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do IPOD's suck?


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seriously. i think i have a 3g nano, its small and has a screen. my wife handed it to me one day after she got a new one and i started using it for break tunes and in my shop. i've been noticing some things lately, and while i am no golden ears nor have i done any extensive testing (at all) i am starting to realize it might not sound good.

 

example # the first - one day this summer i had to do a tracks show and brought out the cd player (my rack has a dvd player in it for break tunes prior to the ipod, and it sucks playing track shows- too slow and no display visible outside). i tested the cd player with a cd that i had been previously playing on my ipod but when i played the cd it sounded a lot better, really different. more bass, more mids, more exciting sound. i brought up the ipod to double check with the same album (this album was originally mp3 format, same mp3s transferred to cd and ipod).

 

i had about forgotten until...

 

example # the second - i have a pair of clubs setup in the shop right now for tunes, been feeding my ipod into a marantz and then the clubs. i wanted to listen to a cd yesterday so i hooked up the G4 i have in the shop (with a motu 8pre) and had the same experience, more bass, better mids, a way better sound.

 

when i listen to the ipod i dont notice it sounds bad, but when i play the same material through a cd player it sounds totally different, i would put the difference similar to comparing yamaha clubs and srx 722/718. the clubs dont sound all that pisspoor until you fire up the srx.

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It's not the iPod. It's the recording of the song. When you're dealing with digital music, it can be compressed lossless (which means you will hear no difference), or with increasing levels of deterioration. Most likely, you were listening to a badly-encoded song.

 

If the iPod was the cause, there wouldn't be millions of them sold every year.

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If you're listening to MP3's there's going to be a trade-off for having that much music in that small of a space. For test and tune or critical listening, I still use CD's (or occasionally vinyl, if at home listening for pleasure).

 

The awesomeness of the Ipod comes when I get in my car and have a good portion of my music collection at my disposal. Since my car stereo is far from audiophile quality, I'm not really missing the fidelity. I can't remember the last time I listened to commercial radio. I also like it for when I'm mowing my lawn. I throw in my Shure ear-buds and go.

 

My new thing lately has been audio books since I don't seem to have as much time to read since my daughter was born.

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If the iPod was the cause, there wouldn't be millions of them sold every year.

 

I think you're giving WAY to much credit to millions of people... ;)

 

isn't it possible that the output circuitry is just fine for sending people's fav music to their earbuds, but not up to the level of a professional music playback device?

 

I may be off-base, but I'm inherently skeptical about anything whose main out is a 1/8" jack in a "pro" setting.

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There's nothing wrong with the output section. There's nothing wrong with 1/8" (from a signal standpoint) either.

 

It depends on how the music is encoded. Some encoders and compression schemes just don't sound all that good. Apple's lossless compression works pretty good.

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try it though and see if you hear what i am talking about. take a cd that has been converted to mp3, burn the mp3's to an audio cd and transfer to an ipod as well. hook both up to a mixer and the difference id dramatic, at least in my experiences. there is a difference.

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I have never been a fan of the IPod sound.

Inparticular, the headphones supplied with an Ipod.

And have always boycotted them, for the above two reasons.

 

For much less money, you can buy an MP3 player that has infinitely better sound-quality and is a hell of a lot more reliable!

 

I my oppinion, the IPod was just designed to grab the attention of the commercially influencial drones out there, and doesn't really do anything for those that know the slightest bit about sound-systems etc.

 

What annoys me more, is when 'said' commercial drones rave on about how amazing their IPod sounds and how nothing will ever compare!

 

My advice... bin the Ipod. Do some research. And buy something worth listening to!

 

Also, a note regarding MP3 quality.

Whilst studying at college this year, my lecturer told us of a survey he compiled later last year.

He had two sample pieces, On in .wav format, the other identicle piece, in .mp3 format.

He concluded that 80% of the listeners (who were I think, between the age of 16 and 20) actually preferred that 'washy' sound of things like the cymbals, in the .mp3 recording...

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The amount of compression used when recording onto an ipod (or any mp3 player for that matter) varies widely. For mine, it's a setup feature in itunes. Try recording a known song onto the ipod at a high bit rate, like 320kbps, or even "lossless" and see how it sounds. But then, you don't get as many songs, darn!

 

There still may be a limitation in the electronics, but my estimate is that there is much to be gained by using less compression.

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I have found the I-Pod to be the most reliable of the crop. Also the best user interface. If you understand the compression methods, I think comparing like schemes will result in like results. In fact, I suspect the I-Pod could outdo MP-3's on a format by format basis.

 

The headphone & earbud issue has nothing to do with an I-Pod... in fact I haven't used either as I use mine as a playback device on the road.

 

PS, I just tried it with my Sony shop phones and it sounds pretty darn good. I have no problems with the quality.

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I'd agree that to get good quality sound you must not use a high compression profile (An MP3 encoded at 2:1 compression really does sound pretty amazing but encoded at 10:1 compression sounds pretty poor (also that bit for bit the Ipod's AAC compression codec type is better than MP3 (as is wma))) but....... there are differences in the output side of things as well. I have a pretty large collection of MP3s. I encode everything at 256kbps (around 4:1) and it sounds pretty good. I've taken the same files to work and listened to them on my laptop with the same headphones that I use at home and they sound dull & lifeless. My bet is the D/A converters in the laptop are not top notch (not so much the analog part of the electronics). This is just my first guess, I've never done any comprehensive test (and don't care to waste the time either, since my laptop is never a music source for anyone but me).

I'm not a fan of Ipod's BS software or marketing but I do have to admit that, when I've used them, they do seem pretty reliable and have always sounded pretty good.

 

Personal note: I'll never buy an Ipod because I don't care for the Apple company and their I, me, me, mine approach to business. Their products work OK but I try to stay away on principle. FWIW I went to a Protools seminar once and saw an Apple/Mac crash repeatedly, I'm not convinced they're that much better than the PC platform, just more expensive. This isn't meant to divert the thread to a Mac vs PC debate (save it for a computer forum :>) but only my personal rant. Sorry for the digression from the original post.

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yeahbutt,

 

 

If you started with MP3s and used those to record onto CD, and the CD sounds better, then my first guess is that you've got a faulty iPod. Burning to a CD won't put back the stuff that was removed when it was put into an MP3 in the first place.

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It's not the ipod :facepalm:... i guarantee if you took the exact same audio files onto another "better" mp3 player it would sound exactly the same (provided theres no stupid EQ or sound altering options enabled on both devices). "Sound quality" is based ENTIRELY on the encoding of the sound files and the quality of the headphones.

 

I don't understand what you meant about transferring from a cd to mp3 then to a cd again then onto the ipod, but it sounds like somewhere along there the mp3 files are being transcoded and they end up sounding terrible. thats your problem right there...

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i checked the eq on the ipod as well as sound check and both are off.

 

for the cd/ipod transfer, take a cd, transfer it to mp3's. put the mp3's on the ipod. take the same mp3s that you put on the ipod and burn them to an audio cd. the audio played through a cd player sounds significantly better than the same mp3's played through my ipod.

 

i'm not trying to bash ipods, i have found it really cool to carry around and play in my shop as well as break tunes at shows.

 

i run the ipod through one of two 1/8" TRS to either 2 rca (shop) or 2 1/4" TS (shows).

 

i use FLOOLA to transfer files from my comp to the ipod and i have floola set to not re encode files, just transfer them. most files are either 192, 256 or 320 mp3. i stopped using AAC a long time ago due to my rack mounted DVD player only playing mp3s.

 

i guess i'll have to go and triple check my findings as my experience does not seem to be the norm, and i was suprised myself when i finally did notice.

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The iPod has defaults for encoding. The factory set default is set to make the file as small as possible. It compresses the heck out of the music. Try changing that default to Apple Lossless or anything with higher quality and you will hear the difference.

 

I have some first generation "direct to disk" recordings on vinyl of Woody Herman. The sound is incredible analog. I have recorded that to CD (aif) and to iPod (Apple Lossless) and the iPod sounds better then the same material on CD. Neither sounds as good as the original but the iPod comes much closer.

 

JRBLE, I understand where you are coming from. In my case, I'm the exact opposite of you. I was a PC guy until I finally got fed up with the crap that MS was trying to push onto the MS lemmings. Windows ME???? Windows Vista???? Pure crap and that taught me what type of company MS is. Personally I haven't had a single crash in Pro Tools since I switched to OSX. I still use a PC and I'm looking forward to see if Win 7 is as stable as their commercials say it is but I made the switch and will never look back. I like all computers and all platforms have plusses and minuses.

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At work we have an iPod in the drawer that is loaded with music, but when the battery is dead I supplement my iPod touch in.

 

The iPod touch has WAAAAY more volume to it and sounds much better. I have no clue why. Apparently they did something BIG in the design change between the standard iPod (purchased new in spring 08) and the iPod touch (purchased spring 09).

 

It's exactly like you describe, more bass, better clarity, more punch. It shocked me so I did some A/Bing as best I could using the same song and it's more than a volume difference. Full volume on the iPod was less than half volume on the touch.

 

EQ is flat on both, though I would check that on yours to see if there isn't one that sounds correct, or at least better.

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yeahbutt,

 

 

good point, ....

 

 

maybe there is some extra loss goign from good mp3 to bad mp3?

 

there are different algorithiums, but I would not expect them to have this profound an effect.

 

Is is possible we are really looking at soem other part of the chain (for example is soem cross talk/cancelation with the ipod conection)? Does the ipod head phone conection not work right as a "line out".?

 

 

 

it is an interesting question.

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