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October 13, 2009



Great blog post! Its true, I think the iPod leaves tunes sounding muddy and unnatural. Have you checked out the SRS iWOW Adaptor for the iPod? I can't listen to my iPod without it anymore. It processes an iPod's audio in a way that makes it sound similar to what the SRS iWOW plugin for iTunes does. The adaptor enhances spatial characteristics of your audio, enhances bass response without actually pumping up the low end and makes vocals, mids and high frequencies come to life. And if you have quality headphones or earbuds hooked up, the sound is even better! Check it out, this just may be the fix you're looking for. www.SRSLabs.com


I don't know about AAC. However I do know that it will be virtually impossible for 99% of the population to tell the difference between a 256-320 kbps mp3 file, and its original CD source, when that mp3 is produced from a superb ripping and encoding software such as Exact Audio Copy (http://www.exactaudiocopy.de/ ).

Does Larry also only watch uncompressed TIFF images, or he's happy with plain old JPG files?


anemic audio amps are the biggest problem. followed by the crap earbuds

luckily ipod has lineout, for a headphone amp or external speakers


With uncompressed audio, the iPod has a reputation of having good sound quality. Therefore, most audio "muddiness" is caused by poor CD rips or poorly encoded music purchases. So the most important thing to do is be sure you are ripping at a high quality, such as 320kbps MP3 or 256 AAC, or Apple Lossless.

Although the iPod does have line out, it isn't accessible by just plugging in a standard 1/8" audio cable into the iPod - you need a third party adapter, such as the PocketDock, to take advantage of connecting to the Line-Out "pins" on the Apple iPod connector port. You do hear a difference between Line-Out and the standard headphone port, especially at loud volumes - but this is true for almost any audio device.


Great info Ted!!

Jesse Menn

Can the ipod handle flac? I usually just encode in 320kbps, but I've got a few rips in flac that I got from friends...


I don't about flac. Hopefully someone will tell us. BTW, have you been to the Yard House in Long Beach? Excellent ale list.


Not using an iPod because compression seriously degrades music quality is a bit like not using a digital camera because JPEG seriously degrades image quality.

First you decide what you put on your iPod and how compressed it is.

Too much lossy compression will degrade the audio (or you jpeg images) but there is really no reason to not use some compression (lossless or even lightly lossy) on either images or music.

If you get the lossless digital signal from your iPod through, for example, a Wadia iTransport and put it through the same audio system (DAC, amplifier, etc.), I just can't comprehend how anybody could hear the difference: you are basically getting the same file that would be read from a CD.

Of course you'll be able to hear the difference between a high-end audio setup and typical iPod earbuds. There are at least two ways to go about that: find a way to carry the audio system everywhere, or get better earbuds! ;)

@Jesse Menn: as FLAC seems to be a lossless encoding, you should be able to re-encode it without quality loss into an iPod-friendly format (apple lossless, mp3 or AAC afaik).

Electronics Philippines

Well, glad I saw this post. I am currently planning to buy a new iPod and speaker this coming weekend. Thanks for sharing this infos. Keep posting.



The iTunes cannot handle FLAC. However, there are several converters out there that allow you to take FLAC and convert them to other QuickTime supported formats. My personal favorite is XLD, which can be found here:


You could convert from FLAC to Apple Lossless with no reduction in sound quality. Personally, I use AAC 256 VBR (also known as iTunes Plus), and I've never heard the difference between the original and the encoded versions. As always ymmv.

Jesse Menn

@Herc: Yeah, I've been to the ale house, but the crowd there drives me absolutely nuts. It does, however, have Hoegarden on tap and that keeps me coming back. It's out of walking distance though from my place, so cab or drive only.

Chiming in here with the caveat of "wtf do I know," but I think generally speaking it's become accepted knowledge (which may or may not be right) that at lower avg. bitrates (assuming VBR here) AAC wins, but when bitrate starts to climb, OGG Vorbis begins to become better. I'm not sure if OGG is supported in iTunes or iPods, I just bought a macbook the other day and still have yet to purchase a portable mp3 player.

Jesse Menn

Ergh, I meant Yard House.


My misanthropy didn't impede me from enjoying their "Chocolate Chuck," a mix of apple cider (alcoholic) and stout. Holy cow, I fell in love with that beverage.

Regarding iPods, I must be a philistine troglodyte since I am indifferent to any sound degradation.

Ipod Earbuds

I wouldn't think of using my iPod with a proper system. Getting all the extra components is too much hassle. My laptop has digital out, audio upsampling software and all that jazz (which doesn't take away from the sound quality), and it works out wonderfully. Just need to get that high quality monster cable and I'm set to go.

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