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Posted: 2/7/2006 8:21:37 AM EDT
Hey guys, I've been an audio technician for 10 years and have never seen a problem as weird as the one I've got with my iPod:


My ipod works fine....sort of. All functions work and audio is put out. BUT..... if i use headphones it sounds like a prologic reciever with no center channel (vocals and solo material are virtually non-existant, but background music is fine...). It's not the headphone jack because If i use a 1/8th-to-RCA adapter and hook it to any other audio device (home stereo, P.A. amp, TV audio input, car stereo...) it sounds PERFECT!!!! It's not the headphones, because i've tried 6 different pair (5 were brand new and all were different brands and styles). And if i use my Monster cable FM transmitter (which plugs in the data port at the bottom) it also sounds fine. How the heck could ONE headphone jack sound good through A/V equipment but BAD through headphones?!?!? In my 10 years as an A/V tech i have never seen anything like this! Oh, it's not the EQ settings either, i played with those to no avail.

Please tell me somebody else has had this happen.... and fixed it....
Link Posted: 2/7/2006 8:29:22 AM EDT

Originally Posted By simplemitch:

Please tell me somebody else has had this happen.... and fixed it....

nope, sorry. Mine sounds fine. What kind do you have? I think it may just be defective
Link Posted: 2/7/2006 8:35:50 AM EDT
It's a 20G model PE435A. I would say defective audio processor also, but it sounds fine through anything other than headphones. SERIOUSLY BIZARRE!!!
Link Posted: 2/7/2006 9:16:06 AM EDT
I'm thinking that your ears are wired out of phase.



I did a search on the Apple Forums for a similar issue and didn't find anything quite like yours. So, all headphones have the issue but a mini plug to RCA adapter works fine? Is the adapter's male plug possibly a hair larger in diameter than the headphone plugs? Maybe it is making a better connection and something inside the female plug has gotten out of alignment.

Link Posted: 2/7/2006 9:33:56 AM EDT
Nope. Used several adapters ranging from $1 cheapies to $40 monster cable ones. It truly is the most wacked out problem ever. I also tried to find info on Apples support to no avail so i left a (dissatisfied" comment in relation to a help article with a big long description.
When i get to work I'm gonna try an interesting test: I'm gonna put a headphone splitter in the iPod jack, then plug headphones in one side and y-adapter to a stereo in the other and see if the quality of audio changes in either.
Link Posted: 2/7/2006 9:38:18 AM EDT
Sounds like an interesting test.

The weird thing is that your results sounds exactly like phase cancellation (should be impossible unless your head is completely hollow).

Please post the results of your test. You've got me curious now as well.
Link Posted: 2/7/2006 9:40:24 AM EDT
Is it possible that the wiring inside the plug have a break, or inside the earbuds?
Link Posted: 2/7/2006 9:43:09 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/7/2006 9:44:16 AM EDT by gus]
Headphones are a low impedance load, while inputs on a board or any piece of equipment are high impedance. Sounds like your iPod is impedance sensitive, which to me indicates a problem in the analog output circuit of the iPod. Unfortunately, it's likely incorporated into a large single chip so there's no troubleshooting that can really be done.

Try this: Connect the iPod to a home stereo receiver, turn off the speakers, and plug your head phones into the receiver. If it sounds good that way, there's the problem. Good luck convincing Apple to do anything about it though, since they'll just say it works fine.
Link Posted: 2/7/2006 9:50:22 AM EDT
Have you tried using your 1/8" adapter to run it into a reciever of some kind and then use its headphone output to test? Maybe you're getting some phasing issues that are only noticable with headphones.
Link Posted: 2/9/2006 5:46:34 AM EDT
Figured it out. I plugged a 1/8th plug (plug only, no cord attached), took a pair of headphones and attached alligator clips to all three pins. 1st i attached the left channel wire, then the right channel wire, then HEY!! before i attached the ground, there was my mystery sound!! For giggles I attached the ground anyway, and the sound improved a TINY bit but was definately the crap sound I'd been experiencing. I peeked down into the jack and all the contacts were ok, so I popped the iPod open and examined the headphone circuit board. Found two SMDs that were discolored and had cracks and pockmarks. TADA!!!! As someone else had pointed out, it must be impedance related. The high impedance devices draw less current through the circuit and sound ok, but the low impedance headphones must stress the damaged components enough to cause malfunction.

Long story short, I've got a new heaphone circuit coming to the tune of $32 after shipping.
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