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Slayerboym88
Jul 2, 2008, 12:42 AM
I have been switching back and forth from my iPod Classic and my Macbook and was realizing that my songs sound A LOT BETTER on the macbook!!! Most notably, the "stereo" balance sounds better and the sound is just so much richer than on my iPod, no matter what EQ I have it set to, or so it seems. Any suggestions or is this a recognized problem?? Note, I'm using the same Apple given headphones on both, and they are less than a year old (came with the classic)



ezekielrage_99
Jul 2, 2008, 12:54 AM
I have noticed the same thing, I would be guessing that it's from the fact that you can modify the equalizer with iTunes while the iPod has the smelly presets.

Apple-Man23
Jul 2, 2008, 01:09 AM
not sure about why it sounds better on the mb than it does on the iPod but you should definitely upgrade your headphones that is when you will notice a MAJOR sound quality difference!

Ivan P
Jul 2, 2008, 01:12 AM
Apparently it's due to the low-quality audio chips used in the iPod classic; huge difference in quality also noticeable between the classic and the iPod touch.

mosx
Jul 2, 2008, 02:29 AM
Yeah theres a big difference in quality between the iPod touch and iPod classic/nano/previous generation iPods. The iPod touch kind of sounds like **** compared to them.

But the iPod classic should sound better than the MacBook.

I have the 3G nano 8GB and iPod 5.5G 80GB and the Napa (C2D Merom) MacBook. I use Audio-Technica ATH-A500 headphones and the iPods absolutely blow away the MacBook. No contest at all.

It has a Sigmatel audio processor in it though. The newer MacBooks might have a Realtek.

ezekielrage_99
Jul 2, 2008, 07:23 PM
Yeah theres a big difference in quality between the iPod touch and iPod classic/nano/previous generation iPods. The iPod touch kind of sounds like **** compared to them.

But the iPod classic should sound better than the MacBook.

I have the 3G nano 8GB and iPod 5.5G 80GB and the Napa (C2D Merom) MacBook. I use Audio-Technica ATH-A500 headphones and the iPods absolutely blow away the MacBook. No contest at all.

It has a Sigmatel audio processor in it though. The newer MacBooks might have a Realtek.

I've got a set of ATH-AD700 with iWOW SRS on my Macbook, you can't compare to the iPod the Macbook just sounds far better.

Apple does use the Intel High Definition Audio chipset in the Macbooks, which as sound for computers go is pretty darn good.

mosx
Jul 2, 2008, 11:31 PM
I've got a set of ATH-AD700 with iWOW SRS on my Macbook, you can't compare to the iPod the Macbook just sounds far better.

Apple does use the Intel High Definition Audio chipset in the Macbooks, which as sound for computers go is pretty darn good.

heh you're using iWOW SRS? No offense, but that automatically disqualifies you from talking about audio quality.

Music is meant to be left untouched. It's not meant to be colored and modified in the terrible way that SRS does or by using god awful EQs.

The MacBook is noticeably flat. Not in the way the iPod is. The iPod is simply neutral. The MacBook is flat, even with equalization. If a song is meant to have deep bass, the iPod can make my A500s rumble on my ears. On the MacBook it just falls flat.

This happens on Macs equipped with either the Realtek or Sigmatel chipset.

The 5.5G and 3G iPods have deeper bass if the song calls for it, wider sound stage (unless you're unnaturally modifying the audio), more detail.. The iPods simply sound better.

"Intel HD Audio" is just a spec. The chipset is either made by Realtek or Sigmatel. Just depends on the model. My particular MacBook has a Sigmatel chipset, similar to the one in the first generation iPod shuffle that the audiophiles loved.

But its not just about the chipset either. The DAC and amplification play a big part. The iPod has a better headphone amplification stage, and the 5.5G iPod has a Wolfson DAC that is nearly identical to the same ones they use in higher end DVD players that are DVD-Audio capable (not Dolby Digital, but the actual DVD-A spec).

okrelayer
Jul 3, 2008, 12:00 AM
concerning the sound through macbooks. I cant stress how much i love the audio/headphone sound i get out of it. On my moms toshiba, and my dads hp the sound is HORRIBLE. a bit better on the hp, but the tosh is like listening through a telephone

bloodycape
Jul 3, 2008, 12:15 AM
Yeah I noticed that Mini(under flat eq and FLAC on rockbox and mp3 without) sounds equal to my macbook pro. However, my Sony Walkman on flat EQ and clear stereo(mp3 format) on it sounds more vibrant, and higher clarity. I have Sony premium IEM phones and Sennheiser HD465. I want to use my Mini more as I have 32gb cf card in it, but the Sony sound spoiled me and 8gb model I have(or 16gb available) isn't enough space.

Mr Skills
Jul 3, 2008, 04:45 AM
I thought you might like and audio engineer's perspective...

Note: I've never listened to an iPod Classic (although IMO all the other generations including the Touch have been excellent so I'm not anticipating it to change now) - so this is just something to bear in mind when you do listening tests.

Thanks to psycho-acoustic effects, we perceive sounds as being deeper and richer and sparklier at higher volume - and it only takes a tiny change in volume to have this effect. So you might not realise something is actually a tiny bit louder but that is enough to tweak your ears and make you think it is better.

I only mention this because, in Europe at least, iPods are known to have relatively low volume compared to many players (possibly in response to bad press about possible hearing damage).

I'm not suggesting you are wrong (I don't know!). I guess in essence I'm saying that comparing like-with-like is actually very difficult to do.
:)

MonksMac
Jul 3, 2008, 03:25 PM
The iPod Classic doesn't sound as good as previous generations. I can't really comment on the shuffle because even though I have one it has all the files transcoded from 256k AAC files. I think partly the problem is that after a while the iPod headphones that Apple ships with them start to lose volume. Now I have to practically turn the volume all the way up when I listen on the iPod. The headphones sounded great for the first month or so then are getting worse and worse. I've only had my classic since late December. Get some better headphones to help the sound out.:apple:

mattyb240
Jul 3, 2008, 04:33 PM
The headphones sounded great for the first month or so then are getting worse and worse. I've only had my classic since late December. Get some better headphones to help the sound out.:apple:

Lies they are terrible quality, for the average person on every day they are fine, but they are cheap ad poorly made, you only really appreciate it when you get some decent ones trust me, I highly recommend Senhieser! (think my spelling is wrong). I have noise cancelling CX330 and they are fantastic! True bass and clariity throughout the frequencies.
:):apple:

lostless
Jul 3, 2008, 06:27 PM
http://homepage.mac.com/marc.heijligers/audio/ipod/comparison/measurements/measurements.html

It's not a lie. Your classic does has poorer sound quality. The problem with the classic is that the treble frequencies, ever so slightly, arrives before the bass frequencies. It's small issue with the new D-A converter. Gives the sound a sharp, crisp and clean sound, at the expense of some harmonics and 3d soundstage. It has a feeling of the sound in my head instead of around my head. In my car, my classic is tiring to listen to, but in a loud environment, it's great. Your ears are not lying.

Ivan P
Jul 3, 2008, 06:34 PM
Yeah theres a big difference in quality between the iPod touch and iPod classic/nano/previous generation iPods. The iPod touch kind of sounds like **** compared to them.

Really? I thought the opposite, plus the touch is supposed to have a higher-quality chip than the other iPods (the same as in the iPhone).

bloodycape
Jul 4, 2008, 03:24 AM
I only mention this because, in Europe at least, iPods are known to have relatively low volume compared to many players (possibly in response to bad press about possible hearing damage).

I'm not suggesting you are wrong (I don't know!). I guess in essence I'm saying that comparing like-with-like is actually very difficult to do.
:)

Actually all players have a volume limit in Europe, because of the EU. They did it to protect the consumer from hearing damage. All you need to do is install the North American firmware(or if you have a Samsung player the Korean firmware as it adds UMS to it).

mosx
Jul 4, 2008, 05:11 AM
Really? I thought the opposite, plus the touch is supposed to have a higher-quality chip than the other iPods (the same as in the iPhone).

Well, theres a lot more to it than just that.

Theres a few steps to the process. First you have the hardware decoding the MP3/AAC file. Then after that it gets passed on to the DAC that converts the digital signal into the analog audio you hear. Then from there it goes through a number of parts during the headphone amplification stage.

The iPhone and iPod nano might have the same Wolfson DAC that the previous generation iPods used, but they don't have the same hardware or headphone amplification stages. Thats why they sound worse and both basically sound like ****.

The current generation iPod nano and iPod classic use the same hardware as eachother. An "inferior" DAC compared to previous generations, but relatively good headphone amplification and decoding.

The 5.5G iPod still sounds the best of all and has the most potential thanks to the "iMod".

I'll use my 5.5G iPod even if I go through 10 batteries and 10 HDDs through the years. I'll use a 5.5G iPod as long as it is possible.

Edit: I forgot to add that my friend has the latest version of SRS iWOW on a MacBook Pro. Tried it again. Hate it. The high end is so boosted and colored that it does nothing more than hurt your ears and give a massive case of sound fatigue. The other frequencies get washed out by the horrible high end and the space manipulators kind of mush everything together. Its terrible. Non-EQ'ed headphone jack of both my 5.5G 80GB iPod and 3G 8GB nano... well, it's light years ahead in quality.

I'll also admit that the older HPs sounded terrible too. But the current dv6x00 series sounds great. Better than the MacBook if you're running Vista.

Wotan31
Jul 4, 2008, 07:12 AM
Any hand-held audio device is going to have a cheap-o DAC and analog stage. It has to be to meet the low price point of these devices, plus it has to be physically small and have low power consumption.

A laptop will almost always have a better DAC and analog stage than a hand-held device.

I use a Bel Canto DAC3 at home to play my itunes collection - it's *waaaaay* better than any computer sound card and worth the price IMO.

There are lower cost (<$1000) external DACs out there like the Benchmark DAC1 and the Stello DA-100 that will give you a very nice improvement in quality if you're accustomed to standard laptop audio.

Of course none of these external DACs does you any good if you're out and about - but for home listening, they're great. :cool:

mBurns
Jul 6, 2008, 12:43 PM
Wow, I must not be very picky with my audio. I do not notice a difference going between the Classic, iPhone, and MacBook Pro.

mosx
Jul 8, 2008, 06:26 AM
Any hand-held audio device is going to have a cheap-o DAC and analog stage. It has to be to meet the low price point of these devices, plus it has to be physically small and have low power consumption.

A laptop will almost always have a better DAC and analog stage than a hand-held device.

Most definitely not true.

Theres a reason theres a large market for 3rd party sound devices for laptops.

Genghis Khan
Jul 8, 2008, 07:20 AM
when i moved from my 3rd gen iPod to my Touch, i noticed a HUGE reduction in sound quality

that said, i can't comment on MacBook earphone quality as I seldom use it.


but my Touch and iPhone are noticeably inferior (sound wise) to the older nano's/iPod's in my house


Shame...

DoFoT9
Jul 8, 2008, 07:44 AM
if you are using the stock apple headphones then you seriously need to buy something else, they are shocking.

i have some nice sennheiser (or however you spell it) in ear headphones and they are brilliant to listen to. i notice a slight difference between my 5G ipod and CD MBP, not much though. id have to say that the MBP is better quality than the 5G ESPECIALLY when playing games, it seems to lower the volume and lessen the quality to allow for smoother playback of the games. i wish that didnt happen it peeves me off a bit.

suprdave80
Jul 10, 2008, 09:19 AM
hey the ipod classic works great for grunge rock turned way up loud. lol. really, though, i just 'upgraded' to a classic from my old 4g that had it's hard drive bite the dust. now i'm thinking i should have just replaced the hard drive. the sound on the classic is like someone put a 'screen' over it. (i'm no audio expert, so that's the best i can describe it!)

the best comparison i tried out was hallelujah by jeff buckley. it sounds so much more haunting on my powerbook than on the ipod classic. really disappointing how much of the atmosphere of the song is gone when i play it on the classic.

DoFoT9
Jul 12, 2008, 03:44 AM
hey the ipod classic works great for grunge rock turned way up loud. lol. really, though, i just 'upgraded' to a classic from my old 4g that had it's hard drive bite the dust. now i'm thinking i should have just replaced the hard drive. the sound on the classic is like someone put a 'screen' over it. (i'm no audio expert, so that's the best i can describe it!)

the best comparison i tried out was hallelujah by jeff buckley. it sounds so much more haunting on my powerbook than on the ipod classic. really disappointing how much of the atmosphere of the song is gone when i play it on the classic.

ok so im going to stick with my 5G for a while then aye. its pretty sad when newer products are crapper than older products :(

macbattle
Jul 12, 2008, 12:47 PM
ok so im going to stick with my 5G for a while then aye. its pretty sad when newer products are crapper than older products :(

That is why we have to fight the apple to improve the apple. Other companies have past apple for years now and if they figure out how(have the cash, or even care about how) to market their product like apple can/does, it be only time before consumers wise up. The 4G ipod will always be the best ipod ever made. It had the best sound and the best build quality. After that it all went down the toilet.

MagnusVonMagnum
Jul 12, 2008, 01:45 PM
I think partly the problem is that after a while the iPod headphones that Apple ships with them start to lose volume. Now I have to practically turn the volume all the way up when I listen on the iPod. The headphones sounded great for the first month or so then are getting worse and worse. I've only had my classic since late December. Get some better headphones to help the sound out.:apple:

I honestly don't know why or even how anyone can use those earphones Apple ships with iPods. My iPod Touch has these AWFUL little 'buds' that won't even stay in my ears properly, feel incredibly uncomfortable to boot and have inconsistent sound quality and volume depending on their orientation. Maybe I'm just clueless how to properly insert them or my ears are a weird size, but I thought they were awful. I own custom fitted musician earplugs so I'm not exactly an idiot on how to insert 'in the ear' plugs. These apparently are supposed to sit just outside your ear canal opening, but they don't sit there well at all, IMO.

But using the "Sony Walkman Rule of Thumb" principle, any headphones you get with any player are going to be total crap so the first thing someone should do that doesn't already own good headphones is go buy some good ones. Personally, I use Koss Studio Over the Ear Headphones with the iPod Touch and they sound great. But there's some good stuff out there from companies like Grado. You can even get custom molded ear canal headphones that drown out all outside sounds (nice on planes, although nowadays you can get noise canceling ones), but they sound as flat as you could want. The danger in all such designs is it's easy to fry your hearing due to the loudness masking effect of headphones which is much worse the further into the system they go (i.e. ear canal headphones are the most likely to be mis-used too loud and damage hearing).

When I was going to get my musician plugs at my ear doctor, I heard a doctor in the next room telling a teenager he had lost 40% of his hearing across a significant part of the audio spectrum and it was due to walkman headphones blasting in his ears. Basically, if you're using over the ear type headphones and someone can hear the song you're listening to 10 feet away, you're probably destroying your hearing. I've got a sound pressure level meter (you can get a cheap one at Radio Shack) and it'll tell you what your earphones are putting out at 1 inch from the driver if you want a good frame of reference.

In my experience with high-end audio, it always sounds MUCH LOUDER in a real room with actual loudspeakers for a given volume level than the same level on headphones, which makes you want to keep cranking the headphones. Plus headphones (due to the environments they are usually used in) are competing against outside sounds that also make you want to keep turning the volume up to just be able to hear and those volumes are usually unsafe. This is probably why all these limiters came into being. Too many were destroying their hearing without even realizing it.

But then we live in a world where people blast car stereos to levels that are clearly CLIPPING (i.e. the voltage is hitting the rails or going past its maximum resulting in square waves which are bad for speakers and ears alike) and they act like they don't even notice. It sounds awful but LOUD is apparently more important than quality. Ironically, you can almost never have too much power (well up to the point where the driver would fail) as clipping is caused by running out of it, not having too much of it. Anyway, if people can put up with THAT, then no they can't be trusted to not turn up the volume to dangerous levels with headphones, IMO.

Anyway, how 'good' a portable sounds is going to be a combination of the headphones used (their quality) plus their power needs (sensitivity rating and impedance of the drivers) versus the portable's amplifier in its ability to drive a given load to a given level cleanly. Thus, I don't think you can just state that a Classic is going to sound worse neccessarily than a Macbook. It'll depend on the headphones used in more ways than one if the Classic has a wimpier output stage than the Macbook. Very sensitive headphones could easily nullify the differences, for example. Some amplifiers also drive some loads better than others so the same headphones COULD sound different on a classic from a Macbook. But if the headphones are within the clean operating range of an op-amp, they should sound very similar on both systems.

There's a very real subjective imagination effect in the high-end audio world where some people even believe painting the edges of CDs with green ink somehow magically improves the sound of the CD.... No, I'm not making that up. It was a big argument in the '90s in high-end audio circles. I left 'high-end' circles because most people there prescribed more to imagination than science. I use my ears to listen, but I don't want to imagine things either and believe me, it's very easy to do just that for a number of psychological reasons.

KelchM
Jul 12, 2008, 03:41 PM
The output of the DAC of the 6g iPod is actually fairly good. It is the amplifier that is its downfall.

bloodycape
Jul 12, 2008, 10:49 PM
But using the "Sony Walkman Rule of Thumb" principle, any headphones you get with any player are going to be total crap so the first thing someone should do that doesn't already own good headphones is go buy some good ones.

I would beg to differ the Sony Walkman mp3 I bought the other month actually came with good headphones. They have been rated as some of the best stock headphones you can get with an mp3 player, and I would say they are pretty good for "stock" buds. Then again I got a sennheiser cans which is the best cans I have ever used.

KelchM
Jul 13, 2008, 03:16 AM
I would beg to differ the Sony Walkman mp3 I bought the other month actually came with good headphones. They have been rated as some of the best stock headphones you can get with an mp3 player, and I would say they are pretty good for "stock" buds. Then again I got a sennheiser cans which is the best cans I have ever used.

The canalphones sony is shipping with its mp3 players are really nice for included earphones and will easily satisfy most consumers.

bloodycape
Jul 14, 2008, 01:07 AM
The canalphones sony is shipping with its mp3 players are really nice for included earphones and will easily satisfy most consumers.
That is exactly my point.

errrwtf
Jul 19, 2008, 05:21 PM
Yeah I noticed that Mini(under flat eq and FLAC on rockbox and mp3 without) sounds equal to my macbook pro. However, my Sony Walkman on flat EQ and clear stereo(mp3 format) on it sounds more vibrant, and higher clarity. I have Sony premium IEM phones and Sennheiser HD465. I want to use my Mini more as I have 32gb cf card in it, but the Sony sound spoiled me and 8gb model I have(or 16gb available) isn't enough space.

So you guys use ipod classic because of the convenience even though sony sounds better? (through headphones)

rosalindavenue
Jul 19, 2008, 05:44 PM
There has been a lot of grumbling by audiophiles about the ipod classic. I have one (80 gig) and I love it-- my previous one was a 3G touch wheel with the four buttons, so I love the thinness and the screen. I can't tell the sound difference, but I have pretty pronounced high frequency hearing loss from playing in bands for years... if there is a sound quality loss its a real shame. I'm now lusting after an ipod touch-- how's the sound quality there?

bloodycape
Jul 20, 2008, 03:41 PM
So you guys use ipod classic because of the convenience even though sony sounds better? (through headphones)

No, I don't have a Classic, but I have used one before. Only ipod I have is a customize Mini. I also own a Sony A728 and a Cowon A2. The Sony no matter how output is the best sounding device I own. Also, I don't find my Mini convenient as I have to use itunes to sync(rockbox syncing is a little unstable for me) while with the other two I get the convenience of syncing with out software.