Certain MP3s won't play on iPhone


macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 10, 2007
Hey all,

I love my new iPhone, and it worked almost perfectly for what I need out of the box (and after the sync with my G4 of course)! However, I do have this one nagging problem.

A lot of the MP3s in my music library won't play on the iPhone's "iPod" mode. It will show the play time counting down, but after about 5 or 6 seconds of silence it will just jump to the next song. I have noticed that this never happens on CDs that I ripped myself, or on songs I've obtained recently. It mostly happens on files that are a few years old and of... let's say "undocumented"... origin. I don't have any problems with these files on iTunes for OSX.

The encoding I have used to get MP3s I have ripped (and are confirmed to play on my iPhone) was done by SoundJam, iTunes and LAME. I have never owned an iPod, so is this a known issue that some kinds of encoding won't work on Apple devices? Also, is there a way I can have iTunes scan my entire library, and give my "undocumented files" some sort of amnesty by re-encoding them? :p

Your thoughts would be appreciated.


macrumors 6502a
Sep 30, 2005
Green Bay, WI
You can convert each via iTunes to whatever it set as the import setting in the preferences. But I know of no way within iTunes to locate the files. Unless for sure they are older, you could convert them all based on date added.


macrumors 6502
Jul 1, 2007
when i was at the genius bar recently, the geniuses told more than one person not to use "undocumented" mp3s on their ipods. one of them even said it could "corrupt" the ipod. I dont exactly see how that could be true but you never know.

but rather than doing a reconvert, i would first try editing the tags on your mp3s to get rid of extraneous info and i would also rename the mp3s to something simple. if these dont work then i would convert


macrumors newbie
Jun 25, 2007
Are they encoded in variable bit rate?

I read somewhere that the iPhone doesn't like VBR (variable bit rate) encoded mp3s or AACs. Maybe that's the problem.


macrumors newbie
Jun 23, 2009
I had this problem, as well. The song plays for a few seconds, then a little trill plays and it skips to another song. Some songs play in full, but all of the songs I've purchased recently won't play. Here's the thing, though: I purchased most of these songs *from my phone*. They worked for a while, and then I synced my phone with a new iTunes on a new computer, and now they won't work.


macrumors newbie
Jul 16, 2009
Possible solution


I've been having problems moving my mp3s onto my new iphone 3gs. After hours of headscratching and looking at forums I struck upon a solution and so far it works.

By the looks of it, certain encoding incarnations for MP3s don't like the iphone. The long but simple-ish solution is to download Media Monkey (I'm using the latest free version) and find your music on there and then select it (track, artist, album, or the whole lot if you've got the time) and click 'Tools' then 'Convert Audio Format' or similar. This then comes up with conversion options. I selected the 'High Quality +' preset with is 192kbps constant rate encoding.

Set it to work, then empty your itunes library and refill it with the newly encoded mp3s. Resync your iphone and the problem should be solved.

Let me know if this doesn't solve your particular problem and I'll try to help.


macrumors newbie
Oct 27, 2009
..I seem to be having this problem, as well. Accept mine will not even play the beginning of the song. I go through the process as if i were going to listen to the song, but when it goes to play, it stops, and goes back one step. I bought the song off of iTunes, too, so I don't know what the problem could be.


macrumors newbie
May 18, 2010


macrumors newbie
Feb 5, 2012
I've had the same problem. All I did was create an AAC Version and added them to my iPhone 3GS.

Hope this helps :)