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Just a question about ipods

Yeah I know this isn't really on subject,but man am I pissed off with headphones with ipods. I bought the ipod in May and must have gone through about 4 sets of headphones already - every time,it works fine for a couple of weeks,then it starts crackling on one side,then that side goes,then it starts crackling on the other side - and eventually,all sound is gone. I just wonder if there are certain headphones that must be used or something?

Re: Just a question about ipods

What type of headphones are you buying? There's a lot of sh!t out there, and Lord help you if you're using earbuds.

Re: Just a question about ipods

No not the ipod white earbuds - they have crap sound quality. Just regular in-ear earphones,nothing flashy...

Re: Just a question about ipods

The standard-issue iPod earbuds are crap, and my advice to anyone is don't even bother with those.

I use Sony MDR-V150's - nothing fancy or expensive, just a solid workhorse of a headphone.

Re: Just a question about ipods

Don't ever use earbuds. They'll kill your hearing. Besides, they're built so cheap that they fall apart in weeks.

Re: Just a question about ipods

Thats a really weird problem. No matter how cheap your headphones are there's no way you should have to buy a new pair every few weeks. How loud are you listening to your music? Man, even if you are listening loud though it still doesn't make sense that they'd be blown in just a couple weeks. It has to be a defective Ipod, although that doesn't really make sense either.

Re: Just a question about ipods

jonmarck, I would like to know about earbuds killing your hearing.

Re: Just a question about ipods

Well it's not rocket science. You're putting loudspeakers literally millimetres away from your eardrums, and never mind the potential for infection (I got 2 until I stopped using them). But the real issue is people who use them improperly: people on the subway or in cars, who want to hear their music over the sound of the road and rails so they blast it at a volume way louder than their ears can handle, people who listen to funk, dance or hip hop that want the loud bass that earbuds are incapable of reproducing (but they'll crank the volume anyways), people who expect that when they listen to music, their music is all they will hear, and fail to realize that there is zero noise isolation in earbuds, so they turn them up to drown out the outside noise. There is absolutely NO possible way of listening to earbuds in the environments for which they were designed to be played without drowning out what you're playing or damaging your hearing. The time to buy stock in hearing aid companies is now.

Besides, earbuds sound like crap. They don't have half the range required to hear a song properly. At least buy a proper set of headphones. (But I guess I AM talking to the MP3 crowd....sigh....)

Re: Just a question about ipods

About your earbuds breaking so often:

It could be that the iPod is sending a stronger current than the earbuds are designed to handle. Do they feel hot to the touch? Have you tried changing brands?

Re: Just a question about ipods

Nice in ear noise canceling earbuds can have as good of range as cans. I own these cans (http://www.amazon.com/Sony-7506-Pro-MDR-7506-Headphones/dp/B0002H02ZY) and also JVC Marshmallows (http://www.epinions.com/content_328362790532).

The JVC's have pretty good range (8-23 hz) for a 25 dollar pair of earbuds, plus I have modded them like the mod at the bottom of this page (http://www.gradolabs.net/mods.html). They aren't as good as my Sony cans which have a range of 10-70 hz but they sound really nice for a 25 dollar pair of headphones and are much more portable.

Re: Just a question about ipods

Noise cancellation earbuds is an advertisers term for "reason we can charge more". The way noise cancellation works is a microphone on the outside of the headphone records the outside noise and flips it out of phase, compensating for delay (hopefully) and playing it back along with the music. The idea is that the phased signal cancels the direct signal. Unfortunately because of all of the outside variables this rarely works. Most manufacturers claim their noise cancellation earbuds lower outside noise by 10 dB. Not only is this hardly substantial, considering normal conversation volume is 60 dB (the sound of a subway moving from the inside is somewhere around 80), but those estimates are routinely fudged because there's no way to determine whether they're true or not. Noise cancellation HEADPHONES make sense, because they have reasonable isolation that already lowers outside noise quite a bit (depending on the quality of the set) but noise cancellation earbuds are perfectly useless.

A range of 8-23 Hz is not only impossible for earbuds to replicate, it's far below the range of human hearing. 80 Hz to 23 kHz would make more sense, though I sincerely doubt they actually go up to 23 kHz because that's about 5 kHz above what most people can hear. So it would be ridiculously difficult to test whether they actually do (meaning the manufacturer's probably lying) and not worth actually building in the first place. I'm not sure where to begin with 10 to 70 Hz. That's a range that starts below human hearing and goes to about the D string on a bass guitar. You'd have to be listening to some pretty weird stuff to be able to play it on those.

Re: Just a question about ipods

There's another major problem with noise cancellation earbuds. Like I said, the way they work is by projecting an out of phase recording of the noise, recorded by the cheap-ass microphone (which, despite it's crap construction, is nevertheless given the task of recording the noise EXACTLY) on the outside of the earbud, intended to arrive at your ear at the exact same time as the noise itself. The thing is, if this time is off by even half a millisecond the phase relationship will be changed. Not only does this mean that the noise cancellation will not work, it could potentially AMPLIFY the noise as the waves are added together! To cause such a delay the earbud would only have to be shifted by a fraction of a millimetre. Think about it, if one day you place the earbud slightly farther into or farther out of your ear than was intended by the manufacturer then the phase relationship will be ruined and the earbud will be playing NOISE DIRECTLY INTO YOUR EAR! Not only is this feature useless, it's potentially damaging! So why, one might ask, if this is such a terrible feature, is it included? Because headphones have it, so the manufacturers realize that it is a selling point they can carry over to earbuds. Never mind that earbuds don't have anywhere near the noise cancellation efficiency of headphones (which generally stay the same distance from your ear thanks to the predetermined cushion length), the manufacturers are counting on the fact that people are too ignorant to realize the noise cancellation is useless at best.

Re: Just a question about ipods

I used to use all kinda of headphones ranging from the huge ones to regular small ones but since I switched to in-ear phones I've never gone back. They sound better than regular small earphones, I don't hear nearly as much noise from my surroundings (if I have these on, you can shout at me and I won't hear it, which is why I usually only wear 1 when on my bicycle) and they're not as annoying and stupid-looking as the huge sets.

So the choice for me is easy, I got a Sony Ericsson HPM-70 set, which works great. I've used it for 8 months now, and it's still working fine. Only annoyance is those rubber parts that keep falling off.

Re: Just a question about ipods

Well I'll have to get some new ones now(these ones have packed up) - so I think I'll have to get some better quality ones by a recognizable brand like sony rather than the cheap ones I'd had - although funny a couple of them had worked fine for years with a pocket radio but packed up when using them with an ipod...

Re: Just a question about ipods

yay. a topic where i actually know what i'm talking about

i will refer to the small earbuds as earphones, and the larger headsets as headphones.

there are two types of noise cancellation, active and passive. they both work quite well, but for different things. the type of noise cancellation that jonmarck mentioned was active noise cancellation.

passive noise cancellation simply involves providing a relatively airtight seal around the ear, which makes it much harder for sound to get to the eardrum. this provides very good attenuation for high frequencies, but it doesn't work as well for low frequencies. low frequencies pass more easily through solid objects. an airtight seal will do little to stop them.

active cancellation, which jonmarck has already mentioned, involves a microphone that picks up the background noise, and tells the headphone/earphone to play the opposite. when the two add together, they will cancel each other out. active noise cancellation is very effective for low frequencies, but much less so for high frequencies. the reason for this is phase, which jonmarck has already spoken about.

for people who don't know, phase is basically time. if you picture two simple sound waves that start at different points, you have a phase difference between them. the reason phase is important to active noise cancellation is because there is a small distance between the microphone and the speaker (obviously they cannot occupy the same space). because sound is very slow compared to the electrical signal from the microphone, the speaker will probably play the reversed noise before the noise actually reaches it. this is what causes the phase shift (the distance from your eardrum is insignificant). how large this phase shift is depends on the frequency, or more accurately, the wavelength. wavelength is how much space the sound wave (picture it again!) occupies. the lowest frequency that we can hear occupies a massive 17 meters. when you consider the size of the headphone, the distance between the microphone and the speaker, could be maybe 20 millimetres maximum. the resulting phase shift would be totally insignificant, and the resulting noise cancellation would be excellent. now, the highest frequency we can hear has a wavelength of 17 millimeters. in this case, the phase shift resulting from a distance of 20mm would be very very significant and the noise cancellation would be absolutely terrible (and, as jonmarck pointed out, could even result in noise amplification!). for this reason, active noise cancellation doesn't even attempt to cancel out high frequencies (the results would be horrible!).

i hope that was easy to understand. jonmarck suggested that some manufacturers may compensate electrically for the delay caused by the distance between the microphone and the speaker. i don't actually know whether anyone does this or not, but i would have doubted it because i really can't see the benefits. the required delay time would differ depending on the direction that the noise was coming from. logic tells me that introducing a delay would do as much harm as good so i can't see why anyone would do it...

ok, if you're still reading, well done. if you were paying attention, you may have noticed that i said active noise cancellation is good for low frequencies, and that passive noise cancellation is good for high frequencies. so it makes sense to use both active and passive together, and in fact, using both together is the only way to get decent noise reduction over all audible frequencies.

as far as i know, both headphones and earphones are perfectly capable of effectively implementing both active and passive noise cancellation.

as for frequency responses both earphones and headphones are capable of excellent frequency responses. in fact, both are capable of being more accurate than even the best speakers (more accurate doesn't mean better). so yes, 8Hz-23kHz is quite achievable. having said that, people can only hear between 20Hz and 20,000Hz. the ability to produce sound lower and higher than those frequencies is hardly significant.

a note on frequency responses: the range of frequencies produced on its own is almost totally insignificant. don't take it too seriously.

Re: Just a question about ipods

Ipod! The gift that keeps on taking!!!!!!!!! Now I know what the MACHINE in Rage Against the Machine stands for.