are comprised of strictly voluntary submissions from readers, and should not be taken as scientific or conclusive, they do suggest that the problem may be more widespread than we had originally hoped.” The most recent requests for positive or negative test results have yielded hundreds of responses from users around the world. Approximately 42% of responding iLounge users reported the audio defect in one or more of the 4G iPods they purchased or received in exchange.

How can you test a 4G iPod for the Audio Defect: “To test your iPod while eliminating the possibility that static from your music or headphones may be responsible, use iTunes to encode several three- to five-minute compact disc tracks using Apple’s Lossless Audio encoder, transfer them to your iPod, then connect the earbuds packaged with your new iPod. Find the directory or create a playlist with only the Lossless tracks, and skip back and forth between them. Hold your iPod at a distance or cover it up so that you can’t hear its normal internal hard disk sounds. If your iPod has a problem, at the start of each loaded song, you should hear a loading pause, then a whirring sound and light static in your ears at a normal volume level. If it does not have a problem, the song should load and play without audio interference.”

Common misconceptions regarding the Audio Defect:

  1. The problem is not caused by Apple Lossless encoding. iLounge’s testing procedure recommends Apple Lossless solely because large file sizes cause more frequent accesses to the iPod’s hard drive, therefore more quickly revealing the problem on an affected iPod.
  2. The problem is not caused by Chinese manufacturing per se. iLounge posted details regarding its test units (shipped from Shanghai, China) in an effort to help Apple and possibly affected users identify a specific plant from which affected units were being produced.
  3. The problem is not limited to orders coming from the Apple Store or to the United States. Issues have been reported in 4G iPods purchased from different stores in different countries.
  4. The problem is not the same in all affected iPods. iLounge has now heard affected iPods where the noise is only audible in one of the two headphones, and others where it is audible in both headphones at once. Some affected iPods appear to make the sounds loudly, while others appear to be more mild.
  5. The problem is not identical to problems in prior-generation iPods. Some users of older third-generation iPods and iPod minis have reported similar sounds that appear only when charging and using accessories connected to the Dock Connector port. The current problem manifests when the iPod is not connected to any additional hardware save headphones, and typically can be heard overlapping the music with static.
  6. The problem does not exist in a unit just because it makes hard disk access noises. Every iPod contains a hard disk that loads data in chunks during playback, and this hard disk is not supposed to be silent - but you shouldn’t generally hear it inside your headphones. Hard disk access noises coming from the iPod’s case (and audible without using headphones) are totally normal. The Audio Defect only exists when you can heard the sound of hard disk accesses accompanied by static coming through the headphones attached to the iPod. Some users have reported that audio played through the Dock Connector port exhibits the same issues.
  7. Added Aug. 23, 2004: The iPod’s part numbers are of no aid in sorting problem units from non-problem ones. Apple’s two current model units (M9282LL/A - 20GB, M9268LL/A - 40GB) are uniformly identified by these part numbers, and contrary to rumors that have been floating around, to the best of iLounge’s knowledge there is no “fixed” M9282LL/C or M9268LL/C version of either product.

What is Apple’s official position on the Audio Defect? (Updated 9-17-04) We have continued to request comment from Apple regarding the Audio Defect, and in response to a September 16 inquiry, an Apple iPod team representative responded on September 17, 2004 that “Apple does not have any comment at this time.” We had previously noted that Apple had not commented on the record to iLounge since late July, at which time the company indicated that it was still looking into the issue. Some users whose units exhibited the problem have reported receiving exchanges from Apple Store locations and certain other Apple-authorized retailers.

What is iLounge’s position on the Audio Defect? Our concern is first and foremost for our readers, and we take pains to promote iPods and related products that provide the most trouble-free and positive experiences for our readers. iLounge informed Apple Computer of its findings immediately after discovery in an effort to minimize the Defect’s impact upon iPod users, and provided its own affected units to Apple for testing. In the absence of further official comment from Apple, iLounge continues to consider this issue a serious one, and thereby reluctantly but strongly cautions its readers to purchase their 4G iPods only from retailers with complete return policies, or to hold off on 4G iPod purchases until Apple confirms that the issues are being addressed.

Is there a fix for the Audio Defect? (updated 11-1-04) As pointed out in early October by reader Jeff L. (and reported in iLounge Backstage), an almost identical problem was identified by Rio, makers of the Carbon audio player, which agreed to alter its manufacturing processes to eliminate the problem in their hardware altogether. We believe that this is the most appropriate course of action, as it requires owners to expend the least effort themselves to get fully working hardware. iLounge users have recently reported that they have returned 4G iPod units to Apple for repair and received fully working units in exchange, indicating that Apple is capable of diagnosing and remedying the problem. As a temporary solution for users who are not as concerned about the cosmetic appearance of their iPods, some users have reduced Audio Defect-related noises by placing a piece of tape or plastic between the iPod’s headphone port and the flat metal edge of the headphones’ plug, preventing any metal-on-metal contact other than the tip of the headphone plug. Thanks to JC and others in the thread for pointing this out.

Are there any updates on the Audio Defect? (updated 11-1-04) None officially through Apple. As iLounge has previously reported, a similar (albeit quieter, in our testing to date) defect appears to exist in the new iPod Photo, as well.

« Using Party Shuffle in iTunes

Printing CD Covers and Lists in iTunes »

Related Stories



Great article. Keep up the great work guys. One minor point though. Under the heading “Common Misconceptions…” point 6, the line reads:

“The Audio Defect only exists when you can heard the sound of hard disk accesses accompanied by static coming through the headphones attached to the iPod.”

I believe it should be “hear the sound” and not “heard the sound”. Other then that minor quibble, I have found this to be a great article and am very impressed with all of the research you have put into this problem. Hopefully, Apple will get this figured out quickly and resolve it to everyone’s satisfaction.

Posted by Polkster13 on August 27, 2004 at 4:55 AM (CDT)


4G 20 iPod encoded whole album with Apple lossless, with stock earbuds appears to be ok. I’m in the UK.

Posted by Kevin Stock on August 27, 2004 at 5:33 AM (CDT)


My second iPod is the good. It works perfectly :)

Posted by Euclid on August 27, 2004 at 8:42 AM (CDT)


I just got my 4g 20 gig iPod in the mail. I tested it and it doesn’t have the audio problem. I bought it online from apple and it was shipped directly from China.

Posted by david on August 27, 2004 at 8:50 AM (CDT)


I have a 3G 40GB model, and the only time I notice this problem is when using the iTrip.  I can hear through the speakers when the disk spins up.  Then it makes all sorts of wierd sounds until the memory buffer is loaded.  Then its fine. 

With that said I am curious to know if the people who are having this problem, (4g and/or 3G) are having it with either the iTrip or larger headphones.  I heard someone say that they noticed the distortion when the headphone minijack wasn’t seated properly, but my guess is that the power draw from the headphone jack is causing the distortion.  The iTrip pulls an extra load on the internal DC converter, along with the amplifier for sound.  Now I’m thinking that the additional draw of larger headphones or the iTrip may be causeing some interference with the draw from the amplifier.  Regardless of whether its plugged or not, after the converter its level powerflow- until the draw/load is increased.  (think of it as turning the hair dryer on in the bathroom- the lights dim right?  same concept in theory)

Why 40GB iPods affected?  Perhaps because the 40GB HD has more plates, which means more weight (and more load) to get moving on spinup…  Thats just a guess.

I emplore everyone who is having this problem to try this:

Using the same recipie as listed in the article, sample your music with large headphones, then sample with the stock earbuds.  If you have an iTrip or comparable FM transmitter, try it with that as well.  Document your results and reply, I’m really curious to see if I’m on the right track with this, or if I’m just another idiot overthinking this issue.  Give it a shot! Thanks!  ;-)

-apple juice

Posted by Apple Juice on August 27, 2004 at 11:08 AM (CDT)


i bought mine at the apple store and had that problem. they took it back with no hassle

Posted by phil on August 27, 2004 at 11:57 AM (CDT)


I noticed a similar phenomenon on my new 40GB 4G iPod. In my case it is clearly related to the length of the earphone connector. I only experience this when using my Etymotic ER- 4P headset, which has a connector that is 1mm longer than the one on the ER-6, which I also own. It appears that the new iPods have less tolerance or are more tightly built, so that a 1mm longer connector inserted into the earphone jack perhaps touches something inside and transmitts the hard drive noises to the earphones. This happens at the beginning of the first song and then about every 12 minutes, when the hard drive starts up periodically (perhaps a battery savings feature). I have not experienced this with earphones that do not go as deep inside the iPod. You may want to try different headphones. With the Er-6 or the new Er-6i, there is no “audio defect.” (I have not tried this with the Apple earpods.)

Posted by Klaus Ottmann on August 27, 2004 at 2:34 PM (CDT)


Just received my 20GB to replace my 1st Gen 5GB.  No problem.  Love it.

I’m thinking of keeping my 5GB as a collectors item.  It was from the first shipment.

Posted by David on August 27, 2004 at 2:47 PM (CDT)


I have both the Etymotic ER-4P and the Etymotic Er-6 earphones. When I bought my new 40 GB 4G iPod I suddenly noticed the described “audio defect” at the start up of the iPod and then every 12 minutes or so, when the hard drive seems to start up again. This only occurrs with the 4P headset, not the Er-6. I subsequently noticed that the connector on the 4P is 1mm longer than on the ER-6 or ER-6i. Apparently the new iPods are more tightly built and the longer connector touches on something inside, which transmitts the noise of the hard drive to the earphones. If you experience this “defect” try a different set of earphones or buy a connector from Radio Shack. It is not the metal on the connector that causes the noise but the length of it.

Posted by Klaus on August 27, 2004 at 2:48 PM (CDT)


Just got my 4G 20GB. No problems so far. However the part number is M9282FE. Got mine in Malaysia. Anyone else having the same part number?

Posted by Jin on August 27, 2004 at 5:46 PM (CDT)


I bought at 4G 20 GB iPod on August 3rd, after getting backfrom Woodward Camp. I had wanted 1 since the 2G came out 4 windows but i never had the money. but i decided that since the new 1 was out, i could get 1 since they were a $100 cheaper than the 3G 20GB that i had been looking at. id read about this problem on ipodlounge before i bought it, but i decided that i didnt really care. ive had my ipod for a month now, and i am happy to say that my rap-free ipod shows no problem other than the normal harddrive whir u hear coming from the ipod (not the headfones) since i keep mine on shuffle songs.

Posted by FIFforever on August 27, 2004 at 11:01 PM (CDT)


So what you’re saying is that when you encode in a format that 99% of iPod users don’t use, or at a high bitrate that is generally impractical for anyone who isn’t a complete audiophile, and you press buttons and hop around from track to track instead of just listening to the music, you hear a very brief sound that probably shouldn’t be there, but that doesn’t last more than a second, doesn’t otherwise impact the quality of the music, and doesn’t happen unless all the previous criteria are met?  I’m not sure this is a “problem” so much as it is a nitpick. You’re LOOKING for a flaw, and you have to follow specific steps to produce the supposed flaw?  I can’t say this makes sense to me. If you aren’t listening to Apple Lossless tracks all the time on your iPod, then how is this a problem?

Posted by Wilder on August 28, 2004 at 2:34 AM (CDT)


wilder read from the start.aplle lossless is used
because of the bigger filesize and the more often loading.i was about to get an ipod from the local apple dealer in my town.i called them at 4 august
and i was lucky they were closing for summer vacations from 5-30 august.the defect is unacceptable for a 375 euro unit (20gb)
and i cant imagine listening to my favorite concept cd,1 hour,and having the static for 3 or 4

Posted by kotf on August 28, 2004 at 6:09 AM (CDT)


I have the problem. Swapped first 4G 40GB for another one- seemed okay at first, now beginning to hear it again. Interestingly, I’m using the remote control cord from a 3G- so no metal contact- but guessing it is a connection problem. Over 30 days since swapped- so screwed now- sorry didn’t see this sooner- thanks for listening.

Posted by ghostdog2 in USA on August 28, 2004 at 7:06 AM (CDT)


I hear it very easily and can hear it using AAC 192 not just lossless..and it is very annoying- not barely perceptible. That’s my experience, anyway- thought you might want to know.

Posted by ghostdog2 in USA on August 28, 2004 at 7:17 AM (CDT)


Tried one 4G 40G that hasn’t the fault when using the ipod remote but not when plugged straight into the ipod? Has anyone else come across this?

Posted by Sav Man on August 28, 2004 at 8:18 AM (CDT)


Was wondering if people are experiencing this problem when using the remote? Please post!

Posted by seantest on August 28, 2004 at 8:36 AM (CDT)


This is the latest development in my iPod.  I thought it was problem free while using my E2c till I discovered today, almost by accident, that if I depress the headphone jack slightly, the static and hard drive spin appear. 

Now I am worried that as I use it more, the jack will loosen and eventually suck???  So for those that think that theirs is cool, just press and hold the jack.

What should I do?

Posted by vickbabu on August 28, 2004 at 8:54 AM (CDT)


Just to clarify my last post. Basically my IPOD doesnt appear to have the fault when using any headphones BUT when i plug my headphones in the new remote i just bought I can hear the problem, Has anyone else encountered this just with the remote????

Posted by Sav Man on August 28, 2004 at 9:20 AM (CDT)


“I have a Rio Karma and I don’t get this issue, the audio is also of better quality which is a bonus.” By Steve

Ha… Steve is one of those guys who has to brag that his little old’ clunker of a car is SOOOO much better than our luxury car. Steve just cause you can’t afford to have this audio issue doesn’t mean you have to admit you own a Rio.  Of course I’m kidding but dude who cares about the Rio Karma… if it was cool you’d see a lot more Rio Karma fan sites and you’d hear a WHOLE LOT more reviews comparing new media players to the Rio Karma then the Apple iPod. Find a new site dude… maybe you, your rio buddies and your friends with Dell Djs should join up and make a fan site about why your players are better than the iPod… why not make ‘antiipodlounge.com’ yay for you Chris I’m glad your Karma works… NO ONE CARES!

I’m just kidding again dude… I really am happy that Rio is treating you well but most of these people on this site aren’t realizing how easy it is to get support from Apple. I had a problem with my mini’s (my mini was engraved) audio support once upon a time and within a week I had a new (ENGRAVED) mini on my doorstep (this was April - even with the huge demand).


P.S Maybe we’ll hear something about all of this at Mac Expo! WOOOOO! Can’t wait!

Posted by Jody on August 28, 2004 at 11:02 AM (CDT)


After various test i have made the following conclusions:

1) All the 4G Ipods i have tested have the problem. (Only with 3rd party headphones).

2) Some only seem to have the problem when using the remote.

3) If i put a bit of tape of the headphone socket and then force the headphone jack theu it. The problem goes away.


It seems to be some sort of problem with the contact between the headphones and the casing. This would also explain why the Apple headphones don’t have it. Because they had a different end to the majority of headphones. This end stops the contact been made.

Posted by SAV MAN on August 29, 2004 at 4:31 AM (CDT)


I purchased a 20GB 4G iPod (Model M9282LL/A, Assembled in China) on 8/28/2004 at the Rockingham Park Apple Store. I followed the testing procedure exactly as described, and my iPod is *not* exhibiting this problem.

I updated the firmware to 3.0.1 - don’t know if that’s important or not.

Posted by Peter on August 29, 2004 at 6:44 AM (CDT)


Does this problem also occur in the HP models?  ‘Cause I was looking forward to buy a 4G 20 gig iPod online, but if it turns out that my iPod is infected, it would be quite a hassle to get it replaced.

Posted by Special Ed on August 29, 2004 at 10:01 AM (CDT)


hello people. i have recently taken delivery of my first ever ipod- a 4G 20GB model. no probs with the sound issue,however after 4 days and 500 songs, i left it in its dock,which in turn was plugged into my G4 powerbook via firewire. when i came home from work,the laptop had gone into sleep mode and my ipod had lost all its songs. i then put 30 songs on to test it again. next day,same thing-memory wiped! ...am i doing something wrong   (the ipod has been fine since) any useful comments would really help set my mind at rest…

Posted by londonLee on August 29, 2004 at 6:40 PM (CDT)


Just bought a 40gb Ipod 4G, the A batch, it is engraved so cannot return it.  After reading about audio defect, and windows issues, I am afraid to open it.  Should I just sell it on Ebay as LNIB and let someone else take the risk?  The audio defect sounds really annoying in a $400 machine.

Posted by NickR on August 29, 2004 at 7:13 PM (CDT)


I have a 40gig 4th generation batch A ipod I just got.  Just found out about the defects and windows/USB 2.0 issues.  I got it engraved, so can’t return it- was thinking about selling it on Ebay without opening it.  Would people take a chance on the Ipod?  It is $400, and I wasn’t thinking I was signing up for so much angst.

Seems like the audio defect is really annoying, and their is a high rate of defects.

Posted by Nick R on August 29, 2004 at 7:18 PM (CDT)


I just picked up a 4G 20GB from the Apple Store in Frisco. 

No Problemo.

Mentioned it to the rep @ the store and he acted like it was a new one on him, blew it off as a B.S. net rumor.

Posted by dharma on August 30, 2004 at 3:44 AM (CDT)


I get mine tomorrow and will test as soon as I can and post back.

Posted by Steve O'Donnell on August 30, 2004 at 4:01 AM (CDT)


I got the noise using both the included earbuds and the Griffin iTrip.  I ordered mine online with engraving and it came from China (4G 20GB).

Posted by n8ivetxn on August 30, 2004 at 9:39 AM (CDT)


*Sigh* I have this problem on my 40GB model shipped from Shanghai, China.

It doesn’t happen all the time on mine, but when it does, it’s usually so loud that I can hear it over the din of my ~45dB CPU fan in my case.

Give us some info, Apple!


Posted by Stryfe in South Bend, IN on August 30, 2004 at 11:27 AM (CDT)


Man…I was on the verge on putting money down for a 20GB 4G when i read about this new audio defect. It seems really unacceptable that Apple would not have issued any official response to this fundamental problem.Perhaps given the dominant position of the iPOD as THE industry leading HD-based music device, Apple feels that it is above things such as releasing a statement addressing the defect. Maybe they’re thinking that if they dun talk about it, the problem would just go away. This problem is further excerbated by the impending release of the HP iPODs nest month. I personally feel that Apples owes to its loyal fans a proper response and pledge to fix this problem. I just feel bad for people who have put money down to support the 4G iPOD and are getting shafted by Apple right now.

Posted by kwannick on August 30, 2004 at 11:58 AM (CDT)


In regards to my last post several days ago I plugged my Sony MDR-EX70’s after using Apple in ear phones, not only is the sound better the SQEAL is gone, however I need to turn my iPod volume to almost double volume with the Sony’sthan I had to with the Apple phones so maybe I cant get the vol high enough to hear it again

Posted by squee in UK on August 30, 2004 at 12:28 PM (CDT)


I got my 4G 40 GB iPod today, and I haven’t discovered any problem yet! Only tested with 192 kbps mp3 and apple earphones with remote.

Posted by Thijs on August 30, 2004 at 4:42 PM (CDT)


Bit the bullet and opened my 4g 40GB.  Don’t seem to have the issue, haven’t officially tested, butI have heawrd the disk spin up without hearing anything through my Koss PortaPros, or my stereo through the lineout on the dock.  Was engraved from Shanghai 4 days ago.

Posted by Nick R on August 31, 2004 at 12:05 AM (CDT)


nope i dont hav tht problem thank god….i was sooo worried beceause i lived in united arab emirates dubai n i told my dad 2 get me a 4g ipod when he went 2 the states(itz not out here yet).....

Posted by Ammar on August 31, 2004 at 9:02 AM (CDT)


What exactly does the ‘static’ sound like?  Because I have a 4G 20gig and am not sure whether or not I have the defect.

Posted by shaun on August 31, 2004 at 4:18 PM (CDT)


im so happy i dont have the problem, i was really worried when i saw this article the day after i ordered my 4g ipod

Posted by s on September 1, 2004 at 5:51 AM (CDT)


I don’t hear the whirring but I do get a sharp static sound occasionally when switiching between tracks.  The static is only for a split second, but like I said - is quite sharp and doesn’t sound very nice.

Is this connected to the defect?

Posted by Davey on September 1, 2004 at 6:17 AM (CDT)


Bought my 4g 40GB ipod from the UK Apple store; shipped from the Netherlands.

No problems encountered.

Posted by 510leader on September 1, 2004 at 7:54 AM (CDT)


I’m holding off purchasing a 40G until Apple address this.

Posted by Si on September 1, 2004 at 8:22 AM (CDT)


Well this is interesting.  I plugged in my pair of Sennheiser HD600’s to my iPod (4G 40GB) laser night and I heard nothing.  (Other than the music.)  No whirring, no whining, no static.  I didn’t have a lot of time to play with it, but I will try again tonight.


Posted by Stryfe in South Bend, IN on September 1, 2004 at 9:31 AM (CDT)


Errm… “laser” >> “last”.

*Sigh* Gotta love those goofy spelling errors.


Posted by Stryfe in South Bend, IN on September 1, 2004 at 9:32 AM (CDT)


20gb 4g.  I have the problem.  Noticed it when I first got my iPod, assumed that it was normal, but poor design by Apple and inconsistant with the overall impression I had of the iPod’s elegance.  Nice to know that it is a defect and not just sloppiness on Apple’s part.

Whirring sound for first few seconds like a hard drive spinning up.  It annoys me only when there is no external background noise.  Would probably bother me more if I had better headphones.

Posted by John on September 1, 2004 at 11:58 AM (CDT)


I hope Apple or HP reads this thread….They need to fix it!

I was very very close to purchasing my first 4g 20GB iPod this evening, but, put it on hold until more news developes or the problem is officially addressed by Apple.

I have waited for an iPod since they first were produced.  Now, it seems that I will have to wait longer.  I just hope my iPod money will not evaporate towards baby diapers (again!).

Posted by Littlehorn in H-Town, TX, USA on September 1, 2004 at 2:23 PM (CDT)


Has anyone tried to record the problem?

You should be able to send the headphone output to a computer’s input using a minijack to minijack cable and record it depending on the software you have.

If someone can actually record it—it might be useful to the folks who haven’t heard it—maybe they don’t know what to listen for, or have been writing it off, not knowing what it is. Plus all the people who haven’t heard it and are saying that it’s no big deal can hear for themselves and know that it is really not something that should be happening in a device like this.

Posted by Phil on September 1, 2004 at 3:53 PM (CDT)


Just received my third 40GB 4G iPod from the UK Apple store. All have exhibited the fault. I will now be returning this last replacement and requesting a refund, my plan is to wait a couple of months until this is resolved. Still no response from Apple??

Posted by Scotty on September 1, 2004 at 4:45 PM (CDT)


This is so frustrating. I’ve been wanting to buy one of the 4Gs for ages and every time i’m about to click that ‘complete order’ button I chicken out because of this defect. Is it really as widespread, and as frustrating as you all say?

Posted by H on September 1, 2004 at 7:50 PM (CDT)


Can’t hear the defect with Apples earbuds. With my philips in-ear-buds the defect is very clear. Gonna sit on the problem untill Apple will do something.

Posted by Tirppa on September 1, 2004 at 11:54 PM (CDT)


I have a theory about the audio defect. Have to test it when I get home. I looked at my philips in ear buds connector and the apple buds connector. The metal area in philips phones is larger and it touches the chrome surface of the pod. Could the problem be there?

Posted by Tirppa on September 2, 2004 at 12:05 AM (CDT)


I am going to wait and keep my 2G for a bit longer.

Posted by twistedbrntucker in Cincinnati on September 2, 2004 at 3:36 AM (CDT)


got 40gig 4g ipod. No Problems!!

Posted by ewan on September 2, 2004 at 3:44 AM (CDT)


Still not got my 20GB no stores in Glasgow have any. ordered on line but have to wait till the 4th for delivery. I have also noticed a few people saying that the static is caused by the metal at the base of the heaphones. I will check this my self once I actually manage to get my ipod.

Posted by Steve O'Donnell on September 2, 2004 at 6:31 AM (CDT)


Well…  I encourage everyone to read this whole thread! 

I have no way to test the system myself, so I will summarize the clues that may be the problem(s).

SUMMARY of Possible Problem(s):

1. The main body of this report at the very top.  Internal processing, or song prep.

2. May be the headphone connector “bottoming-out” inside the headphone jack of the iPod and touching something or getting too close to something.  Signal/noise transfer of some sort.  Some reports note the connectors are too long by as much as a millimeter or so. (included earbuds, aftermarket headphones, accessories’)

3. Headphone connector may be touching the outside of the iPod’s metal case.  Included earbuds may not be allowing this contact due to a plastic lip on the connector.  Aftermarket headphone/accessory connectors may not have the plastic lip providing the protection.  Shorting with signal/noise transfer.

Posted by Littlehorn in H-Town, TX, USA on September 2, 2004 at 8:20 AM (CDT)


Why’s this such a big deal? I hear some noise in mine, but on VERY rare occasions (like every 100 songs it loads, not constant as this is being made out to be) and it’s very slight, like a low crackle noise. It’s barely audible, and I can pick out CD’s from MP3 files, so I know it’s not my hearing being bad.

Posted by CD999 on September 2, 2004 at 11:00 AM (CDT)


Using Shure e3c earphones.  I can hear the problem with my 4G iPod.  It whines up to a high pitch and then causes static for 1-3 seconds.  It’s pretty annoying considering that my 3G iPod doesn’t do this at all.

Posted by Oogle on September 2, 2004 at 1:07 PM (CDT)


I purchased my 40GB 3G iPod about two weeks before the 4G models were announced—I don’t get any “static” per se when starting a track, but when my iPod is connected up to my car stereo (from the iPod headphone jack directly into the line input on the stereo) or if I’m listening through the Apple earbuds, I can definitely hear noise that corresponds to hard drive activity.  The noise is only loud enough to hear when there isn’t a track currently playing—doesn’t interfere with actual playback at all.

Even if Apple offered some sort of repair program or something, it’s not *that* annoying…after all, it *is* a computer, and computers have to make noise.  If it were interfering with playback, that’d be different…

Posted by benscripps on September 2, 2004 at 6:07 PM (CDT)


No problem at all with my 4 weeks old iPod 4G 40Gb unit brought in Miami.  I made the test with classic music with a great sound as a result.
I’m very lucky or you are over reacting when recomend your readers “...to hold off on 4G iPod purchases..”?

Posted by PepeTonio on September 2, 2004 at 6:44 PM (CDT)


I have a 40G Ipod which does have the problem.
I am not going to send it back. While its noticeable and slightly annoying, its not like it prevents me from enjoying music on my Ipod.
Anyway, the connector theories are interesting. I just tested all my headphones and with some I get the problem but not with others:

Grado SR80 and Sharp MD33: Problem audible.
Koss PortaPro, Sony EX70, Sennheiser PX100: No problem.

I put some scotch tape around the connector to shield the plugs from the metal case, but this did not help with the phones which show the problem. I just removed it and tried the three other phones again: No problem without scotch tape either.

Posted by franz on September 2, 2004 at 7:09 PM (CDT)


Got my 40GB G4, no prob here!

Posted by Matt on September 2, 2004 at 8:18 PM (CDT)


I have no problems, but then again i don’t have an iPod.

I have an iAudio M3…  http://www.idontipod.wanadoo.co.uk

Posted by C. Antsay on September 3, 2004 at 3:51 AM (CDT)


Not sure if what I am hearing is “the static problem” or not ... But, it is annoying!

While listening to music (MP3’s), I occasionally hear a sort of “krinkling” sound in the ear.  It sounds like static or the krinkling of metallic paper.  Its kind of hard to explain but it sounds more like an issue with the earphones themselves as opposed to the iPod. 

Not sure though - any ideas?

Posted by Cincinnati iPOD User on September 3, 2004 at 9:09 AM (CDT)


Got mine yesterday, works fine. But it’s bigger than my bro’s 3g iPod? That weirded me out.

Posted by IJaK on September 3, 2004 at 10:00 AM (CDT)


20 gb 4g 5 days old no problem but i do know what you are talking about it is not really a defect i had an archos jukebox and this was normal operation so just chill

Posted by Juggalo in houston TX on September 3, 2004 at 1:48 PM (CDT)


First off, I have a 20gig 4G with the static problem.  I noticed the weird sound pretty much right out of the box (I use third-party earphones—Koss PortaPros) but I figured I could live with it for now.

Like others have mentioned, I noticed the noise is much less noticable with Apple’s included earphones.  I’d passed this fact off as a result of the buds’ inferior dynamic range (the noise is pretty high-pitched), but all this talk of using tape and such made me think again.

Now, if insulation against the metal-metal contact was a possible solution, I figured rubber might work better than tape.  So, I took a rubber-band (the wide kind that comes wrapped around asparagus), cut out a 0.5cm square, and used a needle to punch a hole in the middle.  I then pushed the tip of my PortaPros earphone plug through this hole and moved the little square right to the base of the connector.  I plugged it into my ipod, and—surprise!—the static problem is gone!

Clearly, this is a temporary work-around fix—and who knows if it’ll work for everyone—but maybe it’s something to hold some of us over until Apple gets around to talking!

Posted by Dan on September 3, 2004 at 2:16 PM (CDT)


” i do know what you are talking about it is not really a defect i had an archos jukebox and this was normal operation so just chill”

I have a Archos jukebox and with the factory firmware OS it does produce a kind of hiss during disk access.

But with the newer Rockbox firmware the hiss disappears. I don’t know what they did to get rid of it but it’s all open-source so you can ask them and read the code. Maybe someone could do something similar on the 4G iPods?

Posted by not normal on September 3, 2004 at 3:12 PM (CDT)


Just got a 4G 20GB through the Apple store online. Tested it at max volume with five lossless tracks.

No problems.

Posted by Joel on September 3, 2004 at 4:46 PM (CDT)


I just received my iPod Mini a few days ago and after putting somes songs in AAC format onto the unit then I noticed a popping sound and bad clicking noise when accessing the songs. I only wrote about 250 songs onto the unit. When I spoke to the Apple Store where I bought the unit from, the clerk told me that this is a normal sound because the unit is so small. I asked to speak to the manager on duty and after waiting 30 mins he listens to my story and told me that Apple has no evidence of such problem and that at my expense that I can send the device back to Apple and a nominal fee of course. Well after spending $300+ dollars this is not a very good Apple experience for me. I think I will try contacting the attornery gerneral of my state to see if something can be done about this problem and Apples stance of poor customer service.

Posted by Ludwin on September 3, 2004 at 7:33 PM (CDT)


I am so glad that I found this website from Google. It is very informative and wonderful source of knowledge. Sadly I too have the noise issue that people are complaining. In my situation, it IS quite loud and for the money spent on the I-pod, this is unacceptable. The unit is wonderful otherwise aside from a clicking noise coming from my I-pod mini. It was purchased at my local Apple Store nearby two weeks ago. The earbuds that I am using are the original ones that came with my mini. I have tried both songs in mp3 and apple format but still hear the noise.

And to the people not getting the noise, consider yourself luckly. So have a little compassion for us folks that have the Monday or Friday made defective Asian units.

Posted by Jacob on September 3, 2004 at 7:41 PM (CDT)


Can someone please explain the difference in manufacture of the earlier ipod models? This might have a impact of why these newer models are only affected.

Mine is one that has a loud noise, not static or noise of that nature but loud whirling noise. Like the sound of a Samsung HD ... those PC geeks - like me know what I’m talking about.

My unit is a 4G 40G unit. I bought it from BestBuy new with a 2 year warranty three weeks ago. Now BB has honored the warranty and I am now on my 3rd ipod. The first one had a really bad rainbow across the screen and was replace from day one. The second ipod the wheel actually fell off of the ipod. I brought it back to BB, and they said that they have never seen something like this before on a ipod. Now I’m on my 3rd ipod and so far so good, except for the damn noise. Everthing else seems to be holding up. What gives? I know that BB will back the warranty, but has quality control been avoided by Apple? Does no one test ipods as they are being made? I don’t know what I will do on this now. Tomorrow I plan to take my ipod back to BB to see what they say.

Posted by Wayne G. on September 3, 2004 at 7:53 PM (CDT)


I have just recently purchased & received a iPod Mini & a 40 Gig full-size iPod. The mini is for my wife and the 40 Gig is for me. I have had the 40G for about a month now and have only written about 200 - 300 music files on it. Most of the files are in mp3 format. Everything else is standard that came with it. I do notice, especially when close proximedity to power lines while driving in my car that a lot of interference is picked up through the earbuds. Now keep in mind that there is quite a distance between me and the lines outside. It’s not like I am on the powerlines working on them. Also there seems to be a whirling sound (if that’s the best way to describe it) when I am accessing various songs. Not the normal sound when the iPod was new, but a lower tone, much more laudible coming from inside.

My wife’s iPod mini so far has not had this problem. Other than she complains about static electric shock coming from it. Much like a door knob in winter. I can’t tell anything by looking at it. Also is it normal for the screen to have a rainbow hue to it? It seems to be getting much worse now as time increases. At first it was very slight dis-colorization, but now it is much worse and covering more of the viewing screen.  Any help from other owners of iPod mini’s much appreciated.

Posted by Brad on September 3, 2004 at 9:55 PM (CDT)


DAMN, What’s going on with Apple’s iPod quality control? I see way too many people who have spent a few hundred dollars having enough problems to warrant a Lemon Law Recall by the U.S. Goverment.

I was considering buying an iPod after reading up on it on Cnet.com, but after seeing so many problems and no response by Apple to stand behind the iPod, I think I will spend my money elsewhere. I am really glad to see a forum like here that helps prevent people like me from making a grave, expensive mistake.

Does anyone remember Sony Playstation (grey model) when they first came out and the lazer problems they had after the warranty had expired and Sony would gladly sell to you another revised unit at full price, hence why Sony is the number one selling videogame console.

Posted by mIKE on September 3, 2004 at 10:09 PM (CDT)


Just bought mine and love it :-D no audio defect booyah!

Posted by Anirin in CA, USA on September 3, 2004 at 11:49 PM (CDT)


This really does seem like an issue of quality control.

I went to 2 apple stores in So. Cal:  Glendale Galleria and The Grove on 3rd.  Every single iPod save for maybe 1 40 gig experienced the problem (there were about 7-8 in each store).  I could hear the defect even with all the people and background noise.  (I’m using the noise isolating shure e3cs).

So, why can’t others hear it?  I’m guessing it’s cuz they…

Really don’t know what to listen for.
Are using phones with no range at high frequencies.
Can’t hear faint high frequency noises (e.g. dog whistles)

Forturnately (or unfortunately) for me, I had something to compare the noise against: my 3G iPod.  My 3G makes no such noticable interference.  Well actually, it could make this noise.  But, I’d have to crank up the volume to ear-deafening levels to hear it.  The 4G makes this noise, no matter what volume you have the iPod at.

Now that I can hear the noise and know how much the quality has dropped compared to my 3G, I’ll never feel comfortable listening to a 4G again.

Posted by Oogle on September 4, 2004 at 8:20 AM (CDT)


As I wrote above, I do hear the problem with some phones, but not with others. It might be differences in the plugs, the frequency responses, the impedance, who knows.
Anyway, I think the individual reports would be a lot more informative if people would provide details about which headphones they used for testing. I suspect we could see some patterns emerge.

Posted by franz on September 4, 2004 at 2:23 PM (CDT)


No problems with my 4g 40 gig ipod.

Posted by flipyurlid on September 4, 2004 at 3:34 PM (CDT)


My 4g iPod is 1 month old now and it is laser engraved….Since I got it I have noticed light static in my headphones whenever I adjust the volume, is this part of the problem??? I can’t hear any whirring noises only that from the ipod itself so does anyone know if their is a problem with my ipod?  The light static noises can be heard even when the ipod is far from the reach of me.

...Would exchanging my ipod be a problem because I have it engraved?

Posted by Richard on September 4, 2004 at 4:44 PM (CDT)


Two things come to mind on the sound issue.

Now I know that this sounds very obvious, but could people be confusing the noise with the “click feature” that the ipod transmits over the ear buds?

Also I believe that manufacturing changed on the newer generation model being made in China, where as the previous ones were from Taiwan.

Posted by Mike on September 4, 2004 at 6:02 PM (CDT)


I *really* don’t want to be forced to get a 3rd generation iPod because of this. Was looking forward to buying an iPod this weekend when I found this page.

I want the longer battery life so bad, but am having trouble waiting.

Posted by michael on September 5, 2004 at 12:22 AM (CDT)


Apple REALLY needs to get off their [behinds] and issue a friggin’ statement on this. I really want to know if the new hPods have this defect as well…

Posted by Kevin on September 5, 2004 at 2:58 AM (CDT)


When I Buy a new 4g 20GB Ipod that has the problem, will the apple center trade it in for a new one whitout the problem??

Posted by Thijs on September 5, 2004 at 5:03 AM (CDT)


My 15GB 3G model has always down this. Only lasts a few seconds when it’s fetching from the disk. I always thought this was “normal” until everyone starting making a fuss about it on the 4G models.

I’d like to see it fixed in newer models, but it’s nothing to return my iPod over.

Posted by Rick on September 5, 2004 at 10:38 PM (CDT)


Got my 20GB 4G on sat. fully tested and no audio probs.

Posted by Steve O'Donnell on September 6, 2004 at 3:43 AM (CDT)


I have a 20GB 4G bought from Amazon, made in China, no problems

Posted by John on September 6, 2004 at 4:53 AM (CDT)


I wish people would stop saying it’s no big deal or it’s nothing to get riled up over.

It’s obviously different in every model.

Posted by dehgenog on September 6, 2004 at 9:01 AM (CDT)


newly purchased 4g 40GB ipod here, and no defect with either the apple headphones or philips hp170 headphones.  apple lossless encoded 6 pink floyd live tracks with a lot of quiet at the start of each.  no static or noise other than the music.

Posted by lytlebill in sunnyvale, ca on September 6, 2004 at 10:45 AM (CDT)


It only appears when you use third party headphones due to contact with the case.

My Shure E5’s do it, so I use the Apple remote and plug in via that, and that has cured it.

No other manufacturers have the plastic ridge on the jack plug, Apple do and as such can quite easily turn round and say that there is no fault as they can’t warrant people adding third party accessories…

Posted by Kieron on September 6, 2004 at 11:09 AM (CDT)


I just purchased my ipod mini at an apple store on Sept 3 and it’s fine. I just did the “test” and there was no static or anything unusual.

Posted by beetlegirl on September 6, 2004 at 2:59 PM (CDT)


I can certainly hear the drive whirr up and the static over the audio outputs… anyone know how this can be fixed?  i guess it’s a poor grounding connection?

Posted by James on September 6, 2004 at 3:44 PM (CDT)


4g 40 GB, bought in Singapore. I have not the problem. Everything it’s ok!

Posted by bybonfi on September 7, 2004 at 7:59 AM (CDT)


I bought my 4g 40gb ipod in late july. It had the problem. After calling apple care and explained my problem to them, they exchanged the ipod without any complaints…. it took a week for the new 4g 40gb ipod to arrive… it also has the audio problems. Again i called apple care. They are going to exchange this one as well… Quiet expensive for apple. Sell your apple stocks!!!

Posted by Fred on September 7, 2004 at 11:40 AM (CDT)


Recently bought a 20GB 4th generation ipod from Amazon. It had the audio defect that ipod lounge has very kindly highlighted.
It also had another problem - the restart function wouldn’t work.
*Apple UK support is absolutely terrible* when i phoned them they didn’t seem to have a clue what the problem was and they didn’t have seem to have any coherent returns policy.  The guy just sat there going ” um… ah…maybe send it back to Amazon” ..this obviously pissed me off as i’d been on hold for about ten minutes prior to this.
So anyway, i sent it back to Amazon recorded delivery and am yet to hear anything. The whole things just really annoyed me as i kind of splashed out buying one, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea. I’ll post again when there are further developments.

P.S. If anyone has the audio defect problem with their ipod, they should make an issue of it. You’re paying full price for a product and it shouldn’t be faulty! If you pay for a fully functional, clean sounding mp3 player that’s what you should get.

Posted by Rufio(UK) on September 7, 2004 at 10:18 PM (CDT)


My 4G has been reseting by itself, every time i try to put rate on more than 20 songs.. Today I was hearing it in my car an it freeze in the midle of one song and did not play any more.. the Hard disc was working and did not stop you could heare it kind of loud, but the track was freezed… after the battery went down about 3 hours later the pod was very hot because the HD did not stop for the 3 hours.. When the battery died the pod worked fine again.. (I did try everithing, I try to reset the pod play+menu for more than 5 minutes but did not worked), I knew of this problem by reading a note on the apple web site about two days ago someone had posted a note like mine today.. but I guess something is happening, can someone fix this or we have to exchange our ipots?

Posted by Adolfo Pardo on September 8, 2004 at 3:05 AM (CDT)


Do we have any comment from Apple on this issue yet??  Anything at all?  Positive or Negative?!

As stated previously, I’ve got a 4G 20GB with Apple earbuds that come with the iPod and seem to have the problem of static during a song.  It almost sounds like a grounding issue - but, that would mean I should be able to move the mini-jack plug around and repeat the problem at will - but, I can’t.

Posted by Cincinnati iPOD User on September 8, 2004 at 7:35 AM (CDT)


““but I guess something is happening, can someone fix this or we have to exchange our ipots?

By Adolfo Pardo on Sep 08, 04 2:05 am”“


Posted by Shashwat on September 8, 2004 at 12:19 PM (CDT)


My 4g 40gb has this issue, although it isn’t that big a whoop. The problem only surfaces when fast-forwarding to a new track and then only some of the time. Still, given how much this baby costs, I don’t believe I should have to deal with this even occasionally. Seems getting an exchange won’t necesarily solve the problem.

Question for the techies: should I live with this or demand a replacement from Apple?(I’m still able to return the unit for an exchange or refund.) Thanks.

Posted by Steve on September 8, 2004 at 12:49 PM (CDT)


I’ve experienced this problem with two 40 GB iPods purchased last weekend from two different Apple store locations in California (Arden Fair and Emeryville).

An iPod support tech at AppleCare confirms that they’ve heard reports of this issue.

I had no problems exchanging the first one for the second.  The Genius Bar tech confirmed that Apple has a confidential advisory in their Support database for this but couldn’t share the details. “They’re working on it.”

In-store managers haven’t been sent any bulletins on this, so I’ve had to spend some time educating them on this issue.

They’ve offered to give me a full refund on the second defective iPod, with no restocking fee.

I’m going to take them up on that offer, and wait until this issue until the issue is diagnosed and fixed before buying another one.

Posted by Steven on September 8, 2004 at 1:47 PM (CDT)


I just got my new 4G 20GB from a reseller in Melbourne, Australia and it’s fine, I got a 4G because my 3G 10GB was stolen so I got this one on Insurance. no complaints yet, the screen in much sharper and clearer than the 3G’s.

Posted by Nuke666 in Melbourne, Austalia on September 8, 2004 at 6:04 PM (CDT)


Had the static problem, sent it back and waited about one month for the replacement.

Still waited… then decided to phone Apple (uk) who told me something went wrong, and the order wasn’t processed!

I was really pissed at this point, so I cancelled the order completely.

Trouble was I still had an urge to buy an Apple product - so I ordered an Airport Express… we’ll see what happens.

Muvo on its way (j/k).

Posted by n/a on September 9, 2004 at 9:20 AM (CDT)


No problems with my iPod 40g (tested with two >20MiB ACC Lossless files)...  iPod was ordered on 9/2/04 and shipped from CN..  Other info:

BoardHwName: iPod Q21
pszSerialNumber: xxxxxxxxxxx
ModelNumStr: P9268
FirewireGuid: 0x008CE575
HddFirmwareRev: JC001B
RegionCode: LL(0x0001)
PolicyFlags: 0x00000000
buildID: 0x03018000 (3.0.1)
visibleBuildID: 0x03018000 (3.0.1)
boardHwRev: 0x00000000 (0.0 0)
boardHwSwInterfaceRev: 0x00050013 (0.0.5 19)
bootLoaderImageRev: 0x00000000 (0.0 0)
diskModeImageRev: 0x00000000 (0.0 0)
diagImageRev: 0x00000000 (0.0 0)
osImageRev: 0x00000000 (0.0 0)
iPodFamily: 0x00000004
updaterFamily: 0x00000004

Posted by Doug on September 9, 2004 at 9:36 AM (CDT)


My brand new 4g 40gb ipod HAS the audio defect.  This is really disheartening as this is my first apple product and i was really excited about owning something of exceptional quality.  What is the best remedy here?

Posted by andrew on September 9, 2004 at 4:04 PM (CDT)

Page 2 of 5 pages  < 1 2 3 4 >  Last ›

If you have a comment, news tip, advertising inquiry, or coverage request, a question about iPods/iPhones/iPad or accessories, or if you sell or market iPod/iPhone/iPad products or services, read iLounge's Comments + Questions policies before posting, and fully identify yourself if you do. We will delete comments containing advertising, astroturfing, trolling, personal attacks, offensive language, or other objectionable content, then ban and/or publicly identify violators.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.
Sign up for the iLounge Weekly Newsletter


Recent News

Recent Reviews

Recent Articles

Sign up for the iLounge Weekly Newsletter


iLounge is an independent resource for all things iPod, iPhone, iPad, and beyond.
iPod, iPhone, iPad, iTunes, Apple TV, Mac, and the Apple logo are trademarks of Apple Inc.
iLounge is © 2001 - 2014 iLounge, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use | Privacy Policy