5 Replies Latest reply: Apr 27, 2009 7:43 AM by jjmb58
jjmb58 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
I have a 120 GB iPod Classic w/ some 1,000 CD's on it. I recently noticed that for just two of the CD's (Beatles Rubber Soul and Past Masters II) the sound is distorted, i.e. barely any audible vocals, almost like I'm listening to only one channel. This only seems to happen with these two CD's and only when I play back though the iPod, i.e. when I play them back from iTunes on my computer things sound fine the way they should. All other CD's in my collection play back fine on my iPod and I know for sure that on my previous 80 GB iPod I didn't have this issue with the same CD's. Any suggestions?

dell xps m1330, Windows Vista
  • the fiend Level 5 Level 5 (7,860 points)
    I'm trying various tracks from both those albums now, on my 160GB Classic. I expect to hear fairly odd things with these albums because there were some "experiments" with stereo which haven't stood the test of time. For instance, "We can work it out" on Past Masters II has the vocals mainly on the right channel and music mainly on the left. Switch from that to "Drive my car" on Rubber Soul and I was struck by the apparent difference in volume which caused me to turn the it up!

    However, despite this, I can hear the vocals clearly enough. A couple of things though - a long shot - the headphones are fully plugged in aren't they? Sometimes, when not fully plugged in, you can hear reduced vocals, although that's was not what actually happened on these tracks when I tried it. Also, have you tried the headphones in another device recently, to make sure that it's not a broken headphone lead.

    Listening to "Michelle" (from Rubber Soul) now, and what leaps out at me is the weakness of the vocal on this track, even a sort of unnatural warbling in the voice - a sort of distortion. In fact, I've just listened to it again, followed by "In My Life" (yes, I'm on shuffle) and once again I'm struck by how weak the Michelle vocals sound and how low the volume is. This brings me to another point. I don't know how old you are, but if you're a fair bit younger than me (52), you may be surprised to find that such old recordings do sound very inferior to modern recordings. This is a limitation of the technology at the time which CDs have made very obvious. (But the music's so good! )

    I realise that I haven't said anything conclusive, only my opinion. Perhaps it is simply that you are expecting more of these albums (technically) than they are able to deliver. It's hard to quantify without knowing what other music you listen to (i.e. its technical standard) and also without a face-to-face comparison between the two of us, both our iPods and several pairs of headphones.

  • the fiend Level 5 Level 5 (7,860 points)
    Very late last night I decided to try some of those songs again, but with different headphones. What a difference!

    Originally, I was using Sony in-ear headphones which have a better sound quality than many others of that size that I have used. However, I then tried Bose on-ear headphones and "Michelle" in particular sounded much better.... so much better. In fact, getting better all the time. (Yes, pun intended! )

    I still believe though, that the difference in sound quality (that I experienced) is due in part to the age of the original recording and the technique that was used to mix it and also to the headphones I was using. Could this explain any of the distortion that you heard?

  • GLNHP Level 3 Level 3 (850 points)
    You might want to try re-ripping the albums after changing the stereo mode setting from "Joint" to "Normal". Given the fiend's comments about the stereo experimentation employed, particularly on Rubber Soul, this may help.
  • jjmb58 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    All: thanks for your responses. First of all: the issue seems very specific to those two Beatle albums and occurrs regardless of whether I play back through whatever headphones or home- or car-hifi system. Again, none of the other 1000 albums (majority classical) seem to be affected by it. And I plugged in my old 80 GB iPod and both albums play back fine from that one. So it appears to be very specifically related to my recently acquired 120 GB iPod Classic. Which, I've noticed, also seems to be more sensitive to interference from other electronic equipment (e.g. cell phone) than previous models, but I'm not sure if that's got anything to do with it. I'll try re-ripping the albums with different settings and see what that does. More later.
  • jjmb58 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Hmmm, interesting magical mystery tour. I re-ripped using the following import settings:
    - AAC encoder
    - "iTunes Plus" w/ error correction
    After transferring to my iPod that seems to have solved the problem. Although the vocals on Rubber Soul remain rather weakish.