I have an iPod Touch (4gen), and I listen to a lot of vocal music and spoken-word audio.

Sometime in the past week or so, voice became really hard to hear. When I play music, it sounds like it's been turned into an instrumental. When I play spoken voice, it sounds like the Peanuts teacher.

If I turn up the volume to the max, I can hear the voices fine, but then the low-frequency music is overwhelming, so that's not an option.

Is there some equalizer setting (I didn't think the iPod Touch had these but I could be wrong) that I could have screwed up to make this happen?


I'm suspecting a hardware issue. I've not mistreated it, but I've found that with some headphones, if I rotate the plug in just the right way, the vocals come back just fine. I'm not sure how an audio jack can be plugged in and receive non-vocal sound but not vocal sound, but that's what it sounds like. I'll take it by an Apple Store and see if they can do anything. The audio jack is certainly the weakest part of the iPod these days, so it's not entirely surprising that it's the first thing to go.

6 Answers 6


There is in fact an equalizer setting on the iPod touch. Go to Settings -> Music -> EQ to get a list of all of the different equalizer settings. The best choices for you are probably "Off", "Spoken Word," or "Vocal Booster." If your problem continues, feel free to leave me a comment.

  • Ah! Mine was set to "Off" (unsurprising, since I didn't know it existed). I tried "Spoken Word" and "Vocal Booster" and there's a slight difference but it's not really any easier to understand what's being said. I don't think that changed in the past week, either.
    – Ken
    Commented Jan 20, 2012 at 21:24
  • Are you using headphones? Speakers? Does the problem persist with a different output device?
    – jaberg
    Commented Jan 20, 2012 at 21:35
  • jaberg: I've used 3 different pairs of headphones, including a nice hi-fi pair, and an Apple iPod pair. They all have different aspects of the sound that they accentuate, but speech is virtually unlistenable with all of them.
    – Ken
    Commented Jan 20, 2012 at 21:43

Squeeze the phone right above the headphone jack. If this works, you have a bad connection in the internal jack. It could be from lint, or a damaged internal connector. The connection is not being made soundly against the jack, and squeezing the phone, forces the physical connection.

Repair may be as easy as cleaning out the jack, or using compressed air, but it also may require taking the phone apart and adjusting the connection pins.


The problem with listening to vocals that you are experiencing, in light of the fact that you've diagnosed a problem with the wiring of the headphone jack, probably means that you are experiencing phase-cancellation effects because the left and right stereo signals are no longer properly separated. Certain components of the sound in a stereo mix will cancel each other out if the two separate signals are electronically combined, or "summed to mono" in the parlance of sound engineers.


I had a similar issue. Yesterday the vocals were fine! Today the voices sound ethereal and far away...so far away. I tried the equalizer options which work great for the instruments, but didn't fix the voice. Ultimately the rotating of the headphone plug brought the voices back to good! It's all about finding the sweet spot.


Rotating the headphone plug--so simple; solved the problem for me. Good to try the simple solutions first.


If u don't have Dr. Dre head phones skip this. So I haved that problem. So when I read u have to mess with u head phone jack. The head phone jack that goes into the head phones is the problem. Listen to your most vocal word song and pull out the jack while listening and slowly put it back in while a song is running and the headphones are on. As u put them on u will hear the song in one side and then the other and right after that u will hear perfectly in both with word and ever thing. But don't put the jack all the in because if u do the problem will happen again

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