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.

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Does this noise go away after the sog begins to play or can you hear it throughout the entire song?

Posted by Jon on October 5, 2004 at 6:28 AM (CDT)


Bought my 4g 20gb last week and only noticed the audio fault when I switched my headphones to Sony MDR-E818LP. I’ve done the test using lossless tracks and there is no static when using the Apple earbuds but it’s very clear using the Sonys.

Posted by tryevolution on October 5, 2004 at 12:05 PM (CDT)


I just bought a new 40GB iPod on October 1st, and it performs perfectly.
NO audio defects or any other trouble.
I bought this from an authorized reseller (high end audio) that has a 30 day no-questions-asked return policy just in case.
There’s an Apple Store 10 min. away but their Return/Exchange policy is more restrictive and I didn’t want to run into trouble if there were problems.

Posted by Steve on October 5, 2004 at 12:59 PM (CDT)


Just received my 20GB from the Apple Store (online - laser engraved - delivered in four days!),  no problems here.

Posted by Silver Rocket in Toronto on October 5, 2004 at 2:32 PM (CDT)


I have a 20gig Ipod, and It made the fuzzy noise, so i brought it back, and they said it was the ipod (not the headphones) and they gave me a new Ipod, But now im having the same problem, and my heaphones work on any other device fine.  I also tested it with other apple heaphones and there is STILL the fuzzy noise.

Posted by Blaine on October 6, 2004 at 5:35 PM (CDT)


Darn - I just ordered one of the 20Gig iPods from the US Apple Store…..I wish I’d found this site first!  I’ll certainly report back if I find that the defect is present.

Posted by Josie on October 6, 2004 at 11:43 PM (CDT)


I’ve just noticed on my Apple Webstore confirmation e-mail (and also on their Order Status webpage) that the part number of my iPod is P9282LL/A and not M9282LL/A….does this mean that there is a new version that is (fingers crossed) minus the defect???

Posted by Josie on October 6, 2004 at 11:49 PM (CDT)


Got a 40gig at an apple store in australia. made in china. No problems :)

Posted by dave on October 7, 2004 at 4:57 AM (CDT)


I just wanted to point out that this same problem has been reported for the Rio Carbon.  Which many of you realize is a rip off of the ipod styling; that is the use of a metal back.  The new Rio carbon uses the same type of back and when a head phone plug comes in contact with the metal base - bing static.  They (Rio) have acknowledged the problem here….


and a review of the problem is here…


I only mention this here because apple has not comented yet and this appears to be a problem in genral with the case and head phones.  The problems reported with the dock connector may be similiar.


Posted by Jeff Lalo on October 7, 2004 at 1:24 PM (CDT)


Hilarious! Why won’t Apple admit the problem? This is NOT how iPod customers want to be treated. Btw.: got my 4G 20gig last monday..no problems. Luckily I bought it from an Apple store nearby, so if any problem appears, the Apple store will be charcoal. Just kidding, but I’m happy to have an authorized dealer 10 min. away from my home, in case of problems.

My Ipod is apparently made in late September. Don’t know if this has got anything to do with the problem. Probably not, since the metal case seems to be the issue. So i will buy earphones with plastic around the connectorpin. I want a pair of B&O phones, and apparently they don’t connect with the metal on the iPod.

Posted by Vega in Oslo on October 7, 2004 at 6:05 PM (CDT)


I have the problem! Just got it today! =(

Posted by Tam on October 7, 2004 at 6:29 PM (CDT)


I have the problem! Just got it today! =(

Posted by Tam on October 7, 2004 at 6:29 PM (CDT)


Hey guys,

Me and my friend were just messin around with his ipod, and we have a theory on this audio defect.

Heres the story…

previously, we had never heard the problem on his 4g 20gig ipod. However we were testing the sound quality with several different headphones and i came across one of those adapters that split the signal so you can use two separate headphones.

anyway, as soon as we were using this, we noticed the harddrive whirring sound as it loaded a song that (we assumed) was not in the cache. we tested this a number of times and were confident that if the song was in the cache the sound was not heard.

our first thoughts were that the adapter was faulty, however, after repeatedly plugging it in and out, we didnt push it all the way in and it was left the smallest of measurements out of the jack, and strangely enough the whirring sound was no longer audible. after further experimentation we came to the conclusion that the sound was coming from the contact made with the bottom of the adapter as the player vibrated due to the hdd spinning up. when the plug is pulled out just a tiny bit so you can still hear the music, but it is no longer in contact with the ipod, the sound was not there.

i remember reading somewhere that the sound may have been closely related with the headphone plug being loosely plugged into the jack - similar to the contact we found with the ipod metal casing.

So anyway, have my friend and i accidentally stumbled upon the reason behind the ipod’s audio defect? or is this something different….?

Posted by Saracen on October 8, 2004 at 1:37 AM (CDT)


it seems to me that i haven’t found anyone with a 20gig 4g’s that has the problem ive only seen 40gig 4g’s have the defect

Posted by mike on October 8, 2004 at 7:41 PM (CDT)


Saracen, you have found the reason to the defect, but if you read above in further comments you will find that you are not the only person.

Posted by Rich on October 9, 2004 at 6:11 AM (CDT)


My first iPod(4g 20gb)‘s hard drive failed, and it didn’t have the problem.  However, the new one that they sent me does.  I found that when my Koss headphones were used, the defect was apparent, but when I used the earphones supplied by Apple, it went away.  Some comments on the news article suggested the metal lip coming into contact with the case was the problem.  You can test this hypothesis yourself by using headphones with this metal lip and letting the hard drive spin up and play a song to hear the problem, then doing the same thing with the headphones only slightly unseated so that you can still hear music in both speakers, but the metal lip does not contact the case.  You shouldn’t hear the defect.  My guess is some sort of short between the headphone jack and the back part of the case.

Posted by reuven on October 9, 2004 at 9:54 AM (CDT)


My 3G 20Gb ipod played a portion of static (although I didn’t notice any spin up/spin down) the other day when I was walking to work but I didn’t pay any attention to it and it hasn’t done it since.

At first I thought it was a dodgy MP3 but I’ve since played it again with no problems. Only realised when I read this discussion.

However as I’ve had it since January 04 and it’s only done it once I don’t think there’s any cause for alarm.

Posted by njeo in England on October 9, 2004 at 4:03 PM (CDT)


i tried taking mine back to the apple store and the “genius” guy wouldn’t do anything about it.

Posted by Wes on October 10, 2004 at 11:44 AM (CDT)


“Im siiiiiiinging in the rain…”

I am sooo glad i got a 3rd G! And to think i was going to sell mine and get a 4th G :D! I’m sure i can do just that now but… why WOULD i?

I just think that the 4th G iPods were constructed with shabbier (cheaper) components. A stupid guess, but just looking at the 4th G’s and comparing them with the 3rd Gs.. I like the look and feel of the 3rd G’s.

Ok, so “don’t judge the book by it’s cover”. Still.. im a happy with my 3rd G.. no problems whatsoever here :D (which is good, coz i paid more for my 3rd G)!

Posted by Theanimaster on October 11, 2004 at 2:39 AM (CDT)


Well, I just got my 20Gb iPod 4G from Shanghai, and the model number is definitely P9282LL/A - and there is no audio defect.  So it looks like Apple have possibly sorted out the problem.

I’m absolutely delighted with the sound quality of this product, can’t wait to get some proper use out of it!

Posted by Josie on October 11, 2004 at 1:52 PM (CDT)


I have noticed a post or two indicating that P9282LLA is a different model than the M9282LL/A.  I belive the “P” just indicates that the ipod is personalized - laser etched.  The ipods are the same othewise.

Posted by Jeff Lalo on October 11, 2004 at 3:04 PM (CDT)


Yes Jeff, you’re absolutely right - I’ve just been reading back through some of the posts and have seen the odd “P” in the model number - and yes mine was personalized - ah well, it was a nice theory for a while!

Been playing my iPod all evening - and no problems with it at all thankfully.

Posted by Josie on October 11, 2004 at 11:07 PM (CDT)


Hope I have something to add to the metal contacting metal theory.  The problem as I see it is not so much metal to metal contact as it is dissimilar metals coming into contact.  I’m betting most, if not all, who experience the static and hard drive noises have a pair of earphones with a gold plug that is somehow touching the body of their 4G iPod.  As you may know, when dissimilar metals come into contact, they can generate an electric current – which might explain the static.

I’ll tell you how I came to this conclusion.  First, I had no problem with the Apple earbuds supplied with the 4G iPod.  Then I purchased a set of Grado SR60s, and I immediately noticed static throughout the songs at low volume in addition to the hard drive noise at the beginning of each song.  The Grados have a gold plug that flares out at the base of the adapter.  I then tried a pair of old Kenwood earphones with an all metal adapter (and yes I know the plug is all metal – I’m talking about the part that is normally plastic or rubber).  The result, metal to metal contact with no problems.  While the adapter on the Kenwoods is painted gold, I’m guessing it’s really the same metal as that of the iPod. 

While I think the permanent solution is for Apple to simply add a slightly raised lip to the mini-jack input, I came up with two solutions you might want to try.  First, I went to the hardware store and bought a package of #4 and #6 nylon flat washers for no more than 50 cents a package.  The #4 washers were too small.  The #6 washers, on the other hand, were discreet and worked perfectly when the earphones were plugged in.  Only problem is the washer falls off the jack when unplugged if you’re not careful.  The perfect fit would be a 3.5 mm nylon flat washer, but good luck finding one (perhaps Apple should mail a handful of 3.5 mm non-conductive washers to every registered owner of a 4G iPod).  The better (and more expensive) solution is the iSkin evo2 case I purchased.  While I can’t vouch for other cases, the iSkin has an opening for the jack that is just small enough to where the adapter sits on top of the case thus preventing the flared base of the plug from coming into contact with the iPod.  Yet, the case is thin enough on top to where I don’t have a problem with the jack coming unplugged.

Seeing as how I did not read every comment to date, I hope I’m not repeating what others have already said.  Anyway, hope this helps.

Posted by Daniel on October 12, 2004 at 1:36 AM (CDT)


I’ve found that this problem is due to the top metal ring on the headphone jack coming into contact with the metal case of the ipod.  The top metal ring on the Apple headphones is small enough to only make contact with the white plastic bit around the jack opening.  If you are using the default apple headphones and are still experiencing this problem then your unit may be faulty. A good solution to this problem is to put some tape or paper or a very thin layer of anything you can think of, on the top ring where it would make contact with the ipod case.

Posted by Bret on October 12, 2004 at 5:04 AM (CDT)


Hmm..  earlier I tested my 4G 20 gig with a pair of B&O phones with no problem. Now I use a pair of SportaPros by Koss. The problem isn’t present now either. These phones has got metal around the plug/jack, but no “whirr” og static sounds appear. I’ve tried to push it further into the iPod, but without getting any audio defect. I can clearly see that the metal around the plug comes in contact with the metal-back on my iPod. Strange, but I’m happy :)

Posted by Vega! on October 12, 2004 at 6:09 AM (CDT)


Wouldn’t a small rubber o-ring around the headphone plug elimnate the contact point to the case/plug?

Posted by Eddie on October 13, 2004 at 4:04 PM (CDT)


Eddie, I tried several #60 o-rings, and while they fit the mini-plug perfectly, they were too thick.  As a result, the plug would not stay plugged in.  I don’t know if you’re going to find a smaller or thinner o-ring.

Posted by Daniel on October 13, 2004 at 10:03 PM (CDT)


If you are looking for a washer that would perfectly fit the 3.5mm headphone plug, McMaster Carr has some that have an inside diameter of .137” ~ 3.5mm. They are .01” thick, and have an ouside diamter of 0.25”, so they are pretty small. Part number is 95630A235, and they are made of PTFE (teflon). They are sold in packs of 10 for 2.91. They should fit pretty slug as it is just slightly smaller than 3.5mm, so it should stay in place if you remove the headphone jack from the plug.

Posted by Kevin on October 13, 2004 at 10:18 PM (CDT)


just had a 40GB 4th Gen for my birthday, Havn’t run the test you suggested but have listened closely. - No Probs :)

Posted by Scott G. on October 14, 2004 at 5:09 PM (CDT)


Just got an 20gb ipod+hp. No problems… Really happy about that!

Posted by jbaker12 on October 14, 2004 at 6:34 PM (CDT)


i have had my ipod for just less than a week, and i’ve used it for 10 hours, and i have tried to listen for the problem, but i cannot hear it, i just hear the hard drive spinning(i took my ear phones off to make sure i heard it from the iPod, not through the earphones.)
i would think that the problem is minor compared to the gain you receive with the 4g ipod.  i can understand the worries though.  i have read from somwhere(maybe the ipodlounge forums actually) that if you fiddle with the earplug jack, pull it out a hair, you will not hear the sound.  maybe it has to do with the casing making direct vibration with the earplugs.  i,m not an enginner, that is just what i heard.  good luck.

Posted by eric on October 15, 2004 at 12:38 AM (CDT)


Well, I’m now waiting for my third 4G 40GB iPOD. The “repaired” unit they sent me had the very same audio defect. I bought the unit back in early August and still have no satisfaction. The fact that they shipped me someone else’s engraved iPOD and then lost my return shipment for over a week hasn’t helped my enthusiasm. I think Apple has a MAJOR quality control problem that they’re not coming clean on.

Posted by Garth on October 15, 2004 at 1:53 PM (CDT)


I have found my iPod crackles when playing any track…

Is this the same problem?

Email me any comments you have regarding this… i am considering a replacement - only had it a week!

Posted by Dualcyclone on October 15, 2004 at 2:43 PM (CDT)


My new 4g 20gb has problem. The best way to test an ipod is skip about your songs using an itrip, listening on a car stereo. Then it’ll be obvious (how I found out at least)

Posted by Blake on October 15, 2004 at 3:59 PM (CDT)


I have a 3G 15gig and I have this problem. It’s not bad when using headphones, but I find that when I use my iTrip, you can really notice it and it sounds bad. Anyone else have this?

Posted by Brad on October 17, 2004 at 10:36 AM (CDT)


Just got my 40gig 2 days ago.  I use it with Shure e3c’s and I definitely here it exactly as described.  Pretty bummed about it.  It doesn’t happen everytime, but about 50% of it so far.  I bought it from ecost.com…should have just gotten it from Apple I guess.  Can I and should I bother to go for an exchange because of this issue?  And that would be interesting if it’s the headphones.  Wonder if there’s any way to fix that?

Posted by Matt on October 17, 2004 at 9:11 PM (CDT)


Hey, you guys were totally right.  When I lift the jack out slightly, the sound defect disappears.  Push it back in and then it reappears. 

So I’ve read through the entire set of postings and found these suggestions for seperation:  Nail-varnish?  Rubber Washers? Paper? 

Has anyone found a definitive best option for alleviating the contact?

Posted by Matt on October 17, 2004 at 10:35 PM (CDT)


The static has nothing to do with the headphones.  Just put a song on and put it on “hold”, then start clicking buttons.  Very annoying.

Posted by Kramer on October 18, 2004 at 2:22 PM (CDT)


Does anyone have a noise problem when using headphones on their Apple computer as well? I noticed that even if I import a disk as an AIFF file, that I don’t really get “CD quality” when I listen through headphones on my iBook G4. It sounds the same weather I’m using a regular 8th iinch connection or using a usb iMic with 8th inch connection…

I have the noise problem with the iPod as well but it doesn’t bother me enough to do anything about it until there’s a pretty easy fix which I find it hard to believe there will be considering this is probably a hardware issue and, unfortunately, not a software issue.

Question. Does the whiring sound get louder if the iPod is turned up?


Posted by gordonsrock on October 18, 2004 at 2:48 PM (CDT)


When I first got my iPod from the US I checked for the defect - no problem.  A month later and the defect has started and it is quite loud and very annoying.  Anyone know whether I can take an iPod purchased in the US into a European store to have it replaced?

Posted by Sam on October 19, 2004 at 8:24 AM (CDT)


Got it!  The problem is caused by the level of the white plastic heaphone socket.  Mine has slightly dropped through repeated use and now the headphones plug touches metal against metal.  Some how the sounds/static generated from the hardisk are passing through the metal case into the headphones.

Some headphones are fine as the top of the jack is plastic not metal like mine.

Currently cutting up some insulating tape to surround the socket and prevent metal contact with the case

Posted by Sam on October 19, 2004 at 8:49 AM (CDT)


I bought an ipod 4g and 20gigs and it had a defect much worse, you see i tried to load a few songs then play them but when i played the songs the ipod crashed so I reterned this ipod, this is anouther defect.

Posted by Colin on October 19, 2004 at 12:52 PM (CDT)


I am able to spot the sound really very faintly in the background, but only once in a while (1 out of say 20 times). It is the same type of sound when you have a sound card that is cheap/going bad/poorly placed. The hard spinning up is probably causing a bit of cross talk. I don’t know about the layout of the inside of the ipod but if the cross talk is caused before amplification then I could see it being annoying, otherwise it is unavoidable…  Every audio system I have worked with (and that’s a lot…) has the same problem i see and all you can do is minimize its impact on the sound.

20GB 4G

Posted by spaz on October 19, 2004 at 8:03 PM (CDT)


My 4G 20GB pod arrives tomorrow - needless to say I hadn’t seen this article before I ordered! Do you guys think that if Apple does eventually admit to a defect they’ll offer replacements to affected customers?

Posted by bentheslayer in Wales, UK on October 20, 2004 at 2:54 PM (CDT)


I’ve posted this a couple times in this monster thread, but I believe there are multiple problems.  Some can eliminate that sounds by insulating the headphone jack from the iPod metal.  For some, this does not work.  I tried 6 different iPods and while they all had the problem to different degrees, pulling the jack out slightly - or insulating it from the iPod did absolutely nothing to stop the hard drive noise.


Posted by branger on October 21, 2004 at 10:34 AM (CDT)


Take heed, brothers and sisters. I, too, am affected by this curse. It is Satan. I am sure. Or, it’s just a crappy product. The hiss is there. At first, I thought it was the Serpent.  But no. It’s the unit. IN ADDITION, I have ascertained that the 12 hour battery life promise IS A LIE. AT BEST, I get 6 continuous hours. AT BEST.

I AM GOING TO ATTEMPT TO GET MY MONEY BACK OR A NEW UNIT THAT LIVES UP TO THE PROMISE. Otherwise, SONY here I come, because this thing is a piece of crap. The interface is WAY overhyped.

Posted by Swensonia on October 21, 2004 at 12:28 PM (CDT)


i was just about to buy a 20gb (4g i guess) from the apple online store. im in australia. if it does have this problem how hard is it to return to them considering im buying over the net.? theres no apple stores or even shops with ipods downhere. :(

Posted by ollie on October 22, 2004 at 6:08 PM (CDT)


This might be caused from each generation of iPods getting thinner and parts touching each other thus creating some static when the songs start up and the hard disk vibrates just a bit.

Posted by LoHa on October 23, 2004 at 12:22 AM (CDT)


I wonder if the upcoming U2 edition iPod will have this “defect”?

While This thread has already run into several pages, one is still not clear as to what is causing the defect? is it the length of the non standard earphones connector? i.e. too long therefore intruding into a part where it should not. If so then the solution is clear use only iPod phones.

If the problem is due to metal parts toucinh (i.e. the headphone and the metal case of the iPod) then another probable solution is that if this problem does not occur with the remote plugged in. then again the solution is clear. the non standard earphone can go into the remote… and voila problem solved.

This ofcourse assumes that one doesn’t mind the remote (i’d very much like to use it). If contact is the problem then all one needs to do is insulate that part with sello-tape or somesuch non conductor.

I was all set to buy the iPod till I came across this shocker… what I still can’t figure out after reading the full thread is. What is the problem with (non standard phones, high bitrate songs, manufacturing defect or what?). everyone seems to have had a problem which negates all the prev solutions…

Posted by M@DG33K in New Delhi, India on October 23, 2004 at 10:11 AM (CDT)


I have 20G $th Gen ipod is 3 months old and no problem

Posted by Sumita Vidyashankar in India on October 24, 2004 at 11:27 PM (CDT)


Well I just got a new 4G 40 giger and I hear this sound ONLY with the Itrip. Never through head phones! Now that is interesting.

Posted by Bret Neiderman on October 25, 2004 at 9:22 PM (CDT)


I ordered a brand new 40g 4g ipod of ebay for 300 dollars…I thought I was getting a good deal.  I actually stayed up at night one night worrying about the defect.  I recieved it yesterday, tested it, and found I did not have the defect.  Takes loads of my mind.

Posted by Aukutsutsu on October 29, 2004 at 2:26 PM (CDT)


I previously reported my 4g 40 gig free of this problem. I can now also report that my day-old iPod Photo 60 gig also works just fine. I can find no sign of an issue… This is, of course, not a complaint <g>.

As an aside, I read about the problem symptoms and test multiple iPods per procedure, but I have never actually heard what the failure sounds like. Might it not be helpful for someone with an “infected” iPod to capture an analog sound file and post it for everyone to hear? Has no one done this?

Posted by chashulme in Southern California on October 29, 2004 at 3:48 PM (CDT)


I pronounced my new 20G blessedly free of this defect when I first tested it with headphones plugged in at the top. I now use it in it’s dock taking the line out into a HeadRoom Corp. headphone amplifier and with Apple Lossless the quality is gorgeous and the background silent. It is awesome.

I then decided I wanted a more “hands on” use while I listened so I bought the PocketDock Line Out and run a cable from there to the HeadRoom amp. Sure as you’re born there’s the noise! The static at the beginning of every track clear as day. I put the Pod back in the dock and tried again and it’s perfect.

I now believe, based on this, that anyone’s iPod has the potential to display or hide this effect depending on several factors, probably the material touching the metal - as most people are surmising.

Whatever it is, I repeated my experiment again before submitting this with the same results.

Posted by themouse in New York City on October 29, 2004 at 5:31 PM (CDT)


I have a 3G 30 gig iPod that has this problem when used in tandem with the TranspodFM by D-Lo.  I do not use the FM feature.  I instead use a cassette adapter.  Portland’s FM band is very saturated, preventing me from using quality FM.

When I turn the iPod on, I can hear the hard drive spin up and send static through my car speakers.  Toward the end of each song, or in the middle of a very long song, I get the same result.

I don’t generally notice this problem on headphones.  I haven’t tried listening through the headphone jack on the dock to see if the same problem exists.

I can say that it sucks and I really hope it’s the Transpod and not the ipod.

Posted by Jereme Claussen on October 29, 2004 at 5:50 PM (CDT)


I think that you people my need to realize that it may not be limited to only the 4G iPods. It may be just a defect that all ipods have but some are softer than others. And maybe Apple won’t fix it because all iPods have it. I’m pretty sure that my   15GB 3G doesn’t ahve it. Even if it did I wouldn’t care.

Posted by Tokanubis on October 29, 2004 at 6:37 PM (CDT)


I just tested my newly-replaced 4G 40Gb (previous one had a hard drive failure) for the audio defect, using 5-7 lossless tracks, and pretty damn pleased to hear nothing but dead silence inbetween songs. Battery test wasn’t so great though - just 10 hours 45 minutes.

Posted by Nihal in Melbourne, Australia on October 29, 2004 at 9:41 PM (CDT)


I just received a 60g iPod Photo. I can hear the hard drive in my headphones only when I fastforward to the next song. I do not hear static. I am not sure this is the same issue?

Posted by Paul on October 30, 2004 at 4:55 AM (CDT)


I rushed out and bought the 60 gig photo pod. Then I read this thread and it scared me but I tested it and it seems to be fine.  I didn’t load loseless tracks, but I spent 15-20 min going from song to song, album to album, fast forwarding/backtrackin’.  I can’t hear the sounds through the apple headphones.  I then tested my 3G 30 gig and no problems there either. 98% of my songs are encoded at 192 kbps mp3.

Posted by Bri on October 30, 2004 at 7:37 AM (CDT)


Ever since I heard the rumor about an ipod photo during late sept/early oct, I held back from “upgrading” a gen 4 ipod… now this dissappontment on top of the no accessory when the 4th first came out… its so unfortunate, especially for a mac lover. It use to be customer first, now its just money money money… shame shame shame on you!!

Posted by none on October 30, 2004 at 3:28 PM (CDT)


I have had my 4G 20GB for nearly 2 months, no problems whatsoever. I also had a 3G 10GB and that didn’t exhibit the defect either. Both were purchased from resellers in Melbourne, Australia and I have used both the Apple earbuds and Macally PodPros

Posted by Nuke666 in Melbourne, Austalia on October 30, 2004 at 8:11 PM (CDT)


as well as an iTrip

Posted by Nuke666 in Melbourne, Austalia on October 30, 2004 at 8:12 PM (CDT)


If I were to buy an iPod, and an extended warranty, where should I buy one?

Is the audio defect an allowable exchange?

Posted by Concerned Consumer on October 30, 2004 at 10:19 PM (CDT)


I purchased and returned two different 4G 40GB iPods last month, but they both had this problem. 

Dropped into the Emeryville, CA store today to check out the new iPod Photo, and out of curiosity, decided to determine Apple’s latest official position on this issue. 

Genius Bar Thomas sneered at me and replied testily, “What audio defect?”  When I described the hard disk/static issue, he snapped, “Never heard of it.” 

There was some real hostility there, which I’ve never before experienced in an Apple store.  I had been very careful to ask politely, unconfrontationally, and he responded like I had hit a real nerve. 

Maybe he was just having a bad day. 

But the fact remains that Apple’s public response on this issue is that there isn’t any problem. 

This is despite:  a) an earlier experience at the Genius Bar in Arden Fair, CA, where the Genius confirmed that there was an Apple technical bulletin describing this as an “issue under investigation,” and b) the manager of the Arden Fair, CA location stating that there had been an uncommonly high number of 4G returns and defective units exchanged so far.

I was lucky enough to return both of my defective 4Gs without a restocking fee or fuss. But if Thomas’ response today is any indication, Apple Geniuses are either being instructed to stonewall, or are being kept in the dark.  If this is so, then exchanges for units exhibiting this problem are likely to run into Apple store resistance.

Caveat emptor.

I still want one, though… ;-)

I am going to try my luck with a different serial number batch, but will purchase it from Best Buy, which has a superior no-questions-asked return policy, with no restocking fee.

Posted by StevenC on October 31, 2004 at 1:22 AM (CDT)


I have the problem, and its moderately annoying.  Very prominent on the shure earphones and I KNOW I can’t hear a hard disk with them on unless it’s coming across the headphone jack. I have a 4g 20 gig that is also engraved.

Posted by DrMeerkat in Little Rock, AR on October 31, 2004 at 2:46 AM (CST)


I bought the 60G yesterday. I don’t want this iPod to be any bigger than it is. If I want/need to transfer photos straight to it, I’ll get the Belkin device. Most of the time I am carrying it to show photos and to play my music, be an alarm clock while traveling, and hold a copy of my calendar and address book if needed. I don’t want to have to get 2 devices, one for photos and one for music. I am pleased that it is the size it is and that I have the option to add a device that will allow me to download my photos straight from my camera (at least I believe it will work, if not someone will make one that will). I am thrilled with the quality and what it is capable of doing.

I don’t recall who commented that he had no need to put the photos on a TV, but that is a wonderful feature along with the slidewhow with music.

I have a 20G 2Gen iPod in need of earphone connector repair. So, it was time. :)

Posted by Caseytoo on October 31, 2004 at 12:57 PM (CST)


I misposted. Thought I was on another article, sorry.

Posted by Caseytoo on October 31, 2004 at 12:59 PM (CST)


I think it’s time to start a poll so we can see if there’s actually a problem, if it’s a tiny blip or just squeaky wheels - like the alledged battery problem - a few loud voices but when time came to start up a class action lawsuit - 7 people actually had problems and 7 doesn’t make it class-action.

Posted by jbelkin on October 31, 2004 at 5:04 PM (CST)


I’ve just purchased a 20gb 4th gen, charged it up and I don’t seem to have any issues, I’ve tried all my headphones, first the apple ones, then my Shure E2C’s and my Koss Portapro’s, both these have metal bases on the plug.
The plastic ring on the headphone jack of the ipod keeps the Koss plug from touching the metal, I got my pocket knife and made contact with the headphone metal base and the ipod’s metal base, even with this I couldn’t hear any static or harddrive noises.

Posted by jai1.0 on November 1, 2004 at 5:03 AM (CST)


You won’t have any static problems if you plug Apple’s iPod remote into the headphone jack and your headphones into the remote jack. This fixed it for me at least.

The problem is due to electrical interference in the headphone jack, likely due to Apple’s new unplugged headphone detection. If I tried plugging my Sony DJ headphones directly into the iPod headphone jack, I got lots of static noise. However, if I use the remote with the headphones, the problem totally goes away.

Try using the remote before you resort to the plastic “iCondom” approach suggested by other users.

If you have a 20 GB model without a remote, maybe you should think about buying one.

I hope Apple finally admits there is a glitch and makes hardware changes. Until then, try this trick.

Posted by drumsofdeath on November 1, 2004 at 11:24 PM (CST)


I have the 3G 40 gig and i have the same problem.

Posted by robby on November 3, 2004 at 1:34 PM (CST)


Dangit.  I have the audio defect described here: a staticky whirring noise at the start of a track.  It’s very noticeable with my Shure E3C earbuds.  :(

Also, I have another problem.  A *persistent* static when I’m using my Shure earbuds.  The static occurs when the earbud jack is fully inserted into the iPod, so the gold disk at its base is flush with the case of the iPod.  This problem can be alleviated by pulling the jack out by a fraction of a millimeter (just enough to break contact with the iPod case) and it can sometimes be alleviated by simply spinning the plug 30 degrees or so.

Is there any mention of this second phenomenon on iPodlounge? 

The support guys at Shure pointed me to a fix here:

The fix cures both issues above, but when I’ve spent $200 on earbuds and $300 on an iPod, I shouldn’t have to throw together a shoddy “fix” involving scissors, Saran Wrap, and a pin.

20 Gb 4G iPod, purchased a few weeks ago from the Apple Store in Fashion Valley, near San Diego.  Will Apple replace this if I ask them?

Posted by Bonzo McGrue on November 3, 2004 at 6:21 PM (CST)


Just got my iPod Photo in Hong Kong on Tuesday.  I’m using the remote from my 3G iPod (frigging stupid of Apple to make this an overpriced extra now!) and Audio Technica ear buds and it’s fine, can not hear the reported bug at all.

Posted by sschech in Hong Kong on November 3, 2004 at 9:20 PM (CST)


I noticed this the first time I used my iPod Photo 40 Gig, purchased direct from Apple as soon as they were available.  So far it’s only happened a few times, but I haven’t used the device that much yet.

Posted by Andy Surfs in CA on November 3, 2004 at 9:40 PM (CST)


I’ve got the same problem on my new 4G 40GB.  Like other posters have mentioned, it only does it when the song is not in ‘cache’.  If the hard drive has to whirl up to read the song then it will always do it.  It will only do it IF the plug has metal touching the iPod case.

It seems consistent in that I’ve tested it with other earphones that have a rubber ending to it and it doesn’t do it.  Or if I pull out my headphone jack just a little bit so the metal isn’t touching it won’t do it. 

I agree with other posters in that we should not have to make something ourselves to get rid of this problem.  Apple should simply raise the round white plastic piece inside of there and be done with it.  I would think that would solve all the issues.  Well, until someone complains about the plastic being raised up :)

Posted by Birdman33 on November 6, 2004 at 4:06 PM (CST)


Bought a 40 Gig 4G iPod from CompUSA.  Before doing so, I was certain to ask about thier return policy.  They will accept exchanges up to 14 days after purchase,  Tested it when I got home and noticed the audio defect with my Bose TriPorts, my Etymotic ER4s, and my Apple in-ear earphones.  Back to CompUSA for an exchange.  I haven’t noticed the defect in the 2nd one.  Of course, as soon as I got one that doesn’t have the defect Apple released the 40 and 60 Gig Photo iPods.  “sigh”

Posted by IceDruid in Boise, ID on November 7, 2004 at 4:53 PM (CST)


I tested my 60GB iPod Photo yesterday and there are no static problems.

Posted by pixelator on November 9, 2004 at 8:21 AM (CST)


Just tested and do not have problem on 20Gb 4G IPod.

Posted by John Wane on November 11, 2004 at 7:20 PM (CST)


Got 20GB in Pittsburg last week, it’s working ok, without any audible problem on Apple Lossless encoded classic

Posted by Martin Schimmer in Czech Republic on November 18, 2004 at 7:51 AM (CST)


Does anyone have an HP-iPod that this happens on?  I’ve searched the board and everyone with an HP said their iPod was pefect.

Posted by Josh in CT in Preston, Ct. on November 19, 2004 at 11:44 AM (CST)


Does anyone have an HP-iPod that this happens on?  I’ve searched the board and everyone with an HP said their iPod was pefect.

Posted by Josh in CT in Preston, Ct. on November 19, 2004 at 11:44 AM (CST)


AUDIO DEFECT FIX:  If you want to virtually eliminate the 4G audio defect, then follow the tip posted at the end of ipodlounge’s article.  As suggested in this article, I just took a small piece of scotch tape, trimmed it, and placed it over the headphone socket (this reduces metal to metal contact, apparently).  Even when now listening with my Grado headphones, this solution reduces the whirr to the most faintly audible level; in most cases I can no longer hear the defect noise at all.  Thanks for the tip, ipodlounge!

Posted by b.r.c. in FL on November 23, 2004 at 8:59 AM (CST)


The recent review of the U2 iPod indicated that the audio defect may have been corrected.  Has the audio defect been corrected in the other 4G iPods?

Thank you.

Posted by rmichiel on November 24, 2004 at 3:46 AM (CST)


I am about or was thinking about purchasing a 4th gen 40g iPod.

I know this seems tobe some sort of conflict with the headphone jack but one of my main reasons for getting the iPod was to connect to my hi end home stereo.

I am wondering if anybody knows or has experienced this audio defect when listening through loudspeakers having the iPod connected to a home stereo via the Apple stereo connector?...or is it exclusively just a problem with the headphones.

I would hate to be listeing to music on a high end stereo system only to hear this defect amplified even louder through loudspeakers. 

Any input appreciated.: )


Posted by Radiometz1 in New Jersey on November 24, 2004 at 11:48 AM (CST)


I just got my 4g 40gb and the first thing I did was test the audio as suggested here.  Thankfully there was no problem.

Posted by MikeH in Nashua, NH on November 26, 2004 at 1:06 PM (CST)


I don`t get it!
Mine has a sound between the tracks, but i think it`s only the other song`s tiny part wich has been in the buffer.
Is it normal, or this is actually the defect?

Posted by daveed on November 26, 2004 at 6:16 PM (CST)


I tested my ipod some months ago, with the earbuds that came with it and I didn’t notice the problem… But like many other ipodloungers who tested it with better headphones, i have found that my ipod suffers from the same defect.  I thought how bad could it be.  But when I tested them with my new Etymotic 6i, I noticed a very noticeable and loud whirring sound accompanied by static.  It is much worse than I thought it would be.  I thought I would be able to deal with it if my ipod had it, but now that I’ve noticed it with the ety’s, I am really annoyed.  O well… I guess I’ll be making a trip to the Apple Store sometime soon.

Posted by engroll918 on November 29, 2004 at 4:51 AM (CST)


I Bought an ipod when they first went on sale and it was nothing but problems drom abought a month after. SILLY ME… 11/30/2004 Real Stupid, I bought another one at Radio Shack in Puerto Rico after all the media hype I got home to St. Kitts and plug in my brand new ipod to charge, my house is 110v 60cylcles a few hours later I went to check on it ...was as hot as a stove and now its not powering up I have been burn by apple and now apple+hp. Hopefully it was a good thing I took out the extended waranty with Radio Shack.

Posted by onemore on December 1, 2004 at 12:25 AM (CST)


Has the audio problem in the 4G iPods been solved or eliminated yet?

Posted by rmichiel on December 24, 2004 at 9:49 PM (CST)


It’s christmas and I just opened my new HP 40 gig 4G and it HAS the problem. It was purchased at the Atlanta Fry’s about a week ago (last one in the store).

The problem ONLY occurs with my Sony MDR-V600 headphones- not with the stock earbuds. My sony headphones do make metal contact with the ipod case. I plan on trying to exchange it at Fry’s to see if I get the problem again (hopefully they have more in stock next week).

If I insulate with tape or lift the plug slightly the problem is virtually 100% eliminated. The problem is also (for some odd reason that I can’t explain ) dramatically reduced when I use my rubber iSkin case. Regardless of these remedy’s, the thing is $400 and should have zero problems. This is obviously a bummer,  and I was thinking about the design today and I can’t believe how *stupid* Apple could be to A) Use a METAL case surrounding the headphone jack, and B) to let the problem slip through QA testing in the first place. Unbelievable. This is the last (and first) apple product I will ever buy, for sure. Everyone says their QA is exceptional but this isn’t acceptable at all. I would not buy one of these until the problem is documented as fixed. /RANT

Posted by Tempest261 on December 25, 2004 at 8:39 PM (CST)


They’ll replace it pretty simply, if you can convince them it needs replacing. But it won’t make a difference unless your replacement has the problem fixed - so you might want to wait a while. I have a 60 GB photo, and i just experienced this flaw last night, when i hooked it up to a PA (not a bright idea in the first place) but i heard the first couple of seconds looping throughout the song. At first, i was like “wow, this sounds kinda cool”, but then i realized it really sucks. Also, it’s definately a physical problem - it only occured when the 1/4 inch mini jack touched the metal base of the plug. I expect they might offer a replacement headphone jack, either to repair yourself, or as a kind of recall. I’va looked around and toyed with mine; it’ll take about 30 seconds to fix, if they come up with the right part. Dont stop buying them; theyre still awesome, and if you put the equalizer on base, the problem is almost unnoticable, until a fix is released.

Posted by skibutters on December 27, 2004 at 9:56 AM (CST)


My new U2 iPod pauses frequently and randomly. Other people have commented on this in the Apple Discussions as well. Based on my tests with earphones that have a metal base and those that don’t (like the earbuds packaged with the iPod), the pausing is almost certainly also caused by the metal earphone base contacting the iPod case. That’s a design flaw indeed. Has anyone sent their iPod in to repair this problem? Was the repair successful?

Posted by dreamachine on December 28, 2004 at 5:51 PM (CST)


I realize this topic has been discussed ad nauseam, but I just received a 4G 40GB iPod for Christmas so it’s a new problem for me.

I don’t have the “whirling” disc noise on the headphone output, but instead on the dock line-level output. My cable has a metal-base mini-plug, but insulating it with a layer of PVC electrical tape did not solve the problem.

I think I’ll try to return just the dock for a replacement. Hope that solves my problem.

Posted by Bru01 on January 5, 2005 at 9:26 AM (CST)


One more thing to add…

An easy way to make the hard drive spin is to select Shuffle Songs while a song is playing. No need to use Apple Lossless files that way.

Posted by Bru01 on January 5, 2005 at 9:30 AM (CST)


My 20gig 4g iPod that is about 2 weeks old doesn’t have the defect, but I checked and it is a model made in China.

Posted by BD11goal on January 12, 2005 at 3:56 PM (CST)


Not sure if I have the problem, used the ear buds and an old pair of Sony’s that come with their CD players.  The only time I hear a whirring is from the actual device, not through headphones, and using a few 5-6 minute Apple Losless tracks I skipped back and forth and didn’t hear anything, but there have been a few times with AAC 128 where I hear some static for a second.  Maybe its just static from the track/headphones?  I hear a clicking very seldomly too, only heard it a few times, but I think that is from the actual hard drive device, not through the headphones (my iPod is pretty close to me.)

If I do figure out there is a problem do I need to return it to Apple within 30 days, or will it fall under the 1 year?  I ordered it from Amazon and got it about a week ago.

Posted by Aaron Heth on January 14, 2005 at 4:49 PM (CST)


Is this really an issue?  I mean, is this going to really annoy folks or is it just one of those quirky thing that someone noticed?  I’ve got a 4thG 40Gig coming in the mail so I’ve not tested this on mine yet…

Posted by zonk3r in http://monkeysvsrobots.com/ on January 16, 2005 at 2:53 AM (CST)


I just tested my 40gb 4G and it doesn’t make a whirring sound, but it does seem to make some sort of clicking sound when switching between songs.  Is this some sort of defect, or is this normal?

Posted by MOteMpO in Flagstaff, AZ on January 20, 2005 at 11:02 PM (CST)


My brother got a bad 40GB 4G with this problem direct from an Apple store and returned it.

Posted by Helix in So. Cal. on January 22, 2005 at 12:19 PM (CST)


I’ve heard that there is a new version of the iPod due out in a week or so which has this issue corrected? Don’t know if this is true or purely a vicious rumour though.

Posted by TommyLong on January 24, 2005 at 6:18 PM (CST)

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