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View Full Version : iPod<->stereo = poor sound quality!? (+ dock no good)


joakimk
01-02-2007, 02:41 PM
I'm experiencing difficulties when connecting my iPod Nano to my stereo at home. I use a regular quality RCA<->3.5mm jack Y-cable to connect the headphone jack to an aux input, and I've also tried connecting via the iPod's line output using an apple dock (+ the same Y-cable, obviously).

Regardless, I experience a significant drop in sound volume when I switch from the CD player to the iPod. To compensate, I crank up the volume on the stereo quite a bit (rotating the dial from 8 o'clock to 11 o'clock; > 20 degrees). Then I have to fiddle with the EQ (either on ipod, or on stereo) to reduce bass, etc. :mad:
- Switching on "Sound Check" in iPod prefs gave only a miniscule improvement, if any.

Anyone having similar problems? I've checked with my friend, and he has the same ipod with the same problems. And I went to a fancy stereo store and observed the very same effect on expensive stereo amplifiers.

joakimk
01-02-2007, 02:44 PM
So, this apple FAQ is not reliably answering my question:
http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=60920#faq18

Question: Can I connect iPod to my home stereo?
Answer: Yes. With its powerful 60 mW amplifier and 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response, iPod will sound great on your home stereo. Third-party stereo adapters are available for listening to your iPod music library using home stereo speakers. Compatible devices must be self-powered and support audio output through a 3.5 mm headphone jack. For optimal sound quality when using external speakers, set the iPod volume at less than half the maximum output and adjust your listening volume through your stereo controls. This prevents overamplification, which can cause distortion and reduce audio quality.

Could it be a matter of me ripping the music (from CD) with incorrect iTunes settings? Should one expect this extremely audible quality drop when playing mp3's?

trevor
01-02-2007, 03:26 PM
Regardless, I experience a significant drop in sound volume when I switch from the CD player to the iPod.
Should one expect this extremely audible quality drop when playing mp3's?

Where are you getting a quality drop? You're reporting a very believable volume drop, which is understandable. But a quality drop? Please explain.

The explanation for the volume drop is that the line level out of your CD player is higher than the line level out of your iPod/Dock. You can compensate by turning down your CD player output, if your CD player has an output knob. Or else just live with it.

But if you are really having a quality (not volume) drop, please explain further.

Trevor

joakimk
01-02-2007, 03:33 PM
Well, it is strictly a matter of volume drop, sorry for the ambiguity :)

I checked around, and found lots of references to some software called euPod (http://www.espen.se/) (or goPod) which apparently increase the volume output of the iPod. Heard of these tools, and might this fix my problem?

trevor
01-02-2007, 03:40 PM
Did you buy your iPod in Europe?

And no matter what the answer to the above question is, what do you have set in iPod > Settings > Volume Limit?

Trevor

joakimk
01-02-2007, 03:46 PM
Well, it's bought in Norway, which is not part of the EU, but still follows most of the regulations. So, I guess the notorious volume cap would apply.

Also, my Volume Limit is maxed out already... Do you think I should try the euPod software thing?

trevor
01-02-2007, 05:54 PM
I know nothing about the euPod, but you could give it a try. Just realize that any hacks like that are at your own risk.

Trevor

joakimk
01-03-2007, 02:40 AM
As a follow-up on the above discussion on volume/quality:
the iPod has less volume than my CD player. So I crank up the stereo. This results in equal volume, but at the price of reduced sound quality! Overdefined bass, etc. The EQ is way off.

But why doesn't the (claimed) line output from the Apple Dock give more of an improvement over the jack output, when I connect to my stereo? Granted, there is a noticable improvement, but not much.

If my iPod is volume capped, this appears to affect both outputs and not only the headphone jack? If I fix this via some firmware modification, like goPod, should I still keep the $50 Dock? I have a good mind of giving the smug Apple salesclerk a piece of my mind for claiming all my problems would be solved with this apparently redundant gizmo... :confused:

seb481
01-03-2007, 11:30 AM
i've noticed that the ipod sound quality is not that good. However, it is nothing terrible.

davek0974
01-07-2007, 09:17 AM
Hi all,

I've got the 80g Video pod and a third party dock from Argos. It's connected to my home cinema system via the RCA line out on the dock.

The volume on the iPod has no effect at all, but the dock has it's own volume control, setting this to anythin over half level causes a marked drop in quality due to over amplifying the line output. At half level, the volume is equal to my cd player and sky tv levels.

My library is all ripped in standard 128 aac files and the quality, while not CD standard, is VERY good and easily usable for general listening.

Dave.

gochal
06-04-2007, 12:38 PM
Hi,
I am experiencing the same problem with my iPod nano
I would hook it up to my stereo using the RCA cable, and the volume and sound quality are greatly deteriorated
I don't understand why, esp since the sound is great on my car stereo using a cassette adapter.
as an alternative, what would it take to hook up my laptop iTunes to my home stereo?

puremagic
06-06-2007, 12:24 PM
I have tried listening to music from the ipod by docking it to a creative xdock station before and was able to obtain good sound quality.

alpine_21
06-30-2007, 02:12 AM
The sound quality will vary (sometimes dramatically) depending on your home stereo quality.

iPod's use AAC encoding ("MP4") for their audio files. If you buy songs from iTunes, then you are getting the prorietary DRM (Digital "Rights" Management) restricted version of AAC files (unless you have iTunes Plus combined with a label that doesn't stipulate DRM). These proprietary files limit the devices you can use to playback your files (unless you burn & rip, or use s/w that will convert and remove the drm code).

The sound quality of mp4/aac files is good, but not great. As with any non-lossless compression, some audio information is sacrificed. When using an iPod with standard headphones, or hooked up to a car stereo, the sound quality is limited by the inexpensive speakers, road noise, etc. A good home stereo, especially a "high-end" one with superior components, will reveal the source limitations of the compressed aac/mp4 file, especially with live or "natural" music (accoustic, jazz, folk, classical vs. pop, electronic, or other formats whose dynamic range is limited). The compressed aac/mp4 files simply do not have all the nuances, "sweetness", & complexity of CD quality tracks.

I notice that iPod songs are significantly dulled or flat on my home system vs. CD quality audio, regardless of line output or volume adjustments. I was originally considering using iTunes to purchase all my music until I discovered this difference. IMHO, Using iTunes to purchase music for a decent home stereo is a complete waste of money.

I guess you could think of aac/mp4 files as "low def" & CD's as HD.

J Christopher
06-30-2007, 11:47 PM
I notice that iPod songs are significantly dulled or flat on my home system vs. CD quality audio, regardless of line output or volume adjustments. I was originally considering using iTunes to purchase all my music until I discovered this difference. IMHO, Using iTunes to purchase music for a decent home stereo is a complete waste of money.

I guess you could think of aac/mp4 files as "low def" & CD's as HD.

You may be hearing differences in hardware quality. Not all iPods are created equal in terms of sound quality. Last time I checked (and it's been awhile) the Shuffle was the Mac Daddy of mp3 in terms of measured sound quality, especially when powering headphones.

Being a recovering audiophile myself, I suspect that even the best mp3 players are not up to the same quality standards as most other audiophile preferred electronic devices, such as a cd player. There are companies that will tweak iPods to higher, audiophile friendly standards. The same files should sound more accurate, which may be a good thing, or may be a bad thing.