I have the same problem with not being able to hear the voices in the music, just the music. I can hold the headphone cord in just the right position and it will work great, but when I am working out at the gym, it is hard to only use one hand to lift weights. What is wrong with this thing!
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It sounds like it's definitely a problem with your iPod. . . Sometimes the connectors on the inside of the unit can go bad. I've not heard now this can be fixed though. I would try calling apple and seeing it the unit is still under warranty.
I am not familiar with this particular player, but this problem is usually caused by the headphone socket ground connection,
If the ground connection is lost then the right channel grounds through the left and vice versa.
If you can dismantle the player, check and re-solder the headphone connections. If this doesn't work solder a thin wire to a ground point on the PCB, then touch this to each connection of the socket in turn until the sound is restored. Solder the wire to this connection, and re-assemble the player.
WARNING : make sure that you have made the connection to ground. A live connection could damage the player.
The bad news is that your headphone jack is most likely shot. The soldered connections inside are most likely broken. This is not repairable generally, at least not for a cost that would be reasonable. Music will play through your computer because it can be read off your player through the USB connection.
Use it as a data storage drive and buy a new one, or a used one. I've seen used T30s on Amazon for around $30 to $40.
Found your question due to having the exact problem you described. New firmware, format... loaded new music, same problem. While switching to yet another set of headphones the sound got better momentarily. The case doesn't appear loose, but squeeze right next to the lcd and lyra name and the audio was fixed. For some reason the audio was mechanical sounding and the voice was almost non-existant unless pressure was placed on the player where described. I tightened the screw in the retaining strap hole and the one under the USB connector flap and all is well for now. Good Luck!!!!