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Update: 42% report 4G iPod audio problems

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By Jeremy Horwitz

Editor-in-Chief, iLounge
Published: Wednesday, August 18, 2004
News Categories: iPod

picHaving problems with your fourth-generation (4G) iPod? You’re not alone. Three weeks after the release of Apple’s newest iPods, iLounge readers have reported that approximately 42% of their 4G units have manifested an audio defect identified by iLounge, while others have complained of receiving soiled or physically damaged hardware. The problems affect new-in-box 20 Gigabyte and 40 Gigabyte iPod models sold with a Click Wheel control system. Click “Read more” below for additional details.

On July 26, 2004, iLounge first reported the audio defect, which causes several seconds of static and hard drive sounds to overlap music played back through the 4G iPod’s headphone jack. A testing method to determine the presence or absence of the defect in a particular 4G iPod is available here.

Two days later, after iLounge provided two defective iPods to Apple at its request for testing, an update to the original story was posted, noting additional findings and addressing reader concerns. At the time, iLounge noted that 36.5% of responding readers had discovered the same problem with their new 4G iPods, while 63.5% reported no problems.

iLounge asked users with 4G iPods to post comments to these earlier stories indicating their positive or negative test results. Of the hundreds of responses received from users around the world, approximately 42% reported the audio defect in one or more of the 4G iPods they purchased or received in exchange. Users are asked to consolidate all of their future comments under the Comments box below for easier tracking

Notably, while some who have exchanged their iPods have received fully working replacements, others have not. Some replacement units, including one of iLounge’s two replacement iPods, continue to exhibit problems. Even after ordering iPods directly from Apple online and cooperating with the company to provide defective units for testing, iLounge was offered only an Apple Store credit, and not a full refund, when its third defective iPod was returned and the store had no units in stock for replacement purposes.

Apple has not provided updated information to enable prospective or affected 4G iPod owners to address their concerns. Based on numerous reader requests for follow-up, iLounge has made several formal requests for comment from Apple’s iPod team, and the company has not commented on the record since the end of July. Since then, iLounge readers have noted a variety of other issues affecting small numbers of 4G iPods, including dented rear metal casings, and scratches and sticky substances on the plastic front casings and Click Wheels of some units.

Given the apparent scope of these problems, and absent confirmation from Apple that any or all of them have been resolved, iLounge reluctantly but strongly cautions its readers to purchase their 4G iPods only from retailers with complete return policies, or to hold off until Apple confirms that the issues are being addressed.

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Comments

1

I purchased my ipod online the day it came out. I guess I’m one of the lucky ones. Aside from a small shipping delay, my ipod arrived in perfect condition. No dents, scratches, nada. No audio problems either. But seems Apple may be taking their success for granted. They need to address this issue fully to restore consumer confidence in their products…especially a big moneymaker such as the ipod. Hopefully they’ll learn from this

Posted by Joo on August 18, 2004 at 3:42 PM (PDT)

2

I have been watching the progress of this audio problem and reading user posts. I believe there is another issue with the 4G that is not being truly represented. I own a 40GB 4G and while I do not experience the described static I do have a recurring issue that would fall under “audio” problems. I have also seen a few posts describing this same issue but they were lumped in with the “static” comments and not really focused on.

When I skip tracks using the click wheel I sometimes here a “chirp”. Almost as if the very end of a song where being played before the next song starts. It’s not really doing that I am just trying to describe the chirp sound. It last for a millisecond but it’s loud and noticible. It seems to only happen when there is a 2-3 second delay and the HD is accessed. It does not happen all the time, but enough that it’s an issue. The latest firmware update seems to have reduced it’s occurrence but it’s still happening. I would be interested if anyone else is experiencing this with the 4G iPods.

Posted by axis on August 18, 2004 at 5:07 PM (PDT)

3

I’ve heard the HD interference/static noise on my _3rd_ gen iPod. However it was so much quieter than the music I only noticed it if the track had silence at the beginning.

I never really thought it was bad enough to call it an ‘audio problem’.

Posted by mrobin on August 18, 2004 at 9:18 PM (PDT)

4

Any word yet from Apple??

Posted by adam on August 18, 2004 at 10:48 PM (PDT)

5

My 20gig doesn’t suffer from the audio problems, but the case is not put togrther properly, the top half of the white plastic around the screen does not fit securley into the metal case, so every time you press the play button, the unit gives off an anoying creak. I thought about returning it to apple, but was worried about receiving another dud ipod with audio problems.

Posted by Kash on August 18, 2004 at 11:11 PM (PDT)

6

no audio probs here, but small scratches ont the left bottom corner.

Posted by Jolly on August 18, 2004 at 11:46 PM (PDT)

7

Got my 4G 20GB a few days after launch, bought retail at Best Buy.  No problems. No bad case, no audio problems, nothing bad I can notice…

I wonder if the poll was skewed by Apple bashers?  They do sign up for forums just to bash Apple and troll the boards… Is it so hard to imagine them lying in a poll?

I doubt it’s 42% of iPods.  Apple rarely has a QA problem of that scale.  I would believe 20% or even 30% but almost HALF? It seems impossible.

Posted by WKW on August 18, 2004 at 11:54 PM (PDT)

8

Absolutely no audio problems with my new 20GB iPod.

I did have firewire connectivity problems but this has been corrected by the 2004-08-06 iPod Software Updater.

I am very pleased with the new model

Posted by BJMC on August 19, 2004 at 12:52 AM (PDT)

9

Joo, I’m pleased to see i’m not alone with the static when the hardrive is accessed. (pleased is probably the wrong expression..)

I brought it back to the shop who contacted apple who said that this falls within normal operating parameters. It’s annoying but something i can live with.

If you have shuffle mode on and flick through tracks its apparent every 3or4th time it accesses the drive. Only last a second but its annoying.

Posted by Jimmy Conway in london on August 19, 2004 at 1:02 AM (PDT)

10

“I doubt it’s 42% of iPods. Apple rarely has a QA problem of that scale. I would believe 20% or even 30% but almost HALF? It seems impossible.”

didn’t apple have problems with the fans in I think their G4 towers that was pretty wide scale, and then there was also an issue with their powerbooks power or whatnot, there was also the problem with the headphone jack of the ipod mini, apple actually has serious quality control issues sometimes, so a 42% problem isn’t that hard to believe.

Posted by unknown and anonymous on August 19, 2004 at 1:24 AM (PDT)

11

Well my 4G iPod has problems slightly worse than ‘audio static’.  It doesn’t work at all.  No display (not on ‘hold’ not depleted battery) - nada…
still waiting for a useful response from Apple on this one.  They haven’t been v. helpful (and more than a little rude) so far.

Posted by Annoy-Ed on August 19, 2004 at 1:34 AM (PDT)

12

@axis
I´ve got the same problem here! After access to the HD there is sometimes (not everytime) a short “pop” or “crack”-sound at the beginning of the next song.

I´ve tried 3 40GB 4G. ipods from different retailers here in Hamburg, Germany,and all suffers from the same problem. I share your opinion about the updater, it´s a progress but no solution.

Posted by Beltane on August 19, 2004 at 1:34 AM (PDT)

13

No problems with both the 40gb and the 20gb that I purchased from BestBuy a couple of weeks ago.

I was very concerned about the reported audio defect, so I conducted the audio test as soon as I got them, but luckily the units I purchased were not defective.

Posted by dkyoo on August 19, 2004 at 2:02 AM (PDT)

14

I got a problem with my 20GB 4G.
The hard drive contains several dead sectors (checked with SpeedTools) so it has to be changed (as sync with iTunes freezes and the iPod himself freezes on some songs).

I’m not really surprised…

Posted by bigfabe on August 19, 2004 at 2:09 AM (PDT)

15

I have 4g20giger and i have no problems. No static, didnt come with scrathes or goo, nada.

Posted by Appa on August 19, 2004 at 2:55 AM (PDT)

16

I DO have the defect on my 20 gig 4G iPod!  Drat!

Posted by RAI on August 19, 2004 at 3:29 AM (PDT)

17

I don’t have this problem. I do have one annoyance—I set the click to off (no headphones/speaker click), but if I leave it off for a day, the click resets itself. Do other ipods do this?

Posted by cmackg on August 19, 2004 at 3:47 AM (PDT)

18

I just did the test on my 4G 20Gig. If I turn the volume up above my normal listening level, and listen VERY closely, I can hear a single *quiet* pop noise right before each song starts playing. I never ever would have noticed it if I hadn’t read this report and done the test. I guess that means I don’t have the problem!

Posted by cscade on August 19, 2004 at 3:57 AM (PDT)

19

My 4G 40 gb seems to be fine (no defects so far) .. but I miss my original 5 gb.  The wheel was vastly superior to this touch nonsense.  You gotta respect something mechanical.

Oh well.  At least this one has buttons, and in the right place, too.  I hated the design of the 3G

Posted by Billy Dagwood on August 19, 2004 at 4:10 AM (PDT)

20

I think that the whole Audio Problem issue is quite alarmist and an over-reaction.

With my 40G/4G I occaisionally hear a faint hard-drive electronic squeal in my Shure e3’s.  When I first noticed it, after reading these postings, it really bothered me.  I decided not to return it and risk getting one with the same problem or worse.  Fact is, it doesn’t really interfere with my overall listening experience.

Another point I want to make is that you don’t need to to the iPod lounge lossless test to hear the noise.  Any MP3/AAC file will do.  What’s happening is that the metal at the base of the headphone plug is coming in contact with the chrome casing of the ipod.  When the hard drive is accessed it somehow gets transmitted through the casing and to the headphones.  If you put a small piece of clear Scotch tape over the headphone jack, and pierce it for headphone insertion, most of the noise goes away.

Personally, I think that it is a minor issue that’s gotten blown out of proportion.  Yes, the problem shouldn’t exist and wouldn’t if it was picked up in Apples’s QA.  That said, however, I am thoroughly enjoying my new 4G.

~R

Posted by Randal-NY on August 19, 2004 at 4:47 AM (PDT)

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