This is my cyberhome!

November 8, 2005

How to fix iPod Eq distortion.

Filed under: Apple,Audio — Manish Bansal @ 6:36 pm

The Problem:
iPod gives a somewhat harsh and metallic sound when the equalizer is turned on. It does not matter which preset you choose (except Flat). If you don’t keep the equalizer off, the sound comes out distorted and is not pleasant to listen to. It happens on all the iPod models, even on the latest 5G one which has the best sound among hard disc based models. The 5G fixes lot of problems with the earlier iPods like Noise Defect and comes with a number of improvements, especially in bass performance but the sound still clips with the equalizer.

The Reason:
There is nothing wrong with iPod. Really.

It has as good a sound as any other player. Though it sounds a little bright, the sound has lot of detail and really insignificant amount of distortion. Even the equalizer is well designed and behaves as it is supposed to. But that metallic sound? That clipping? Well, it’s a classic case of “garbage in garbage out".

It’s those damn mp3s. Or rather the original CDs themselves.

In a race to sound louder and louder, the CD mastering engineers push the recording level to its limits. This is especially true for mainstream pop/rock music. Somehow the producers think that the CDs have to be really loud to make a better impression.

Now when these hot mastered CDs (or mp3s made from them) are played with the equalizer on, the total loudness level goes beyond what an iPod can produce. Some of my mp3s had a loudness level of 99.6db!! Yikes! What can the poor iPod do when presented with this crap? Say I choose Dance preset which would typically apply a boost of 6 db. Add this to 97db (a typical figure) and you get a level of 103 db. Most players have an upper limit of about 95db, some even going till 100db but that’s it. No wonder the sound comes out distorted and harsh.

The Fix:
All we need to do is bring down the loudness level of the mp3s down so that we get a little headroom to apply the Eq. The generally agreed upon loudness level for this is 89db.

Download mp3gain. It’s an open source freeware program. Add the folder containing the mp3s. Choose ‘track gain’ and click on the ‘track analysis’. It will calculate and display the loudness level for each song and also how much correction needs to be applied. When this analysis is done, just hit ‘track gain’ and it will apply the required correction to each song.

Mp3gain does not re-encode or otherwise modify/degrade the file in anyway. All it does is set a flag in the file. When a player reads this flag, it knows how loud to play this song.

This whole correction process is a little slow. It took about one hour per GB on my Pentium 4 machine, 30 hours total for my entire collection. It’s the analysis part that is slow. The correction is instantaneous. So instead of hitting the analysis and waiting for 30 hours to do the correction, a better way to do this is to hit the track gain directly. It will analyze and correct in one step.

After all this is done, erase all the songs from your iPod, resync, and enjoy!

Notes:

  1. You can directly point mp3gain to iPod_control folder on the iPod but it is not recommended. You don't want that tiny hard disc on your iPod to be spinning continously for 30 hours. Moreover, if you do it on the PC, other mp3 players can also use this info.
  2. You can stop/cancel the track gain process anytime you want. Mp3gain will pick up from where it left when you start it next time.
  3. Mp3gain is more accurate at doing normalization than SoundCheck feature found in iTunes/iPod. Mp3gain is based on ReplayGain standard which takes into account the mechanism of how humans perceive loudness. Turns out that human ears use average energy over time to perceive how loud a certain sound is. So mp3gain divides each file into 50ms blocks and calculates the RMS energy value of each of these blocks. These values are then used to arrive at the overall RMS energy of the entire song. This is the value which is then used to normalize the song file.
    SoundCheck works in similar way but it seems to take much longer blocks (fewer samples) to calculate the average RMS energy. This makes it less accurate (but a lot faster) than mp3gain.
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61 Comments »

  1. Isn’t this a very basic requirement for any decent audio equipment? – Normalize the input to a fixed decibel level and then apply all the sound decoration.

    Any reason you can think of why the iPod engineers overlooked this?

    Comment by Anonymous — November 20, 2005 @ 8:37 pm | Reply

  2. Apple engineers did not overlook it. There is something called ‘SoundCheck’ in iTunes/iPod which is supposed to do the same thing but it works in a differnt way. It basically calculates the RMS energy over an entire audio file to normalize it. That means quieter passages end up being too loud and louder passages become too soft. It is better than peak normalization but still not good enough.
    Mp3gain, on the other hand, does so over blocks of 50ms each which is a better way of doing normalization (w.r.t. human hearing mechanism).

    Comment by Manish Bansal — November 21, 2005 @ 6:14 pm | Reply

  3. There’s a rule saying EQ should never be amplifying any frequency band, but only do attenuations.
    That’s precisely to avoid creating clipping when the orginal signal is near 0dBFS ..
    I think this rule is mostly ignored by hardware makers those days.

    Comment by Toto le zero — December 2, 2005 @ 5:42 pm | Reply

  4. Yeah. That and the lack of custom EQ on iPod just plain sucks. I heard that Apple had got a patent on custom EQ sometime back. Hope it shows up soon in iPod (and hopefully as a software upgrade).

    Comment by Manish Bansal — December 4, 2005 @ 4:06 pm | Reply

  5. Manish this a good idea. I’ve been reading the Hydrogen Audio forums lately and that’s where all the ‘audiophiles’ hang out!
    One thing which I don’t get, is how does ,say, iPod or iTunes or Winamp know how to use this metadata? Do they support mp3gain? ‘cos the ReplayGain website says no players currently support their proposed idea.
    Just a bit confused!

    Comment by hyperreality — March 4, 2006 @ 2:17 pm | Reply

  6. MP3gain application is based on ReplayGain algorithm and it modifies the original file itself. It does not use ID3 or any other tags. Each mp3 file is composed of a number of blocks and each block has a header part and a data part. MP3gain writes the relative loudness of each block in its header part. So any standard mp3 decoder should be able to read and honor it.
    SoundCheck, on the other hand, works only on iPods.

    Comment by manishbansal — March 4, 2006 @ 2:59 pm | Reply

  7. OK, I’m a techno idiot. I admit to this. Aren’t the tracks stored in my iTunes library of a different format than mp3? Does this render mp3gain unusable? Maybe I’m the dumb one for actually using iTunes? Just a bit confused. Thanks!

    Comment by ChiJeff — April 8, 2006 @ 6:43 pm | Reply

  8. iTunes application can store tracks in either MP3 or AAC format. When you rip your own CDs using iTunes application, you can choose either MP3 or AAC as the file format. MP3gain and AACgain work fine for such files. You can google for AACgain.
    But the tracks that you buy from iTunes music store are always in AAC format (protected with FairPlay DRM). Since these songs are protected with DRM, you can’t normalize them using AACgain.

    Comment by manishbansal — April 9, 2006 @ 7:44 am | Reply

  9. Nuts! See Comment “Comment by Toto le zero”.
    Any Sound File that is noemalized under 100%, i.e. under 0dbFs shouldn’t produce any “harsh, metallic sound” (well I simply call it digitally distorted).
    There IS actually something wrong with the preset EQ in iPod; the overall gain should be reduced when some of the frequencies are boosted.
    I only posted cause they didn’t get that fixed in their 2nd generation nano, sheesh, the market leader!

    Comment by marcellus — October 28, 2006 @ 9:48 pm | Reply

  10. Hi Marcellus,
    Most of the commercial music available today is mastered really bad. They remove all the dynamics out of it (make it loud) which makes it sound metallic. There is nothing wrong with iPod equalizer. Just listen to some music from Chesky records and then judge for yourself.

    Comment by manishbansal — October 29, 2006 @ 4:43 am | Reply

  11. Hi everyone.
    What's a good alternative to the IPOD?
    I'm wondering if any of you can recommend a good MP3 player that is comparable to the IPod but WITHOUT they hype and price tabe to go with it.
    I was at the apple store a few days ago, and really liked the new 40GB or 80GB IPods that also show video, but was wondering if I could get the same kind of funcationality without that heftly price tag.

    Comment by Micheal — November 18, 2006 @ 3:08 pm | Reply

  12. Hi Micheal,
    All the MP3 players which offer features similar to video iPod would cost you roughly the same. Creative Zen, Microsoft Zune, Apple iPod all are pretty close to each other in terms of features and prices. Your only option would be to go for a flash memory based player like iriver Clix or iPod nano.

    Comment by manishbansal — November 23, 2006 @ 1:07 pm | Reply

  13. […] A few days ago, someone named Micheal left a comment on my post about iPod distortion asking recommendations for a MP3 player. But WordPress spam scanner marked it as spam which I found to be surprising since it did not contain any links. If a blog comment has more than one link in it, it is definitely spam but this one did not have any. So I did a bit of googling and… […]

    Pingback by Damn these spammers! « This is my cyberhome! — November 23, 2006 @ 1:25 pm | Reply

  14. thank you so much for this great suggestion on how to remove ipod distortion – it was driving me nuts! but it definitly works!

    Comment by Josh — January 30, 2007 @ 1:27 am | Reply

  15. If this is true, then why does a track play with distortion on my nano2g, and the same track play completely free of distortion on my creative zen… same mp3 file, same etymotic earbuds. seems like an iPod problem to me.

    Comment by doug — April 3, 2007 @ 5:29 am | Reply

  16. Doug at #16, are you using any equalizer on your nano or Zen?

    Comment by Manish Bansal — April 4, 2007 @ 5:15 am | Reply

  17. What the hell are you using eq for anyway? Ipod has a great sound with no eq applied, and that is the way the music should sound.

    If it sounds to weak, get better headphones.. I use sennheiser cx300 without eq applied, listens to heavy music and the ipod sounds really heavy with clear treable and lots of details!

    Comment by Bjorn Hall — April 4, 2007 @ 9:37 pm | Reply

  18. I agree this is a design flaw in iPod. I mean my computer can play mp3s with equalizer boost and no distortion, why can’t iPod? I take the time to fix the problem with mp3gain and aacgain (and in the case of m4ps this means I must use qtfairuse to decrypt first), but that’s a lot of trouble!

    Moreover, if Soundcheck were applied before EQ, distortion wouldn’t happen either. How hard would that be?

    I figured this had to be fixed by now when I got my new 5.5G with video, but no. Very disappointing.

    Comment by John — April 11, 2007 @ 12:26 am | Reply

  19. What unit of decibel, anyways? dB SPL? dBV? dBm?…

    Comment by brad — May 7, 2007 @ 4:21 am | Reply

  20. Yeah, I wish the EQ would attenuate frequencies, not boost them. The exact same curve can be reach by attenuating. The only problem with this is that the amplifier within iPod must be capable of taking this attenuated signal and playing it louder than it would have had to before.

    Comment by Preston Edwards — July 13, 2007 @ 4:27 am | Reply

  21. OMG. It works perfekt.Thank u Manish Bansal

    Comment by Roger — September 10, 2007 @ 3:39 pm | Reply

  22. I’m an electrical engineer with experience in audio design. This issue has always been a quandry. Any decent audio master recording will use all of the available digital headroom whether compression is involved or not. If it is a piece with lots of dynamic range, only small peaks will reach full-scale. If the engineer isn’t doing this, they are not maximizing the available dynamic range of the media, and the noise floor becomes more significant.

    By the same token, in the player design, if the digital audio is scaled to allow headroom for equalization, the signal is brought closer to the noise floor, which will reduce the sound quality when the flat eq setting is selected.

    To me, since all of the eq settings are presets, each preset should come with the appropriate attenuation so that when equalization is applied, there is no possibility of digital clipping. In my 4Gig nano, the clipping is evident in any mode besides flat, and is audible on most of my music. It also doesn’t matter what volume setting it is on, so it is much more noticible at low volume settings.

    Another way for them to address this would be for the user volume adjustment to be prior to equalization. The volume control by definition is an attenuator, so clipping would not be an issue until the volume was near maximum.

    Comment by Mike — January 7, 2008 @ 7:06 pm | Reply

  23. Do you think apple is using 32bit (or higher) processing here? I think the EQ is implemented in a digital way. If they are using 16bit resolution in the processing chain here, that would be the fault. For me (on my 3G nano) it sounds like that. And that’s the reason I will get rid of this thingy. Believe me: It is an iPod issue. And I don’t see me sitting there and trimming MP3gain or buying those fat headphones that give me the right bass – maaan. Apple sucks.

    Comment by Don — February 17, 2008 @ 9:32 pm | Reply

  24. @Don:
    I am not sure about that. But hot mastered CDs make a much larger impact on the listening pleasure than 16/32 bit processing. I have tried this myself with various audio players (software) and could hardly tell any difference.

    Comment by Manish Bansal — February 18, 2008 @ 11:32 am | Reply

  25. For me its clear its a bug un ipod amplification. I played the same mp3 files in a Sony-Ericsson W660 mobile phone Player, even with mega-Bass equalisation and it goes perfect. No distortion at all. On the other side, Ipod distortion is unacceptable for such an expensive appliance. I dont know how apple can accept this issue. May be with I-tunes downloaded songs this doesnt happen, but its not fair to play so badly current mp3 files, nevermind the bitrate, the dinamic range, recording volume or whatever it happens with them.
    Im close to get rid of the cute ipod and just use the superb-sound Sony-Ericsson player.

    Comment by santi — February 19, 2008 @ 2:24 pm | Reply

  26. @Santi:
    It’s difficult to compare these two devices unless you know what kind of processing Sony player is doing. Many hardware and software players have built-in volume equalization and other processing which colors the sound to make it more pleasant. iPod, on the other hand, produces a sound which is closer to the source material. You are, of course, free to alter it any way you want.

    Comment by Manish Bansal — February 20, 2008 @ 4:58 am | Reply

  27. God damn sound engineers! They still don’t adapt their mixes to ipods!

    Actually every single normalized track (99 % of music you listen to) reaches 0 db limit more or less (not 100db as you described). These days dynamics of

    mixes are more flat than they used to be, but that doesn’t mean a 1980 song doesn’t reach 0 db, it just doesn’t reach it as often. So ipod’s “EQ” distorts

    all music you listen to, this distortion is just more obvious when you listen to morden recordings. My Sony NW-e407 never clips anything even with extreme

    EQ settings by the way.

    Adjusting all my music to be able to EQ it in ipod? No, thank you. iPod’s sound quality is a joke. If you want quality sound – stick with Sony Walkman,

    they do sound amazing.

    Comment by Liqweed — April 18, 2008 @ 5:00 pm | Reply

  28. I swear that there is a problem on the part of Apple. The fact that Apple portable electronics have always had just-above average sound quality been fairly publicized in most circles. Of course, Apple products appeal to a particular circle that don’t really care how a product performs, as long as everyone else has one.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not an Apple basher by any means. I recently bought an iPhone, and I can’t get over how well designed it is. Despite it’s price however, it still is plagued by the same problems aforementioned. It’s almost sad how my mp3 player from 3 years ago (Creative Zen MicroPhoto) outperforms the iPhone in terms of sound quality.

    Comment by Anonymous — April 21, 2008 @ 3:59 am | Reply

  29. ^BTW, I also own Sennheiser CX300s…

    Comment by Anonymous — April 21, 2008 @ 4:05 am | Reply

  30. Thank you very much, this really helps on my iPod 30gb. But frankly i didn’t expect this from ipod, i thought everything is much more simple before buying ipod…

    Comment by Tom — April 27, 2008 @ 10:09 am | Reply

  31. @Anonymous (#29):
    One of the reasons iPods sound average/boring is that they do not color the sound in any way. They are one of the most neutral players on the market. Sony and Creative players, on the other hand, apply a small boost to the lower and mid-range frequencies by default, even if the EQ is turned off! See more here:
    http://phonephile.blogspot.com/2005/06/hd5s-got-secret.html

    Comment by Manish Bansal — April 27, 2008 @ 11:34 am | Reply

  32. […] this helps: How to fix iPod Eq distortion. This is my cyberhome! __________________ Denon AH-D2000 Shure e2c Total […]

    Pingback by Ipod + EQ = distortion? - Head-Fi: Covering Headphones, Earphones and Portable Audio — May 14, 2008 @ 2:41 am | Reply

  33. I have actually figured out how to solve this problem. I just wish Apple would fix it on their side. That program that this site lists to get didn’t work for me. Here’s the thing. What people are looking for is a way to get a certain ratio of frequencies. ie – they want a certain more of 10 hz vs 20 hz etc. Apple’s EQ’s account for that by boosting frequencies above the 0 line. For songs that are recorded with intensities already close to 0, this results in clipping (sending too strong a signal from the preamp resulting in distortion). The way to fix the problem is the arrange frequency bands in the shape that you prefer (imagine a 10 band eq) without boosting frequencies higher than what would send the songs peak frequencies over 0. In otherwords, if you like a bell shaped curve to your songs on a 10 band eq, Don’t arrange the bands all above 0 (amplification) to get that sound, adjust most of them DOWN to achieve the same eq shape. The resulting mix will sound the way you want without distorting – you’ll just have to up the general volume (this involves the main amp – not the preamp which is what’s involved with eq’s on iPods). So we could all do this if there was a custom 10 band eq on an iPod. Their isn’t. So the only solution I’ve found that I’ve been happy with is do open up each song I like in an audio editing program and manually alter the eq of it, resave it, and put it on my iPod. I then play my iPod on flat and all the songs sound the way I want them to. It’s a realy sucky time consuming process, but atleast my music sounds good.

    Comment by Tiberius — June 10, 2008 @ 8:06 pm | Reply

  34. @Tiberius:
    This is a good solution but there is a problem with it. This will modify your songs permanently and also reduce audio quality since you’d be encoding them again. Changes made my mp3gain, on the other hand, are completely reversible. Moreover, what if you want to change the EQ on a particular song?

    Comment by Manish Bansal — June 11, 2008 @ 7:31 am | Reply

  35. Lol. The distortion that the iPods make with a custom eq is because of Apples fault. The designers of the iPod did not do a very good job in designing it. An example of a good player would be the NWZ-A829 (only picked this cause I own one). The eq on this player creates no distortion, even with the clear bass turned up to +3. Even with a pair of Ultimate Ears Super.fi 5 pro’s no distortion can be heard. The bass is accurate, detailed and punchy. I encode my music on mp3 320kbs. If you guys don’t want distortion, i can only recommend you either leave it on no eq, wait till apple releases a good sounding player or go and buy a new player that is not made by Apple.

    Comment by Anonymous — June 11, 2008 @ 11:15 am | Reply

  36. I meant if you guys want NO distortion then buy a new player.

    Comment by Anonymous — June 11, 2008 @ 11:16 am | Reply

  37. Yeah, but I’m not about to alter my entire MP3 collection so that my iPod stops screwing up playback…

    Any device worth its salt should, if a clipping situation is detected, lower the overall volume to avoid it. It is extremely easy to detect in software – as MP3gain shows.

    I’m also puzzled that my iPod touch has a bunch of presets, but unlike other players, even Jazz and Rock suck for bringing the tinniness out of earbuds. The difference is practically inaudible. Yet if I set it to bass boost, music sounds like *crunch crunch crunch bzzzt crunch* as it clips constantly… I have MP3 players close to 10 years old that have graphic EQs, it’s not exactly rocket science.

    And my last player, a cheap Samsung YP-Z5 has one, but also doesn’t clip or distort with its EQs, even with “Street mode” (accentuate easily drowned out sounds) on.

    Grrr… I guess maybe a year or two down the road we’ll probably see good firmware to fix it though. Apple at least keeps the improvements flowing.

    Comment by fuchikoma — September 3, 2008 @ 6:37 pm | Reply

  38. OMG – This has been doing my head in for ages – I thought I had broken it by dropping it when all the time it was just because the EQ was on. Phew!

    Comment by Jonny — September 22, 2008 @ 4:11 pm | Reply

  39. I agree with comment #2 by Manish Bansal. I just turned off the sound check and my favorite EQ works just fine with the mp3’s.

    Comment by EJ — September 28, 2008 @ 9:39 pm | Reply

  40. I have self-built head phones and the Impendance is 16 ohms and not the standerd 32 ohms. The head phones are based of Koss UR-19 series ” over ear headsets. The Ipod does not distort but I whole heartedly agree, you just can’t crank up the bass on an ipod like you can on something the creative or sandisk makes.

    Comment by Zenodilodon — October 25, 2008 @ 1:07 am | Reply

  41. Of course this is a severe EQ design flaw. Digital Music should always be (peak-)normalized as near as possible to 0 dBFS to maximize the SNR. Whereas this is not inherently true for MP3 encoded audio – as the SNR doesn’t change with global gain adjustment – it surely is for playback! Most on-board soundcards have noticeable noise floors that can only be masked by loud music. I’m not talking about perceived loudness now as this can not be the ultimate goal for audiophile ears, so please don’t confuse this with the oft-quoted loudness war (and which has nothing – really nothing – to do with the EQ problems). However I plead for optimal storage/playback levels.

    One drawback of this peak normalization is of course the difference in perceived loudness due to different mastering techniques and philosophies. This problem is addressed by the Replay Gain standard which tries to normalize perceived loudness and is proposed as a fix for the EQ distortion by the author of this article. However there are two problems involved. I already mentioned the first one which is a severely decreased SNR (this means: louder noise) in the range of up to -10 dB which is clearly audible in softer segments of a song. The second one is that normalizing the perceived loudness doesn’t give you any guarantee with respect to peak strength. For very dynamic recordings it can still happen that you normalize the loudness to 89 dB and still get peaks of +2 dBFS, which will result in digital clipping. This can be even worse after equalization. So the proposed fix is not a fix – it only makes clipping less likely. If you can expect a peak level of -10 dBFS of course equalization up to +10 dB for any band is possible but you simply can’t as this is not guaranteed in any way.

    So, how can an EQ be designed that doesn’t introduce distortion? This really is not a tough job; it can be done even in software with a few lines of codes. It could be as easy as calculating the maximum in the frequency response of the EQ and subtracting this (preset-dependent but apart from that constant) value dynamically from every frame during decoding before it’s processed by the EQ. This might be not the best way to do it but it would be a real fix which would be a less-than-one-day job for Apple to implement. I simply can’t understand why they don’t fix it and don’t even know if they are aware that it actually is a flaw. It’s a shame, really.

    I’m not a fan of equalization but for mobile players you simply need it and the iPod EQ is clearly unusable.

    Comment by dexx — January 18, 2009 @ 10:40 pm | Reply

  42. so wat number shall i type in to the mp3gain db thing, im using the hip hop eq on my 3rd gen ipod

    Comment by Anonymous — February 9, 2009 @ 10:40 pm | Reply

  43. 86db works fine with hiphop on my ipod nano 4th gen

    Comment by immanuel — April 20, 2009 @ 11:58 pm | Reply

  44. I also have this issue with my 2nd Gen Ipod touch. Sent it away to get “fixed” and they returned it saying the music files were corrupt and the item itself was fine. When I pay $300US for a brand new mp3 player (namely Apples I-pod touch) I expect it to play music clearly and for it to hassle free to add music to it. Quite frankly i’m pretty damn annoyed that they are even able to sell a product with issues like this without telling the customer beforehand. ” Excuse me sir, are you aware that this new i-pod has all the great features but… will distort your music”? I would not have bought it if this was the case. The product itself is absolutely wicked and has great features BUT the clipping is just not acceptable.

    Comment by Pierce — June 9, 2009 @ 12:57 pm | Reply

  45. Thanks for this info. The distortion was drying me crazy, randomly affecting some music but not other. I thought I’d damaged my ipod!

    Comment by K — November 4, 2009 @ 10:08 pm | Reply

  46. There is a standard volume level that, because of the way files are encoded and stored, cannot possibly be exceeded. Most music (especially rock, metal, pop… not so much blues, classic, or dynamic songs) is normalized to this level. I’m not sure where you’re getting this 96db from. Is that dba? is that perceived volume? All of those things are controlled by turning down your player. There is one standard loudness for audio files, and that is 0db. Anything beyond that will not be stored and will sound like clipping because the wave form has been cut off abruptly. The problem with the ipod is that the eq amplifies an already maxed out signal, before it goes to the preamp, so no matter how low you listen or how much you adjust volume in itunes, the waveform is amplified beyond 0db and is therefore clipped. Apple needs to redesign their eq so it only attenuates frequencies, not amplifies. Or they need to build in a 6db or so volume cut that they could use as headroom, but that would be total crap… There’s nothing wrong with your ipods, just the software design. Turn the eq off, and if you don’t like the sound, get an inline eq/amp for your headphones. Or just get better headphones! There is an ongoing battle between sound engineers boosting or limiting the bass and treble in their songs, because they know that people just put their songs in ipods and such that have built-in eq. If devices were produced with better components, eq would not be needed for flavor, and music would sound as it was intended by the artist and sound engineer. And there wouldn’t be distortion. Apple messed up, but it’s also something they can patch in a future itunes or ipod firmware upgrade through itunes. Not so bad.

    Comment by Me — November 14, 2009 @ 1:54 am | Reply

  47. Great points have been mentioned, but it’s up to Apple to get their act together (as the Market leader) and put the customers first. I’ve just bought a 32gb iPod touch 3rd gen and I am disappointed with the sound, compared to my old Sony which I have replaced. I have £100 headphones and I get distorted sound with or without the eq on some songs. The Sony was brill and it delivered so much bass with no issues. Let this be a warning to you…

    Comment by Sony fan — December 3, 2009 @ 9:41 pm | Reply

  48. my ipod of 2gb having a problem that no files are displaying.how to troubleshoot it.plz send me the reply

    Comment by priya — December 11, 2009 @ 5:55 pm | Reply

  49. my ipod is showing no files in it but when it is opened in my pc they are being displayed.what is the problem in my ipod and how to troubleshoot the problem

    Comment by priya — December 11, 2009 @ 6:00 pm | Reply

  50. Hi,

    Thanks for the article. I had this problem with my Ipod and turned off the Eq. Problem Solved. Thanks a lot for taking the time to help.

    Comment by Kelly — June 3, 2010 @ 10:29 pm | Reply

  51. The MP3Gain program is great, especially for making sure that all your tracks are a similar volume so you don’t have to adjust the levels, BUT the Nokia N95 has no such problems with it’s puny stereo speakers – they produce wonderful quality sound that can be turned up incredibly loud.

    Comment by Jimmy — July 26, 2010 @ 3:56 pm | Reply

  52. I’ve solved the problem precisely the same way – with manual adjustment in itunes to all the songs that couldn’t be scanned by aacgain or mp3gain. this way, i’m still free to choose the eq i want (for different earphones). it’s a painful lot of work. now, my max. volume is down to 85db, wich is just not enough for classic pieces. thanks to the music industry’s compression obsessions, really dynamic music is ‘no more compatible’ with today’s players. and for podcasts, i would have to scan my library every time, something new comes in, because they are louder ‘out of the box’. why can’t the eq not be adjusted by the user or at least be normalized at 0db? is there a way to ‘hack’ into the ipod and change the eq settings?

    Comment by koi — August 18, 2010 @ 11:53 am | Reply

  53. how do we solve breaking up or like distorted music videos?

    Comment by Anonymous — October 21, 2011 @ 7:05 am | Reply

    • Sorry. I really do not know how to fix this distortion in the music videos.

      Comment by Manish Bansal — October 21, 2011 @ 9:57 am | Reply

  54. Old discussion!! I fully agree – EQ is sometimes necessary even with good headphones, like Shure in-ear models, because some recordings otherwise sound anemic. Decent aftermarket earphones usually trade off a little bass response for overall clarity, therefore functional EQ on a device like this might be assumed to be a given!

    So it is Apple’s silly oversight that the device does not compensate internal gain for any applied EQ settings. It’s simple, the iPod must play music WELL. The customer should not have to tweak the original files back to 89 dB to compensate. Don’t charge a premium and expect the customer to work so hard.

    Comment by J-Dawg who lives in Toronto — January 16, 2012 @ 10:09 pm | Reply

    • I am really disappointed in Apple for overlooking the basic audio quality issues. They make great products and I am a huge fan but I guess that’s what you get when you have a huge market and majority of your customers don’t give a shit about sound quality. The fact that they use Apple-supplied white earbuds says it all.

      Comment by Manish Bansal — January 17, 2012 @ 2:18 pm | Reply

  55. Thank you for advice it has solved my problem for now, it is remarkable how one of the industry leaders is not really interested in quality just quanity

    Comment by KC — March 22, 2012 @ 9:08 am | Reply

  56. It’s actually amazing that the post has been created in 2005 and yet to this date (end 2012) we are still facing the same problem.

    Comment by yussss — October 14, 2012 @ 8:18 pm | Reply

  57. Great read this is my 3rd ipod classic 160gb as someone needed the other 2 more than me. But this is the 1st one I have had distortion when playing music thru a ipod dock (headphones cheap and expensive work fine). At the moment I am running mp3gain using the standard settings then will sync the library and hopefully will achieve the results you have written about. Again thanx.\
    Apple offered to exchange the unit at a cost of 50% as the unit is 18mths old.
    The saga still continues June 2013.

    Comment by Brown33zipodc — June 9, 2013 @ 1:00 pm | Reply

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  59. I beg to defer from this article. I’ve got a classic iPod mp3 player. I’ve played for years, no problems. Then I used ITunes one day, next thing my iPod is distorted. Nothing I do solves the problem. I’ve even did a factory settings and still don’t work.

    Comment by Tonyy — November 2, 2015 @ 4:54 pm | Reply


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