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Review: Apple's second-generation iPod touch - Page 3

post #81 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidW View Post

But here's the point. An MP3 music file already has rolled off bass and highs. If a player puts out a truly "flat" response across the spectrum, it would not sound as good as a player that equalizes it's output to add a little more bass and highs. If players were designed to play lossless CD quality digital files, then yes, a player with a "flat" response curve would be clearly superior. But that's not the case. Most people listen to MP3 music files on their players and thus most players are designed to play MP3 music files. It's not like a High End amp where we're inputting a high quality music source and thus a flat response curve is most desirable.(BTW- Tube amps tend to have rolled off bass and highs and yet many (including me) find them superior sounding.)

This is my point: the Sandisk players have less bass roll-off than an iPod. Since MP3s are already slightly rolled off (as you say), then the iPod will have even more noticeable roll-off. An equalizer would help but would also add more distortion to an already distorted source. The iPod does not have user tunable EQ to make up for the bass roll-off. The predefined settings create far too much distortion. The Zune is even worse because it also has slightly rolled off bass but doesn't have EQ at all.

Your tube analogy is flawed for the simple reason that tube lovers (myself included) can forgive minor bass roll-off when the mid-range is so sweet, and the highs are so smooth. Digital players don't compensate for rolled off bass by giving up any great tube qualities. I do agree that there are no "vast" differences in sound quality among the various popular players out there, but your definition of "vast" is not likely to be the exact same as another person's. Someone who thinks that there are "vast" differences is not "delusional," in my opinion, even though I disagree.

Ultimately, I still fail to see the value or the point of a "review" that is three pages long and fails to mention the player's sound quality even once --not even a single and meaningless line like, "It sounds good." Remember that there are references with which to compare the Nano. Just tell us if you think that it sounds exactly the same as the previous version or is slightly better/worse. Would you review a televsion and tell us everything about it except its image quality? After all, most television panels are produced by the three or four same manufacturers just like most DAC chips are made by Burr Brown or Analogue Devices.


I look at it this way. The sound quality of any MP3 player will never, ever approach what I hear on my home stereo. So why spend the extra effort or money to improve the sound. I'm happy with my iPod as is.

I agree that the iPod or any portable player will never approach the quality of a home system with dedicated power supplies and discrete circuitry/point to point wired amps and pre-amps, etc, but where I do not agree is that we have to settle for mediocrity. The Sandisk players, to my ears (and to many others) clearly sound a bit better than the iPod. Why can't I get Sandisk quality sound from an iPod? I don't think it's too much to ask since the iPod generally costs more.

The article was from the a magazine called "The New Republic". Sometime in the mid 80's. If you didn't read the whole article, then you would be ignorant for judging the author based on one line that you took out of context. The author was basically questioning why anyone would spend $100,000 on a stereo system when he was perfectly happy listening to Mozart on his transistor radio. The author did not spend $100,000 for a stereo system but listened to one worth that much at a High End stereo store. He wanted to see (hear) what High End was all about. And at the end, he appreciated what audiophiles were after but that didn't stop him from enjoying Mozart, on his transistor radio.


If I find the article on the internet, I'll link it here.

Please post the article. I no longer have the link, but I highly doubt that we are referring to the same thing. "Crazy" audiophile articles are as plentiful as Shakespearean essays, so it is easy to confuse them. The article that I'm referring to is an independent write-up from the actual builder of the rig, not a critic.
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post #82 of 94
You guys are what I like to call Sound Nazis. The ones who argued vehemently that the iPod could never succeed because no one in their right mind would listen to such horrible, flat, worthless sound. Not when it's not purely pre-amped, wired directly, DAC-stuffed, and output to Iridium-laced, neodymium enriched speakers.

It's about the music. The iPod proved all the audiophiles wrong and went on to be a stunning success. The sound is quite good enough and portability and functionality made up for lossless sources. You could say the same about the video functions. It's not an Aquos, but I love that functionality and so do most others.

For what it's worth, I've purchased some nice iPod speakers and everyone that hears them thinks it's a nice stereo system. Humans, with their waxy ears and aging eardrums, are easily fooled.

I love nice stuff too. I'm sure a well-equipped system in an ideal setting sounds richer and warmer and whatever else more than an iPod. I'm one of those that paid more and bought the Sharp Aquos over the Vizio because it looked a few % better.

The point is it doesn't matter because 99% of us are really just enjoying the music, not critiquing the bits. Same with video. We can enjoy a movie without analyzing the pixels.
post #83 of 94
The only thing that the iPod has proven is that most people don't care that much about sound quality. Audiophiles never claimed that sound quality matters to the masses. In fact, it is the opposite belief.

Of course it is "about the music." I love my music so much that I want to listen to it the way that it was intended, not compressed and with information taken out and distorted. I have no problems with people who don't care about sound quality. What I do have issues with are people who don't care about sound quality and criticize those who do care.

Regarding the video comparison, people obviously do care about video quality; otherwise, why would so many consumers buy HD stuff when they can enjoy their 720x480 DVDs?

All things considered, I'd rather listen to my favorite music on a great system instead of a poor one, and I'd prefer to watch The Matrix on HD-DVD instead of through a television broadcast.

"It's all about music" is just Apple's rationalization for releasing mediocrity.
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post #84 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by applebook View Post

Regarding the video comparison, people obviously do care about video quality; otherwise, why would so many consumers buy HD stuff when they can enjoy their 720x480 DVDs?

Because their friends are and because the Best Buy sales staff tells them to? Hell, most people watch regular definition TV on their big screens and think the hi-def looks so awesome.
post #85 of 94
Quote:
This is my point: the Sandisk players have less bass roll-off than an iPod. Since MP3s are already slightly rolled off (as you say), then the iPod will have even more noticeable roll-off. An equalizer would help but would also add more distortion to an already distorted source. The iPod does not have user tunable EQ to make up for the bass roll-off. The predefined settings create far too much distortion. The Zune is even worse because it also has slightly rolled off bass but doesn't have EQ at all.

Not necessarily true. If an MP3 music file rolls off the bass at say 125Hz and the iPod begins to roll off the bass at 100Hz. It anything loss? What's the point of having a flat response curve down to 30Hz if there is no bass below 100Hz in most MP3 music. Not to mention that most earbuds that comes with an MP3 player can't resolve play anything below 100Hz. Maybe that's why an iPod battery seems to fair better (life wise) than other MP3 players. The iPod is not wasting any effort in trying to play music that isn't there. I know that they say that any equalization reduces battery life (play time wise).

And if I understand it correctly (and I may be wrong) but digital equalization is introduced into the digital file itself. Before the DAC. It's not like analog equalization where the audio signal is altered before being amplified. With analog, you are introducing resistance, inductance and capacitance into the signal path, to alter it's sound. And thus a potential for distortion. However, digital equalization alters the digital information in the music file itself. Thus the DAC doesn't know the difference between the original file and the equalized one. So there shouldn't be any distrortion introduced. At least not the kind we get with an analog audio signal. Now if you can't custom tailor the equalization, like on an iPod, then I can see how the equaliztion may "distort" the musical balance (too much bass or highs) of the music itself but not the sound.

And don't forget, equalization can only increase the level of any frequency that is there. It can not add bass or highs. It can only make the bass or highs that are already there louder.

And the beauty of iTunes is that you can actually save your MP3 (AAC) music files already customed equalized. (At least with the older version. I haven't seen the program to do this in the newer version 8 yet.) You can actually equalize each individual music file to your preference and save it like that. So that you can leave the iPod "flat" and not have to change the equalization on your iPod every time the music changes.

Quote:
Ultimately, I still fail to see the value or the point of a "review" that is three pages long and fails to mention the player's sound quality even once --not even a single and meaningless line like, "It sounds good." Remember that there are references with which to compare the Nano. Just tell us if you think that it sounds exactly the same as the previous version or is slightly better/worse. Would you review a televsion and tell us everything about it except its image quality? After all, most television panels are produced by the three or four same manufacturers just like most DAC chips are made by Burr Brown or Analogue Devices.

I think this is an indication that most people have reached the conclusion that there isn't really alot of differences in sound quaility between name brand players. Or that the sound quality differences are not enough to make or break the deal. If the iPod (or any other player) really stands out above or below the others (sound quality wise), I'm sure that it would get mentioned. But it's got to be a first impression reaction. If it's not a "wow! This sounds great!" or "What the hell! This sounds like a piece of crap." when someone first hear it, then it's taken for granted that it sounds more or less like every other name brand player. But as far as MP3 players are concern, most people shopping for one seem more concern with battery life, storage and extra features like WiFi, video and FM radio.

Your HD TV analogy is flawed in that nearly everyone buying a HD TV wants to know what the image on it looks like. It's the quality of the image that will make or break the deal on an HD TV. That's not true with most MP3 players. There are many other features that will make or break the deal, besides sound quality. If sound quality is your main criteria, then you're going to have to do some leg work and listen to each player, with your own set of headphones (and music if possible), to determine the best sounding player for you.

Quote:
I agree that the iPod or any portable player will never approach the quality of a home system with dedicated power supplies and discrete circuitry/point to point wired amps and pre-amps, etc, but where I do not agree is that we have to settle for mediocrity. The Sandisk players, to my ears (and to many others) clearly sound a bit better than the iPod. Why can't I get Sandisk quality sound from an iPod? I don't think it's too much to ask since the iPod generally costs more.

Because the "cost more" part of the iPod went into other features (and other technological advances) besides the sound chip.\



Quote:
Originally Posted by applebook View Post

Please post the article. I no longer have the link, but I highly doubt that we are referring to the same thing. "Crazy" audiophile articles are as plentiful as Shakespearean essays, so it is easy to confuse them. The article that I'm referring to is an independent write-up from the actual builder of the rig, not a critic.

I can't locate the article on the web. I can only find several references to it. I have the actual article. It's by Edward Rothstein. He was the music critic for "The New Republic" at the time. He's now with the NY Times reviewing other stuff besides music. The article is titled "The Quest for Perfect Sound", in the Dec. 1985 issue of "The New Republic". It's really a great read for audiophiles and non audiophiles. (Even though it was written over 20 years ago and many of the High End audio equipment companies he references don't exist anymore.)

If you're really interested I can try to scan or take digital photos of it and e-mail it. Private message me.
post #86 of 94
I'm looking at two decisions in coming months, as my Verizon contract comes to an end.

First is whether to move to the iPhone and AT&T. Based on some history, this isn't an easy decision and was complicated last week when I made a mobile call from a client's office and looked up to see an amazed expression on his face. "You get a signal here?" He uses iPhone. Also, I've had voice dialing for years. He says he can't do that on iPhone.

The second is my reliance on the PalmOne T/X for PDA functions, including bluetooth and wifi mail checks. When the first Touch was introduced, the Apple Store rep said it lacked PDA functions. I suspect that gap has been closed by independent developers - but it's hard to know how well that's been done. Anyone have experience with that?

I think I may want to maintain the separation between phone and PDA, since I travel on business and put heavy reliance on both (including use of a bluetooth keyboard for writing short articles on the PalmT/X. I've had problems with battery life in the past - and the Touch doesn't make swapping a second (charged) battery easy and carrying a separate power device adds to my load.

Anyone have experience that can help with my looming decision(s)? I've come to rely on the wisdom of Apple Insider members over recent years, so your experience and observations would be welcome.
post #87 of 94
Be aware that the iPod touch does not work with the Apple Hi-Fi or existing iPod chargers, car chargers, docks etc...

Existing customers of Apple please join the "ready to be ripped off" queue at the Apple store and buy another docking / speaker system when you upgrade your ipods otherwise you are gonna be in for a surprise when you get home.

If anyone can show me where Apple warn people about this it would be helpful as I cannot find it anywhere.
post #88 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Murphster View Post

Be aware that the iPod touch does not work with the Apple Hi-Fi or existing iPod chargers, car chargers, docks etc...

Existing customers of Apple please join the "ready to be ripped off" queue at the Apple store and buy another docking / speaker system when you upgrade your ipods otherwise you are gonna be in for a surprise when you get home.

If anyone can show me where Apple warn people about this it would be helpful as I cannot find it anywhere.

So what? Just another lame excuse to make excuses for products.
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post #89 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by His Dudeness View Post

So what? Just another lame excuse to make excuses for products.

You know, I have got no idea whatsoever what your reply is supposed to mean
post #90 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Murphster View Post

You know, I have got no idea whatsoever what your reply is supposed to mean

I guess I'm not the only one.
post #91 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Murphster View Post

Be aware that the iPod touch does not work with the Apple Hi-Fi or existing iPod chargers, car chargers, docks etc...

Existing customers of Apple please join the "ready to be ripped off" queue at the Apple store and buy another docking / speaker system when you upgrade your ipods otherwise you are gonna be in for a surprise when you get home.

If anyone can show me where Apple warn people about this it would be helpful as I cannot find it anywhere.

I would like to point out that the iPod Touch does work with the iPod charger for the first generation Classic. I can't comment on the other devices. I'd be very surprised if it didn't work with the dock for the first generation Classic also.

Products evolve, you need to get used to it. After all, people didn't stop upgrading iPods when Apple switched from firewire to USB.

Anyway, I'm impressed with the iPod Touch. I bought it for watching video when traveling and using Safari and Mail on wifi. On a a recent trip it met my every expectation.
post #92 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Murphster View Post

Be aware that the iPod touch does not work with the Apple Hi-Fi or existing iPod chargers, car chargers, docks etc...

Existing customers of Apple please join the "ready to be ripped off" queue at the Apple store and buy another docking / speaker system when you upgrade your ipods otherwise you are gonna be in for a surprise when you get home.

If anyone can show me where Apple warn people about this it would be helpful as I cannot find it anywhere.


It's mainly third party USB wall and car chargers (and docks) that the Touch don't work with. I have one of the original Apple dock (no remote and with S-Video output) and it works (charge and sync) fine with my 2G Touch (and using the cable supplied with a 1G Nano). Providing I'm plugged into the USB port on a computer. I read that it also works fine plugged into the USB port on an Apple Express wall unit. And that Griffens USB charging devices work with the Touch and iPhone. It's mainly the cheap eBay USB wall and car chargers that no longer works.

From what I read the Touch and iPhone requires a high current draw (greater than 100ma) to charge it's batteries. Standard USB protocol requires that such devices must request a higher current draw from it's host by way of the data lines before it will deliver over 100ma. Thus many third party UBS wall and car chargers don't work on the Touch or iPhone. They only supply voltage to the power lines and their data lines are "floating". The Touch and iPhone are waiting for an answer (by way of the data lines) before going into charge mode. Which is why a computer USB will alway work. The computer answers the Touch and iPhone to verify the request for higher current. Even if it's an USB 1.1 port.

There is a simple fix. But you got to splice open a USB cable and route some voltage into the data lines from it's power lines, through a resistor. So the Touch and iPhone thinks it's getting an answer. They will then go into charge mode.

The other issue is that Firewire charging is no longer available in the Touch or iPhone. Apple did away with Firewire sync in iPods a while ago but these iPods were still able to charge from a Firewire port through it's connector. I know my 1G Nano (and I pretty sure my 5G Video) can be charged through a Firewire port. Even though they no longer sync through one. So any device that used the Firewire pins in an iPod to charge will no longer work (charging wise) with the Touch or iPhone.

I can see why Apple wanted to make sure it was getting the high current output before going into charge mode. Otherwise the Touch (iPhone) might actually discharge back through the host. And why they did away with the Firewire connections. But what really got me though is the video output to TV through the connector is no longer supported with the older cables. For now, you need to buy a $50 cable from Apple. It has a some kind of chip in it to tell the Touch that it's there. I know why they did away with video output from the headphone jack. (To use that third connection for a microphone). But I don't know if there's any valid reason for the "chip" in the new video cable. Unless they couldn't fit the needed "chip" into the unit itself.

Added comment- Just checked on eBay and they're already selling non-OEM video cables for Touch, iPhones, Classics and 3G Nanos for around $10.00 (plus shipping). Pretty sure these will also work with the 2G Touch, 3G iPhone and 4G Nano as earlier generations also required the "chipped" cable from Apple. And compatible USB (wall and car) chargers are going for less the $4.00 (plus shipping). Most likely non-OEM compatible docks are also already available for 2G Touch, 3G iPhone and 4G Nano.
post #93 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidW View Post

It's mainly third party USB wall and car chargers (and docks) that the Touch don't work with. I have one of the original Apple dock (no remote and with S-Video output) and it works (charge and sync) fine with my 2G Touch (and using the cable supplied with a 1G Nano). Providing I'm plugged into the USB port on a computer. I read that it also works fine plugged into the USB port on an Apple Express wall unit. And that Griffens USB charging devices work with the Touch and iPhone. It's mainly the cheap eBay USB wall and car chargers that no longer works.

From what I read the Touch and iPhone requires a high current draw (greater than 100ma) to charge it's batteries. Standard USB protocol requires that such devices must request a higher current draw from it's host by way of the data lines before it will deliver over 100ma. Thus many third party UBS wall and car chargers don't work on the Touch or iPhone. They only supply voltage to the power lines and their data lines are "floating". The Touch and iPhone are waiting for an answer (by way of the data lines) before going into charge mode. Which is why a computer USB will alway work. The computer answers the Touch and iPhone to verify the request for higher current. Even if it's an USB 1.1 port.

There is a simple fix. But you got to splice open a USB cable and route some voltage into the data lines from it's power lines, through a resistor. So the Touch and iPhone thinks it's getting an answer. They will then go into charge mode.

The other issue is that Firewire charging is no longer available in the Touch or iPhone. Apple did away with Firewire sync in iPods a while ago but these iPods were still able to charge from a Firewire port through it's connector. I know my 1G Nano (and I pretty sure my 5G Video) can be charged through a Firewire port. Even though they no longer sync through one. So any device that used the Firewire pins in an iPod to charge will no longer work (charging wise) with the Touch or iPhone.

I can see why Apple wanted to make sure it was getting the high current output before going into charge mode. Otherwise the Touch (iPhone) might actually discharge back through the host. And why they did away with the Firewire connections. But what really got me though is the video output to TV through the connector is no longer supported with the older cables. For now, you need to buy a $50 cable from Apple. It has a some kind of chip in it to tell the Touch that it's there. I know why they did away with video output from the headphone jack. (To use that third connection for a microphone). But I don't know if there's any valid reason for the "chip" in the new video cable. Unless they couldn't fit the needed "chip" into the unit itself.

Added comment- Just checked on eBay and they're already selling non-OEM video cables for Touch, iPhones, Classics and 3G Nanos for around $10.00 (plus shipping). Pretty sure these will also work with the 2G Touch, 3G iPhone and 4G Nano as earlier generations also required the "chipped" cable from Apple. And compatible USB (wall and car) chargers are going for less the $4.00 (plus shipping). Most likely non-OEM compatible docks are also already available for 2G Touch, 3G iPhone and 4G Nano.

Cheers, a very in depth overview of the issue. My problem is with the Apple Hi-Fi, seems that there is no way around that one. It essentially makes the Hi-Fi useless now and it does not charge the iPod, which is kind of what I bought it for.

Looks like I need to buy a replacement.
post #94 of 94
I have a belkin wall charger that works with my iPod video and my sisters 1st gen iPod touch but not with my 2nd gen ipod touch and my other sisters new iPod nano that she just got this week. Could it be FireWire or something? I don't know much about these kinds of things...
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