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Rockbox Sound Quality Better?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Lots of comments on many different threads about the sound quality of Rockbox and whether it's better than the firmware your player shipped with. I thought I'd start a thread dedicated to just this issue alone.

Here's what I'm wondering - using the hardware you have now and several tunes that you know well, changing NOTHING but the firmware, does Rockbox sound better?

Here's my take: yes, all other things held constant, Rockbox delivers a much cleaner, more detailed and wider soundstage with my stuff. Bass in particular is tighter, punchier, more detailed. With Apple I get sort of an undifferentiated, bloated bass drone. With Rockbox I can follow the bass line clearly. Instruments are more clearly separated, easier to pick them out of the mix. more dimensional. Highs are more extended, some of the hash and harshness is gone. Drums have more kick. The soundstage is deeper. It's much easier to relax into the music.

I compared several songs ripped in Apple lossless and transferred onto a 5g iPod, 30gb, connected via an AudioLineOut Jenna into a Total Airhead to Westone ES2's.

I switched back and forth between Apple and Rockbox and listened to the same songs several times. I didn't use any EQ with either system (btw, I found the Hardware EQ setting on Rockbox to be just terrible) and kept volume level equal and constant.

My take, the hype about Rockbox's sound quality is for real.
post #2 of 22
Isn't the more important part that you can play more formats and it doesn't require iTunes? How the sound quality can change (much atleast..) is beyond me but someone with more technical knowledge might know. The hardware doesn't decode the mp3s? It's only cpus which runs software which does it? Are there always some sort of equalizer settings which might make the defaults "better" ones in rockbox? What decoder does rockbox use anyway? Googled, seems it uses MAD, and MAD is supposed to be one of the better ones, dunno what the iPod uses with original software.
post #3 of 22
I have noticed long time ago that rockbox does deliver a more pleasing sound over ipod Apple firmware.

I have upgraded my friend's ipod Nano, and without letting my friend know, and immediately after the firmware change, on the first song she played, she told me wow, sounds so much better, what did you do?

and of course with other ability like applying EQ and crossfeed, and gapless playback, I can never go back to my ipod firmware.
post #4 of 22
Looked at Rockbox for my 5g Ipod but am told on here that it will be perfected sometime in Nov. with all the bugs out. Am patient enough to wait 'til then; unless you folks think it might be OK to download now. But all the conflagrations you gotta go thru to get it installed is a bit daunting to someone--like me--who's pretty computer stupid
post #5 of 22
Just try it out now. If you need help, there's always this thread.
post #6 of 22
Definitely big improvement over the Apple OS. MY ipod also has the Redwine mod it sounds awesome. I even re-ripped my CD's to Flac. I prefer FLAC over ALAC. Big up's to all the guy's working on Rockbox and improving it on a day-to-day basis.

Siebel
post #7 of 22
I've been spending many hours on planes and trains recently so decided to (finally) buy an iPod. All my files were already ripped as flac via EAC, but at first I re-ripped a few dozen albums with iTunes as Apple Lossless. The playback was fairly uninspiring with my E4s, and I was bothered by the limited features and flexibility of iTunes.

So tonight I set up Rockbox, turned on hardware EQ per the other thread here, loaded up some flac files, and immediately noticed improvements: more detail, more bass (maybe too much?), and more separation. There is little doubt that the quality improved.

Drawbacks: I have experienced some pauses in playback, and I'm wondering if the battery will last through my next train ride. I will be very happy when Rockbox is perfected later this year.
post #8 of 22
I wouldn't say it's higher quality, necessairally. It's not like Apple cripples their iPods, that'd be stupid. But RockBox uses its own EQ and can let you mess with settings that Apple doesn't make easily changable for certain reasons (RockBox is a pro's OS). It actually didn't sound any better or different to me until I turned on the hardware EQ, but I thought I was going to blow my drivers with the insane amount of bass.

Who am I to judge the quality of it, I'm still using unamped PX100's as my high-end setup
post #9 of 22
anyone knows if ipod 5g rockbox lineout sound better than h320 rockbox lineout?
post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by mckickflip
I wouldn't say it's higher quality, necessairally. It's not like Apple cripples their iPods, that'd be stupid.
Never underestimate the stupidity of Apple, or Steve Jobs in particular. I personally BELIEVE that the apple ruins sound quality to the benefit of navigation w/o skipping and battery life (CPU/RAM conservation). Honestly, I'd be in personal anguish w/my 5g and would have sold it 2 days after I got it if it wasn't for Rockbox.
post #11 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by tnmike1
Looked at Rockbox for my 5g Ipod but am told on here that it will be perfected sometime in Nov. with all the bugs out. Am patient enough to wait 'til then; unless you folks think it might be OK to download now.
There is currently no set release date for Rockbox for the ipod.

Quote:
But all the conflagrations you gotta go thru to get it installed is a bit daunting to someone--like me--who's pretty computer stupid
If you simply follow the instructions step-by-step, it's really not very difficult to install. At least, nothing to get all fired up about.





sorry, couldn't resist
post #12 of 22
It is quite possible that apple would use dsp which changes things in a way that most of its buyers like but not the subset of buyers who go to head-fi. Or that its software is in some way imperfect. A simple RMAA test would show whether this is the case or not.
post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by aliquis
Isn't the more important part that you can play more formats and it doesn't require iTunes? How the sound quality can change (much atleast..) is beyond me but someone with more technical knowledge might know. The hardware doesn't decode the mp3s? It's only cpus which runs software which does it? Are there always some sort of equalizer settings which might make the defaults "better" ones in rockbox? What decoder does rockbox use anyway? Googled, seems it uses MAD, and MAD is supposed to be one of the better ones, dunno what the iPod uses with original software.
  • Having more formats only matters if you want to use one of those formats. For myself, high quality mp3's are fine.
  • There is nothing about an iPod that requires iTunes. You can use any of several programs with the standard iPod firmware. Personally, I hate iTunes (which is saying something because, while there are many products I don't care for, there are very few products that I really hate). For me, MediaMonkey is best.
  • Rockbox gives you user-customizable EQ. Apple could easily do this in their own firmware. It's just that Apple stubbornly refuses to do this. I cannot fathom why they refuse to, but they do.
  • I use the MAD plug-in with MediaMonkey. Using it in 24-bit mode through my Indigo i/o card made a huge immediate difference for the better.
My opinion is that Rockbox is a very interesting and valuable tool. For the moment, it comes down to a personal judgment about the tradeoffs involved. For some, its advantages are worth the pre-release hassles and shortcomings. For others, it might be best to wait for a more-finished, more polished version a few months from now. I think it really comes down to whether or not you like messing around with software (and watching the capabilities get better week by week) vs. whether you prefer a finished products that you set-and-forget and maybe update a couple times per year.
post #14 of 22
Personally I think the sync on iTunes is pretty useful. Russdog, seeing how you hate iTunes, I don't even want to know your opinion on Sonicstage
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by russdog
[list][*] Rockbox gives you user-customizable EQ. Apple could easily do this in their own firmware. It's just that Apple stubbornly refuses to do this. I cannot fathom why they refuse to, but they do.
I wouldn't dream of trying to talk anyone out of desiring a feature that's important to them but maybe this will help you understand where they're coming from. I'm apparently squarely in the bullseye of Apple's target demographic for the iPod. I say that because they steadfastly refuse to build in a EQ feature and that's one feature I've always thought was useless. On most products I'm like you, there's things about the design that just completely dumbfound me. Somehow, a manufacturer shares my own quirks in this one instance.
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