6moons also has a good review on the iPods.
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I agree it's more for someone who wants the best they can get on the road. It's still fun to listen to with good in ear phones, but I wouldn't consider the ipod an audiophile anything - despite the audio rags efforts to promote it. Non audiophiles think we are people that buy Bose and spend up to $1K on our systems (that's crazy sounding to them). They don't realise how insane we actually are ;(
I agree with Mapleleafs3. I love my iPod and use it all the time, but it's not up to audiophile standards, and probably never will be. Apple doesn't really want you hooking the iPod up to your home stereo - that's why there's no digital output. They want you to buy an iMac as a "digital hub". Why sell a consumer only one device when you can sell them two?
The problem is that I think newer pop and rock recordings are being produced to sound better in an Ipod/MP3 environment, with a prominent upper-midrange and lower treble, along with too much stress on vocals. All this stuff makes modern rock sound like scraping paint off the wall on good, revealing systems. Maybe next they will engineer music to sound better on cellphones (ringtones?).
Using my iPod 5G with 256 AAC VBR (converted from lossless ripped via EAC), my Etymotic ER4Ps (with custom molded inserts) and my Headphile modified HF-1s sound amazing. It is not as good as through my more expensive headphone amp setup, but I would DEFINITELY call it audiophile quality.
I have also heard that a Red Wine modified iPod proves an excellent source for 2 channel systems.
I have an iRiver and have found that i cannot really stand to seriously listen to music and so it gets used mostly for podcasts. I do find it convenient to listen to newly acquired music passively during workouts for familiarity. I guess I've got to think about better headphones like Matt8268 suggests - I did buy some better Sennheiser PXC-150 headphones, but there is likely a lot better to get.
To me, the iPod is just the new Walkman (I know i'm dateing myself here). Sure, it is MUCH more powerful and flexible than the original Walkman but it is a portable music device. The revolution, to me, is "iTunes". As many of you know from my system and other threads I have commented on, it is having all your music at your fingertips and the scroll of a mouse. THAT is the revolution.
I cannot see a point where I will not have some kind of digital music server as one of the main sources of my system.
I think the iPod is great for what it is. For traveling, hotel rooms, and for work it is very functional. Paired with a good set of headphones, it is what it is and sounds decent. iTunes is also a great interface which makes organizing music farily easy.
The fact that I can whip up a playlist of choice songs on my laptop with not limitations for listening or entertaining is great. Then Stream it wirelessly to my Apple Airport Express which has a digital output and is connected to my Electrcompaniet DAC is even cooler..
I find a big need for portable audio on long flights, trains, airports, hotels etc.; so trying to make it as quality as possible....
Using apple lossless on 5g, through SIK Ram Din portable line out cable to Headroom Total Airhead portable headphone amp to either my Etymotic ER4S, or even better sounding my Grado 225s; IMO this sounds pretty good, and is as good as portable audio comes if you have not tried it.
A 60g Ipod will hold approx. 150 lossless cds, so it sure beats carrying around a PCDP and 24 CDs for your travel audio. Ipod sounds about 90% of good PCDP with line-out to same rig, but convenience puts it over the top. You get as close to audiophile as you can hope to get within the very limiting confines of portable audio; but no it is not going to beat your home rig.
If you have not run across them, there are plenty of portable audio boards chasing the latest greatest sounding portable players amps and headphones with the same style arguments as here.
Convenience and sound quality are the two factors that strike my mind when it comes to iPod. You have to couple with the right earphones --- Audio-technica model ATH-Ck7 with Titanium housing is by far the best to my ears. EQ sets at Acoustic and that is......this sound, to me, rivals my reference setup. This is the reason why Creative's MP3 player is destined to be a doom!!!!
For a neophyte, this could be a good start as your reference of sound reproduction in the world of HighEnd audio.