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iPods are for Audiophiles

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the chock-full-of-goodness dept.

Media (Apple) 578

Mr iPod Luvver writes "Wes Phillips in this month's Stereophile magazine shows the iPod to be an audiophile-quality device. AIFF seems to be the high-resolution ripping option. Says Phillips, 'Dynamics were impressive, imaging was nuanced and detailed, and the frequency extremes sounded extended and natural.'"

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even our music . . . (3, Funny)

Hall and Oates (575706) | more than 10 years ago | (#7212996)

sounds great on an iPod!

AIFF (2, Informative)

Phroggy (441) | more than 10 years ago | (#7212997)

AIFF seems to be the high-resolution ripping option.

Seems to be? Uhhh. Like WAV, AIFF is uncompressed, so the quality should be identical to the raw data from a CD. AIFF has always been Apple's preferred format, but both are supported. By the way, cdparanoia can rip to AIFF just fine (use the -f flag).

Re:AIFF (1)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213011)

WAV is pretty much AIFF with the bytes reversed. Have a look at a WAV file in a hex editor and you'll see "RIFF", reverse IFF.

AIFF is preferred for Apple machines mainly because byte ordering suits the CPU.

Re:AIFF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213203)

Actually, RIFF is "Resource Interchange File Format." One type of RIFF file, RIFX, has the bytes reversed for Motorola chips.

Re:AIFF (1, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213033)

While I agree that the iPod is a great little device...well designed, and great sounding for a portable player....

I hardly think you can call it audiophile quality without seriously cheapening the work audiophile.

Sigh....seems the youth of today truly do not know what a good sound system is...all they know is the off the shelf mass marketed stuff at CC or BB..Stuff like that is really only one level above a good boom box.

Re:AIFF (3, Insightful)

mblase (200735) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213142)

Sigh....seems the youth of today truly do not know what a good sound system is...all they know is the off the shelf mass marketed stuff at CC or BB..Stuff like that is really only one level above a good boom box.

That's because they're young, don't make much money, and can't afford to spend $2000 on speakers when their younger brother or drunk roommate might spill their snack foods all over it at any second.

If you're going to get all stuffy and pretentious, at least be stuffy and pretentious over what the youth of today listen to instead of what they listen on.

Re:AIFF (5, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213172)

Indeed, I don't see any oversized black anodized allen screws anywhere on these iPods. They're obviously not audiophile quality.

Youth? (1, Insightful)

poptones (653660) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213191)

Stereophile is managed by a very UN-youthful fellow. Most of the editors are professionals in various fields (Kal Rubison, for example, is an audiologist and has been for at least the ten years I've known him).

You just got it WAY wrong. Stereophile exists to sell music systems. I'm sure JA would quibble with this but, at the end of the day, he'd have to admit this is the primary reason it exists. And many of the people who read that magazine are a persnickity bunch who wouldn't move beyond the 19th century if you shackled'em and threw'em in a donkey cart. Reviews of equipment like this help motivate a voluntary movement on their part.

And at the end of the day it's a review written by a reviewer. Would you go choose to not see a movie based on one bad movie review? Or allow one good review to change your opinion?

That's all it is... an opinion. And magazines like SP don't exist to publish bad ones - it pisses off the advertisers.

Re:AIFF (1)

Kuraz (702906) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213041)

actually WAV is a container-format like AVI, so it can contain pretty much anything, not only uncompressed PCM data.

Re:AIFF (2, Funny)

Pflipp (130638) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213071)

I TOLD you that the Amiga Interchange File Format is far superior to everything out there! And so is their Fast File System. Heh, even BSD uses it! AMIGA RULEZ!

Uh.. what? Oh... Never mind.

Audiophile Downloads (0, Offtopic)

williwilli (639147) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213086)

By the way, cdparanoia can rip to AIFF just fine (use the -f flag).

there are also lots of free downloads at my site, earth2willi.com, [earth2willi.com] including losslessly compressed FLAC. Download [sejus.com] the FLAC, unzip them to WAV or AIF and load on your iPod! MP3 and Ogg are available too, all totally free of login requirements or service charges, untouched by the RIAA, and complete with print resolution artwork. Stop by the forums while you are there! :)

What are some other options for obtaining FLAC WAV or AIF online?

FP! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7212999)

Eat it, you Apple loving fag boys!

Re:FP! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213068)

Eat it, you Apple loving fag boys!

j00 are teh ghey [tubgirl.com]

Re:FP! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213151)

I resent the implication that I use Apples!

snd? (0, Offtopic)

spir0 (319821) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213002)

slow news day?

Re:snd? (2, Funny)

inteller (599544) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213196)

we are getting ready to release the next story entitled "Uncompressed sound sounds as good as the real thing!" but we think if we put "Uncompressed open source clustered sound sounds as good as evil WMAs" might get a better response.

Now is the time for all good men to CUM. -- Rob M. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213006)

Shouldn't this read "iPods for Pedophiles?"

Just curious!

The iPod tastes like fluffy caramel. (5, Funny)

Prince_Ali (614163) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213016)

Says Phillips, 'Dynamics were impressive, imaging was nuanced and detailed, and the frequency extremes sounded extended and natural.'"

What typical audiophile fluff. Why don't audiophiles ever give any opinion that is actually backed up with data. Oh yes, because if they might find out the oxygen-free 00 gauge speaker wire that they paid $10,000 for doesn't make the music taste anymore like caramel than the normal stuff.

With a rich body and oak overtones (1)

swb (14022) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213049)

They're part of the same cabal that includes wine experts, except at least the wine people have "I was drunk" as a possible excuse.

I care about the *drunk* not the flavor, which is why I try to buy at least 4-column filtration vodka and mix it with lime-aid. I find that less impurities mean less intense hangovers...

Re:With a rich body and oak overtones (1)

Brahmastra (685988) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213104)

Also part of the art expert cabal.. the kind that look at excrement covered random scribble and go "oh.. what intense imagery.. what subtle variations.. this painting is a window into the soul.. blah blah blah"

POLL: HOW MANY iPODS CAN YOU STUFF UP YOUR ANUS? (-1)

Subject Line Troll (581198) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213146)

17 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213155)


COWBOY NEAL IS THE ONLY ANUS FILLER FOR ME (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213177)

Cowboy Neal Option :

Re:POLL: HOW MANY iPODS CAN YOU STUFF UP YOUR ANUS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213202)

Two of the old kind, but three of the new slimmer models!

Re:The iPod tastes like fluffy caramel. (1)

Brahmastra (685988) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213063)

Audiophile fluff sounds just like some vague shit that comes out of a marketing department.

Re:The iPod tastes like fluffy caramel. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213135)

Let's see you try to explain what Phillips experienced with "data." Better yet, let's see you use data to describe the human experience of seeing Michelangelo's David.

It is simply too complex an event for engineering and science to fully explain, for now at least.

Re:The iPod tastes like fluffy caramel. (5, Funny)

One Louder (595430) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213137)

I think the article is a little vague on the details.

What they *meant* to say was that the iPod flows with gusto and verve, with nuanced palpability that is suprisingly smooth and spacious, with harmonic undertones that languidly coil around your nerve endings and deliver liquid bliss combined with in-your-face bravado and euphonic outlines, providing a sonic womb with a sugar-sweet coating of midbass impedance resonance.

Re:The iPod tastes like fluffy caramel. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213165)

woah.. you must be the marketing guy that sent me requirements yesterday

Re:The iPod tastes like fluffy caramel. (1)

Life2Short (593815) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213193)

It's like there's a party in my ears, and everyone's invited!

Re:The iPod tastes like fluffy caramel. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213159)

brovo. you summed up my feelings about audiophiles exactly.

Re:The iPod tastes like fluffy caramel. (1)

MerlynEmrys67 (583469) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213195)

What typical audiophile fluff.

Reminds me of a blind study done by the anti-audiophile crowd years ago. The arguement was over the quality of cables for a digital conection between a periferal and the amp. They reviewed a 100 dollar cable, a normal cable, and a coat hanger with the connecters attached to each end.

It was funny how the reviewers were spectacularly in favor of the 100 dollar cables, but couldn't distinguish the difference between the 100 cables and the coathanger (duh - it is a digital signal you twerp)

I gave up on "audiophile" years ago - I just can't hear it... just like I can't see those stupid pictures in the wierd drawings that are supposed to pop out in 3D

Re:The iPod tastes like fluffy caramel. (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213197)

What typical audiophile fluff. Why don't audiophiles ever give any opinion that is actually backed up with data

Uhm...generally this stuff is backed by data. What you really meant was "...backed by data that comes from your instruments", with an implicit assumption that anything that you don't have instruments to measure cannot be valid.

Your assumption is bad science.

Sure, there is fluff in subjective audio, but there is also a lot of subjective stuff that is widely agreed on, which almost certainly means that there is some underlying physical explanation, that we simply do not yet understand.

Praisespeak (0, Offtopic)

Motherfucking Shit (636021) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213021)

Dynamics were impressive, imaging was nuanced and detailed, and the frequency extremes sounded extended and natural
By sheer coincidence, this is also what Darl McBride chants to himself when he wakes up, to convince himself that yesterday's press release was coherent...

next month... (3, Funny)

edrugtrader (442064) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213025)

and in next months stereophile [stereophile.com] magazine....

Our Computer Hardware: Not a Web-Server-Quality Device

www.ARMY.mil using macs for years.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213096)

www.ARMY.mil using macs for years..

why? because the worlds most secure (unexploitable) web servers have only been mac os webservers.

In all of bugtraq history, no mac has ever been exploited once, and not one remote exploit discoverred ever on the entire history of macs on the internet.

reasons are technical, not luck-based.

I am not talking about the osx (unix) version but the 9.2.2 and older (still sold and used by over half the mac users).

The Mac is a Web-Server-Quality Device and Webstar (older versions) is unhackable and has distributed load, etc.

Who deserves the credit? (1)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213026)

Apple have obviously selected a good codec, but who designed it? I can't imagine them designing their own codec unless they really needed to.

Re:Who deserves the credit? (1)

MesiahTaz (122415) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213040)

I'm not sure it's the codec so much as it is the hardware in question. Apple seems to have used high-quality components (op-amps, etc). Most consumer-grade audio products use the cheapest parts they can get away with, and people think it sounds good because it has punchy bass and exaggerated highs. (See: Bose)

Re:Who deserves the credit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213114)

i have a question for you:

do you know of any pages that talk about the differences in sound quality from consumer grade vs say, an iPod?

i'm not disagreeing with you, but rather, i just want to read more about why people perceive a bassy system as 'better' when a more broad range is better (ex: a crappy sony system in a truck vs an ipod with nice headphones)

okay thanks!

Re:Who deserves the credit? (1)

MesiahTaz (122415) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213183)

Personally, I have been a Stereophile reader for a number of years. Over time (and through listening experience) I just picked up a few things. If you are interested in learning about high-end audio (beware, it is an expensive addiction) I would suggest buying a copy of Stereophile and then visiting a local AV specialty shop.

Re:Who deserves the credit? (1)

Another MacHack (32639) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213209)

Codec also means a combined A/D & D/A pair, not just a software codec.

Re:Who deserves the credit? (1)

nolife (233813) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213052)

see.. about AIFF [borg.com]

Re:Who deserves the credit?.. well. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213154)

Apple did develope this protocol.
They just did before you were born.

And why would they NOT support there own codec.
Uncompressed high quality audio on a portable harddrive native to a system used a lot in the creative/music scene ?? is that really so weird ?

I wonder if Ipod plays the aiff-compressed protocol . I never used this.

retep

Codec is also a word for the DAC chip!! (1)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213207)

I'm not talking AIFF, I'm talking the codec chip or are you not familiar with the use of the word codec in that context?

Re:Who deserves the credit? (1)

NivenHuH (579871) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213162)

I coulda swore I read Dolby labs created AAC (which most iTunes purchases/rips are encoded with)

Incredible sound indeed! (2, Funny)

FearUncertaintyDoubt (578295) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213028)

Dynamics were impressive, imaging was nuanced and detailed, and the frequency extremes sounded extended and natural.

OOO, I agree! You can hear every hi-frequency overtone as the Emperor's clothes come ripping off!

Re:Incredible sound indeed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213112)

ah that's classic...

Newsflash ! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213035)

Top news: high-end audio device found to be high-end !

Wait, this might actually be NEW...

/.'ed already - any karma whores around? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213039)

pictures T_T

iPods are very nice, but my concern is... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213047)

I don't want to start a holy war here, but what is the deal with you Mac fanatics? I have recently upgraded from a Mac 8600/300 w/64 Megs of RAM to a new G5 dual 2GHz with AGP 8X and PCI-X to help me at my freelance gig where I needed to copy a 17 Meg file from my home network to a desktop folder. On the G5 it took about 20 minutes. At home, on my Pentium Pro 200 running NT 4, which by all standards should be a lot slower than this Mac, the same operation would take about 2 minutes. If that.

In addition, during this file transfer, my iPod will not work. And everything else has ground to a halt. Even Safari is straining to keep up as I type this.

I won't bore you with the laundry list of other problems that I've encountered while working on various Macs, but suffice it to say there have been many, not the least of which is I've never seen a Mac that has run faster than its Wintel counterpart, despite the Macs' faster chip architecture. My 486/66 with 8MB of ram running MS Windows for Workgroups 3.11 is faster than this G5 dual 2GHz machine at times. From a productivity standpoint, I don't get how people can claim that the Macintosh is a superior machine.

Mac addicts, flame me if you'd like, but I'd rather hear some intelligent reasons why anyone would choose to use a Mac over other faster, cheaper, more stable systems.

Parent is redundant repost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213126)

And parent post is clueless as well.

Check your cabling and hardware. The rest of the world can copy 17 megs files on or off Macs in less than 30 seconds.

Re:iPods are very nice, but my concern is... (3, Funny)

noewun (591275) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213143)

There needs to be a Slashdot Troll Hall of Fame, and this needs to be there. I mean, it just keeps going and going. . .

Perhaps it needs to be rewritten, tho:

I don't want to start a holy war here, but what is the deal with you Mac fanatics? I have recently upgraded from a Mac 8600/300 w/64 Megs of RAM to a new G6 quad 4GHz with AGP 16X and PCI-X to help me at my freelance gig where I needed to copy a 17 Meg file from my home network to a desktop folder. On the G6 it took almost 14 days. At home, on my Ti99/4A, which by all standards should be a lot slower than this Mac, the same operation would take about 4 nanoseconds. If that.

In addition, during this file transfer, my iPod will not work. And everything else has ground to a halt. Even Safari is straining to keep up as I type this. My cat has been run over, the dog is pregnant, my toilet is backed up and I am having shooting pains up and down my right arm. None of this happened before I got the G6!

I won't bore you with the laundry list of other problems that I've encountered while working on various Macs, but suffice it to say there have been many, not the least of which is I've never seen a Mac that has run faster than its Wintel counterpart, despite the Macs' faster chip architecture. My Ti99/4a with 16k of ram running an OS I programmed myself from the back pages of old Byte magazines is faster than this G6 quad 4GHz machine at times. From a productivity standpoint, I don't get how people can claim that the Macintosh is a superior machine.

Mac addicts, flame me if you'd like, but I'd rather hear some intelligent reasons why anyone would choose to use a Mac over other faster, cheaper, more stable systems.

Re:iPods are very nice, but my concern is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213166)

Christ, use a bit of that atrophied brain of yours and come up with a new troll. You keep using this tired old piece of shit one verbatim over and over. Oh and Windows sucks donkey balls, one day you may gain the capacity to understand that but until then don't forget, inhale, exhale, repeat.

Re:iPods are very nice, but my concern is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213184)

Even Safari is straining to keep up as I type this

Actually, that's slashdot. It's been coughing up blood all week, Bob.

Re:iPods are very nice, but my concern is... (1)

lcracker (10398) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213187)

Your problem is software, not hardware. I don't know what the heck is causing that to happen for you, but it sounds like a bug in Samba or something. OS X 10.3 uses Samba 3, which is supposed to be a lot faster and may resolve that issue for you.

On my gigabit home network, using AFP (Apple's protocol), copying a 17mb file between a dual 2ghz G5 and a 1ghz Powerbook G4 happens so quickly that the first time I tried it I thought something was broken.

YHBT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213210)

Idiot.

Re:iPods are very nice, but my concern is... (1)

chillmost (648301) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213206)

Bullshit! How many times have you posted this? Enough already. Are you the same asshole who won't buy a mac because of the keyboard layout?

Wait a minute (1)

onShore_Jake (80260) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213048)

Wait just a sec. I don't undertstand.

My opinion differs and I think I'm really quite a great person who knows quite a bit. You see if you just look here at these numbers and ignore those other numbers then you will see that am right.

(The above sums up dozens of posts below it.)

complete article (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213053)

Apple iPod portable music player
By Wes Phillips, October 2003
It was John Atkinson, that legendary ornithologist, who first pointed it out: "Have you noticed how frequently you see women using the iPod?"

I hadn't. I'd been so darn happy striding about the streets of New York listening to Tom Russell and Carla Bley that I hadn't been paying attention. Gimlet-eyed, I now began examining my fellow pedestrians for the telltale flash of the distinctive white-and-chrome player and the giveaway white headphone cable that announced the iPod's earbuds.

What an astoundingly acute observer of the human condition Stereophile's editor proved to be! Of course, there were guys walking around with 'em (many wearing "Think Different!" T-shirts), but the streets were filled with fashionably dressed young women brandishing iPods as though they were this season's trendiest little Manolo Blahnik sling-back.

Holy cow! I'm running with the fashionistas! Can I still be an audiophile, too?

What did you see when you were there?
Apple's third-generation iPods are smaller, sleeker, more capacious than earlier models. The G3 is available with a 10GB, 15GB, or 30GB hard drive. [A 40GB drive is now available.--Ed.] The 30GB version is slightly larger and heavier than the other two, at 4.1" H by 2.4" W by 0.73" D and 6.2oz (compared to 0.62" D and 5.6oz). Our review sample was the 30GB model, which includes several accessories that buyers of the 10GB version have to buy separately: a docking cradle, a wired remote, and a carrying case of elastic and leather. A FireWire connecting cable is standard (it sports an extremely thin "dock connector" on the end that attaches to the iPod, since the iPod itself is too thin to accommodate a standard IEEE1394 plug.) The iPod can connect to a PC through a special 32-pin-to-USB-2.0+FireWire cable. The bifurcated cable has a 32-pin plug on one end, then splits into two cables: one with a USB plug for connection to the computer, the other terminating in a FireWire connector, which plugs into the iPod's power adapter so you can charge the battery.

The iPod is a product of Apple's industrial design department, headed by Jonathan Ives, which means it is very clean and contemporary. The back of the iPod is shiny stainless steel, while the front is bright white plastic. ("White's this year's black," a fashionista of my acquaintance assures me.) The face is dominated by three features: a 1 5/8" by 11/4" (2" diagonal, in TVspeak) backlit LCD display sits above a row of four touch-sensitive control "buttons" (Previous Track, Menu, Play/Pause, Skip Forward), which, in turn, lies above a large touch-sensitive "wheel" that is actually a multifunction control: the outer ring controls volume and navigates through menu choices, while the inner "button" serves as an Enter key.

What's surprising is how flexible and intuitive this seemingly rudimentary control array is in operation. Press Play and the iPod powers on, playing where it left off. Tap Menu and you're given several programming choices. The navigation wheel lets you highlight your choice, and a tap on the enter key takes you to that menu. Use the wheel to choose the option you want, tap enter, and you're there: a new playlist or a new song. All of this can be accomplished one-handed, while running.

The iPod's thin top edge has a 1/8" stereo headphone jack with an adjacent oval slot for anchoring the wired remote (added because users of Gen 1 and 2 iPods complained that the remote disconnected from the chassis too readily), and a sliding panel that activates the hold function for the controls. I found the touch-sensitive control extremely sensitive, so disabling it with the hold function proved a lifesaver.

The thin bottom edge contains the jack for the 32-pin dock connector (interestingly, FireWire uses only six pins--this may represent some sort of future-proofing on Apple's part). In addition to carrying data at 400Mbps, this cable also recharges the iPod's internal lithium-ion battery. Assuming you turn off all "frivolous" functions such as backlighting and EQ, don't skip forward and back much, and use the iPod only in moderate temperatures (50-95 degrees F), the battery will last eight hours. Otherwise, reckon on about six hours.

That cable dock in the iPod's base will fit either the cable or the docking cradle. The iPod slips into the docking cradle, fitting over the cradle's male 32-pin connector, leaning back at a 30 degrees angle (so you can read its display when it's sitting on your desktop). The FireWire-to-iPod cable connects to the back of the docking cradle, but that's not the cradle's only connection. Next to the 32-pin jack is a line-out stereo miniplug jack, an important option for audiophiles since it bypasses the iPod's volume control. The FireWire-to-32-pin cable can be plugged either directly into an Apple computer (for data transfer and recharging) or to the iPod's power adapter (recharge only).

All iPods ship with a pair of earbud-type headphones with 18mm neodymium-powered drivers. These have surprisingly good sound--at least compared to the phones included with most portable players. A pair of low-impedance Etymotic ER-4Ps ($330) offered much better sound and isolation from environmental noise, but that's a subject for another review.

The person who said "Beauty is only skin deep" certainly never popped the cover off an iPod. The design is just as jewel-like inside as out--packed, but definitely a gem of space conservation.

Apple iPod portable music player: Page 2
One item that's invisible but indispensable is the iPod's operating system, which, I've been informed, is not of Apple design. PortalPlayer, a company that specializes in developing OSes for cellular phones, PDAs, and other streaming and wireless applications, designed the iPod's human interface. The iPod is so easy to use that it's obvious Apple chose the right company for the job.

Parts choices are said to have been made with an emphasis on sound quality, availability, and "time to market" considerations. Parts vetted include PortalPlayer's own MP3 decoder and controller chip, a Wolfson Microelectronics D/A converter, a Sharp flash-memory chip, Texas Instruments' IEEE1394a interface controller, and a Linear Technologies power-management and battery-charging system. The essential innard is the hard disk drive (HDD), which is amazingly tiny--a 1.8" Toshiba design built to fit Toshiba's PCMCIA cards.

The iPod's PCB is a marvel of parts density--so much so that I was almost completely at sea when confronted with it. The largest item, by far, is the Sony-Fukashima lithium-ion battery, molded to fit over the HDD. The back of the circuit board is dominated by the LCD display and the controls, which are attached directly to the board. The board's landscape is dominated by three large chips, presumably the buffer, CPU, and FireWire controller (the only item I'm sure of, since it's next to the 32-pin input). The rest of the board is jammed with surface-mount components.

What are you going to play?
The iPod can be used as an external hard drive for Apple computers--in fact, that's how it shows up on a Mac desktop--but its OS and Apple's iTunes4 software are what distinguish it as an MP3 player. PC users can't use iTunes4, so the CD that comes with the iPod includes MusicMatch software as well as iTunes. iTunes4 is available as a free download from Apple's website. In addition to supporting the iPods, iTunes4 includes several features not available in older versions of Apple's music-management software.

Some of these--such as music streaming, Shared Music, and cover artwork display--are interesting enough, but not germane to a discussion of the iPod's sound quality. The two biggest changes from older versions are linked. One is access to Apple's iTunes music-download website, not currently available to the 90% of computer users who use PCs. The other is the ability to "rip" music in MPEG-4 auto audio coding (AAC) format as well as MP3. (See Sidebar, "Bottom Liners," for details on how this relates to the iTunes website.)

MPEG-4 AAC (ISO/IEC 14496-3, Subpart 4) builds on MPEG-2 AAC's compression technology for data rates greater than 32kbps; at lower data rates, it employs additional tools that augment MPEG-2 AAC, adding scalability and error-resilience characteristics. AAC incorporates temporal noise-shaping, backward-adaptive linear prediction, and enhanced joint-stereo coding techniques. Apple included AAC in its QuickTime 6 software for a variety of reasons, but lists audio quality as the most important of them, citing the many advances in perceptual audio coding and compression that have been achieved in the decade since MP3's development. Apple says, "AAC takes full advantage of these advances, resulting in higher quality output at lower data rates, allowing even modem users to hear a difference."

Ah, modem users...Surely one of AAC's big selling points is its ability to improve compression, packing higher audio quality into smaller files. And, given the tiny size of the iPod and its battery, increased power-management efficiency didn't hurt, either--less processing power is required for decoding AAC files. Additional AAC hot buttons include support for multichannel audio of up to 48 full-frequency channels, and higher-rez sampling rates (up to 96kHz!).

The iPod supports several other audio formats in addition to AAC and MP3, including Audible (designed to download spoken-word files from audible.com, variable bit-rate (VBR) MP3, Audio Interchange File Format (AIFF), and WAV. (All of this choice is available only to Mac users--those syncing their iPods to PCs have to make do with MP3.)

The high-resolution ripping option is AIFF (so closely associated with Apple that some wags insist it stands for Apple's Interchange File Format). The format creates files that contain the raw audio data, channel information (monophonic or stereophonic), bit depth, and sample rate, as well as application-specific data areas, which allow different applications to add information to the file header that aren't removed when the files are processed by other applications--a feature of greater interest to folks who create music on their computers than to those of us transferring pre-recorded music to our storage media. In other words, AIFF is a memory hog, but it's an audiophile's kind of memory hog, since it throws away no data in an attempt to compress the file size.

But iTunes4 does more than rip recordings to stored-file status; it also organizes your music collection and allows you to arrange it into playlists. And it transfers all or any portion of your ripped files to the iPod--a process that's astonishingly fast, thanks to the IEEE1394a connection.

Using iTunes4 is stone simple. It's just as easy to use and intuitively simple as all those raving Apple enthusiasts claim. At least, I think so. As someone who has only recently purchased his first Apple computer, I have grown used to the MusicMatch music-management software, and my memories of learning to use that software have grown so dim that it seems second nature to me now. iTunes4 has a few foibles that differ from the way MusicMatch does things, but I won't swear they're less intuitive, just different from what I've grown used to. Except for one thing: Music Match automatically accesses the CD Data Base (CDDB) for CD and track information when you insert a CD in the disk drive; in iTunes4, you have to pull down the Advanced menu on the toolbar and click "Get track information" (footnote 1). If that strikes you as a trivial inconvenience, we're on the same wavelength.

Footnote 1: Our thanks to reader Gordon Neault, who reminded us that to access the CDDB database automatically on a Mac, you launch iTunes, go to iTunes: Preferences: General, and click the box at "connect to the Internet when needed." The iPod "is a music player an audiophile can love," summed up Mr. Neault.--John Atkinson

What a thing to do!
The iPod is different from CD players, SACD players, DVD-Audio players, and pretty much any other consumer audio player in that it is a data-storage device. At the moment, it offers a variety of data-storage formats; but while I'm aware of no plans to do so, in the future it could accommodate others--even higher-rez options.

The formats the iPod accommodates at the moment offer a wide range of options that balance disc storage space against sound quality. And this, not the iPod's size, is the revolutionary part: the consumer gets to choose which set of tradeoffs suits his or her needs.

This rather basic insight completely escaped me at first. I ripped the same piece of music (Carla Bley's "Looking for America," from the CD of the same title, WATT/31) in a panoply of formats to get to the bottom of the audiophilic question of which sounded best. While performing the comparisons, it gradually sank in that the iPod allowed its user to set the sound bar as high or as low as the situation required. But that wasn't the true brainstorm. No, that would be my realization that there might, in fact, be no single answer to the question, even for sonically picky listeners such as myself. It all depended on how I intended to use the iPod.

Even though the new iPod maxes out at 30GB, it's probably best not to think of it as the permanent repository of your entire music collection. That's what iTunes4 and your computer are for. With FireWire's high-speed data transfer, it's a matter of a few minutes and a few keystrokes to pack the iPod with situation-specific playlists. Going out for a long jog? Download a few hours of music ripped at 192kbps on MP3 or AAC. It'll serve. Listening attentively through your big rig? Download a program ripped in AIFF--it'll match the original for sound quality.

Of course, this means you may have to rip many songs, albums, or programs twice, which can gobble up masses of hard-drive space--but you can buy 120GB FireWire HDDs for a couple of hundred bucks these days. Jim Thiel likes to observe that "watts is cheap." These days, so is gigabytes.

What do you want to be?
The iPod offers such an embarrassment of choices regarding file storage and playback that I had to begin by discarding quite a few of them as irrelevant to a discussion of its fidelity. That's not to say that 96kbps MP3 and AAC, for example, aren't useful space-saving options; simply that they represent sonic compromises most readers of this magazine wouldn't tolerate even while jogging. For the purposes of the following comparisons, I ran the line-out from the docking cradle (thus bypassing the iPod's volume control) to a Musical Fidelity Tri-Vista 300 integrated amplifier, which drove a pair of Amphion Xenon floorstanding loudspeakers. I used Shunyata Research Lyra speaker cables and a Kimber Kable stereo mini-to-RCA interconnect.

Things are somewhat better at 128kbps in both MP3 and AAC, but neither cuts the mustard for critical listening at home. MP3 robbed Steve Swallow's pulsing bass lines of dynamics and punch on the Carla Bley album, while blunting the shimmer of the brass overtones. AAC fared slightly better, offering better bass response (although it was still pretty lightweight compared to the original CD) and slightly more extended HF (again, shelved down in comparison to the CD).

Surprisingly, upping the bit rate to 160kbps did not result in major improvements for either format. Bass impact remained MIA in MP3, and the upper frequencies sounded strident, with that unmistakable "too much compression" punchiness. AAC again sounded marginally better, although Bley's big band still seemed flattened and lacking in dynamic variation.

The audiophile in me began to pay attention at 192kbps. Both MP3 and AAC began to exhibit a small degree of soundstaging, albeit not with great amounts of front-to-back dimensionality or layering. MP3's highs began to lose their stridence, and AAC sounded fairly detailed and revealing.

The compressed formats began to show some real promise at 320kbps. Definition, detail, and soundstaging were all impressive, and high-frequency response was almost liquid in its lack of edge effects. At this rate, differences between the two formats jumped into sharper focus: MP3 made transients "splashy," while AAC just sounded anemic compared to the original. With both formats, dynamic variation was considerably reduced compared to the CD.

Best of all--and, to my ears, completely indistinguishable from the original CD--was AIFF. Dynamics were impressive, imaging was nuanced and detailed, and the frequency extremes sounded extended and natural. On my reference rig, I could listen with immense pleasure for hours on end to files ripped in AIFF. In fact, I did.

Ah, some of you are saying, but what about VBR? Variable bit-rate formats seem to offer extremely satisfying sound and show a great deal of potential, but those options deserve greater exploration in a dedicated comparison.

How does it feel to be
One of the beautiful people?
Apple's 30GB iPod is an extremely sexy gadget. As a piece of industrial design, it is remarkable in its beauty and operability. As an extension of Apple's lifestyle-friendly suite of music-photography-video applications, it is a screaming success. It's fun to use, and if just seeing one is enough to induce lust, actually holding one is enough to tempt a righteous man to larceny. But is it a serious piece of kit worthy of serious consideration by an audiophile?

Surprisingly enough, I believe the answer is yes. The open nature of the iPod's playback format--or, more properly speaking, its lack of a single playback standard--means that the player can offer the sound quality its owner demands of it. Presumably, that could even include options not currently supported, including space-hogging, hi-rez digital files. However, that will happen only if audiophiles take hard-drive-based players seriously enough to participate in the ongoing dialog concerning their use and possibilities.

Fortunately, that's already happening, as a quick Google of the subject will reveal. Users are actively seeking better sound, even as they trade stories about how much fun they're having with the product as it currently exists.

And why shouldn't they be happy? With the iPod, you can have your cake and eat it, too. On the outside, all that the rest of the world will see is that you're one of the iPod-totin' beautiful people; no one will ever know that under those headphones you're listening to monstrously good-sounding, hi-rez digital copies of your favorite demo discs. Baby, you're a rich man!

Sidebar 1: Specifications

Description: Portable data-storage device capable of playing compressed (MP3, AAC) and uncompressed (AIFF, WAV) digital audio files. Internal hard drive size: 30GB as reviewed; 10GB, 15GB, and 40GB also available. Frequency response: 20Hz-20kHz. Maximum output power: 30mW/channel.
Dimensions: 4.1" H by 2.4" W by 0.73" D. Weight: 6.2oz (176gm).
Serial number of unit reviewed: U23220DNNLY (auditioning); O2326CEFLV (measuring).
Price: $499. Approximate number of dealers: not specified.
Manufacturer: Apple Computer, Inc., 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, CA 95014-2084. Tel: (408) 974-2000. Fax: (408) 996-0275. Web: www.apple.com.

Sidebar 2: Bottom Liners

Great lines of numbers
all bright and shiny
all through the ether
some huge some tiny
all through the ether...
--Brian Eno, "Bottom Liners"

One of the most ballyhooed bits of news buoying the music industry recently was Apple's launch of its iTunes Music Store website, which offers AAC downloads of songs for 99 cents each. Despite the fact that the service is available only to owners of Apple computers (indeed, is accessible only through the iTunes4 software), which means that the 90% of computer users tethered to PCs can't use it yet (PC compatibility is due late this year), the service had downloaded more than 5 million songs by late June.

"The iTunes Music Store is changing the way people buy music," proclaimed Apple CEO Steve Jobs. "Selling 5 million songs in the first eight weeks has far surpassed our expectations, and clearly illustrates that many customers are hungry for a legal way to acquire their music online."

In order to achieve that level of success, however, Apple had to give the recording industry something many consumers may not want to forfeit: unrestricted fair use. Apple's advocacy of AAC contains a hidden barb, a little item the company calls FairPlay--a digital rights management (DRM) system that restricts unlimited use of the files customers download from the Music Store.

Files downloaded from the Music Store differ from regular 128kbps AAC files in that they are identified with the extension ".m4p" rather than ".m4a." What's the diff? ".m4p" files can be played only on three Macs. When you initially play a file downloaded from the Music Store, you must enter a password--iTunes contacts an Apple server and registers the computer as one of three authorized to play downloads from that account. Want to play one of your downloads on a fourth Mac? You'll have to "deauthorize" one of the three you've already used. (There's a pulldown in iTunes4 for this.)

Want to listen to downloaded tracks on an iPod? Feel free to load the songs into as many of the little suckers as you like, no authorization required. Just don't think you can upload songs from an iPod to an unauthorized Mac--and don't even dream of syncing them into any MP3 player other than an iPod.

You can burn Music Store songs to CD--as long as you don't try to cut the same playlist more than 10 times. (Of course, deleting tracks and adding them back would make it a "new" playlist.) Naturally, you can't get around this by converting .m4p files to MP3. (Well, you can--but you have to burn a disc, then convert it to MP3 when you import it back into the computer.)

I understand that Apple probably felt it had to throw the music industry a bone to convince suspicious record labels that downloading isn't inherently evil. The company probably could have never convinced the Big Five to come aboard without some form of DRM. That doesn't mean I'm happy about it, however.

First, pirates don't give a fig about sound quality, and will simply copy discs from the analog outputs of source materials--even 128kbps AAC files--whereas the restrictions are a real pain in the butt for legitimate users who, say, work on multiple computers. Just as bad, from my point of view, is the way the Music Store restricts fidelity with its 128kbps AAC format.

Yes, 128kbps AAC makes for fast downloads and sounds "good enough" for many consumers--heck, I've downloaded songs and have had no problem enjoying them. But I wonder if I won't enjoy them less and less as the "new" wears off the idea of legitimate downloads.

Apple's concessions to the music biz have not brought everything you'd expect from such a Faustian bargain. There are huge gaps in its catalog, and not just from the Big Five record labels--a lot of independent labels haven't bought into the concept yet either. "Over 200,000" songs sounds like a lot until you try to actually find a few hundred you'd be willing to spend money on. Not that I need to buy their catalog yet again, but where are the Beatles? And the classical selection is just embarrassing. (Who'd buy classical downloads? I would--especially of new and obscure music not readily obtainable in regular record stores.)

I like the whole concept of removing music from its physical carrier, so I want pure data storage and transfer to work. But I don't want to blindly cede my fair-use rights to corporate music for the privilege--nor do I wish to sacrifice sound quality.

Do I want to have it all? Darn tootin'! I'm the customer--in a free market, doesn't that put me in the driver's seat? If so, somebody's going to market a product that's worth the money and effort it costs me. As of now, that's not the iTunes Music Store, as much as I wish it were.--Wes Phillips

Re:complete article (1)

tcr (39109) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213200)

It was John Atkinson, that legendary ornithologist, who first pointed it out: "Have you noticed how frequently you see women using the iPod?"


Ah, you see, it's the same colour as kitchen appliances.... <ducks and runs>

Apple Records (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213054)

and its only a small infringement on the Apple Records trademark, copyright agreement.

Lets get this out of the way (1)

w3weasel (656289) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213055)

Brand X is less expensive, even if it has lower storage, is larger in size and slower connection... but cheaper = better.
'Codec Y' is not anywhere as good as 'Codec Z' because it sounds worse and the letters used in the name of the codec are displeasing to me.

Ok, job done, trolls can now take a pass on this one

Hey, this is pretty good.... (1)

BlackBolt (595616) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213058)

... since the last I heard, Stereophile Magazine guys was still ranting about the "demonic hell" that is CD-quality sound as opposed to LP's "glorious clarity"!

Well, I guess standards slip as time goes on, I know mine have - I'm HERE aren't I?

just kidding.

and (2, Funny)

b17bmbr (608864) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213060)

it comes with a neato car [apple.com] too.

Soundstage compaction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213061)

I find that the midstage harmonics refract badly from the lower soundstage, leading to compaction. A strong application of cerumen to the ear canal is necessary to compensate for these peaked overtones. I would expect Apple to provide a pouch of this material for use with the iPaq, but no such luck - I have had to use the little that I can obtain from friends.

Not very descriptive... (1)

seanadams.com (463190) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213062)

What I want to know is: was the sound airy or spatial? Did it have good low-end punch? Were the transients detailed? Was the midrange sweet or soft? Were the highs clean, or were they just crisp?

ipod cant do lows (1)

JoJoFine (671477) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213064)

http://members.brabant.chello.nl/~m.heijligers/ipo d/measurements.html as you can see here the ipod takes some serious drops. other comparrisons here http://members.brabant.chello.nl/~m.heijligers/ipo d/

FORGET THAT POST (1)

JoJoFine (671477) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213094)

something went wrong with that and it crunched all together

anyhoo

http://members.brabant.chello.nl/~m.heijligers/i po d/measurements.html
here we see the ipod cant perform lows and takes some serious hits

heres some other comparrisons
http://members.brabant.chello.nl/~m. heijligers/ipo d/

Please learn some HTML (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213181)

Link 1 [chello.nl]

Link 2 [chello.nl]

"Audiophile" (1)

scosol (127202) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213065)

I *shudder* at even the mention of the word.

Make a promise to yourself, from this day forward, never utter the word "audiophile" ever again.

Lest you start buying Amber Tweaks:
http://www.1388.com/html/amber_tweak.html [1388.com]

AIFF (1)

joto (134244) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213075)

AIFF seems to be the high-resolution ripping option

Yes, I have to agree with you Michael. AIFF is so much better than WAV. After all, it's less known, and is mentioned in stereophile, so it must be better, right? It's not just ripping, it's high-resolution ripping that counts. With AIFF each of those 16 bits will have so much more resolution that you have to be almost deaf to not be able to hear it...

I love audiophiles... (2, Funny)

mblase (200735) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213076)

This is just classic, really:

All iPods ship with a pair of earbud-type headphones with 18mm neodymium-powered drivers. These have surprisingly good sound--at least compared to the phones included with most portable players. A pair of low-impedance Etymotic ER-4Ps ($330) offered much better sound and isolation from environmental noise, but that's a subject for another review.

While reviewing the iPod, he just couldn't resist pointing out that another pair of headphones which costs as much as the iPod itself would be the perfect accessory to complete the gadget.

Money is no object. Then again, this adequately describes most of my fellow Mac afficianados as well....

Re:I love audiophiles... (1)

Christopher Bibbs (14) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213185)

If you're an audiophile, doesn't it just make sense you'd have $300 headphones when the rest of the world makes do with sub $50 units? Kinda the way some gamers think $300 video cards are worth the price when other people think the whole system shouldn't cost any more than that.

Penny Arcade says it best (1)

probabilistic (220245) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213077)

An audiophile-quality device? Perhaps. But I submit the great wisdom [penny-arcade.com] of Penny Arcade.

Re:Penny Arcade says it best (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213148)

Does anyone besides me find PA to be a bunch of teeny whining?

Wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213204)

You made a mistake, penny-arcade doesn't have any "great wisdom."

'audiophile' reviewers full of it (4, Interesting)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213083)

"Dynamics were impressive, imaging was nuanced and detailed, and the frequency extremes sounded extended and natural."

Actually heard in a high-end(really high end) audio store:

"Yeah, these cables do a great job of keep the high end in phase."

Another high-end store I saw selling markers to black out the edge of your CDs to prevent light loss. The same store had a CD player sitting on an isolation table(unless you've got elephants running through the neighborhood, completely unnecessary).

It is absolutely amazing to sit in one of these stores with any kind of electronics/physics background(father was an EE, it's rubbed off somewhat) and listen to all the bullshit spewing forth...watching the rich idiots sucking it all up...and trying desperately to keep from bursting out laughing.

"Warmth", "Depth", "Presence"...these guys have an adjective list a mile long- and not a single one actually has real-world meaning you can conclusively explain, measure, or demonstrate. They are essentially all snake oil salesmen.

iPod is no more hifi than any other mp3 device (0, Flamebait)

morelife (213920) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213085)

Please.

"Dynamics were impressive, imaging was nuanced and detailed, and the frequency extremes sounded extended and natural"

Somebody at Apple has been buying somebody at Stereophile some serious dinners on the company plastic ... God does that stink. I love America.

Not just for audiophiles. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213089)

They're for pedophiles also.

Hey there, littel girl! Wanna see my cool toy?

Audiophiles and their crazy opinions (1)

Cowclops (630818) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213090)

Most people who claim they hear the difference between a reasonable speaker wire and an unreasonably expensive one, or people that claim they can hear the difference between CD-R brands... or between toslink and coax cables... are too afraid to do a test where they don't KNOW what they're listening to. When people expect their to be a difference, they will swear they hear one. I bet you could hook up two identical, cheap, speaker wires... tell them they cost $5,000 a foot, and switch between them and they will find glowing things to say.

For a more in depth, I already wrote a thing on this at http://cowclops.net/audio/differences.htm

This can't be right... (2, Insightful)

stefanb (21140) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213091)

Best of all--and, to my ears, completely indistinguishable from the original CD--was AIFF.
Really? No, I think you need to spend at least $50 per feet on speaker cable to really make that distiction. And obviously, you need the P4 Extreme Edition [slashdot.org] for a top-quality rip.

Someone tell him the AIFF is bit for bit identical with the CD, if he ripped it properly. But another reader needed to point out that iTunes has preferences to make it retrieve CDDB entries automatically. Oh well.

not really... (-1, Troll)

guacamolefoo (577448) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213092)

Audiophiles like the iPod because:

1. They like expensive things
2. The iPod costs more than its weight in gold
3. Audiophiles are too stupid to realize that there are other products out there that are just as cool but half the price
4. Audiophiles are stupid fetishists and iPods are their version of vinyl-covered Carrie-Anne Moss tits
5. Did I mention that audiophiles have more money than brains?

GF.

Re:not really... (1)

be-fan (61476) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213201)

Hmm, that's not entirely a fair characterization. The iPod is high quality. There is stuff that's cheaper, but it feels cheap (plasticky) and looks cheap (plasticky). Even today, the iPod is still the smallest, sleekest, and nicest looking MP3 player you can buy. It also has great audio quality, which makes it the complete package. The has great audio quality, but is a lot larger. The new Sonicblue is small (though not smaller in terms of total volume) but looks and feels cheap. Overall, the iPod makes you feel good. Its something you don't get tired of touching and looking at, like an expensive watch.

There are hard-to-measure factors that come into play simply because we are humans, and not completely rational beings. Life isn't just about price/performance ratio.

For the audiophile... (1)

aznxk3vi17 (465030) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213098)

...sound quality-wise AND price-wise.

Yeah, right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213109)

'Dynamics were impressive, imaging was nuanced and detailed, and the frequency extremes sounded extended and natural.'

This probably says more about audiophiles than the iPod I'm afraid.

AC.
Speaking as someone who's using his iPod as his hifi and can't wait to get his CD player fixed.

audiophiles == people with way too much money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213115)

Dynamics were impressive, imaging was nuanced and detailed, and the frequency extremes sounded extended and natural.

For a "consumer level" device, the iPod is certainly adequate. However, I have found that taking a common black marker and darkening the headphone connector improves the "chewiness" of basslines and gives the highs a certain "grapefruit" tone. Combine this with the "smooth leathery" quality that the iPod already imparts to the music, and you've got the beginnings of an entry-level audiophile device. Unfortunately, Apple needs to work on the price. A true audiophile device must cost considerably more than $400, on the order of $1,000 at least.

Otherwise your other audiophile friends will laugh at you. "Ha ha Bob, I bet your little fruit-pod doesn't have an ounce of cobalt in the signal path, or a compass to help you orient the device optimally along the earth's magnetic field. It'll completely butcher your CDs, which are already losing so much detail from the original LP metal masters. You DO rip 32-bit 256KHz AIFF's directly from LP masters using a laser turntable in level 10 clean room facility, right?"

Not audiophile-quality review! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213118)

There are no oscilloscope waveforms anywhere in this review. This audiophile remains completely unimpressed, with rectum fully puckered.

Lossless Downloads (1)

williwilli (639147) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213124)

By the way, cdparanoia can rip to AIFF just fine (use the -f flag).

there are also lots of free downloads at my site, earth2willi.com, [earth2willi.com] including losslessly compressed FLAC. Download [sejus.com] the FLAC, unzip them to WAV or AIF and load on your iPod! MP3 and Ogg are available too, all totally free of login requirements or service charges, untouched by the RIAA, and complete with print resolution artwork. Stop by the forums while you are there! :)

What are some other options for obtaining FLAC WAV or AIF online?

G5 gets thrashed by Athlon64FX in benchmarks! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213125)

another review (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213128)

from NAMBLA says that Apples are for pedophiles. MAC seems to be the homo-sexual butt ripping option.

AIFF==WAV==uncompressed (1)

jtotheh (229796) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213129)

AIFF is (I don't know if it can be anything else) the original 16bit stereo uncompressed audio format (at 44.1 kHz) that is suitable for ripped audio from CDs with hopefully the same data as the original. I don't think it even does lossless compression, let alone lossy. That's why this reviewer is saying
Best of all--and, to my ears, completely indistinguishable from the original CD--was AIFF. Dynamics were impressive, imaging was nuanced and detailed,

WAV is a slight modification of AIFF in the header only, done to make people think Microsoft did something significant or else to make PC sound files be different than Macs. Or maybe both. I think this reviewer misses the point, with the levels of compression in normal use (128,160) an iPod can hold 5,000-10,000 songs, that's like 500-1000 albums - that is a significant music library. Of course with AIFF it will only hold about a 10th of that I believe. Don't get me wrong,I love my iPod and am looking forward to the Thursday rumored release of iTunes for Windoze. Then I can give Apple some cash.

There are lies, damn lies, statistics, and audiophiles.

Re:AIFF==WAV==uncompressed (1)

proj_2501 (78149) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213182)

actually, I believe WAV is identical to the Sound Designer II format (the native format of pro tools), not AIFF. or maybe they're just like FSSDs? I forget.

ANYWAY

AIFFs can be compressed with MACE (and maybe u-law etc.), but usually aren't, becaus MACE sounds like SHIT. Compressed AIFFs are usually called AIFCs anyway.

Headphone quality (1)

bluegreenone (526698) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213130)

Interesting that this review is so favorable toward the ipod's audio quality. I really like the design of the machine and want to get one, so I was checking out the sound quality. I test listened to one on my own headphones and I was a little surprised, it didnt seem that crisp and seemed to lack bass. I tried most of the DSP settings, they made little difference.

This seemed to jibe with what I found at This Site [chello.nl] that compares the ipod's sound quality to other MP3 players. He said he found that the line out was good, but that the headphone seemed to be lacking.

I'll have to listen again, but that would stink because the ipod is almost perfect in other ways. I might still get it even with imperfect sound!

Good headphonesmake the difference. (1)

joel8x (324102) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213136)

Once I plugged in a pair of Grados, I realized just how good the iPod is.

The headphones that ship with the iPod are pretty good, but once you use a real pair, you'll never take out those earbuds again.

stoopid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213138)

there have been numerous tests with audiophiles. they couldn't discern a mp3 encoded at 256 from the real source.

BUT... (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213139)

Were the electrons in the cables flowing the RIGHT WAY?

Oh great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213160)

Yet another thing for the Macintosh bluebloods to snootily talk about, looking with arched eyebrow at someone's lowly Archos, while wearing their turtlenecks and black berets and munching on Brie and caviar. Fortunately you can just say "iMac" and they become despondent and stumble away.

and in other news, just as important... (0, Offtopic)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213175)

Trix are for kids.

Silly rabbit.

(go see "Kill Bill"!)

Missing the obvious? (1)

HarveyBirdman (627248) | more than 10 years ago | (#7213180)

Shouldn't it sound like the original CD because AIFF is an uncompressed copy of the CD track?

Maybe better sound, but it reduces the song capactiy of your iPod about 90%, eh?

Anyway, I can't trust someone who refers to themselves as "gimlet eyed" and agonizes over their identity as an audiophile. To me that situation is just crying out for an intervention. Or a deprogramming. Or a delousing. Or a kick in the butt. Or something.

Apple should make an audiophile iPod (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7213208)

Take exactly the same device, put a big heavy-gauge cable on the headphones and multiply the price 5 times.
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