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Discussion Starter #1
Of course, the title is a bit of a joke, but I would like to know if there is really an appreciable difference in sound quality of the MP3 players on the market. I'm getting some high end in ear monitors made and I want to take the fullest advantage of their capabilities and I don't want to be annoyed by how the player sounds. I cant imagine theres much difference outside of power, as the limiting factor is probably the content anyway, but Ive never bought one before and I want to know what I should look out for.

Thanks guys.:bigsmile:
 

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Re: Audiophile Friedndly MP3 Players

I think the quality issues will be with the encoding and the type of headphones you use. iPods seem to be extremely popular.
 

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Re: Audiophile Friedndly MP3 Players

Thats what i was thinking. As far as I can tell, the 'phones I'm getting will show a lot of the inherant weaknesses of the whole portable music thing. I might even get some two ways. DOubt that, really, but theyre the next model up from the ones i plan to get.


http://listenhearstore.com/music.html
 

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Re: Audiophile Friedndly MP3 Players

I have to admit, the title did give me a chuckle. Sonnie is right, these are the two significant bottlenecks. It is unlikely that one will achieve anything that any audiophile would appreciate with an MP3 player. That said, we get to the heart of the limitation with the notion of being an audiophile, and that is that one ofte forgets that the point is to enjoy the music. The convienience of the portability of MP3 and similar systems allows one to have the music in so many ways that the priority of finesse in reprodution may be much lower. For instance, playing the music on my notebook through my stereo bluetooth headset, or plugging the Ipod into the car, or using it on the treadmill or running makes the music far more easy to enjoy more often. Sure it ain't reference quality, but I use it many times more...really a forest vs. trees situation I think.
 

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Re: Audiophile Friedndly MP3 Players

There are definite differences in quality when it comes to size, I've found. Smaller players like the shuffle and Sansea c250 sound much worse than a full sized player like my Zune or the iPod classic. Worse being noticeable distortion across the frequency spectrum (and this is just through a couple sub-$100 headphones). These small players are great for quick, light, inexpensive solutions, but if you're looking for quality, stick with a larger package.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Re: Audiophile Friedndly MP3 Players

See that was what I was looking for.

Of course I realize I wont be replacing my system with a portable, I just want to have the best sound while I'm at work or whatever. I'm leaning towards an actual iPod simply because the deck I stuck in my truck doesnt have a regular usb or anything like that, Alpine has a deal with Apple and it has controls for the iPod, so I guess thats where I'll have to start.

I'm glad you could appreciate the humor in my title, though, oxymoronic, eh?
 

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Re: Audiophile Friedndly MP3 Players

I can't tell much difference between my wife's Nano, my son's Classic, and my little Samsung. The two Apples sound identical and if any are better the Samsung is the best of the bunch, but not by much.
 

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Re: Audiophile Friedndly MP3 Players

Holy smokes. I just looked at apple's website and wow. Those things are insane, 160gb!? $350!? Yikes! I'm thinking used is gonna be the path for me.
 

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Yeah... the iPods, or any of them for that matter, are not exactly cheap. You might try ebay... or even our Electronics Store. You might find a used or refurbished model for a reasonable price.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I just offered someone on CraigsList $275 for thier 160gb Black Classic. They'd be stupid to take that, but I'd be stupid to give them the $320 they want for it.
 

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Re: Audiophile Friedndly MP3 Players

Holy smokes. I just looked at apple's website and wow. Those things are insane, 160gb!? $350!? Yikes! I'm thinking used is gonna be the path for me.
Don't be afraid to go Zune. If you keep your eyes on Fat Wallet, you can still find the 30GB for ~$100 on a good day.
 

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I didn't take the thread title as a joke.

I take my headphone listening pretty seriously and I find the iPod can be a very high quality source provided you encode properly. Lossy compression isn't ideal, but I find high bitrate AAC to be very listenable to the point I don't miss my home audio system. For my reference tracks, I use Apple Lossless which is the exact same quality as the original. I have A/B'ed ripped tracks using Apple Lossless it against the original CD's and not found any difference when played through my iPod connected to my home system. The Wolfson DAC's used by the classic iPods are very high quality. Because Apple Lossless takes up the most space, if you buy a 160GB iPod, you can probably rip most of your favorite tracks in Lossless and have your whole (most?) of your library with you whereever you go. I found it was great for auditioning speakers when you can bring all your music with you.

Ultimately, your enjoyment will hinge on your headphones you choose. Headphone listening never provides the feeling of listening through speakers, but it can be an intimate, enjoyable listen. I find most of the In-ear monitors pretty poor value. I don't enjoy most of them until you get to the triple driver $400+ models. As such I actually prefer my inexpensive Sony EX90 or Audio Technica ATH-CK7 to any of the sub $200 IEM's I've heard.

One of the limitations of any portable device including the iPods is that they don't work well with high impedance/low sensitivity headphones. And iPods have been known to roll off bass when used with low impedance headphones. For these cases, people who take their portable listening seriously buy outboard headphone amps. There are ones costing $70-several hundred depending on how far you want to go.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Well thanks for the very insightful reply. I plan to use it in my truck(with a decent system), at work and on my motorcycle, so the IEMs are sort of a must for the noise protection factor. From what ive heard (been told) these are very high quality, and while dual driver models are available, the $700 price point takes them out of my price range. Not to say the model I plan to purchace is cheap, at $350, they are a single driver design, however. So far, my bigest concern is the level of sound isolation, and the Starkey Labs ones I'm having made are the only ones Ive seen with a noise reduction rating of 26dB. If you know of any others that may be a better sounding unit with an equal NRR, I'd really like to know about them, but I think the location would be pretty important, as they are custom molded for the customer's ear canal. Another plus to these is that they have a 30 day guarentee, so if I don't like how they sound, I can get my money back.
 

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Hey there,

I'm a big proponent of buying things used, but I would not recommend buying a used iPod. You just have no idea how the previous person treated the device, and the hard drive that is in there is susceptible to damage in a variety of ways. Although hard drive vendors work diligently to create drives that are robust to shock and environment, the end user can still easily damage one. I would go new on that particular piece.

Good luck!
 
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:devil: If you realy wanth Audiophile music player I recoment COWON. I have the Q5W PMP =Flac format=Real CD Audio. forget mp3 :rofl: mp3. for headphones I use Sennheiser HD600 + Audio Technica ATH-EW9

http://www.cowonglobal.com/
 

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Well, I'd imagine the quality of the DAC would play into it as much as the difference between 256 mp3 and flac. Not saying the cowon has bad DACs, just saying bitrate isn't everything.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Well, now I may as well update the whole situation. I ended up getting a 160gb iPod around christmas. Jus a couple weeks ago, I got the custom IEM's, too. I must say, the sound is very good. Very neutral. They do lack a little in deep bass, but they aren't magic. The noise reduction is very good, and comfort is not an issue.
 

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From what I understand the fourth gen iPod is legendary in audiophile (mp3 player) circles. It's the one that used Wolfson DACs. It's also the one that can be modded to have several parts replaced.

I believe the highest capacity of that generation was 80G and you can probably find one refurbed on Ebay if you're willing to risk used.

I would...

Otherwise if I were in the market for an MP3 player today I'd just get a cell phone that can playback MP3/Mpeg4 etc.

The advantage to NOT going with iPod or Zune is that you're not tied to an application to operate the thing. The average cell phone can use Windows Explorer as its management software and you don't need to worry about applet resitrictions or DRM.

Get a phone with Bluetooth and make sure your next car stereo is Bluetooth compatible too and you've got an in-car setup that blows away any of those iPod Port car stereos - and it's cheaper!
 

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Moreover, I wouldn't consider being forced to use non-Apple software as any kind of virtue at all.
I'm not an apple user so I don't know if iTunes is part of the Mac OS. But on PC it is not. iTunes requires a one-to-one relationship with your PC to copy files back and forth. It's a pain in the butt!

Windows Explorer is part of the Windows OS that lets you drag and drop files between virtual drives. That's exactly how it treats thumb-drives and most non-Apple MP3 players.

The less software = the more portable the portable musical experience. That my friend, is a virtue!

I own an iPod and am subsequently burdened with Apple's iTunes to manage it. I'd love the iPod if it weren't chained to Apple's software. I will surely not make the same mistake with the iPhone!

I have been moving away from the iPod since using my HTC Touch Smartphone. Its interface is awesome for playing music using its touch-screen.

I only have a 6GB micro-SD card in it now but the phone can handle a 32GB pretty easy. My iPod has a 20GB capacity.
 

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I am still using my original Nomad Jukebox from 9 years ago. I upgraded the hard drive to a 40gb drive but other than that its still working. I have found the audio quality to be very good and use it all the time as my main audio player hooked up to my system. I use 60% VBR on my Music match Jukebox as my setting for ripping all my CDs and that is a very good compromise for quality and file size.
 
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