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Backstage: Things you might care about

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By Jeremy Horwitz

Editor-in-Chief, iLounge
Published: Saturday, November 6, 2004
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This’ll be a brief Backstage entry, but one with a few topics that might be of interest to different people.

First, we’re returning to more regular updates of Backstage after a recent Buyers’ Guide-imposed lull. So stay tuned for more. And there are going to be a lot of site updates this week as well.

Second, we’ve been in touch with Apple regarding the audio defect issue in the iPod Photo. For what it’s worth, though it’s still an annoying little sound when you hear it, we’ve mentioned to Apple (and also the Audio Defect thread) that it’s quieter in the Photo than in the 4G - in our experience, at least. Different 4G iPods exhibited the Defect at different volume levels from what we gathered, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with the Photo. All three of the iPod Photos we’ve tested at this point have the same issue, at around the same volume. Consider it a 10% annoyance versus the 4G iPod’s 35% annoyance.

My guess is that you’ll certainly not hear it through Apple’s headphones, and might never hear it if you’re using typical $50 headphones, though better quality ones have a better chance of picking it up. We hear the sound clearly through our UE-10 Pros and fairly well in our Etymotic ER-4Ps, but it’s less noticeable with earbuds that let ambient outside sound in. Average users won’t care, but then, the sort of people buying iPod Photos have more cash, possibly better gear, and more reason to complain.

We’d resigned ourselves to keeping our iPod Photos that exhibited the issue, because it’s relatively tame by comparison with the highly noticeable sound in the 4G iPods we’ve tested, but then sent one of our units back to Apple at its request for testing. We’ll update if there’s something new to say, and of course always appreciate your comments on the topic.

Third, if anyone’s interested in parting with a first-generation 1G iPod, working or non-working e-mail me at jeremy@(nospam)ilounge.com with condition, price, etc. We have one already but I’m interested in getting another for the right price.

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Comments

1

you could keep an eye out on ebay.  theyre popping up all the time.

Posted by StinkieDMB in Pittsburgh, PA on November 6, 2004 at 7:22 AM (PDT)

2

my brother just sold me his for 200 chf (which is the same as 200 canadian bucks, for interest), but i gave it to a good friend who was leaving. i still have mine, but my mum wants it. im sure theres plenty hanging around still, but why? just for the moving scrollwheel or what? seems expensive if you already have one.
cya,
-Pete-

Posted by peterburk in Geneva, Switzerland on November 6, 2004 at 8:13 AM (PDT)

3

***edit*** i’d send mine to you for a pair of bose noise-cancelling headphones, i’ll pay DHL too if you want. maybe for the etymotics even. just remembered im looking for some decent headphones.
-Pete-

Posted by peterburk in Geneva, Switzerland on November 6, 2004 at 8:15 AM (PDT)

4

$200 CDN’s around US$155. I don’t think there’s a pair of Bose or Ety’s that I’d give up for an old 5GB iPod. wink Looking to pay cash, and probably not quite that much. But thanks.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on November 6, 2004 at 2:12 PM (PDT)

5

on the iPod Photo audio defect, i don’t think you should really worry about it too much. I know for you people who listen to iPods for a living must find it infuriating, but if you look at the bigger picture and the typical iPod user, about half of whom would use the packed in iPod earbuds (remember those who read and post on iPodlounge are more likely to care about issues like sound quality and are more likely to own more expensive headphones) and and of the remaining 50%, about 90% would use headphones worth under $100, and of those last ones, how many own headphones over $300, like the ER-4P’s? Sure, ipod photo buyers are more likely to be audiophiles as opposed to say, iPod mini buyers, but they still represent a tiny minority. I’m not saying you shouldn’t note it, becasue that’s your job, but maybe put less emphasis on it.

Posted by Nuke666 in Melbourne, Austalia on November 12, 2004 at 11:16 PM (PDT)

6

Nuke666: To the extent the problem is confined to use of the iPod with over-$300 headphones, I’m generally inclined to agree with you. In the 4G iPod, it was noticeable when using many headphones at various price levels, but not quite as much in the iPod Photo.

Regarding emphasis, trust me when I say that we do not relish bringing up the story. To the contrary, as iPod lovers first and foremost, we have absolutely no desire to harp on the issue. But we do feel a strong obligation to let our readers know what we have discovered, positive or negative, and let them make the choice for themselves whether to proceed with a purchase or not. We returned all but one of our own 4G iPods because of the problems we experienced, and it would be hypocritical of us not to caution others under such circumstances.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on November 13, 2004 at 11:23 AM (PDT)

7

I have had 3 60 GB ipod photos so far, and have noticed the static issue in the last two (waiting for a fedex label so i can ship it back to apple for a 4th). the first one i didn’t notice on, but had to be replaced because there was black debris on the screen (not a dead pixel).

one thing i seem to have noticed oddly about the 2 with the defect, it seems more pronounced when the battery is not completely full, which may be why i didn’t notice it when i tested the first one, its battery was full, whlie when i tested the 2 replacements their batteries were at about half.

i do notice it with my $30 sony mdr-ex71 earbuds though, and not just when i’m listening for it, every time i hear it when i’m at work occupied with something it annoys me. i can even hear it with the stock earbuds, though i have to listen very closely and i probably would never notice if had i not noticed it with my other headphones.

Posted by metrocon on November 13, 2004 at 2:06 PM (PDT)

8

Jeremy, that’s fair enough, I’d rather you made us all aware of the issue rather than neglect it, and as metrocon said, it can be noticed with even the iPod buds.

Posted by Nuke666 in Melbourne, Austalia on November 13, 2004 at 3:20 PM (PDT)

9

Metrocon’s is the first report I’ve heard of the iPod Photo’s issue being evident with an inexpensive pair of headphones. And it’s consistent with my belief (based upon reader reports to date) that the issue can differ a bit from unit to unit.

I’m going to need to try the MDR-EX71s (and the EX81s for that matter) with the iPod Photo, now.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on November 13, 2004 at 7:53 PM (PDT)

10

while waiting for the shipping labels to send my latest one back i’ve been playing around with it and testing it under different circumstances.

using an album’s worth of apple lossless-encoded files i’ve been skipping around back and forth to see if i could hear the static. this morning with the ipod at a full charge i could barely hear it with the mdr-ex71s. it was extremely weak and if i didn’t know what i was listening for i doubt i would have noticed it.

i then let the ipod play for about 3 hours, and then listened to the same files doing the same thing, skipping back and forth. this time the noise was clearly noticeable using the mdr-ex71s, and i could hear it faintly using the apple stock earbuds.

it may be just this ipod, though it could also be part of why the issue seems to vary for people, if they test their ipods at different charge amounts. i’m not drawing any conclusions, but just want to convey my experience.

Posted by metrocon on November 14, 2004 at 1:26 PM (PDT)

11

I tried today with the EX71s and EX81s - no noise that I could hear.

But I will note that I’ve had the same weird experience with the iPod Photo - the level of the sound -does- seem to vary from time to time, even with the same headphones. There’s something different about the way the defect works in the Photo than in the 4G, that’s for sure.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on November 14, 2004 at 7:48 PM (PDT)

If you have a comment, news tip, advertising inquiry, or coverage request, a question about iPods or accessories, or if you sell or market products, 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. Wondering why we're talking about something other than iPods? Check the Archives: Backstage has been here and kicking it since 2004.

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