Exclusive: iPod 4G Audio Problems? | iLounge News


Exclusive: iPod 4G Audio Problems?

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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Yes, I hear it on my 4G 20gb (shipped from California) and it’s honestly very, very faint.  I didn’t actually hear it until reading this.  It sounds like a computer running except 20x quieter.  I can only hear it in a quiet room.  I’m not sure if other people are experiencing a more severe case of this than I am but, if the noise (it doesn’t sound like static, just a very low whir) is anything like mine then I think you’re making a pretty big deal out of nothing.  Those who have their 4Gs on the way, don’t panic, I’m satisfied with mine.

Posted by Andrew on July 27, 2004 at 3:05 PM (CDT)


Here’s how to look for the noise. Select shuffle, and skip through some songs, as soon as you see a delay before a song starts that seems longer than usual, listen closely, you will then hear the noise, and notice the hard disk spinning up - its very light but annoying, and can be heard well in a quiet room -

Posted by Johnny on July 27, 2004 at 3:08 PM (CDT)


I have yet to test my new 20 GB.  It was sent from Shanghai.  I had no idea that Apple had iPods done in Shanghai, and I asked Customer Service why that was happening.  They didn’t answer, but my guess is outsourcing.  Had I known, I would have bought my iPod at the store downtown.  Most products made in China, Taiwan, or any of the Pacific rim 5 cents a day sweatshops are very faulty and shoddily made.  Let’s hope my iPods and others shipped from Shanghai are the exceptions!  If mine does have the problem, I am exchanging my iPod, and I should have no problem doing so, so says the warranty.

Posted by mariposa in New York, New York on July 27, 2004 at 3:26 PM (CDT)


40 GB 4G straight from Shanghai.  Tested out - no problems.

Posted by BlochPod on July 27, 2004 at 3:31 PM (CDT)


I used to have this problem with my 3G 20Gb but only when it was connected via firewire to my Powerbook.  No problems now with the 4G 40GB.

Posted by Yo on July 27, 2004 at 3:33 PM (CDT)


just tested my 40 gig…i have the pause-static problem when using AL files.  just got it last night from the sacramento apple store…now it’s going back.  i’m going to open my new one and listen to it right there so i can make sure it works fine…

Posted by kugino on July 27, 2004 at 3:45 PM (CDT)


Static here, it was not there for the first 4 or 5 days & just noticed it yesterday.  When I unplugged my er4p’s & fed them through the remote to the ipod the static goes away.  all songs ripped in plain ol’ vanilla MP3 (but at high rates).

Posted by moi on July 27, 2004 at 3:45 PM (CDT)


I just got my 40GB today. I tracked my shipment via Apple website a couple of days ago and I know China was the origin. I ran the test suggested above: imported music from a CD using Lossless encoding and (thank you lucky stars) I get no “loading pause,” “whirring sound” or “light static.” No problems to report… but I’ve only had it for 30 minutes. I’ll write again if happy turns to sad.

Posted by JC in DC on July 27, 2004 at 4:24 PM (CDT)


Since I don’t plan on using the Lossless encoder, I guess I’ve got nothing to wory about?

Posted by Allex on July 27, 2004 at 4:25 PM (CDT)


UPDATE: the problem is even more insidious.  it occurs whenever the ipod needs to access the hard drive for some search, whether it be accessing the new AL file, the new album (happened to me as i switched from an album of AL files to an album of 320 mp3 files - only for that first track, though), or even while searching for all my contacts.  while it happens consistently when skipping for AL tracks, it also occurs in other instances, which tells me it isn’t something about AL files, per se, rather there are hard drive problems. 

anyone else finding the same thing?

Posted by kugino on July 27, 2004 at 4:32 PM (CDT)


I purchased a 40gig 4G last monday and it just got here from Shanghai, it does have the static problem. It doesn’t happen on the same song everytime, it happens every couple songs, I hope it can be fixed by firmware but with my luck it won’t.

Posted by Cal on July 27, 2004 at 4:36 PM (CDT)


Mine will be arriving from Shanghi tomorrow.  Because of Apples return policy “A 10% open box fee will be assessed on any opened hardware or accessory”, I’m going to return it without opening it.

Posted by rouvier on July 27, 2004 at 4:56 PM (CDT)


Apple says that all of the iPods are shipped from Shanghi, so the fact that it came from there doesn’t actually help identify at-risk iPods…

Posted by rouvier on July 27, 2004 at 5:09 PM (CDT)


40Gig 4G arrived last Friday in perfect condition and continues to work perfectly.


Posted by Jay on July 27, 2004 at 5:11 PM (CDT)


I would test it before sending it back since their warranty says that they will replace/exchange/refund the product at no charge if you tell them within the Warranty Period.  This is only if you tell them within the first 180 days.

I believe the 10% open box fee is if you are returning it for a refund of your money (don’t want to get it fixed / replaced).

If I’m wrong about this, let me know.

To see the entire limited warrenty on iPod: http://store.apple.com/Catalog/US/Images/ipodwarranty.html

Posted by michael kuroda on July 27, 2004 at 5:31 PM (CDT)


just discovered something…if the jack of the earphones/plugs is all the way into the ipod (as it should be) the static is there, ..& no, it is not the sound of the hd spinning, this is a very loud static sound.  However, if I pull the plug out just a little bit, but not enough to make the sound mono, it goes away.  And again ALL my songs are mp3’s.
also noticed the static when just fiddling through the menus via the scroll wheel, it seems also to be picking up the static when no music is playing.

Posted by moi on July 27, 2004 at 5:35 PM (CDT)


New 20 gb model from Apple store in Novi Michigan, and I dont have a problem

Posted by Alex on July 27, 2004 at 6:38 PM (CDT)


it also seems to be headphone-dependent.  on my very sensitive etymotic er4p, the sound is very present and very audible.  it’s not audible using grados or sonys or even through the line-out.  but others i know have used the er4p without hearing it, so it’s not just the headphone, although the type of headphone may help you isolate whether or not you have a problem.

Posted by kugino on July 27, 2004 at 6:39 PM (CDT)


I should get my 40gb iPod shipped fron Shanghai tomorrow, I will post back and let you know if it has the audio problems.

Posted by Steve on July 27, 2004 at 6:42 PM (CDT)


Got mine today, 20GB Gen4 from Shanghai.  No problems so far.

I wish I’d kept my Gen3, though.  The buttons had a much better feel, and the backlight was way better looking!

If you’re looking to get one, order a Gen3 cheap on Amazon.

Posted by CcntMnky on July 27, 2004 at 6:59 PM (CDT)

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