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Exclusive: iPod 4G Audio Problems?

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By Jeremy Horwitz

Editor-in-Chief, iLounge
Published: Monday, July 26, 2004
News Categories: iPod

picIn extended testing of Apple’s new fourth-generation iPods, iLounge has discovered and reported to Apple an apparent manufacturing defect affecting the headphone jacks of certain new iPod hardware. The defect manifests as audible static and noise interference in the earphones that is most prominent whenever a new iPod’s hard disk is accessed. Similar interference was not detectable through line out (Dock Connector) output.

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.

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.

iLounge has confirmed that this interference does not affect all new iPod hardware. Of the three units we purchased for evaluation, both of the 40GB iPods exhibit the same problem, but the 20GB iPod does not. Unfortunately, some new iPod users have reported that the problem exists in their new 20GB iPods, as well. The units we know to be affected were manufactured in China, shipped from Shanghai, and ordered directly from Apple.

An Apple representative is currently looking into the report, and the company has had no further comment. Please report your findings using the Comments link below.

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Comments

341

my ipod just arived. no problems with my 20Gb 4G. i feel like breakdancing!!!

Posted by Brayeta on August 20, 2004 at 9:21 AM (PDT)

342

40G iPod from Apple Store UK shipped from Shanghai - tried the test and…..nothing! Tried it on my mate’s that was ordered at the same time and shipped together….static all over the shop….!

Posted by mst on August 20, 2004 at 9:47 AM (PDT)

343

I got my 4G 40GB from the Apple Store in Los Angeles.  No problems.

Posted by Tyler on August 20, 2004 at 9:57 AM (PDT)

344

I purchased 4 40Gb models within 2 weeks of release. I don’t know if I am just extraordinarily lucky, but none of the 4 units show any audio problems.

Posted by Diomedes on August 20, 2004 at 12:17 PM (PDT)

345

No prob with my 4G 20 gig bought from Northridge CA Apple Store.  Tested with LossLess and variable Mp3s.

Posted by MagicArc on August 20, 2004 at 10:08 PM (PDT)

346

anyone know if this problem is covered by the warranty the ipod comes with?  im getting my 4g 20gb tomorrow and i wanna know if i have this problem, can i take it back and get a new one?

Posted by Matt on August 21, 2004 at 6:39 PM (PDT)

347

NO PROBLEMS WITH MY 40GB 4G I JUST GOT IT FEW DAYS AGO

Posted by Ricardo on August 21, 2004 at 8:51 PM (PDT)

348

A friend just got a 4G 40GB iPod from a local Best Buy. It has the problem—you can definitely hear the hard drive spin up in the headphones, plus that static sound when it’s being accessed. Will exchange the device ASAP.

Posted by JM on August 22, 2004 at 4:47 PM (PDT)

349

I bought a 4G 20 GB from the new Apple Store in Austin, TX about three weeks ago. After putting it through the paces, no evidence of the problem.

Posted by Francis on August 22, 2004 at 6:57 PM (PDT)

350

Bought my 20GB 4G from Futureshop in Toronto. No problems.

Posted by Shark. on August 23, 2004 at 4:14 AM (PDT)

351

I’ve been using a new 4G 20 GB ipod with click wheel for several weeks.  No audio problems.  But scrubbing through an audible book is tricky- it was easier on my gen 2 ipod. 

Posted by Melinda on August 23, 2004 at 6:36 PM (PDT)

352

i bought ipod 4G 20G in Hong Kong

problem found:

1. static when plugin the earphone
2. battery only last for 5 - 6 hrs after fully charged.

do you think the new updater will fix those problem?

Posted by bksliu on August 23, 2004 at 8:49 PM (PDT)

353

Exchanged the faulty 4G 40Gb iPod. The new one is OK. The two iPods are probably from different batches, since the old one had the 3.0.0 version of the system software on it, and the new one has 3.0.1 (2004-08-06).

Posted by JM on August 24, 2004 at 2:20 PM (PDT)

354

My 40G purchased from apple’s website, was shipped from China. I hear the hard-disk spooling, as well as static via headphones, but I thought this was normal.

My question is…will apple address/fix this?

thanks

Posted by Richard on August 26, 2004 at 11:27 AM (PDT)

355

I bought a 4G 40GB iPod from an Apple Centre in London a week ago. I noticed almost immediately that it was having problems playing AAC (192/256 Kbps) and Apple lossless encoded tracks, which had played without any problems on my previous 3G 30Gb model. I was getting short bursts of static and random skipping to next track during playback making the iPod unusable. This defect has now been confirmed by the service department at the Apple Centre and I’m now waiting for a replacement. If this exhibits the similar problems to the first iPod I will be getting a refund and I will wait for Apple to sort this out before buying another one.

Posted by Mark on August 27, 2004 at 10:29 AM (PDT)

356

i bought my ipod last week from the uk, had no problems with audio defects, just out of ordinary it suddenly shut down, the screen had gone blank, no recharging or hold switch prob, so i re-setted it, thank god my music is still there. has anyone else experienced this? NEEDS A CLEAR 4TH GEN IPOD CASE!

Posted by Carl on August 29, 2004 at 3:04 PM (PDT)

357

OK people…

After wasting 2 hours of my life trying to repro this on:

1) My brand new G4 40
2) My two year old G1 10
3) Using Shure E5C, Shure E2C, and Apple plugs.

I used several discs encoded to ALC (Jamiroquai, Justin Timberlake, and Norah Jones) and swapped tracks until my thumb was tired.

I have come to the conclusion that either my G4 does NOT have the same issue that some of you have complained of, OR you guys REALLY need to get a life. I DO hear the HDD spin up and a SMALL burst of VERY LIGHT static (on the same audio plane as normal 44.1Khz CD artifacting) when the audio starts through ALL the headphones on BOTH my players. The spin up sounds like a low pitched hum for ~1 second and stops when the music starts.

Seriously…if this is what everyone is worried about, get over it. It is a non-issue. If this has you waiting for a “fixed” G4…don’t! wink

Posted by SuperStar on August 31, 2004 at 7:34 PM (PDT)

358

I picked my iPod up at the Apple Store in Chestnut Hill, MA about eight days ago.  I immediately heard the hard drive spinning through the earphones (and even more clearly through bose headphones), as well as a high pitched hum when the backlight was on.  Before I found this thread, I took it back to the store to return it.  They listened too it, and conveniently couldn’t hear it.  They looked at me as if I had three heads.  It took an hour and a half of trying to convince them (as well as a trip to a quiet bathroom in the back of their store) until one guy finally heard it, and even then they were reluctant to take it back.  It was only six days old!!  Anyway, just letting you know it isn’t just a direct-order problem…

Posted by Matt on September 3, 2004 at 9:29 AM (PDT)

359

From my personal experience, I ordered the 20GB 4G model and the main menu would never load. I couldn’t update the software, and it seemed the iPOD was bad. I called up and recieved a new iPOD. Like the article says, this was shipped from Shanghai as my tracking order confirmed, went through Singapore and then to me. The new iPOD works, but the HD access is kinda more mechanical noisy than I would expect. When songs load through my iPOD, I can definitely hear the HD access through my speakers. Contray to the article tho, I am connected through the Dock Connector. I’m using the PodFreq. There’s two issues with it and I think I’ve isolated it to the iPOD because of the following test.

I turn on the Podfreq, set it to a radio station and then listen to it in my car. Everything is quiet. When I turn on the iPOD, everything is still quiet. When I begin to play a song I hear the HD access noise through my car speakers. When the song plays, there is an audible 10-15khz signal (about) that pierces through the speaker at a relatively low amplitude. It’s very noticable when it first starts but after listening a while, it dissappears. I’m not sure if this is a byproduct of the FM, or what but it’s kinda annoying. In any case, the HD does seem a little noiser than normal and it’s only 18.5GB of storage rather than 20GB, which seems a little excessive for such a small HD.

Posted by Gary on September 3, 2004 at 7:48 PM (PDT)

360

My 4G 40GB ipod arrived Friday. I have the “iStatic” Annoying and unacceptable. I hear it when staring from a standstill or skipping multiple tracks and playing a new selection.

Will the Apple store exchange it for a replacement?

Posted by Pietro on September 5, 2004 at 7:20 AM (PDT)

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