iPod: Questions and Options

Well, with rumors floating around of a new 60GB iPod due in a couple months, I pulled the trigger this week on a current 4th generation 40GB click wheel model. I'm really enjoying the ease of use and simple yet elegant [as always] Apple industrial design.

I also ordered a Dension ice>Link v1.1 car interface for my '99 BMW M3 which sould be arriving soon.


I have a few questions however for those iPod users with more experience.

1. Which earphones/headphones are you enjoying with the iPod?
I was using a pair of Grado SR60s at work with my Sony Discman and iTunes on my G4 Mac, but they sound dull and closed in with the iPod. I feel more satisfied with the cheap little earbuds that come with the iPod. The Grados seem to tame the digital nasties from my Discman and do well with my iTunes, but they may be too dull for the iPod. Any suggestions? Etymotics or Shure earphones? What about headphones?

2. What does the "Sound Check" function on the iPod and in iTunes do?
It's "off" on my iPod, but I have it "on" with iTunes when importing songs.

3. Which compression scheme do you like?
The first group of songs I imported into iTunes I did with the AAC Encoder set to 320kbps. The last batch I imported using the Apple Lossless Encoder. I've yet to compare the same songs side by side, but I was wondering what people thought.

4. Using it as a digital source in a 2-channel system
I bought a Monster earphone-to-stereo RCA jack so I can play it through my 2 channel system at home. What settings do you people use when playing it this way? EQ "off"? What about the iPod volume? Should I keep it at one setting and adjust the master volume through my preamp? Again, what about "Sound Check? Any other cable options other than the Monster?

Thanks for any suggestions!
All good questions, congrats on the new iPod, I'm personally waiting for the optical connector that is on the Airport Express to come out on an iPod before I buy my fourth (already have a 1G 10GB, 2G 20GB, and a new mini for the wife)

1) I use mine for flying, so I use the Sony MDR-MC11. Not great, but not too bad, and they do an excellent job cutting out the drone of the engine and allow me to listen at a much lower volume.

2) Sound Check is designed to keep the volume the same or at least similar between songs.... it helps in this regard, somewhat.

3) I have most of my music in MP3 @ 192, all the newer stuff is in AAC same rate. When I do buy more HD space, I'll need to decide if Apple losslesss is as good as native before I reinput all my music.....to be fired to Airport Expressed around the house...which hopefully Apple will soom allow you to send music to more than one at a time.....

4) I have always found the minijack-->RCA sound to be weak at best, maybe it's just the system showing the loss in the encryption, and a relatively low speed.... this is why I'm holding off to see if they come out with the optical digital jack (Which is on the new iMac...hopefully it will come out soon...)

Love the click wheel......in the mean time, enjoy your new toy! I love mine, there's nothing like having hundreds of disks with you on a long flight! You can always find something to listen to.

Shure E3c's and Apple Lossless. Enjoy.
I have a 40GB iPod.
I am using a pair of Sennheiser HD25. They sound incredible! You maybe able to find them new in the Web for around $180. http://www.americanmusical.com/item--i-SEN-HD25--brand-240--src-D0401IN0HAMS0000.html

I also use my iPod going direct to my Threshold amplifier in my bedroom. I am using a cable that we developed for it in our company (www.slivercircleaudio.com). I can send you a picture of it if you want. I was using a gold plated cable from RadioShack but there is no comparision with ours.
I use my Ipod in my main 2 channel system and the sound is very impressive.
I also use the Audioquest Copperhead cable.
I have a great redbook cd player which for now is much better, but there is a limit on "hardware technology" at some point.
Apple technology is amazing.
I believe that the future will be better software which will result in higher quality sound.
Each and every software upgrade will get this format closer to audiophile quality.
However, I still listen to vinyl for critical listening since vinyl is far and away better than any digital format.
Apple Lossless & Grado SR325 (not noise cancelling) I use my iPod mainly while on the road with work, listening in a hotel at night. I tried the Shure e3c's and could not fathom how people could get used to the "plugged ear" sound you have when the rubber isolates the outside world. The noise cancellation is great! However, I could not stand hearing myself everytime I swallowed, would walk, etc. I found it more distracting than to have some background noise. However, in situations like an airplane and such, a noise cancelling headphone/earphone is a better call.

I never thought when I purchased my iPod (4th Gen 40G) that I would become such an "Addict". Anyway, I use all Audience Au24 in my system and love the results. Well, in search of a high quality connection for my iPod Dock and Apple Airport Express, I contacted Audience. They custom made me a connector out of their Conductor line cable. It was SO much better than the Monster Cable I was using as it was about all I could find.

Anyway, I would HIGHLY suggest giving Audience a call and checking out the cable. Also, check out the Airport Express as you can stream music wirelessly from iTunes!

Truly Cool Stuff!

Thanks for the great responses and education! I'm having fun!
Though mid-fi at best (in .wav format) I use reference earphones (Shure E2 $100: tested and reviewed at http://www.linkwitzlab.com with my 40g. and am alble to lisetn for long periods without fatigue.

BTW I also use the phones to listen to source material then compare with what I hear in the room from my main system. It can be disappointing, but like Dr Phil says, 'you cannot change what you do not acknowledge'.

Anyway, I organized favorite tracks from my collection into compilations: classical, rock, and jazz. It is especially enjoyable to hear a continous run of favorites. And justifies reducing the quanity by saving them in .wav format.

The trick is having enough storage to save the various tracks onto the harddrive in .wav format to organize them to download to the iPod.

I find MP3 to be very low-fi, which is no surprise since the degree of conpression is substantial. You just cannot take that much out of the music and get away with it.
You bring up an interesting point about the "plugged ear" phenomena. I read a review about the Shure E3c that came out negative because of that very aspect. While the Apple supplied earphones don't sound fantastic, at least I don't hear my heart beating with whatever song I'm listening to. I was hoping the Shures would make getting a separate pair of headphones unnecessary, but maybe not.

Yes! I do remember you mentioning that Audience made you a custom connector in a previous thread. I'll send them an e-mail to see if they're open to doing another cable.

Thanks again!

John McDonald the CEO responded to me personally and offered to make it. I just e-mailed the main alias off their web page. I forgot to mention, I actually listen to my iPod 3 ways. I have Sennheiser HD600's which the iPod will actually power (not great but good) and I also have a Tivoli Model 2 Radio at work which has an Aux input. It sounds pretty damn good. I also have my iPod dock hooked up to my Cary Sli-80 on my two channel system.

I am actually streaming tunes now in my listening room as I am going to see Social Distortion on Monday Night! It is so easy to just skim through their catalog with the Airport and iTunes!

Good Listening to you!


I just spoke with John McDonald the President of Audience yesterday inquiring about the iPod to RCA connector cable. It is now up on their website and goes for about $100 retail.

As for the Shure E3c's - I did use mine mostly with the rubber plugs - in which may have hightened the sense of "plugged ear effect"... I was not able to get the foam to give me a decent fit and to keep from moving. However, most that use the E3c's with much enjoyment use the foam. I would assume the foam, being permeable, may not create that "suction" in the ear canal to the extreme that I expereinced with the rubber plugs that allow you hear yourself swallow. That was unfortunate, they were decent sounding, and I would much rather travel with something the size of a couple of golf balls & also cancels noise. If you have an Apple Store nearby they have a return policy (not sure, but think it is 30 days) thus if you don't care for them you may return them. A few online Shure dealers didn't accept returns on earphones.

As for the Grado's, I went to a local store to audition the SR60 and SR125. The SR125 was noticably better. So, perhaps I would try the SR225, they are just hanging there... heh - they sounded quite a bit better than the 125s. There sitting in front of me was a demo pair of SR325's beconing me to compare what the aluminum air chamber sounds like. *chuckles* All said and done, I am now listening through the SR325's. They are *very* good sounding headphones. Please note they are not noise cancelling headphones, if that is a concern.

Good luck!
iPod car interface realy sucks!
Try to wire directly or you may be very dissapointed in car iPod performance.
I use it with cassette adapter...
Do you mean Shure E2? THe model tested and reviewed at http://www.linkwitzlab.com /Reference Earphones link

...anyway, twist the foam between your fingers to minimize its size and install in ear, hopefully before it returns to normal. Once in your ear, it will expand and there should be no problem.

I found that imediately following placement that pulling down of the earlobe helps when setting them in place, then they expand and do not move.

They are definately worth the trouble. And the price...unbelieveable.
Why not use it as a walkman in the car too. Then if you get out of the car you can continure listening.
I didn't really want to start another thread but was hoping one of you all who obviously have experience with this iPod could answer a question regarding the operating system of the computers you use. Just the other day I won a 20g iPod in a door prize at work. When reading the specs on the back it says I must be using (I have a PC) Windows 2000 service pack4 "or later" or Windows XP home or office. Unfortunately, I have Windows ME which came with the computer when I bought it in 2001. My question is will this thing simple NOT work with Windows ME? I ask because I don't want to spend the $$$ on Windows XP (until I buy a new PC) and am hesitant to "just try it out". I also don't know anyone with the Windows XP OS disc. What do you think? I'm anxious to use this thing. Thanks.
Isn't ME concurrent with 2000? If you are fearful of proceeding, though I would, contact iPod Support first. I belive at worst they will offer an earlier version of software to download. They are very nice people.
I am in the same boat. The new Itunes software runs on Windows 2000 or XP and not ME. I don't know what to do either other than changing my operating system or computer.
Well, for what it is worth, I would suggest upgrading opertation systems to 2000 or XP from ME even if you do not keep the iPod. You can purchase an XP uprade package for $99.00. You will be surprised how much better your machine will run. Also, make sure you are using USB 2.0.

Wow, this thread has progressed very nicely over the weekend!

I've been doing a lot of listening with the supplied Apple Earplugs and find them to be OK for now. So I'll be waiting a bit before considering the Shures again. Does that admission demote me to the "tin ear" ranks of Audiogon? Heheh.

I borrowed a pair of Sennheisers from Viggen this weekend. The iPod definitely needs a headphone amp to power those big guys. Maybe that's why the Grado SR60s didn't sound so good either.

Chris and Kirk,
I'm gonna go order the AU24 adapter now!

I ordered the Dension iceLink 1.1 which hardwires into the cable that feeds the trunk mounted CD disc changer of my Beemer. Hopefully, I'll be controlling my iPod rather than the disc changer via my car radio once I do the install. Maybe this weekend!

Those of you using your iPods with Windows machines, are you doing so with a Windows version of iTunes? How does that work? Forgive my ignorance, I'm a one of them Mac artist dudes, heheh.

This weekend my iPod took a rest, and I was downloading Tivo content onto my computer and making DVDs of my favorite programs.

I've been enjoying my iPod all day at work today. It sounds better. Maybe it's because I'm figuring out how to get those earplugs to seat well in my two wax museums.
Looks like this software will do the trick (from what I gather). It will make Windows Me and Windows 98 compatible with the iPod. Here's the link for those in the same boat as myself.

Once I get this puppy running I will definately tune back in here to follow-up on the headphone discussion as well as the best way to interface this thing with my main audio rig. It will be nice to pull out all of the CD's I own that have only those 1 or 2 songs I like, download them on this iPod and then go cash in the CD's at the local used CD shop. A little extra cash to buy some of the upcoming SACD's I'm waiting for:-) - Tony