Audiophile and Nano (if that's possible)

Discussion in 'iPod' started by Richard8655, Nov 29, 2009.

  1. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2009
    Location:
    Chicago suburbs
    #1
    Hi all, and sorry if this has been discussed already endlessly, but am new to the Nano and iTunes.

    I consider myself an audiophile with some serious home audio equipment, along with a decent CD/SACD collection. With my new Mac Mini 2.26 320gb HD, decided to import about 15 CDs to iTunes. Purchased a 5G Nano (16gb) and Klipsch Image S4 earbuds to go with. After synching the Nano from iTunes, started experimenting with the sound on the Nano.

    Well, the default AAC 256kb VBR just doesn't cut it. Since I listen mostly to classical music, it was painfully apparent that the AAC files lose much of the ambience, soundstage, and multi-dimensionality. The music was flat, clipped, and uninteresting due to the huge amount of information loss.

    Now I know the Nano is not really meant for high-end audio listening, but after converting the same iTunes files from AAC to Apple Lossless and re-syncing, the music on the Nano was actually listenable and enjoyable for the first time. Much of the soundstage returned.

    So, my question is how many out there are using Apple Lossless on their iPods for the same reason? Even with the huge amount of space Apple Lossless takes on the Nano (16gb), I think about 30-40 CDs can be managed and stored there. Then when the time comes and the Nano fills up, the plan is to delete the files from the Nano and re-sync with a new set of Apple Lossless files from iTunes, as a way to rotate-in new music while keeping high quality sound.

    Anyone doing it this way?
     
  2. macrumors Core

    miles01110

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2006
    Location:
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    #2
    I use lossless, but am planning on staying with 5g iPods and Rockbox so I can use FLAC files.
     
  3. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2009
    #3
    I don't have my 32 gig iTouch yet, but I will do this when I get it. All of my music comes from my copious CD collection, and mp3 just don't cut it except for recordings (some old, old classical recordings, mainly) that came from degraded masters to start with. So I've been slowly deleting and reimporting my music in Apple Lossless. Sounds fantastic. :cool:
     
  4. Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #4
    I use 320AAC with Shure e4cs which sounds OK. Lossless would be nice, but my feeling is that the iPod is a portable player, and that in typical surroundings where you might use an iPod, the gains from using lossless are usually offset against background noise etc. I also like to carry around more than a few dozen albums and with almost 1000 albums, the workarounds for huge file sizes starts to become cumbersome.

    If you would like to manage a lossless library at home and a compressed file on your iPod, explore Doug's Scripts:

    http://dougscripts.com/itunes/scripts/ss.php?sp=losslessaccworkflow

    Just a suggestion.
     
  5. thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2009
    Location:
    Chicago suburbs
    #5
    Thanks for the input, guys. Sounds like I'm not crazy after all with this.

    Those scripts from Doug are really useful, as I read through them. Gives flexibility in alternating between Lossless and AAC to the iPod, depending on iPod space availability and sound quality value of a given piece of music. Thanks for that.

    Friend of mine also mentioned one would be hard pressed to hear the difference between 320AAC and Lossless. Need to A/B this on the Nano.
     
  6. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2009
    Location:
    The Garden of England
    #6
    Yes I do this as well, takes up that bit more space on the ipod but its worth it.

    Just need to get some Grados now!
     
  7. macrumors 65816

    Jolly Jimmy

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2007
    #7
    You can't improve an AAC file by converting it to Apple Lossless, you need to re-import from the original CD's straight to Apple Lossless. Otherwise you'll just end up with larger files that sound exactly the same.
     
  8. thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2009
    Location:
    Chicago suburbs
    #8
    Really? When I did my Lossless test, it was listening to direct CD imports to Lossless format of a few tracks. Having found the sound improvements, then just converted the remaining existing AAC files to Lossless in iTunes as a menu option having discovered the conversion option afterwards. Glad you mentioned this, as will re-import again direct to Lossloss. I wonder what the purpose of the AAC-to-Lossless conversion option in iTunes is for then?
     
  9. macrumors 68020

    SactoGuy18

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2006
    Location:
    Sacramento, CA USA
    #9
    If you want highest sound quality, you need to rip your CD collection in iTunes with Apple Lossless and sync it with a player that can hold a lot of music like an iPod touch 32 or 64 GB or the current iPod classic with 160 GB of storage. In most cases, ripping a CD in iTunes using 256 kbps VBR AAC encoding does not result in significant quality loss unless you listen with seriously high-end audio equipment most of us couldn't afford.
     
  10. thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2009
    Location:
    Chicago suburbs
    #10
    Actually, modestly priced equipment these days reveals a lot of good definition in recorded music. And it's not Bose Wave Radio either. From what I can hear, the iPod does a reasonable job in reproducing some of that quality depending on the encoding choices. Part of the problem is that many people don't discern or even look for quality in audio these day, or don't care.
     
  11. macrumors G4

    flopticalcube

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2006
    Location:
    In the velcro closure of America's Hat
    #11
    Given what's happening in the most recording studios with regards to compression, most people don't have a choice.

    iPods are actually surprisingly good players or at least they were when they used the Wolfson DACs. Its usually the analog stage that lets them down and no trick of encoding can fix that. To my ears, 256KVBR sounds the same as lossless, however.
     
  12. thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2009
    Location:
    Chicago suburbs
    #12
    Yes, for sure the DAC on the player is a huge part of the resulting quality. And that's just one of the many obstacles in portable player reproduction, when also considering compression, loss (i.e., AAC), tiny earbuds, external noise, etc. I find that by eliminating or mitigating as many of these layers as possible is an improvement. In my case, I hear a significant difference between Lossless and 256AAC - so for me Lossless is one small step closer to getting there. The DAC and analog hardware I have to live with.
     
  13. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2009
    Location:
    California
    #13
    I am a big fan of Ambrosia Software's WireTap Studio because of it's "LivePreview". Put in a CD and using WireTap, you can listen to how the music sounds at various compression levels. Some stuff sounds fine at 256bps, others need less compression (and some crappy stuff sounds equally bad at 128bps!). It's cool to hear the difference 'on the fly'.
     
  14. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2007
    Location:
    UK
    #14
    I've done some brief experimentation with Apple Lossless versus AAC 256, certainly Lossless is noticeably better even on my setup, which is a Monitor Audio i-Deck (1st generation), so I would argue that you don't need very expensive gear to hear a difference.

    What I have noticed though is that different music is affected differently. I've found that sparse, acoustic stuff such as Beth Orton, for instance, is less affected than highly mixed and overlaid music. The inherent 'acoustic signature' of the music seems to make a big difference to how well it's handled, in my experience.
     
  15. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2009
    #15
    I have 2 ATVs 160gb and 2 120gb ipods, I ripped all my cds in Apple Lossless.

    Question, I have bought songs from itunes store and when I highlight one, in the advanced drop down box there is an option to 'Create Apple Lossless Version'.

    it looks like it actually makes a second copy of the song, you can see it say 'incoming', so does anyone know if this is indeed the same as lossless from a CD?
     
  16. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2003
    #16
    I only use Lossless.

    File size is not a problem as I usually carry about 10 albums on my iPod at a time.
     
  17. macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2007
    Location:
    Atlanta
    #17
    If you are really serious about AQ you should look at custom IEM's. I have tried dozens of IEM's and now use UE 11Pro's. To me (transducer sound is subjective) they sound the most realistic and the fit/seal is perfect every and all the time.

    Also all (>98%) of my music is Apple Lossless.
     
  18. macrumors 65816

    Jolly Jimmy

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2007
    #18
    Absolutely not. You cannot re-create the bits that were thrown away. It's best to leave lossy files like AAC's and MP3's alone, any conversions will only worsen the quality or in the case of lossless formats, create a uselessly big file.
     
  19. macrumors 6502a

    Jackintosh

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2009
    Location:
    Illinois
    #19
    This is my question too. Through discussions here we know that conversion from AAC to Lossloss (probably) doesn't result in a Lossless file. SO, what's the purpose of the iTunes option "Create Apple Lossless Version" in converting from an AAC file?
     
  20. macrumors 65816

    Jolly Jimmy

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2007
    #20
    AAC to Apple lossless never can and never will result in a lossless file. Information was thrown away when the AAC file was made. Gone forever. It would be nothing short of magic for a lossy file to become a lossless one.

    The reason that you can convert to Apple lossless is pretty simple, it's just a matter of ease of use. There are 3 lossless (AIFF, Apple Lossless and Wav) and 2 lossy (MP3 and AAC) formats to choose from within iTunes, and you can freely import/convert files to any of them. All you need to do is learn what they mean and what they do to your files.
     
  21. macrumors 6502a

    Jackintosh

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2009
    Location:
    Illinois
    #21
    Thanks, but I don't think you're understanding my question. If the AAC-->Lossless conversion option in iTunes doesn't result in Lossless, what is its purpose?
     
  22. macrumors 65816

    Jolly Jimmy

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2007
    #22
    I did understand your question, and the answer is in there. So in fewer words, it is utterly useless.
     
  23. macrumors 6502a

    Jackintosh

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2009
    Location:
    Illinois
    #23
    Ok thanks. Just seems to me that Apple wouldn't provide a utility that has no purpose. Or it doesn't do what it claims to do.
     
  24. macrumors 65816

    Jolly Jimmy

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2007
    #24
    I get what you mean, and I suppose they could have grayed out the option for converting lossy files to a lossless format, but that would have just confused a whole new set of people, so they just went with the simplest.
     
  25. macrumors 65832

    benlangdon

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2008
    #25
    ya i never understood this.
    it won't do anything pretty much.
    its like taking a 50x50 pixel image and making a huge file. its still 50x50 pixels.
     

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