iPod audio better than iPhone?

Discussion in 'iPod' started by KandyKane, Nov 14, 2011.

  1. macrumors 6502

    Mar 23, 2009
    Am I imagining things?

    I stopped using my iPod nano a few years ago as I had been using my iPhone as a music player, however since the Nano 1st generation battery replacement has come up I dug out my old Nano. It is replaceable, but out of curiosity I thought I'd check to see if it still worked. After a few hours charge, I looked through to see what songs were on there and listened to a couple and it seems that the audio is clearer than on my iPhone??

    Is this right? Or does the iPhone compress them differently or something? Or is it because it's a dedicated music player? If so, do the new Nanos sound any better?

    (This thing is so cute, I can't believe I was okay with carrying 145 songs around and quite content, these days I have 14gb of music on my iPhone and end up skipping 8 before playing 1 song, then skipping another 6!)
  2. macrumors 6502a

    Nov 21, 2004
    From what I understand, the first generation iPod nanos use Wolfson DACs, which are better quality than those found in the iPhone. I'm not sure what the newer nanos use, but they probably sound worse.

    You must have good speakers to hear the difference...
  3. macrumors newbie

    May 31, 2010
    If your looking for the best quality of music, you shouldn't even buy an iPod at all. Other music players are out there that have much better quality music. Honestly I have the new iPhone and i don't worry about any music quality because i have the Bose QC15's. Those headphones are $300 but they have the best noise canceling and they get wayyyy loud, they're outstanding! Well worth the price,I recommend you go check some out!

    Thanks, and I'm not here to offend anyone, just stating my opinion!
  4. thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 23, 2009
    Thanks for your replies guys.

    Nah, I'm not looking for anything in particular. Just noticed the exact same songs sounded different in the iPhone and iPod. With the equaliser on and off, same crappy Apple headphones and crappy computer speakers.

    I think my head is just making up irrational reasons to keep it instead of sending it back!
  5. macrumors 68000


    Jan 6, 2009
    116th & Broadway
    Apple gives you back a refurbished (new battery and outer case) 1st gen.
  6. macrumors 68020


    Nov 5, 2009
    Loudness =/= quality. :'(
  7. macrumors member


    Nov 12, 2011

    Advising ppl to buy Bose headphones for quality is like telling ppl to buy a sooped up Honda Civic for performance =-(

    Bose is terrible and its terribly overpriced...

    There are much better cans for way less than Bose
  8. macrumors 6502

    Blue Fox

    Apr 13, 2009
    Agreed. But if you even slightly mention "Beats", then you loose all credibility. :D

    I have a pair of Bose OE and think they're fantastic for the $80 I spent on them. Klipsch makes some really great headphones as well for the price. They're not multi-thousand dollar Sennheiser's, but they're not bad either.
  9. macrumors regular

    Aug 9, 2009
    Or like telling someone to buy an alienware laptop for gaming.
  10. macrumors 6502a

    Nov 21, 2004
    I have very little experience with Bose headphones (I've tried them very briefly), but the one thing I noticed is this: people who own Bose headphones LOVE them and wouldn't consider using anything else. That's significant.

    Bose and Beats headphones (in some weird respect) seem more Apple-like to me than the competition, at least in terms of marketing and perception. (Almost) no one who buys them is worried about frequency response or impedance or matching them up with other components; they just want to hook them up to an iPod and get good sound and have cool, convenient, portable headphones. It's more about user experience than specs.

    Granted, Bose probably has a distorted frequency response in their products, but so do Grado headphones, which have no sub bass, extended mid bass, and a treble blip so they sound more detailed than they are. But my SR80s are way more fun than the very flat, technically superior HD280s they replaced. If you like a sound you like a sound, who cares if it's technically right.

    I finally got myself a good pair of reasonably accurate very fast headphones, then I had to get a DAC to feed them, and now my poorly mastered albums (mostly rap and 90s alternative rock) sound worse than they did before. 192khz/24bit classical sounds amazing, but I don't listen to much classical music. And I'm already thinking of replacing them with an older pair that sounds better but has worse specifications.

    If Bose sounds so good to you that you don't need a new DAC and amp to enjoy it, then more power to you. And their noise reduction technology is pretty awesome.
  11. Sol
    macrumors 68000


    Jan 14, 2003
    The older the iPod model, the more emphasis it had on being a music player. It seems like iPhones can do anything and being able to play music is just another function.

    In my limited understanding of digital audio, I think the issue with iPhones is the dithering that is necessary to mix audio from its music app with whatever else is running in the system, like another app and system sounds. If the best the iPhone can do is 16 bit 44.1 kHz (just guessing this) then that resolution has to be shared by all those things, compromising their clarity in the process. Perhaps it would be possible to have the option in iOS to let the music app take over the device DAC for a boost in audio performance but I would not hold my breath for Apple to do this, lest it confuses the non-technical people who gravitate to the iPhone and iPad.

    Whatever the case may be, it would be interesting to do a comparison between the different iPods in order to determine which one sounds best. Something tells me that the iPod Classic and Shuffle would come out on top, since those are still first and foremost music players.
  12. macrumors 65816

    Jul 11, 2008
    To say Bose head phones are terrible just isn't right. They are overpriced yes, but their head phones are far from terrible, even for their price.

    I own a pair of OE2s (paid $140) and they still have better clarity than my Sennheiser HD495s, KOSS KSC-75s, KOSS PORTAPROs, Sennheiser PX100s, KLIPSCH ONE, and KOSS DJ 100s.

    The big problem with Bose is that they are mids-centric, they neither hit highs or lows as well as they could. (There is a exception to this with the QC15s but the rest don't do to well) For this reason I do prefer my Sennheiser HD495s over them, but it still doesn't make them a bad headphone manufacturer.

    They also do give a lifetime warranty, something you don't find on many other companies.
  13. macrumors 68010


    Sep 21, 2006
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Interesting post. Would like to know other takes on this. Can you point me to other sources for this? I'm genuinely curious.
  14. macrumors member

    Oct 28, 2011
    In an episode of Mad Money" with Jim Cramer last week they interviewed a top exec for Harman International and it did come up about the innovations that Steve Jobs came up with but they agreed that there was "NO" emphasis on sound quality in Apple products.

    Harman equipment (Infinity, JBL, Mark Levinson, etc.)is currently installed in 4 out of 5 cars built.
    Cowboys stadium. Many other large venues. I am currently looking at converting 50 of my Apple shares into Harman.

    I have stuck with cd's for SQ.
    Love Apple products dont get me wrong. :)
  15. Sol
    macrumors 68000


    Jan 14, 2003
    My comment was not based on any particular article; I was just making an educated guess from my limited understanding of digital audio. It just makes sense that iOS would be combining (using dithering) the 16 bit 44.1 kHz music files with all other sounds from other apps in order to render a mixed audio signal that is then sent through its DAC and amp. In theory, the quality of the music file is compromised but I would not go so far as to say that it is noticeable.

    On the Mac side, there is a music player app called Decibel that avoids this sharing of the DAC by the operating system. It has the option of hogging the DAC so that all that is being sent to it is the music in its native resolution.

    Search for "Dithering Audio" to get some much more detailed and informed explanations of its necessity in digital audio. It is generally used whenever an audio file is down-sampled or up-sampled but I believe it is also used when software combines multiple sounds into one mix.
  16. macrumors 68030

    Nov 7, 2004

    Out of all those I have listed to (pretty much all of 'em) the 1G Shuffle is the best sounding and the iPod Mini the worst IMHO. I did not think much of the 1G Nano, tbh.
  17. macrumors newbie

    Sep 1, 2011
    I have a sensitive ear and you are probably right to say that the nano sounds better than iphone. It think that's mostly because it is created as a dedicated player. With iphone, there are too many external circuitry that influence the music quality.
  18. macrumors 68020


    May 9, 2008
    Unless you want active noise cancelling- Bose truly are the best at doing that. Audio-Technica and Sony ANC headphones cannot match the amount of noise that the Bose drowns out.

    Their 11" and 14" laptops are unique in their segment. There is no other 11" laptop that can do as much as the M11x can, and from all the 13-14" laptops I've looked at none of them can match the M14x's performance either. Granted you do sacrifice some portability, but not as much as you might think.

    Once you get up to the 17" size or their desktops then yeah you can get a comparable computer for less.
  19. macrumors newbie

    Jul 3, 2011
    I have Sennheiser IE 800 and it sound very good on my iPhone 5
  20. macrumors 6502


    May 18, 2012
    South part of North
    :D :D :D I'd wish this was the case :rolleyes:

    Yeah I know...old thread... :p
  21. Jzo
    macrumors regular

    Oct 16, 2011
    Zune was the best sounding MP3 player I've ever owned. No joke.
  22. macrumors 65816

    Jul 11, 2008
    I believe they used the same chip as the 5th gen iPods did. I agree the Zune was a clean sounding device. Sansa Clip and Galaxy Player are excellent choices too.

    Note that the sound difference isn't noticeable unless you're using HQ head phones.
  23. macrumors 6502a


    Feb 15, 2009
    One should add that iPods sound considerably better when using the Dock.

    The best sounding iPod is still the iPod 4th generation via the official Dock. You should swap the hard drive with a compact flash card (with an adaptor). This way, you'll have no background noise when the hard drive spins.

    However, some say the best sounding iPod was the 5.5th generation.

    You can change the DA-converter yourself:
  24. macrumors 6502a


    Jun 11, 2012
    I heard a similar story about the iPod 5th Generation (aka iPod video). Apparently they have better audio quality than the modern iPods and iPhones. Seems strange that Apple settle for worse quality in more up to date products.
  25. macrumors 6502a


    Feb 15, 2009
    Maybe it's because they get the technology in a smaller form factor. Size is a very important issue in recent Apple products.

    What exactly is the difference between the 5th and 5.5th generation iPod? Sometimes your read that the 5.5th sounds considerably better than the 5th generation.

    It would be interesting to know what audio components are in the 4th generation and the iPod photo (1st (20/40GB) and 2nd gen (30/60GB)) too.

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