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April 05, 2008

Comments

Cyril

A local audio shop did a kind of evaluation some time ago: http://www.planetofsoundonline.com/articles/compression1.html

What "sounds" (haha) a bit odd in the talk you mention is that many audiophiles seem to agree that CD is a huge compromise compared to vinyl. So it's kind-of odd that "CD-quality" is now often taken as a gold standard.
(Don't know whether Larry Mantle did that though as I obviously have not heard the show)

Jeff McMahon

You're right. The album used to be the gold standard. It's all relative. Maybe I'll provide a link on my post to the link you gave me. Thanks.

Ed S.

It's easy enough to demonstrate. I'll plug your ipod into my audio system and play it in synch with a CD of the same music, switching back and forth in blind-blind fashion. I find the difference obvious, and think you would too. Of course, ipods sound fine on those dinky earbuds. Playback on a high-end system with speakers is where the inferior quality of mp3 can be heard.

Jeff McMahon

I've integrated your comments into the post and have used them to arrive at a stronger conclusion. Thanks.

Kirk

In response to Ed's comment. I think a distinction needs to be drawn between iPod sound quality, and that of the compressed format in general. From my experience, compressed tracks burned to CD, and played back on high end equipment are largely indistinguishable from uncompressed CD's. This, assuming that high quality software was used, with a bit rate of ~200kbps VBR or higher. My point - the weak link is more the iPod, and less the compressed format. iPod has never been known to have the best sound quality among MP3 devices anyway.

jeffrey McMahon

Kirk,

I'm no sound expert and I will accept your claim. How though do we explain the iPod's popularity? Marketing over substance?

I have and enjoy my iPod. I suppose I've gradually lowered my sound standards.

Kirk

Hey Jeff - I think you said it, "marketing over substance", or maybe even form over function. Apple is great at creating chic allure through advertising and packaging. There's no doubt the iPod has it's merit's (quite a few in fact), but there are other devices that offer more for less money.

It seems that popularity is rarely indicative of quality, that can be said for many things. Of course my idea of quality will most likely differ from that of the next guys's.

As an aside - I came here looking for info on the Boston Acoustics Horizon Solo, and got seriously hooked. Great site!

jeffrey McMahon

What kind of MP3 player do you use? What kind do you recommend?

I really like the BAHS, as you can probably tell.

Kirk

Over the years i've had about 7 Creative Labs players (everything from the Zen Nomad Xtra to the Zen Vision W), and for sound quality, I thought those were the best. Creative Labs is in a bit of a creative slump at the moment and has a questionable line up, so i'm using a Sony NWZ-A728 instead. It's a great sounding player, but missing a few key features ("on the go" playlists is a big one).

I've heard two of the Cowon players (D2 and A3), and those have excellent SQ, but the UI's aren't as polished as Creative's or Apple's.

The Microsoft Zune 80GB would probably be my choice if it had an equalizer, but the lack of that feature kills it for me.

I haven't ordered the Solo yet, trying to decide between that and the "i"-less Duo. I did go and hear the Solo though. I initially mistook the sound as coming from the mid-sized shelf system sitting directly below it. It's a nice solid radio with quite an output.

jeffrey McMahon

I'd save your money and get the Solo. I heard the Duo and it doesn't represent a significant change in sound, at least for my subjective ears.

I'm satisfied enough with my iPod so that I don't feel compelled to seek alternative MP3 systems.

With your permission, I'll post your MP3 recommendations. Thanks. Jeff

Ed S.

Get the Duo-i. It's going for $140 on amazon. It *is* subjectively different from the solo, it's Stereo fer chrissakes. Has 15 button presets.

jeffrey McMahon

Ed is probably right since I only listened to his for 5 seconds and he has had several months to monitor its sound.

Jeff

Kirk

Hey Jeff, sure no problem.

Thanks for the heads up, Ed. The Duo-i seems like a really good deal for $140, but i'm not sure i'll ever get to use the "i" portion. I recently spent my Solo/Duo money (a few times over) on a pair of Boston fronts for my stereo, so for now i'll have to be content with visiting and petting the little bugger at Target.

jeffrey McMahon

I'm sure those Boston fronts will keep you sated for a while. Jeff

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