Sound quality of 7yr old classic vs. 6g nano

Discussion in 'iPod' started by oldschool006, Sep 20, 2010.

  1. oldschool006 macrumors member

    Sep 15, 2009
    I'll soon be updating my 20gb white brick classic circa 2004 to the nano 6g. I'm wondering if the sound quality will impress or disappoint coming from the almost seven year old ipod to this new tiny one that holds about the same amount of music?
  2. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    should be the same. the size doesn't matter, as it simply uses flash memory rather than a hard drive. if you use the same file, it will sound the same
  3. NathanA macrumors 6502a

    Feb 9, 2008
    Now, now...this is actually a fair question by the OP. After all, what is a digital audio player if not a DAC (digital-to-analog converter)? There are always going to be some devices that are better than others at reproducing the precise analog waveform that the digital file you are trying to play represents, so it is not necessarily correct to say that "it will sound the same."

    You are right that the capacity of the player does not determine audio output quality, but I'm pretty sure the OP wasn't arguing that it did. I think what the OP was wondering is, how is it possible that Apple produced something way smaller and lighter but which can still store the same amount of content, and still have just as good of audio output quality as what I already have? His question appears to be, if they shrunk it down that much and I paid less for it, then surely something in the quality department had to give somewhere, right?

    There is no correlation. However, until someone tries the new Nano and compares it to older models, it is impossible to know what the audio quality will be like. And even if it is measurably worse, you may not even notice it. Not everybody's ears are the same. :)

    This is an interesting article that was written back when the first iPod Shuffle came out, and wowed everybody with its audio quality which was superior to ANY iPod before it, and goes to show not only that there CAN be differences in analog audio output quality, and that it is measurable scientifically, but that in this particular case, the device with the best results happened to be the smallest and cheapest model:

    -- Nathan
  4. oldschool006 thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 15, 2009
    Thanks for the interesting article. That is what I intended to ask.
    To clarify, I am wondering how the old classic hardware will compare soundwise to the new nano? As you point out, most likely it would mean a side by side comparison to know the answer.
  5. reh macrumors 6502a

    Oct 24, 2003
    I replaced a 7-year-old classic with a new nano a week or so ago. I haven't noticed a difference in sound quality (both seem fine). However, the nano seems to do a much better job with "sound check" (keeping all songs at roughly the same volume).
  6. malnar macrumors 6502a


    Aug 20, 2008
    It depends on how particular about sound quality. Are you an audiophile? And by that I mean a TRUE audiophile (you are not listening through Apple's buds or even "nice" but low-end better options from big name brands but through significantly more expensive earphones with names like Etymotic, Ultimate Ears, Westone, Sennheiser, among a handful of others) and listen to high bitrate or lossless files? If so, then this topic is valid for you. For most people, it's probably not.

    I have found that sound quality has gone up and down over the years. Apple has changed audio chip manufacturers at some point (about 3 years ago, I believe) and at first it was not for the best. The Iphone 4, however, is excellent sounding, and I would assume that most of the new lineup is going to be using the same audio chip. Conversely, my 2007 160gb Ipod Classic sounds much less pleasing in comparison. My prior 80gb Ipod sounded beautiful, and I really missed it until this Iphone came along. But I haven't seen anything definitive about the nano. My gut tells me it's going to be an improvement, as Apple improved Ipods until that fateful 2007 Classic, then regained ground after that. I'd suggest buying one and testing the same track at the same relative volume on both. If there is a quality difference, it should be obvious.
  7. dainja macrumors member

    May 21, 2009
    Agreed, the quality of the DACs can make a big difference to those with trained ears.

    I have to agree that my iPhone 4 sounds better than any mp3 player I've used before. THD (harmonic distortion) and noise floors both seem very low, and the frequency response is nicely extended on both ends of the spectrum.

    I can't speak for the nano though. They may not be using the same chip...

    In case you're wondering, I connected it in my studio and compared it to my blackberry.

    To be honest though, to untrained ears, the difference from iPod to iPod is probably small enough to be insignificant. I wouldn't hesitate to "upgrade".
  8. rgarjr macrumors 603


    Apr 2, 2009
    Southern California
    that's what he said ;)
  9. numcrun macrumors newbie

    Mar 12, 2011
    I happen to own and use both ipods regularly. The old 2004 4th gen monochrome ipod now regularly has some issue or another, but luckily I have a guy who fixes them cheaply. I have not noticed any difference in SQ, they both sound good to me. But I am no audiophile :D
  10. ethandt macrumors member

    Jul 26, 2009
    Great thread. I can say without hesitation that my iPod Classic 5gen sounds way better than my new iPhone 4... go figure. I think I read somewhere once that the 4th and 5th generation iPods used a higher quality DAC than they do now. Not sure if it's true.
  11. Cromulent macrumors 603


    Oct 2, 2006
    The Land of Hope and Glory
    No it would require a double blind test to know the answer. Doing a side by side comparison would just confirm an already existing bias.
  12. andylane macrumors newbie

    Jul 28, 2004
    [offtopic]Well, if you're going to be like that about it: you can't do a double-blind test on an iPod, seeing as a double-blind test refers to both a doctor and a patient being unaware of what treatment is being given. You can only do a single-blind test. In this case, that just means that the listener can't know what he's listening to. For a double-blind test to be applicable, the iPod would have to have self-awareness that could cause it to convince itself that it's providing higher or lower sound quality than it was designed to do, wherein it would then improve or disimprove its own sound quality. This is almost certainly impossible.[/offtopic].
  13. SidBala macrumors 6502a

    Jun 27, 2010
    I am no expert on this. But I think you are confusing the "treatment" with the "doctor".
  14. Shenaniganz08 macrumors 6502

    Jan 26, 2010
    Sound quality on the iPod nano is superb, additionally I'm completely impressed with the volume it can pump out.

    I have some over the ear headphones that I normally use an amplifier with, but with the 6th gen nano I can just plug them in..

    Yes I know its silly to have over the head headphones with such a tiny music player, but its a lot easier to study with a music player that doesn't have a phone/internet distraction to it :p
  15. penfan82 macrumors regular

    Mar 11, 2011
    my classic is probably about the same age i also own a ipod touch 3rd gen and an droid X sound quality is actually best out of the X but between the two ipods i think my old classic sounds a lot better than my newer touch
  16. penfan82 macrumors regular

    Mar 11, 2011
    just saw this article online.... looks like classic is sticking around:

    Steve Jobs has emailed back one lucky iPod Classic user to tell him that the company doesn't have any plans (yet) to kill the the biggest member of the iPod family.

    The macrumors user wrote to the Apple CEO saying that "I've heard a LOT of speculation that Apple is looking to kill the iPod Classic because it wasn't updated on Sept. 1st, and that a lot of people would rather Touch. The iPod Classic is probably the best iPod in the line. PLEASE DON'T KILL IT!!!"

    Jobs reply succinctly that "We have no plans to" despite the fact that Apple hasn't updated the iPod Classic line for more than one year and the next upgrade window won't happen until September, two years after the last revamp.

    At the beginning of the year, Toshiba introduced a bigger 220GB 1.8-inch hard disk drive that would be perfect to augment the onboard capacity of the current iPod Classic.

    This fuelled further speculation as reports of lower-than-usual supplies of the media player reached news outlets.

    The iPod Classic is inspired by the first ever iPod device which was launched 10 years ago; however, sales of the iPod family, bar the iPod Touch, have not been as impressive as iOS devices.

    The introduction of the iPod Touch (already in its four generation) meant that the original iPod may have to disappear sooner or later especially when flash storage capacity reaches 128GB or higher.

    Read more:

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