iPod nano owners complain of high-pitched whining noise

Summary:Back in September a thread was started on the Apple support forum by an iPod nano owner who wanted to know if "a high-pitched whine or buzz that is audible if you hold it close to your ear" is normal for the media player. The answer now seems that it might be, although not by design.

Back in September a thread was started on the Apple support forum by an iPod nano owner who wanted to know if "a high-pitched whine or buzz that is audible if you hold it close to your ear" is normal for the media player.  The answer now seems that it might be, although not by design.

There's little doubt that the problem exists. What I'm not sure of is how serious it is.From scanning the posts in the forum it seems that 2nd generation iPod nanos of all capacities are affected (2GB, 4GB and 8GB) and that the problem could be pretty widespread - at least one forum member has had four replacement nanos, all of which suffered from the problem.  One forum member has recorded the sound made by their iPod and posted it to the web (you can download the MP3 file from here) while someone else made a video.  There's little doubt that the problem exists.  What I'm not sure of is how serious it is.

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It's hard to get an idea of how noisy the nano can get that it irritates people enough to send it back, after all, I doubt the noise gets so bad you can hear it while wearing earphones, but then again some people are especially sensitive to high-pitched sounds.  In my experience, most devices with a large backlit screen and a battery make high-pitched whining or buzzing noises, and if they don't do it when new, they do it after a few months of use.  I've just checked my iPod nano and that makes a very faint noise when the backlight is on which I can hear if I press the iPod right to my ear but this is not something that I can hear normally.  My Motorola RAZR make a slightly louder buzzing noise when the backlight is on.  My Garmin eTrex GPS also whines away when the backlight is on.  But by far the worst of the bunch is my iPAQ which makes a whine that's just audible at arm's length.  I can hear it but it's not really annoying - perhaps years of having a PC humming away next to my head has increased my tolerance to the sound.  Also, in my experience, this kind of buzzing or whining noise doesn't seem to shorten the life of the affected hardware - some of the buzzing gadgets have been buzzing away for years. 

Apple seems to be aware of this issue but there's no word about a fix.  Some nano owners are hopeful that a firmware update will fix this issue, but I think that this is unlikely (although at least one person claims that a firmware update fixed the problem for them).

Anyone here have a problem with their iPod nano?  When did you notice it?  Have you been in touch with Apple?  Or … did you just notice it now after reading this post? 

Topics: Apple

About

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over a decade to helping users get the most from technology -- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get the most from their new MP3 player or digital camera.Adrian has authored/co-authored technic... Full Bio

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