iPod Confessional

I've had an iPod (40 GB version) for four days now, and I must confess that it has been a huge kick. Despite my audiophile reservations (how could anything this small hold hundreds of my CDs and still sound good??), I've fallen in love with this thing.

Part of my rationale (and spousal justification process) was that my wife has wanted for a long time to have all-day Christmas music during the holidays. I used to provide this with 10.5" reel to reel tapes, but that's long gone. I'd thought about a mega-changer, but could never get enthusiastic about a big black box in my very inconspicuous living room system (Linn Classik and B&W 303s). But the iPod with the docking station and line out serves this purpose perfectly. The other night, I just selected "Vocal" as a genre, and enjoyed a great selection of music all throughout a long dinner. And needless to say, my commute just got a whole lot more enjoyable (especially with Eyptomic ER-6s to shut out the noise.)

As much as I like the satisfaction of holding a CD in my hand, and popping it in the player, I really think the iPod and other such players will eventually increase demand for server-type audio systems in the home. (I know, Linn makes one, but I'm thinking of something mortals can afford.)

I'm sure the MP3 files (even at the 320 kbps bite rate I'm using) are no match for the original for critical listening, I just don't find nearly as much time for critical listening as I would like. Now I'm getting to spend more time enjoying my music collection, and that's what it's all about, right?
You are correct sir!
That's right. much better than listening to power chord all the time.
I use mine in my bedroom system and on long auto trips. It's an amazing musical device.
I could not agree more. I have been using the unit for about a year and find the IPOD's sound quality to be very pleasing. I swapped out the provided headphones and alternate between a pair of KOSS clip-ons and Sennheiser fold-ups. My only gripe is with the battery life ... as you store more songs, battery life decreases markedly. Best portable device.

I disagree with your statement of battery life, I have a 10 and 20 gig and keep both filled to capacity with no decrease in battery life. Do you have the most recent software? There was a new power management software upgrade that helped with long down times that may help you, or if your unit is older, you can replace the battery (see iPodlounge.com for more info).

I don't use mine in my stereo too much, but couldn't do long trips without them! I use the Sony noise cancelling earbuds and love them on planes! I only wish they would add the extra games the new versions have to the older ones that I'm using, breakout gets boring real quick......
Now that you have all your CDs mp3'd, and like the concept of playing Genres or playlists, get yourself an Audiotron by Turtle Beach, hook it up to a decent DAC, and wire it to your home stereo. Its like an iPod for your stereo, but better quality. Not what you want for critical listening, but its awful good for background music...
i wouldnt use those earphones in the car...
Leftistelf - I use the noise isolation 'phones riding the Metro here in DC, not driving...makes for a sweet ride!
I am currently running a server-based music system in my house and it works great. I have about 400 uncompressed music CDs sitting out on my server. Then I just have the digital out from my pc going into my hifi system via a D/A converter. I get instant access to my entire library without sacrificing sound quality or my wallet. Including the $800 for a nice D/A converter and the two PCs, I figure it cost me about $2000 which is WAY less than the Linn equivalent.
Who makes an audiophile cable to connect the iPod to an amp?

Monster makes a better quality cable that can be used to connect the iPod to any device equipped with stereo RCA type jacks. By itself the iPod is not an audiophile component. It is a wonderful lifestyle product that allows someone to carry around large amounts of easily accessible music. The built-in D/A is its main limitation.
Kimber also makes "high end" iPod cables--sold through the headroom amp people. I'd echo Onhwy61's comments, however.
I also have had a 30gb ipod for a few months and think it's absolutely fantastic. A sacrifice in sound quality is so much preferred over no music at all. I also have the line out into my stereo, but it sounds so thin and lifeless, much more so than one can attribute to it being mp3. Maybe I'll try the Kimber cable.

Spizm, I am trying to do exactly what you have set up in your house right now. What computer sound card are you using? I'm wondering if using a USB outboard soundcard into a dac would be a significant improvement over internal soundcard into a dac.
Ultraviolet - what bit rate are you using to rip your MP3s? I've ripped most of my disks at 320 kbps, and have been pretty happy with the results for background listening.
I've ripped my mp3's using Exact Audio Creater and the lame mp3 decoder. I use the alt-preset-standard setting which produces variable bit rate mp3's. I think they average ~192kbps. It was explained to me though that VBR that averages ~192 supposedly sounds better than just regular 192 kbps. Anyone know if this is actually the case?

How big are files encoded at 320? Are they appreciably smaller than the uncompressed wav file? Do you think there would be a considerable audible difference between my mp3s and yours? Thanks for the help. I'd love to find a happy medium between mp3s sounding passible on the home stereo and still small enough that I can carry quite a bit around on the ipod.
Ultraviolet - my MP3s at 320 kbps run a little over 2 MB/min in file size, so they are considerably smaller than an uncompressed file.

I'd suggest looking at Wes Phillips review of the iPod in last month's Stereophile. In his listening tests, he regarded 192 kbps as the "breakpoint" where the quality improved significantly (he felt the difference between 128 and 160 wasn't as significant.) He felt that 320 was much more in line with audiophile sensibilties, and I respect his opinion a great deal. I haven't compared carefully between 320 and 192, but since I've been able to load 3000 songs on my 40G iPod, mostly at 320, and it's only about 2/3 full, I figure I'll stick with the high bitrate.