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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Consumer Hardware & Components > iPod has superior competition when it comes to sound quality

iPod has superior competition when it comes to sound quality
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dantley
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Mar 15, 2004, 04:12 AM
 
I recently purchased a iRiver iHP-120 for recording XM Radio since it has a line in. I thought it was inferior to the iPod in every other aspect. After using the the iHP-120 for the last two weeks I can say that it is vastly superior to the iPod in terms of sound quality. The design is a matter of preference, I like the black techy look, but feel the iPod is better designed and has a better user interface. The remote is superior because it has a lcd screen. The iHP will last for about 16 hours on a single charge. I connected it to my G5 and was able to transfer files over without any problems. Music downloaded from iTunes music store won't work however. The iHP doesn't support AAC files, but does support just about every other file type, including OOG. The FM radio is actually pretty good.

For those looking for an alternative to the iPod, look no further than the iHP-120. It doesn't look as cool as the iPod and has some quarky user interface issues, but for the geeks who want superior audio quality and lots of features, the iHP-120 is worthy of a look.

Here is a picture of the iHP-120, iPod, and iPod mini that i took.

http://homepage.mac.com/dantley/.Pic...w/IMG_0995.jpg

http://homepage.mac.com/dantley/.Pic...w/IMG_0997.jpg

http://homepage.mac.com/dantley/.Pic...w/IMG_1003.jpg

[tooki says: those images were WAY too big to put inline!]
( Last edited by tooki; Mar 15, 2004 at 01:24 PM. )
     
schuey100
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Mar 15, 2004, 06:09 AM
 
I have to say it looks horrible. Really horrible.

BTW, what do you mean by 'superior sound quality'? How have you measured it?
     
Allenzi35
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Mar 15, 2004, 09:01 AM
 
I must say that I have to agree. I have never heard the iriver, but when I first got my ipod, I almost cried when I heard the sound from it. I almost thought that it was defective until i went to the Apple store and heard another one.

My cd walkman from 1994 has deeper fuller sound than this $500 mp3 player. I know everyone will run to ipod's defence and blame the headphones and while I will agree to an extent, you cannot soley blame the headphones.

Whatever it is, bottom line is, I just spent $500 on a mp3 player that "out of the box" does not sound NEAR as good as it should compared to most others on the market. Think about it, you just paid $500 for this thing and now have to spend another $100-200 just to get decent sound from it (new headphones)

ps. now I noticed that all of the ipods at the Apple store have Bose headphones attached to them. If thats not bait and switch then I don't know what is. PPL will listen to it at the store and say "wow this sounds nice" then buy it and get it home and realize that it was the headphones that sounded nice.
     
schuey100
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Mar 15, 2004, 09:03 AM
 
I'm intrigued by this. What do you mean by it doesn't sound as good? Can you define it? I guess it's difficult when trying to talk about sound quality and MP3 anyway as MP3 is awfull but I'd like to know in what way other MP3 players sound better?
     
schuey100
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Mar 15, 2004, 09:04 AM
 
Originally posted by Allenzi35:
I must say that I have to agree. I have never heard the iriver, but when I first got my ipod, I almost cried when I heard the sound from it. I almost thought that it was defective until i went to the Apple store and heard another one.

My cd walkman from 1994 has deeper fuller sound than this $500 mp3 player. I know everyone will run to ipod's defence and blame the headphones and while I will agree to an extent, you cannot soley blame the headphones.

Whatever it is, bottom line is, I just spent $500 on a mp3 player that "out of the box" does not sound NEAR as good as it should compared to most others on the market. Think about it, you just paid $500 for this thing and now have to spend another $100-200 just to get decent sound from it (new headphones)

ps. now I noticed that all of the ipods at the Apple store have Bose headphones attached to them. If thats not bait and switch then I don't know what is. PPL will listen to it at the store and say "wow this sounds nice" then buy it and get it home and realize that it was the headphones that sounded nice.
Hang on, of course your CD walkman will sound better, you're listening to CD quality audio. MP3 will sound awfull in comparison.
     
Allenzi35
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Mar 15, 2004, 09:54 AM
 
Originally posted by schuey100:
Hang on, of course your CD walkman will sound better, you're listening to CD quality audio. MP3 will sound awfull in comparison.

Ok, then let me put it this way. Cd's that I make from the same mp3 files that I listen to on the ipod, sound better burned to a cd-r on the diskman than they do on the ipod.
     
schuey100
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Mar 15, 2004, 10:00 AM
 
Ok but what do you mean by 'better'? I produce music so I'm really interested in this. I haven't so far found any difference between the iPod or similar players (creative for eg) and that's through a reasonable monitoring system.

Also, do you find there to be a difference in quality from the direct outs from the Mac (iTunes) compared to the iPod?
     
Spheric Harlot
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Mar 15, 2004, 10:57 AM
 
1.) ignore the headphones that come with the iPod when comparing sonic quality. If you really cared, you wouldn't be using them anyway.

2.) if you don't have an idea of what "sounds better" means, you really shouldn't care. Don't worry about it. (Unless you "produce music", in which case I'd be very worried.)

3.) the 3G iPods apparently sound better than the earlier generations (I don't know, I haven't made the direct comparison).

4.) The old 20GB Rio brick sounded quite a bit better than the first gen iPod, but not enough to weigh up all the other iPod-ish goodness.

5.) "more bass" != "better sound". Quite the opposite, in most cases.

...
     
tooki
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Mar 15, 2004, 01:29 PM
 
Apple went out of its way to choose top-notch audio components for the iPod.

A lot of people who are accustomed to crappy, mega-bass-heavy sound from cheap devices WILL be disappointed when presented with a player that has balanced sound without distortion (well, beyond whatever distortion was introduced by the codec that saved the music file).

I won't believe you for a second that the iPod has inferior sound to a standard CD player.

And, by the way, did you compare devices using the SAME headphones or speakers, with all equalization, bass-boost, etc. off? That's the only way to make a fair comparison.

tooki
     
dantley  (op)
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Mar 15, 2004, 07:36 PM
 
I used the same headphones and speaker set up for both the iPod and iHP-120. The iHP sounded clearer, louder, with richer mid range.
     
zigzag
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Mar 15, 2004, 08:03 PM
 
I would bet that any difference you're hearing is due to volume and/or EQ differences. I don't mean to blindly defend the iPod, I just don't see any technical reason for a difference unless your iPod files are really badly compressed.

To legitimately compare two similar electronic components, you need to have the gain set within 0.15 dB of each other. Otherwise, the difference in volume will make you think you're hearing qualitative differences that aren't really there. This is an old audio sales trick - raise the volume of the more expensive amp or CD player just a little bit and the customer will swear that it sounds better.
     
dantley  (op)
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Mar 16, 2004, 12:02 AM
 
Originally posted by zigzag:
I would bet that any difference you're hearing is due to volume and/or EQ differences. I don't mean to blindly defend the iPod, I just don't see any technical reason for a difference unless your iPod files are really badly compressed.

To legitimately compare two similar electronic components, you need to have the gain set within 0.15 dB of each other. Otherwise, the difference in volume will make you think you're hearing qualitative differences that aren't really there. This is an old audio sales trick - raise the volume of the more expensive amp or CD player just a little bit and the customer will swear that it sounds better.
I am using the same mp3 files on both players and have adjusted the volume on both. There are no EQ settings selected and the iHP-120 sounds better. I passed the device to my co-workers who all had iPods and they all immediately noticed the difference. One co-worker actually went on to state that his iPod sounds like s**t after hearing the same song/file on the iHP.

It seems there are many who responded to this post blindly defending the iPod (not saying you did), which doesn't surprise me. I did the same when the iHP was mentioned on different board. The point here is that there is an alternative to the iPod that has better sound quality and more features for the same price. The iPod has its weaknesses, every product does. I'm not saying the iHP is BETTER, but it outperforms in some catergories. The iPod is still the best integrated, easy to use, and best looking device on the market.
     
Cellery
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Mar 16, 2004, 10:46 AM
 
As far as the internal amps go, the iPod's outputs 60mW, while the iRiver does 40mW, which makes a big difference in the output of good clean sound, especially with higher-end headphones. Sound quality can be pretty subjective, as many have pointed out, with a lot of variables from machine to machine.
     
Spheric Harlot
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Mar 16, 2004, 11:01 AM
 
Originally posted by tooki:
Apple went out of its way to choose top-notch audio components for the iPod.

A lot of people who are accustomed to crappy, mega-bass-heavy sound from cheap devices WILL be disappointed when presented with a player that has balanced sound without distortion (well, beyond whatever distortion was introduced by the codec that saved the music file).
I agree with you on principle. The average joe "gimme-bass" Sony compact stereo listener is not the one to judge the sound quality of the iPod.

However, the comparison between the Rio brick and the original 5GB iPod was made by somebody whose primary system is a Linn Sondek turntable (with Lingo powersupply), Linn Majik-I amp, and Linn Keilidh speakers.

I would call him a discerning listener and very much doubt that he is distracted by the atrocious "Bass boost" hi-fi standard or the need for earth-shaking chunder-inducing stupidity woofers.

That said, he still bought the iPod. On the train, or in the car, the difference is close to irrelevant, anyway, and the iPod bonus is just too great to pass up.

-s*
     
zigzag
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Mar 16, 2004, 05:57 PM
 
Originally posted by dantley:
I am using the same mp3 files on both players and have adjusted the volume on both. There are no EQ settings selected and the iHP-120 sounds better. I passed the device to my co-workers who all had iPods and they all immediately noticed the difference. One co-worker actually went on to state that his iPod sounds like s**t after hearing the same song/file on the iHP.

It seems there are many who responded to this post blindly defending the iPod (not saying you did), which doesn't surprise me. I did the same when the iHP was mentioned on different board. The point here is that there is an alternative to the iPod that has better sound quality and more features for the same price. The iPod has its weaknesses, every product does. I'm not saying the iHP is BETTER, but it outperforms in some catergories. The iPod is still the best integrated, easy to use, and best looking device on the market.
I'd certainly be interested in learning the reason behind the difference. Not to argue with you, but I'd be curious to see a blind test - I don't generally trust non-blind comparisons. And like I said, if the gain isn't perfectly matched (and measured), the results can be deceiving (I'm assuming that neither device has Soundcheck activated). That said, maybe there's a difference in circuitry. Or the EQ of one or the other could be tweaked at the factory. Interesting.
     
saranwarp
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Mar 17, 2004, 12:33 AM
 
Hey, at least if you own an ugly mp3 player you don't have to worry about it getting a little banged up. I baby my iPod like nobody's business and sometimes I wonder if it's worth it. (But then I snap back into reality )
     
mdc
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Mar 17, 2004, 02:17 AM
 
your post is very interesting. maybe one day i will get a chance to hear the difference. but i'm no audophile, not in the least.

Originally posted by dantley:
. . . Music downloaded from iTunes music store won't work however . . .
this is a problem for me
     
paully dub
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Mar 17, 2004, 09:14 AM
 
Of course the problem with this is Apple has all these nice stores where they let you test the iPods before actually purchasing. Bring your own headphones, and if you like what you hear, buy one.

When I bought my iPod, either a lot of the other products weren't out yet or there was no way to test them since no one I knew had one. What's a guy to do?

The point is it's moot whether there is a *better* sounding product out there - I'm sure there always will be. The iPod sounds pretty good, and Apple goes the xtra mile to let us, the consumer test it before buying. I appreciate that.

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dantley  (op)
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Mar 17, 2004, 01:45 PM
 
Originally posted by paully dub:
Of course the problem with this is Apple has all these nice stores where they let you test the iPods before actually purchasing. Bring your own headphones, and if you like what you hear, buy one.

When I bought my iPod, either a lot of the other products weren't out yet or there was no way to test them since no one I knew had one. What's a guy to do?

The point is it's moot whether there is a *better* sounding product out there - I'm sure there always will be. The iPod sounds pretty good, and Apple goes the xtra mile to let us, the consumer test it before buying. I appreciate that.
The point isn't moot for people who are looking for alternatives to the iPod. I welcome competition as it'll force Apple to improve their products and lock down their quality issues. I've gone through a couple iPod minis that had a defective HD... very annoying.

I wouldn't call the iHP and ugly player, it is one of the best looking on the market, just not as well designed as the iPod. Regardless of how it looks, I'm not eager to bang up anything that cost me $300+.
     
John G. Stillmank
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Mar 17, 2004, 01:54 PM
 
Let's say for the sake of argument that iPod sound isn't the best (I'm not admitting that, but let's say). So that puts it in the same league as VHS vs. Beta and Windows vs. Mac OS - the crappier technology wins.

I don't believe this about the iPod, of course, but look at it that way if you do.

Personally I love everything about the iPod (maybe the battery should be excepted here) and am very happy with it.
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dantley  (op)
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Mar 17, 2004, 02:01 PM
 
Originally posted by John G. Stillmank:
Let's say for the sake of argument that iPod sound isn't the best (I'm not admitting that, but let's say). So that puts it in the same league as VHS vs. Beta and Windows vs. Mac OS - the crappier technology wins.

I don't believe this about the iPod, of course, but look at it that way if you do.

Personally I love everything about the iPod (maybe the battery should be excepted here) and am very happy with it.
No need to get defensive about your iPod purchase. It is a great device so be happy. I posted this for people who are considering an alternative device.
     
John G. Stillmank
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Mar 17, 2004, 02:09 PM
 
Originally posted by dantley:
No need to get defensive about your iPod purchase. It is a great device so be happy. I posted this for people who are considering an alternative device.
Thanks dantley. Not defensive. Just having fun and looking at life from a different point of view.
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Spheric Harlot
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Mar 18, 2004, 10:17 AM
 
Originally posted by John G. Stillmank:
Let's say for the sake of argument that iPod sound isn't the best (I'm not admitting that, but let's say). So that puts it in the same league as VHS vs. Beta and Windows vs. Mac OS - the crappier technology wins.

I don't believe this about the iPod, of course, but look at it that way if you do.
Two points on that:

1.) The difference isn't nearly as drastic as VHS vs. Beta: The iPod still sounds pretty darn good (see my comment about my audiophile friend buying one anyway - and I own one, too).

2.) There is *so* much more to the iPod than just the D/A chip. And as a complete package - interface, design, integration, FW hard drive capability, etc., AND sound quality - there is simply no real competitor.

My original 5GB iPod is banged up to hell, but I love it to death every time I switch it on - after nearly two years.

Heck, an mp3 player that I can accidentally carry around in my pants pocket for two days without noticing and that makes me smile every single time I use it - well, frankly, I don't see how I could ask more from *any* product.

And if pristine sound quality were the top (or only) consideration, you surely wouldn't even be thinking of buying an *mp3* player, anyway.

-s*
     
dantley  (op)
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Mar 18, 2004, 07:33 PM
 
Originally posted by Spheric Harlot:
Two points on that:

1.) The difference isn't nearly as drastic as VHS vs. Beta: The iPod still sounds pretty darn good (see my comment about my audiophile friend buying one anyway - and I own one, too).

2.) There is *so* much more to the iPod than just the D/A chip. And as a complete package - interface, design, integration, FW hard drive capability, etc., AND sound quality - there is simply no real competitor.

My original 5GB iPod is banged up to hell, but I love it to death every time I switch it on - after nearly two years.

Heck, an mp3 player that I can accidentally carry around in my pants pocket for two days without noticing and that makes me smile every single time I use it - well, frankly, I don't see how I could ask more from *any* product.

And if pristine sound quality were the top (or only) consideration, you surely wouldn't even be thinking of buying an *mp3* player, anyway.



-s*

Why is it that anytime someone posts here with a product competing with an Apple product people get defensive? I have owned 3 ipods and own an iPod mini. The iPod/iHP-120 isn't just an *mp3* player. The iPod can play mp3, aac, and wav files. Higher sound quality can be obtained from listening to wav files on your player if your heart so desires. Try using an iHP-120 and tell it doesn't sound better. That is what this thread was about.

As soon as Apple releases the 4G iPod with more features all the fanboys will go out and buy one though right now they are saying they don't need the features.

This was a subjective post from someone who owns an ipod and iHP-120. .. now it is just a defensive flame post. Thanks for making the macnn forum experience so... predictable.
( Last edited by dantley; Mar 18, 2004 at 07:41 PM. )
     
talisker
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Mar 18, 2004, 08:28 PM
 
Originally posted by dantley:
Why is it that anytime someone posts here with a product competing with an Apple product people get defensive?
Hey, why is that anytime someone posts here with a product competing with an Apple product and someone posts a point of view contrary to their own, they say that they're being defensive? Better than being offensive.

Anyway, isn't the reason that the Apple stores use Bose headphones because people wouldn't fancy the idea of using earbuds that everyone else has had in their rancid earholes? I certainly don't think sound quality is an overriding reason. I mean...Bose?
     
saranwarp
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Mar 18, 2004, 11:36 PM
 
Originally posted by talisker:
I certainly don't think sound quality is an overriding reason. I mean...Bose?
     
ASIMO
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Mar 19, 2004, 02:31 AM
 
Fark. This is akin to arguing about the pimple on the pimple.
I, ASIMO.
     
Spheric Harlot
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Mar 20, 2004, 08:10 PM
 
Originally posted by dantley:
Why is it that anytime someone posts here with a product competing with an Apple product people get defensive? I have owned 3 ipods and own an iPod mini. The iPod/iHP-120 isn't just an *mp3* player. The iPod can play mp3, aac, and wav files. Higher sound quality can be obtained from listening to wav files on your player if your heart so desires. Try using an iHP-120 and tell it doesn't sound better. That is what this thread was about.
I'm not sure why you posted that in response to my post. Go back and read my other posts.

I was the one who posted the tale of my Linn-owning audiophile friend who made this comparison two years ago and came to the same conclusion.

I was merely suggesting that even though this is true, there is no reason for iPod users to get defensive.

Why you construe this as being defensive, I don't know.

If you weren't specifically addressing me, just ignore this post.

-s*
     
legacyb4
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Mar 20, 2004, 08:40 PM
 
Out of curiousity, what do the iRiver headphones sound like on an iPod and vice versa?

Better yet, can anyone give feedback on the sound comparison between the stock iPod earbuds and (properly used) Apple In-Ear Earbuds?

Cheers.
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billybob128
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Mar 21, 2004, 02:30 PM
 
im sorry to get a little off topic but i cant help myself:
I certainly don't think sound quality is an overriding reason. I mean...Bose?
to me u are slaggin bose off there and im sorry if i got this wrong. but i have owned a bose system for the past 2 years with no troubles and AMAZING sound quality - that is why i bought the system because i heard it and then it was sold to me. i have heard other systems that are supposed to be "good" and "high quality" - well according to their owners - and the most memorable one was the guy who had an "amazing" JVC system it was ok to start with good bass and so forth but over the night it sounded craper and craper untill i hated listening to it. my bose gets better every time i listen to it and i couldnt see life without it.

oh well back more topical.

my iPod has sounded better than most cd players and MP3 players and im not getting defensive merely stating what i believe is true - that the iPod sounds AMAZING but then i do listen through some B&O headfones so...

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Spheric Harlot
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Mar 21, 2004, 08:25 PM
 
Originally posted by billybob128:
im sorry to get a little off topic but i cant help myself:

to me u are slaggin bose off there and im sorry if i got this wrong. but i have owned a bose system for the past 2 years with no troubles and AMAZING sound quality - that is why i bought the system because i heard it and then it was sold to me. i have heard other systems that are supposed to be "good" and "high quality" - well according to their owners - and the most memorable one was the guy who had an "amazing" JVC system it was ok to start with good bass and so forth but over the night it sounded craper and craper untill i hated listening to it. my bose gets better every time i listen to it and i couldnt see life without it.

oh well back more topical.

my iPod has sounded better than most cd players and MP3 players and im not getting defensive merely stating what i believe is true - that the iPod sounds AMAZING but then i do listen through some B&O headfones so...
Different strokes for different folks.

I'm glad you like your Bose and B&O stuff. I'd get different stuff for the money, and I find mp3 versions worse-sounding than the CD on the two systems I own. I'm sure you have perfectly valid reasons for liking the Bose - the fact that you like it better every time you listen to it is the best reason ever, so

Anyway, I find the iPod's sound quality perfectly acceptable for what I use it for. It is not my primary audio source. It makes me smile every time I use it.

-s*
     
DigitalEl
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Mar 22, 2004, 03:13 AM
 
now I noticed that all of the ipods at the Apple store have Bose headphones attached to them. If thats not bait and switch then I don't know what is.
I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to use earbuds that were on display in a store.
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shatten22
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Mar 22, 2004, 03:24 AM
 
I agree that some people are being defensive and well, it's the macNN forums so anything goes. There are some folks here that think Steve Jobs isn't in business to make MONEY, but rather is trying to personally make their lives better. flame on.

I have heard from a bunch of people that say that the iPod is inferior in terms of its sound signal. Many of these guys are audiophiles whom I trust. I think there were even reviews that stated as such. I for one WISH that the iPod had a FM radio, line-in, better sound output, and a better battery like some of the other MP3 players on the market. I certainly paid enough for the three that I have owned (and still love.) to warrant these things implemented. And I could choose another MP3 player that provides these things. However, in the end however, I choose the iPod because it provides the closest you can get to the best of everything: software design, compatibility (with the Mac), appearance and chick magnetism.

To pretend for a second that Apple shouldn't give us the best they can because it's "good enough" is absurd. That's called fanaticism people; that's blind devotion. It's maybe why Apple has lasted this long, but it's no way to run a business. We'd still be running G3's in our current powerbooks if that was the case. I refuse to upgrade until I get a processor that can run the iLife apps without choking. Garageband, I wait for thee...

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ejdejong
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Mar 22, 2004, 08:16 AM
 
1 chose some music that has instruments you can hear life like piano
2 rip the song at different settings give them the same song name
so you dont know how it was ripped on your ipod
3 place them in a play list so al names are the same
4 go and listen to the music life like piano not amplified
5 than listen to your play list and rate your songs
6 compare the rating on your mac or pc

i dont know if other mp3 players lets you rate your songs
but you can do the same thing
     
pooandwee
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Mar 22, 2004, 08:28 AM
 
Originally posted by schuey100:
Ok but what do you mean by 'better'? I produce music so I'm really interested in this. I haven't so far found any difference between the iPod or similar players (creative for eg) and that's through a reasonable monitoring system.

Also, do you find there to be a difference in quality from the direct outs from the Mac (iTunes) compared to the iPod?
I haven't compared the iPod audio "quality" to any other mp3 player. But, I have compared using the iPod with speakers pluged directly into to it and having it connected to my PowerBook via the dock and using the same speakers connected to the PowerBook.

The difference was HUGE!!!

First of all, the speakers are the same, the tracks are the same files played from the same source. When I play music from the iPod through my PowerBook it sounds..... right. All the drums are there, the guitar is as I remember it from the CD (Not that I am comparing compressed MP3's to a CD recording.... you will understand what I mean soon) and the vocals are all there. However, when I plug the speakers directly ionto the iPod (either via the headphone jack or the line out on the dock) there is a marked difference. Symbols sound..... different, some drums seem to be missing, lead guitars are quiet while rythm guitars are more pronounced, harmony/backing vocals are more pronounced while lead vocals seem quiet. It's all a little bit strange.

I have tried connecting the iPod to different stereos in my house and friends houses. I work at a theatre some weekends so I took it there and tried it on a $200k system. Everytime I got the same outcome.

I have also tried a friends iPod on my stereos here and got the same results.

While I am playing music via my iPod at my desk it is no problem, I play it via the PowerBook. While I am away from my desk I use a pair of Sennheiser HD 490 headphones (I don't like in ear headphones) and they compensate a little for the differences.

I still like the iPod, I am on my second. I would still recommend the iPod (and do) but also recommend that they try the Apple headphones in store, or better still, bring your own.
     
Link
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Mar 22, 2004, 08:36 AM
 
I'm convinced the ipod's EQ options are SERIOUSLY lacking, and the default audio settings are hideous.

Having said that, it could definately be the audio processor. No idea, but there's a lot of better alternatives.

Having said THAT, I'm not comparing the ipod to other music players in any other way than audio. However I think omitting the custom EQ system was idiotic at the least.
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lenox
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Mar 22, 2004, 11:38 AM
 
Originally posted by pooandwee:

First of all, the speakers are the same, the tracks are the same files played from the same source. When I play music from the iPod through my PowerBook it sounds..... right. All the drums are there, the guitar is as I remember it from the CD (Not that I am comparing compressed MP3's to a CD recording.... you will understand what I mean soon) and the vocals are all there. However, when I plug the speakers directly ionto the iPod (either via the headphone jack or the line out on the dock) there is a marked difference. Symbols sound..... different, some drums seem to be missing, lead guitars are quiet while rythm guitars are more pronounced, harmony/backing vocals are more pronounced while lead vocals seem quiet. It's all a little bit strange.
Could this be because the PowerBook has a line out and the iPod has a headphone out? I'm not sure this is the issue as I have not experienced it but it makese sense, kind of.

(the way the stereo channels are handled is different between a line out and a headphone out jack)
     
elvis2000
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Mar 22, 2004, 12:20 PM
 
Originally posted by schuey100:
I'm intrigued by this. What do you mean by it doesn't sound as good? Can you define it? I guess it's difficult when trying to talk about sound quality and MP3 anyway as MP3 is awfull but I'd like to know in what way other MP3 players sound better?
There is nothing to be intrigied by. The iPod sounds horrible, even compared to the Nomad. It has a very small sound, and the built in EQ doesn't do much to compensate (tends to distort).

In fairness, it is OK for its intended use with headphones --- but limitations are revealed when hooking to car stereos, home receivers, etc. I've moved to an MP3 capable car stereo and am much happier than the iPod through AUX solution.
     
elvis2000
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Mar 22, 2004, 12:31 PM
 
Originally posted by tooki:
Apple went out of its way to choose top-notch audio components for the iPod.

A lot of people who are accustomed to crappy, mega-bass-heavy sound from cheap devices WILL be disappointed when presented with a player that has balanced sound without distortion (well, beyond whatever distortion was introduced by the codec that saved the music file).

I won't believe you for a second that the iPod has inferior sound to a standard CD player.

And, by the way, did you compare devices using the SAME headphones or speakers, with all equalization, bass-boost, etc. off? That's the only way to make a fair comparison.

tooki
Tooki - sound quality is mostly a subjective measure, as is brand loyalty. The iPod is weak in bass... and for some, this is a good thing. Europeans call this "mid forward" -- and most English high-end audio gear has a crisp, clear, and defined lower end... complemented by a "sweet" top-end. Mids are flat. being neither emphasized or de-emphasized...

The iPod, on the other hand, has a very harsh top end which is clearly evident the moment you hook it to a hi-fi source component. Additionally, mids are completely lacking... creating a claustrophobic effect.

But hey, its just a portable MP3 player... not designed for audiophile grade reproduction. However, I've been happier with MP3 CDs through my car stereo or even some of the competing products (the Nomad "Jukebox" had far superior sound to the iPod... can't speak to the current products).

MP3s are not really for audiophiles... but you can try to make the best of a poor audio situation (e.g., my home receiver -- a 15 year old NAD -- requires no EQ, no digital effects, and is best with Loudness disengaged with Treble and Bass defeated.... on the other extreme, my Sony MP3 car stereo requires three separate audio processing "features" to get what I'd consider reasonable sound quality. It still sounds a little crappy... but way better than the iPod through AUX, which was hopeless).
     
cenutrio
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Mar 22, 2004, 02:33 PM
 
I know that there are many musicians hanging around at macnn, their opinions in this matter should be listened.


As for me, a non-expert but owner of a 2G iPod, I agree with some previous posts by some of you. People these days have no much idea about sound quality, mostly due to the surround systems so popular these days.


Any time I visit my parents and I use their new high-end NAD system, I realize how beautifully music without distorsion sounds. Of course, you have to pay some money for such system, but my mother a classical music lover and pianist knows that it is worthy.


We still keep a early 80s top of the line NAD receiver for which a friend of the family offered, a few months ago, enough money to buy the best Sony home theater.
-original iMac, TiPB 400, Cube, Macbook (black), iMac 24¨, plus the original iPod and a black nano 4GB-
     
proudestmonkey
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Mar 23, 2004, 01:13 AM
 
I've been using my iPod almost exclusively as my sound source (in my car, connected to my home receiver, and in my pocket while I walk the dogs). Then I read your post, comparing the sound of the iPod to the sound of a CD walkman. So, I put on a CD (Coldplay Live) and fired up the same album on my iPod. The CD Player is a new Panasonic with all the latest and greatest scanning technology--you get all you can from CD quality. Both the iPod and the CD are connected to a new (I just bought it two days ago) Sony 575 Watt Surround Sound Receiver and six-speaker system (I did the comparison in both normal stereo and "virtual" surround sound). I kept changing between the CD player the iPod. Wow, compared to the original, the iPod does suck. I am not kidding. SUCK! I mean, there were clearly discernible audio elements from the audience that did not even register on the iPod. What have I been missing in my ignorant bliss?

Am I an audiophile? I don't know, maybe. I understand that the purpose of the iPod is to have portability, and that with traffic at the park, and conversations at the coffee shop, the distinction between a great sounding portable audio source and one that is less great is kind of moot. However, I don't just use my iPod to go walking. I use it to avoid the hassle of dealing with 800 CD's on a bunch of shelves, and having to change them all the time. I love the luxury of having 15 Gigs right there, on my stereo's shelf. No more. I am going back down into the basement to get my CD's back on the shelf. Thanks man.

I think part of my lack of awareness of the difference too is that, until recently, I had only a bookshelf system with an aux in. So, the iPod probably wasn't much worse. Now that I have a new crisp surround-sound system, I can't imagine defering to the iPod, regardless of its convenience. Too bad.

The funny thing is, I have thousands of dollars in studio gear in the basement. But, there, with my professional audio equipment, I am either creating my own music, or mostly listening to uncompressed aiff files on the G5. I will be curious now to check out what difference it makes to listen to 44.1 Khz aiff as opposed to AAC.

One last thing. The iPod plays mp3s, but it is not really an mp3 player any more. It is an AAC player. I just read an article on MacNN that said some organization had recently chosen AAC as the preferred standard for DVD-ROMs, due in part to its better sound quality and its reputation in the industry as the preferred technology. So, the compression format does not seem to be the culprit for any difference you perceive in sound quality between your iPod and your iRiver (what a stupid name, by the way, and I also agree, no offense, but it is really and truly awful looking).
I don't just know the market, I am the
market.
     
saranwarp
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Mar 24, 2004, 07:48 PM
 
Yeah, definitely try that out with some AIFFs and check back.

Are there any comparisons out there of AAC vs. MP3 in the higher bitrates? I've seen quite a few examples of using 128/160/192, but it would be nice to see some kind of blind test with AIFF, 320 kbps AAC/MP3 and 256 kbps AAC/MP3.
     
talisker
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Mar 24, 2004, 10:36 PM
 
As a recent iPod purchaser (after dithering ever since the thing was launched) I'd say that overall the sound quality can be damn good. When it's plugged into my hifi (nothing flash but decent separates), playing through the dock line out, with high bitrate AACs or MP3s, it sounds excellent. Maybe lacking compared to the original CD, but not by much, and certainly not by enough to spoil my enjoyment of it.

I'd have to say on headphones though it sounds a bit rough and has a distinctly harsh sound in the "top of the midrange to lower trebly bit sort of range" (technical hifi term). Seems to be the case whatever headphones I try, and while I can somewhat reduce the effect by using various EQ options, it's a compromise as the ones that do any good invariably knock off some of the higher frequencies too, making the sound a bit muffled. It's a shame there isn't a custom EQ setting so I could just tweak out the harsh bit.

So maybe the headphone amp is indeed a pile of festering dog poo, but then again I didn't buy it to use with headphones, but with my hifi and portable speakers, so no great worries there.
     
Spheric Harlot
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Mar 25, 2004, 08:48 AM
 
Originally posted by Link:
I'm convinced the ipod's EQ options are SERIOUSLY lacking, and the default audio settings are hideous.
That's one common misconception.

Actually, the sound quality of a music playback device (not public or club PA) can only really be judged if the EQ is OFF. If a source *needs* EQing on playback, it (or your hearing, or the playback system) is BROKEN.

Sound quality is not a matter of options.

-s*
     
GORDYmac
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Mar 25, 2004, 11:23 AM
 
Comparing sound quality in music players is kinda like comparing color reproduction on TV screens in a store. Each has manufacturer defaults that differ greatly in most cases. Each can be customised once you get it home to better suit your needs.

Besides, I don't listen to my iPod in a vacuum, I listen to it while walking the streets of Atlanta. It sounds perfectly fine to me, just like every other music player I have used.
     
saranwarp
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Mar 25, 2004, 04:59 PM
 
Originally posted by GORDYmac:
Besides, I don't listen to my iPod in a vacuum, I listen to it while walking the streets of Atlanta. It sounds perfectly fine to me, just like every other music player I have used.
You walk in Atlanta? Where?
     
jamesa
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Mar 26, 2004, 07:41 AM
 
http://www.stereophile.com//digitals...934/index.html

the last page in particular is the one worth paying attention to.

also, for the sake of the lord, do not enable the check box for sound enhancer or sound check in iTunes (I know the sound check carries over to the ipod). It will mutilate your music.

-- james
     
Spheric Harlot
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Mar 26, 2004, 09:49 AM
 
Originally posted by jamesa:
also, for the sake of the lord, do not enable the check box for sound enhancer or sound check in iTunes (I know the sound check carries over to the ipod). It will mutilate your music.
The sound "enhancer" yes, that's some way ****ed phase-shifting and otherwise messing-up going on. But the "sound check" feature - isn't that just raising the volume of the entire song? There is no compression involved, is there?

*goes home to listen for the difference, expecting only volume changes*

oh, and thanks for the link. I couldn't remember where I'd read it. Though the article seems pretty worthless other than that "he likes it". He doesn't say what CD player he compares to (other than to say that AIFF is indistinguishable from the original, duh), nor does he compare the iPod to any other devices.

So we glean absolutely no information on the quality of iPod's D/A stage except that AIFF rips can be "monstrously good-sounding".

"Audiophile" blabla.

-s*
     
GORDYmac
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Mar 26, 2004, 10:09 AM
 
Originally posted by saranwarp:
You walk in Atlanta? Where?
From Peachtree Center to the Krispy Kreme on Ponce every day.
     
elvis2000
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Apr 20, 2004, 02:14 PM
 
Originally posted by GORDYmac:
From Peachtree Center to the Krispy Kreme on Ponce every day.
Good thing you are walking.

"Walking the streets of Atlanta"... LOL!
     
 
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