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Mini Static Makes Big Noise In The News

Mini Static Makes Big Noise In The News

by , 10:00 AM EDT, April 13th, 2004

Back in the days of vinyl records, a bit of scratchy sound was par, even for new albums. Back then pops, hisses, and static was cause by dirt, scratches, and minor imperfections in the grooves on the records that the needle (yes, an actual needle) used to make sound. There was a whole industry dedicated to producing devices, brushes, and cleaners designed to help reduced unwanted noise out of your music.

Since the introduction of the CD and digitized music, however, all of that has changed. A whole generation has grown up listening to pure, noise free music. People expect the music, and the music players, to produce music that is every bit as pure as when it was originally created.

It is little wonder, then, that when reports surfaced of crackling sound on the iPod mini, Apple's extremely popular little music player, that Apple and the news media took notice.

CNet News, Reuters, and The Inquirer, as well as other media outlets, have posted stories of the apparent problem with the iPod mini. Reuters cites Internet postings complaining of "screeching sounds and static" when using the device. From the Reuters article:

An Apple spokesman said he heard of "a few, isolated" postings and noted the product, which went on sale only in February, is covered by a one-year warranty.

The iPod Mini has so far been a big success for Apple, which received more than 100,000 orders before it even went on sale. The issue, several users wrote on the Web site iPodlounge, stems from the 10 connector pins that connect the main electronics board in the iPod to a smaller one that attaches to the headphones jack. "The entire connection has essentially zero flexibility," wrote an iPod user on a section of his personal Web site that was devoted to his iPod mini travails.

Because aluminum is a soft metal that deforms relatively easily, repeated pressure on the case -- from inserting and removing the headphones, attaching it to a belt clip or an arm band -- creates tension in the connecting pins, the user wrote.

"Eventually, the pins get loose, resulting in that scratchy 'Mini hates me' sound," the user wrote.

There's more information in the full story at Reuters.com.

The Mac Observer Spin:

It actually remains to be seen if there is actually a problem. It's easy to give this more import than it otherwise has simply because Reuters grabbed a hold of it, but remember that Reuters has based its story on postings from one Mac, or rather, iPod site. Of course, that site is a mecca for iPod users, so there definitely could be something to it.

If there is a problem, the best case scenario is that Apple is able to publicly identify the source of the problem, and issue a fix or explanation for it ASAP. Should the problems persist, and people believe that Apple won't, or is going to be very slow to fix it, it would seriously hurt the sales of the iPod mini, and hobble music sales from the iTunes Music Store. The company needs to avoid that perception.

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