iPhone 4 as an iPod (sound quality)

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by splashnader, Jun 25, 2010.

  1. splashnader macrumors 6502a


    Jul 1, 2008
    Via Satellite
    I am at a loss. The sound quality of the iPod player on the new iphone is nowhere near the same quality as that on my 3Gs or even my iPad. The max volume on the iPhone 4 is not as loud as that on the 3Gs and the songs also seem to lose their crispness and bass response. No matter what I do, in terms of playing with the EQ settings, the sound quality is way off.

    I have double checked all my settings in iTunes preference. Everything seems to be set correctly. I have made sure that the higher bit rate songs are not being downgraded to 128KBPS during sync.

    I use the same headphones each time, Bowers & Wilkins P5. When I plug the headphones into my 3GS and listen to my music the sound is awesome. High quality, lots of bass. Then I take my headphones and plug them into the iPhone 4 and the loudness is almost cut in half. The bass response is gone, even when I change the EQ to bass booster it doesn't matter. Turning the EQ off does nothing to help.

    I am not talking about a small change either. It is literally night and day difference in performance, going from the 3GS and iPad to the new iPhone.

    This post is not meant to be another "The iPhone 4 is defective" thread. I just want to see if anyone else is experiencing the same issues. I have not ruled out that my iPhone 4 may be defective in this area. Obviously if no one else notices a change in sound quality on their new iPhone then I must either be doing something wrong or I have a bad iPhone that needs to be replaced. The funny thing is that in all the professional reviews that I have read, this issue has not been brought up. So maybe I am doing something wrong. Though, for the life of me, I can't seem to figure out what.

    After hearing how good my music sounds on the iPad, I was really hopeful of seeing at least the same performance in the new iPhone. Is there a setting in iTunes that i need to check. This is really getting annoying.
  2. alee macrumors 6502

    Jul 13, 2008
    New York, NY
    Both the iPad and the iPhone are using the Cirrus Logic 338S0589 for the audio DAC. I could understand if you were comparing an older iPod to the iPhone 4 - in my opinion, the Wolfson DAC used in the older dedicated iPod players were significantly better sounding.

    Unless there's a defect, could just be how the software is utilizing the DAC.
  3. Raikun macrumors regular

    Apr 8, 2008
    Maybe you USA people have got what us UK and Euro people have had for a while in iPods - volume limited by hardware/firmware. FCC etc guidelines (EU guidelines in our case) means our devices can't go over a certain volume.
  4. splashnader thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jul 1, 2008
    Via Satellite
    I may stop by Apple store and see if they can tell what the problem might be. It's either defective or there is something very obvious that I have missed.
  5. hazeydavey macrumors regular

    Jun 15, 2010
    Noticed this last night at the gym...thought it was me.

    Went home and listened to the same song on ipod and iphone....same headphones. Huge difference in sound quality. Ipod way better.
  6. doegerle macrumors newbie

    Jul 11, 2008
    Sound quality is noticeably better than my 3G. Same headphones were used.
  7. iD4V3 macrumors member


    Mar 26, 2010
    I personally think my iPhone 4 is doing a better job than my old 30gb video!
  8. Krafty macrumors 601


    Dec 31, 2007
    La La Land
    I noticed that the sound of the iPhone 4 is lower than usual, or what I would have thought, but I dont listen to music too much on it. If so, I use the apple earbuds for occasional listening at lower volumes.

    I use my iPod Classic with earphones for all my music since its a lot louder than then the i4 and 3GS' that I've used.

    Still, since I dont use it to listen to music (unless its through the speaker), I dont think I'll worry about it but let us know if you find out something about it.
  9. c5ride macrumors member

    Jun 19, 2010
    Hey OP,

    I can say that for me sound quality is the same (using Klipsch Image X10's)

    However, the max volume is much lower, and I think it might be an IOS4 issue and not the Iphone 4 because I upgraded to the new OS on my 3GS before I got the 4 and noticed the volume issue with my 3GS that never had a problem before.
  10. bhattsan macrumors member

    Jun 16, 2010
    I have not noticed a quality loss and I have some decent high end IEM's (headdirect re0's).
  11. Macjames macrumors 6502a

    Dec 12, 2007
    Yorkshire, England
    All my music is lossless and I have some expensive Shure headphones too, and after much scrutiny of an orchestral track (ending theme to Final Fantasy 10) I can say the iPhone 4 feels slightly, and I mean slightly, lower quality compared to the iPad. Still bloody good though!
  12. SonGoku v2.5 macrumors member

    Apr 11, 2010
    I wonder if this is software related, because if you check my post history, I was voicing these same complaints when I used the iOS4.0 GM a few weeks back on my 3GS. No one else seemed to notice, but I felt that the volume was a bit lower compared to while I was on 3.1.3 as well as compared to my 2008 iPod Touch.

    Good to see I'm not crazy, but I hope this is resolved through a quick update as soon as possible.

    BTW, I use Sony MDR-V700DJ cans.
  13. TEZMANIAC777 macrumors newbie

    Jun 9, 2010
    So far, I've only found two things, that are what I'd call a set back. It is true that the volume is definitely lower on the iPhone 4 than either of the previous iPhones. I thought it was the settings at first, but I have them all set the same. The other issue has to do with Bluetooth headsets. Apparently the the new firmware has disabled the ability to control the play/pause action on the Motorola SD-9 HDs. My Jaybird Freedom 200s still work, but the SDs will only control the volume. Hopefully Apple will catch these problems and rush a fix for them.
  14. sarcosis macrumors 6502a

    Apr 25, 2006
    These United States
    I think the audio sounds largely the same as my wife's iPod Touch 2G with the lossless stuff that I have. It doesn't sound better than my iPod 5G (Still the best sounding iPod i have), but none of the iPods beats my Zune HD. That sucker still sounds the best for my lossless needs.
  15. splashnader thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jul 1, 2008
    Via Satellite
    It may be a software issue. I did not upgrade to 4.0 on my 3GS. I may look at transferring my music to an iPod nano, at least for the time being.
  16. MiamiBourne macrumors regular

    Jan 26, 2009
    iOS 4 Update on 3g and iPhone 4

    I noticed a volume difference on my 3g after the iOS 4 update. I just got the new iPhone 4 and it's also playing on a lower volume then before when using the Loudness preset. Then I turned the EQ off and noticed music was louder...before I believe using the presets made the volume louder...at least for Loudness preset, now it seems using the presets makes the volume lower.


    People at the head-fi forum (above thread) seem to think this has 'fixed' the issue.
  17. WillThePlank macrumors member


    Nov 11, 2008
    A small town in Suffolk in the UK

    I noticed an issue with the EQ's in IOS4 and so did my dad! They've changed some of the settings on them for the worst it seems.

    Also regarding the iPhone 4 vs 3Gs. I sat my 3Gs and my fathers iPhone 4 side by side and listened to the same identical files on each phone through a set of bose quiet comfort headphones and I noticed a slight volume drop on the iPhone 4 compared to the 3Gs.

    It also seems that the sound quality of the iPhone 4 is better in certain curcumstances, There appears to me to be more of a punchy bass sound on kick drums and it's a little warmer. So to sum it up some of the harshness from the mids I experienced on the 3Gs have gone. Me and my dad notice straight away when we played something on the iPhone 4 it sounded punchier and warmer.

    Just my opinion but hey what do I know as a trained studio engineer who works with audio for a living :p

    What I will do is record the output from both devices on my computer and analize the recorded sound within logic pro and cubase to see exactly what frequences differ on what devices and I will get back to you.
  18. Nautigar macrumors regular

    Oct 4, 2007
  19. Nautigar macrumors regular

    Oct 4, 2007
  20. gmikesell macrumors regular

    Aug 31, 2009
    I tend to agree with splash...

    I also thought it was just me but there is definate sound degradation with my iP4. My 3GS sounded much richer, in my opinion. With my iP4, the bass response is just not as good no matter how I try to tweak the sound. I'm really hoping the next OS update addresses this!
  21. TroyBoy30 macrumors 68020


    Jun 9, 2009
    Atlanta GA
    my 4 sounds the same as my 3gs to me. both sound great on my moto s9 hd's
  22. jblock macrumors regular

    Jan 4, 2006
    I've definitely noticed a difference when using the Bass Booster EQ setting on the new iPhone. The volume certainly lowers, but many songs used to distort with the apple earbuds using this setting so I'm figuring it was an intentional change.
  23. SeanU macrumors member

    Feb 2, 2009
    Liking what i hear

    Compared to my 3G and using Sennhieser PX 100's I like what I hear with the EQ off. The sound seems warmer, "fuller" and as others have noticed more bottom. I do think they are cheating though. With the EQ off on the older phone the sound was much flatter and natural... now the sound seems "enhanced" which my not be to everyone's taste.
  24. gloss macrumors 601


    May 9, 2006
    I feel like the iP4 sounds cleaner, clearer and more defined than I remember my 3GS sounding, but maybe it's in my head. I don't use EQ.
  25. Bodhi395 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2008
    I agree, although again it might all be in our heads. I definitely don't think its any worse than previous iPhones. It sounds really good through both my headphones and my car stereo.

    I also haven't noticed it being softer, although I don't listen to it anywhere near the top volume level. How many people really need to listen to music on the highest volume? That will most likely cause damage to your hearing, so you shouldn't keep it too loud anyway.

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