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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

21

Just tested my 40gb 4G iPod, and no problems here. It works like a charm.

I’m a first time iPod owner, and I couldn’t be more pleased. The iPod is so much more elegant than my Nomad Zen Jukebox. I now see why the iPod has such a huge market share.

Posted by Dan Hamilton on August 19, 2004 at 4:55 AM (PDT)

22

My 20 gig is fine

Posted by Squirrelly on August 19, 2004 at 5:02 AM (PDT)

23

If you pay an insane price for something you should expect it to work properly.  If this were the auto industry there would be a recall about something like this, and I feel apple should take responsibility for their flawed design and offer to replace the unit, or you should be able to exchange it.  Perhaps I’ll give up my student discount and just buy an ipod at Circuit City so I’ll be able to return/exchange as many times as needed.

Posted by Me on August 19, 2004 at 5:16 AM (PDT)

24

Looks like im not the only one. My iPod was manufactured from China, its a custom engraved 4G/20gb iPod. I’ve done one to one EARPHONE(came with iPod)exchange with apple care as at first i thought that it was the earphones that produces cracking hissing sound when iPod plays 100% volume. The first few days on the new replaced earphones, it was cool with 100% volume. But today again i juz heard that cracking hissing sound at 100%.

Somehow after i left my iPod and earphones in my pocket… suprisingly everything was alright at 100% volume when i took it out and play… ummm. Im on a ver3.0.1

Posted by JingYou in SINGAPORE on August 19, 2004 at 5:24 AM (PDT)

25

I feel the people who are accusing those experiencing problems as being “alarmists” or “over reacting,” are really doing a disservice to the quality of the iPod. Many people feel the need to downplay any of the iPod’s problems to justify the money they spent or out of blatant fanboy-ism, but that isn’t helping fix these problems. In fact, you’re probably doing more to ensure that these problems go unnoticed, not addressed, and still hanging around for future releases.

Just because you might not have the same problems with your iPod, or only have minor versions of the defect, does not mean that the other people who have problems must be an Apple basher or should just get over it. If you want the best possible hardware, you have to allow these matters to be brought up and studied, so that these mistakes can be fixed. You can’t just say these other people should settle for their inferior products, for the sake of your brand loyalty. Really, it’s quite selfish to put down other people who just want to fully enjoy the experience they paid so much for.

Posted by Owner of 2 iPods on August 19, 2004 at 5:31 AM (PDT)

26

I have a 4G 20GB and do not have any of these issues, but I have started to have a different issue that seems to be accpetable to Apple according to my manual.  I connected my apple to my PC via USB (Obviously) and the last 4 or 5 time i have done this I have had to “eject” the ipod so that it would stop telling me to Do NOt Disconnect.  The auto update finishes and then i run ino this BS. Do you think it would really help all that much to restore my ipod.  I just got it like 2 weeks ago, but I hae played a lot with the music that is on it. Does anyone else have this problem frquently? Has it been an issue with all the generations of ipods?

Posted by robbiesan in Arlingotn, VA on August 19, 2004 at 5:35 AM (PDT)

27

I live in South Africa and I got my 4G iPod today and I’m thankful that I am not getting this sound problem.  It was bought in the USA 2 days ago.  Phew!

Posted by themusicman in South Africa on August 19, 2004 at 5:40 AM (PDT)

28

well, I’ve had my new 4G 40 GB iPod about a week, and I’ve experienced the hard-drive access noise and static - however only very rarely, maybe 5 or 6 times in all.

So add my name to the growing list of people with iPods with an audio problem.
I think I’ll wait and see what Apple say about it, before I decide to try and get a replacement or not.

Posted by rich on August 19, 2004 at 5:47 AM (PDT)

29

No problems here with my 4G iPod. It arrived in perfect condition and has been performing flawlessly for three weeks now.

Posted by Nato on August 19, 2004 at 5:47 AM (PDT)

30

My 40GB 4G is perfect, so far…..

Posted by M Bargo in Chicago, IL on August 19, 2004 at 5:51 AM (PDT)

31

I’ve received my 20 GB iPod with strange stains around the click wheel (seems like some organic substance pourred over the ipod), a big vertical scratch over the monitor and when i’ve tried to load more that 5.6 GB the ipod just stops working. It has a defective Hard Drive. I’ve already returned it for exchange. Apple has a history of high quality products but now iPods are “Made in China” and that says all…

Posted by Rhenriques on August 19, 2004 at 6:23 AM (PDT)

32

I’ve heard some static on my 4G 40GB—haven’t noticed any other noises, but I also haven’t tested it in any serious way yet.  Probably will not bother exchanging it—seems like a hassle…

Posted by millipod on August 19, 2004 at 6:26 AM (PDT)

33

“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.”

I would say that of the 63.5% that reported no problem, 10 to 20 % of people reporting did not hear the defect due to the crappy apple supplied earphones. I had to buy the Apple in-ear phones to hear the problem. I’d say these people more than make up for the “Apple haters’” false claims. So 42% is probably about right.

Posted by Essdee on August 19, 2004 at 6:30 AM (PDT)

34

robbiesan,

The “issue” you are describing is merely the process by which you must unmount the ipod from your computer.  You will notice that any USB device requires that you dismount it before you physically remove the cable from your machine.

Posted by Jay Holler on August 19, 2004 at 6:50 AM (PDT)

35

Ahh thinka you!  I think I also might have enable Disk Space when i tired to use Sharepod, which i did not like, and I think I can turn that off now and maybe that’ll solve it too!
Danka

Posted by robbiesan in Arlingotn, VA on August 19, 2004 at 6:54 AM (PDT)

36

well not solve it but just make it so that i dont have to manually eject the ipod every time.  I just got used to it being finished updating when it was finished and that it stopped saying Do Not Disconnect.  Your comments gave me a little reminder, so again, thanks!

Posted by robbiesan in Arlingotn, VA on August 19, 2004 at 6:57 AM (PDT)

37

My 4G 20GB iPod works fine.  I do not notice any problems that sounds like the described, nor did mine come covered with any ‘goo’ like substance.  Hope this helps the demographic.

Posted by Tim A. on August 19, 2004 at 6:57 AM (PDT)

38

I also have heard the hard-drive access noise and static, but only when i’m listing to my itrip otherwise the nosie is nonexistent. just affects my itrip.

Posted by charles on August 19, 2004 at 7:03 AM (PDT)

39

I bought the 4 gen 40 gb a few weeks after they came out.  I bought it at a Best Buy store in Minnesota.  I noticed right away that the hissing noise was present when the HD was accessed.  The noise was not terribly loud, but I did notice it, so I returned the iPod for a new one. 

The second one also has the noise, but it seems to be slightly quieter on the second one.  In fact, I thought I didn’t have it at first, but then upon close listening, I heard the noise.

Since it is slight, it doesn’t bother me that much.  I know if I return it for a new one, the new one will most likely also have the issue, so it is not worth the effort for me.  I will wait until Apple fesses up to this (if they ever do) and see what kind of fix they offer.

Finally, I think a lot of people have the problem but don’t notice because they don’t have good enough headphones to hear it, they are in denial, or both.

Posted by chris on August 19, 2004 at 7:26 AM (PDT)

40

My 40 gig has been fine, no hard drive noise through the headphones and no physical defects either.  It’s worked like a charm, just as my first 5 gig and 15 gig did.  I’ve owned all but the second generation and this one is definitely my favorite.

Posted by eric on August 19, 2004 at 7:42 AM (PDT)

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