Classical Music

Discussion in 'iPod' started by MacSA, May 14, 2005.

  1. MacSA macrumors 68000


    Jun 4, 2003
    Anyone care to share their experiences with encoding classical music on iTunes. Which bitrates or formats do you find the best? Do certain types of classical music such as orchestral/symphonic or instrument solos sound better with different formats or bit rates?

    One more thing, how does classical music sound through the iPod? :)
  2. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    Although not classical music, the solo concerts of Keith Jarrett in my library exhibit some of the same qualities as other piano concertos. I also have some John Williams guitar albums and some Philip Glass pieces.

    One of the problems with natural instrumentation is that it's easier to hear if it's being pulled out of shape only because you have a mental reference of what you think it should sound like unlike techno or drum & bass (which I also adore).

    Saying that, the quality also depends on the playback equipment. The same files sound way better on my Shuffle than they do on my 4th gen 40gb iPod. However, I suspect that a 128AAC on my soon-to-be purchased Shure e3cs will sound subjectively better than a 256AAC on the standard Apple headphones.

    My current compromise is to have two iTunes libraries (managed with Doug's iTunes Library Manager One ripped in Lossless, the other a mix of 192AAC and 256AAC. The advantage of having the Lossless library is to have the good quality at home and also a convenient source for re-ripping into compressed formats.

    If I had an 80gb iPod that didn't have sound distortion problems as the iPod Photos are reported to have, I would use 320AAC for everything.
  3. MacSA thread starter macrumors 68000


    Jun 4, 2003
    ipod sound distortion?........that't the first time i've heard of this. Do the minis suffer from it too?
  4. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    No, the minis don't. There's plenty of evidence of the problem on the Photos especially with low-impedance headphones...

    Here's one thread on Apple's site.

    If you google 'ipod photo distortion' then you'll find plenty of discussions about the issue. One of the posters here, loge, has repeatedly stressed how bad this problem is with certain types of music.

    Various theories abound, most of them centred on the headphone amp and the possibility of it being a mixed video/audio line-out.

    Personally, I don't know but as I have a substantial amount of piano music I wasn't going to risk over £300 on something that sounds crap. So that's why I got a 4th Gen 40gb iPod the other day... :cool:

    Truly, if fidelity is that important to you: Get a 1gb Shuffle, some Shure e3cs or e5cs, and rip into 320AAC. The Shuffle won't take Lossless files...
  5. Crikey macrumors 6502

    Jan 14, 2004
    Spencer's Butte, Oregon
    Hey, Blue Velvet,

    Thanks for mentioning that the Shuffle doesn't handle Apple Lossless compression! I have been thinking about using the Shuttle for a special purpose project involving Lossless and I hadn't noticed that the format is unsupported. I may still do it with 320Kbs files.

    To answer the question in the thread title that doesn't turn out really to have been the topic of the thread, I rip all my stuff as 192Kbps or 265Kbps MP3s. Why MP3s? Because I also have a couple of Linux boxes. By now I'm sure you can get Linux software that plays AACs, but who knows.

    There are a few tracks I rip as AIFFs or Apple Lossless because I am trying to work out the guitar or bass or percussion part and want the most detailed sound available.

  6. ricebag macrumors member

    Aug 31, 2004
    I use default AAC encoding and it sounds great to me from both computer and ipod to some nice speakers. I'm not picky though, I just love to hear the music...
  7. tombo macrumors member

    Sep 14, 2004
    Brighton/Bristol UK
    From my experience, I've found that encoding at 160kbps AAC sounds better than 128kbps AAC. With most classical music.

    Listening to some solo viola by Bach, where I know the original cd very well, in bed on my iPod I can tell the difference between the bit rates above.
    The 128 can sound a little squelchy to me at times in the music. This is on my own, in a silent room.

    Now I tried this out, a few weeks ago, just to see if I was being too fussy. I went outside with medium traffic 30m away and I could still here the difference between 128 and 160 AAC with the aforementioned piece. Classical music's the only thing that I could say I am this fussy with, but I have noticed some splash cymbols sound better encoded in the higher rate.

    I myself play the viola, so I might be more critical than most, but I would say solo or chamber music is the most vulnerable to compression.

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