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ohfourohnine
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The iPod as an audiophile source

How good can the iPod get? Try loading it with RedBook stuff of your choosing, running Analysis Plus iPod interconnect to a Musical Fidelity X-Can v3, and connecting Sennheiser 600's fitted with Cardas cables. Probably won't compete with your main system, but it's the best second system I've come up with in forty years of listening.

ampnut
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Re: The iPod as an audiophile source

I remain skeptical

ohfourohnine
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Re: The iPod as an audiophile source

I don't recommend any so-called lossless compression systems. I can get over twenty-four hours of music on my iPod at 16/44.1 and never use any other format. As for measurements. I'm a little surprized JA hasn't gone that route. As I recall, he has come out as an iPod user - at least on the subway -and he generally seems to measure whatever he gets his hands on.

Editor
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Re: The iPod as an audiophile source


Quote:
I don't recommend any so-called lossless compression systems. I can get over twenty-four hours of music on my iPod at 16/44.1 and never use any other format. As for measurements. I'm a little surprized JA hasn't gone that route. As I recall, he has come out as an iPod user - at least on the subway -and he generally seems to measure whatever he gets his hands on.

I reported a while back in the magazine that I had done file comparisons between AIF files and Apple Lossless Compression files and had found the latter to produce bit-identical versions of the data. If the files are bit-identical, then measurements such as spectral analyses will also be identical, unless the codec in the iPod is not behaving correctly.

Regarding lossy compression schemes I have done quite a lot measurements, though the only ones to be published in the magazine were 10 years ago: see http://www.stereophile.com/reference/456. In general, MP3 at 128kbps performs worse than any of the codecs we examined in this 1995 report.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

cew65w
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Re: The iPod as an audiophile source

It's the old computer adage: garbage in, garbage out. Most iPods sold are in the 20gig size so it's more about quantity than quality of music. I have an 20gig iPod and I rarely use it as a music source on my system. I use 192k AAC which, to these ears, is the best compromise of audio quality and smaller file size.

Reed
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Re: The iPod as an audiophile source

Of course the iPod is not going to outperform the digital source of my main system.

The point is that this is the first portable device that uses a software storage method that is of true audiophile quality. Combine that with the iPOD itself and the iTunes concept and you have the beginning of a paradigm shift that will effect the entire music industry. It truely is a remarkable product.

Having said that, it will never replace my home system. It is only a matter of time, however, before audiophile music servers become a viable digital source. The ball is now rolling.......

carl valle
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Re: The iPod as an audiophile source

i have a 1gb device which will fit about 20 cds at 192 that i use on plane trips. The sound quality is quite good using those in the ear sealed earbuds.

ludwigvan968
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Re: The iPod as an audiophile source

I just bought a creative muvo2 5gb player, seems to get the job done on the headphones, I probably will not use it on my main system since I only listen to LP's on it anyway, but who knows... I do have party's from time to time... and since everyone is mentioning the compressions they use I try my best to use apple/wma lossless and WAV. Guess those aren't really compression:). Anyone else only use uncompressed?

Hope everyone is having a good one!

Matrixhifi
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Re: The iPod as an audiophile source

[quote
In general, MP3 at 128kbps performs worse than any of the codecs we examined in this 1995 report.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

It is true, but what happens when the compression is of more quality, 196 kbps, for example?

Regards

Alf

Buddha
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Re: The iPod as an audiophile source

Conspiracy theorist here:

I am convinced that these devices or coding schemes do something to the midrange phase that alters the sound in the areas where most vocals occur.

My belief is that the coders found out that if they bring vocals more prominenelty into the mix, or give an impression of "space" around the vocals, or do whatever trickery they do, that we will be seduced by this vocal "magic" and forgive the other shortcomings.

Has anyone noticed what seems to be a pronounced massaging in that area of the sound spectrum on these devices?

Then again, I could be wrong. I thought Oswald acted alone!

Scrith
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Re: The iPod as an audiophile source

The iPod will be an audiophile source when it has digital output (when combined with lossless compression and carefully-ripped music files).

ohfourohnine
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Re: The iPod as an audiophile source


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The iPod will be an audiophile source when it has digital output (when combined with lossless compression and carefully-ripped music files).

I'd sure love it, but the Supreme Court has probably made that one an impossible dream. In the meantime, the iPod has a pretty decent DAC, not better than my main system player, but better than most CD players had five years ago.

arnyk
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Re: The iPod as an audiophile source

>What I find more interesting is how the output stages perform. Few purchase and carry a portable earphone amplifier with their DAP.

>http://home.comcast.net/~machrone/playertest/playertest.htm

These tests show that the players have bass roll-off due to coupling capacitors. As presented, its hard to say whether its signficant compared to the bass roll-offs in the headphones or earphones that are commonly used with them.

arnyk
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Re: The iPod as an audiophile source

>I am convinced that these devices or coding schemes do something to the midrange phase that alters the sound in the areas where most vocals occur.

The most suspect part of these devices is the headphones or earphones they are commonly used with.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: The iPod as an audiophile source

I have my 20 gig U2 model loaded with 20+ hours of CD redbook files and through my Grado's this is pretty magical for this much portability and fun. I find very little diff between the IPod and my portable Sony Discman (I own 3), but for shear convenience the IPod is a huge no brainer. I bet it would be tons of fun through JA's he-man rig and the Wilson Max.

With the smaller version I saw advertised last night on the tube, can a postage stamp model be far behind? Being an audiophile does not mean you have to throw out fun and portability. Even if it might not be Class A it is still enjoyable. I do need to buy the Entymotics or the Shure Earbuds. Why is there always something to buy with this hobby?

kana813
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Re: The iPod as an audiophile source


Quote:

Quote:
The iPod will be an audiophile source when it has digital output (when combined with lossless compression and carefully-ripped music files).

I'd sure love it, but the Supreme Court has probably made that one an impossible dream. In the meantime, the iPod has a pretty decent DAC, not better than my main system player, but better than most CD players had five years ago.

You can have a digital output off your PC, why couldn't the iPod be equipped with one? Doesn't one of the iRiver units
have a digital output?

ohfourohnine
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Re: The iPod as an audiophile source

Since the folks at Apple has been pretty careful about digital rights so far, I'm supposing they'll continue to be. Can't be accused of contributing to theft of rights.

DanFrakes
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Re: The iPod as an audiophile source


Quote:
How good can the iPod get? Try loading it with RedBook stuff of your choosing, running Analysis Plus iPod interconnect to a Musical Fidelity X-Can v3, and connecting Sennheiser 600's fitted with Cardas cables. Probably won't compete with your main system, but it's the best second system I've come up with in forty years of listening.

Part of my job is to write about digital music, so I'm lucky enough to have a good number of iPods. Based on my experience, I can tell you this: The iPod is an impressive audio source given its size and relative price. Up to a certain point -- effectively beyond the reach of many consumers -- an iPod can sound as good as the music files on it and the equipment connected to it. For example, in my home headphone system, I have a HeadRoom Max and a number of "high-end" headphones (Sennheiser HD 650, Grado RS-1, and a few others). I've also got a full-size iPod that's filled entirely with classical and jazz ripped in Apple Lossless format. I connect it to the Max via the iPod's dock connector port, which provides a line-level output. (The Max is likely overkill here, but it's my only "home" headphone amp ) The iPod may not sound as good as our SACD player, but it's pretty darned good and way beyond what most "average Joes" have ever heard. Similarly, when I'm on the road and concerned about sound quality, I bring along a HeadRoom Total BitHead, which I find significantly improves the experience, especially with quality headphones. I've impressed many a fellow traveler with the audio quality of this portable system.

(One flaw I've seen pointed out -- at least, various sites have presented measurements asserting this -- is that the iPod's headphone jack has a slight anomaly in the bass region with headphone of certain impedances.)

At the same time, although I think the iPod can indeed be a quality source, it's mainly people such as Stereophile readers who will appreciate it as such Most people simply don't have the equipment, or bother to create the music files, to push the iPod to its limits. Heck, even I don't take advantage of the iPod's potential all the time. For example, most of my rock, R&B, and other genres that aren't known for stellar production reside on full-size iPods in AAC format, generally at 160 kbps. I use these mainly for travel and in the car -- environments in which background noise or other distractions are significant enough that I'm not really going to notice the lower quality, even with higher-end canalphones such as Ultimate Ears, Shure, or Etymotics. And when I'm doing something active, I use one of the smaller iPods filled with music ripped at 128 - 160 kbps AAC. I'm generally listening to this music at the gym or while running or biking, so ultimate audio quality isn't a priority, and I can fit more music onto smaller-capacity players by using lower bitrates. I suspect that these are the types of activities for which most iPods are used, and that most iPod users are more concerned with fitting all their music on their iPod than with higher-quality bitrates and file formats.

OK, so that was more than I expected to write Sorry for the long-winded response.

Don T
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Re: The iPod as an audiophile source

I tried using an iPod as a source into my main system with ok results. I recorded a CD using a Sony CD recorder, imported the WAV file into iTunes and loaded it onto the iPod. I then connected the iPod into my main system - directly and through the docking station. The CDP was a Pioneer DV45i. Direct comparisons between the iPod and the CDP revealled the CDP as providing a more incisive, powerful and energetic presentation. I consider the DV45i not bad for the money when it comes to redbook reproduction so this doesn't, IMO, say much about the quality of the iPod.

I like iTunes, and there's nothing to lead me to believe the iPod can't accurately transport digital files. But because the iPod does not give a digital output it's really not competitive with better less costly RBCDs. I'd rather burn the CD at the computer and play it back through my selected CDP or CDP/DAC in the main system. If the iPod came with a digital output I could use it as an input to a DAC of my choice in the main systems.

But it still wouldn't make a whole lot of sense - as the only source of WAV and/or lossless music files comes from my main system in the first place. Why take the time to record FM broadcasts, CDs or vinyl records using a CDR, storing it on a computer, copying it to an iPod and then playing it back through the main. Seems like alot of extra work when the recorded CD will be work just fine.

ITunes is a really cool way to manage songs, including creating CDs, but for me the iPod itself isn't worth the extra work and not even close to being a reasonable source in a high quality audio system.

ohfourohnine
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Re: The iPod as an audiophile source

I'm not so sure that only a few purchase and carry a portable headphone amp with their iPods. The Headroom Total Airhead sticks to the back of the iPod with velcro dots and produces some very tasty sound through Shure E3C's. The little amp makes a big difference - easily worth carrying the small amount of extra bulk when traveling etc.

hedgehog
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Re: The iPod as an audiophile source

Interestingly enough, the headphone socket of what is apparently the most sonically inferior to date iPod (the Photo) performs better in practically every way (including the now oft-quoted falloff) than the same socket on the "legendary" Sony D-555 Discman. I wonder really how many people who decry the iPod's 'bad' sound quality would have spoken out as such before RMAA and not being able to interpret past the first graph. A bendy frequency response chart alone needn't mean crappy sound Out of the Line out, the iPod is flat so falloff considerations don't matter.

At the moment, the 4G monochrome iPod is probably the sweet spot as an mobile audiophile source, unless they address certain issues with the Photo for the fifth generation. If you cart around a DAC/amp, then potentially the digital out equipped iRiver might be better, but it's not as flexible a listening platform as the iPod if you have a large library and lossless support is not implemented natively. I personally found the H1xx's digital output somewhat odd to the level that I would prefer to use the iPod with just a good amp. But the fact that you can do it will inevitably cause people to say DACing the iRiver would be more audiophile. I disagree on the basis of practicality and my own results.

Is the iPod a mobile audiophile source? Compared to what else is around now, yes it is... especially when amped. I use an iAudio X5 at the moment. I guess I'm more geek than audiophile!

kana813
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Re: The iPod as an audiophile source


Quote:

At the moment, the 4G monochrome iPod is probably the sweet spot as an mobile audiophile source, unless they address certain issues with the Photo for the fifth generation. If you cart around a DAC/amp, then potentially the digital out equipped iRiver might be better, but it's not as flexible a listening platform as the iPod if you have a large library and lossless support is not implemented natively. I personally found the H1xx's digital output somewhat odd to the level that I would prefer to use the iPod with just a good amp. But the fact that you can do it will inevitably cause people to say DACing the iRiver would be more audiophile. I disagree on the basis of practicality and my own results.

Is the iPod a mobile audiophile source? Compared to what else is around now, yes it is... especially when amped. I use an iAudio X5 at the moment. I guess I'm more geek than audiophile!

What DAC did you have iriver connected to?

parnlyp
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Re: The iPod as an audiophile source

I've got a 40gb iPod on which I store about 80 CD's. This is uncompressed AIF files if I remember correctly. When not connect to my Grado's, I run the iPod into the main system through the docking station. It's an outstanding jukebox.

I also have the main rig connected to my PC. I run a digital signal out a USB port into my Pro HiFi Link. This little box has RCA outputs that I run to my Theta DAC. All the music on the PC is also uncompressed.

Hard drives still cost a fair amount when your dealing with uncompressed files. There's another issue as well. Given the amount of time involved with creating a PC music library, there is a real need to have mirrored backups that doubles your storage costs.

It's fun though to listen to what comes out of the system when you have a 10,000 song random shuffled jukebox. playing.

hedgehog
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Re: The iPod as an audiophile source

Musical Fidelity Trivista, Cambridge Audio S700, Audio-Technica ATH-D1000.

Audionirvana
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Re: The iPod as an audiophile source

I seen some digital modifications to iPods, not sure if it makes them sound any better, I guess that could depend on what your hooking it up too. As far as the iPod being a Audiophile source that is still debatable. I have a pretty decent High End System and I took my iPod Video and burned some songs using Apple Lossless, and I have to admit it sounds damn good, but it sure takes up a ton more space on your iPod. Also the spinning hardrive you should pick up some noise from that but it is minimal, I did the samething with a Nano using the same songs and it sounded a tad better using the iPod with Flash memory, who knows. I am currently using a new iMac as a music server using Apple Lossless and I must say it is very difficult to tell the differences, have about 800 CDs recorded using iTunes which I can access throughout my house, so far works like a charm.

System:
Dynaudio Confidence C2s
Musical Fidelity KW 500
Jolida JD 100

Looking for a good CD/SACD Player open to suggestions

Anthony Tam
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Re: The iPod as an audiophile source

If MF hasn't discontinued the kW SACD, perhaps that unit?

Jeff Wong
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Re: The iPod as an audiophile source

This is fascinating. If you do this, please document with photos, step by step.

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