So: source or headphones? Would an amp help?
By the way, the Beethoven at least is Apple Lossless, from a Deutsche Gramaphone recording of Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic. I don't know it it's the best recording, but it's certainly a better one.
|although the headphone runs loud enough on the power you have, it needs more current to get through complicated intense parts. An amp could definitely help with that.|
I'd like to revive this thread by repeating a post I've made on the sound science forum:
Increasingly I am of the opinion that my 448s are fine but that the biggest issue is my music.
An example: I own two versions of Bach's Goldberg Variations. One is a digital recording of Glen Gould ripped at 256 kbps from a CD. THe other is a recent record by Simone Dinnerstein that I bought off of the iTunes store, which is 128kbps. There is a clear difference to my ears, and I much prefer listening to Gould's version because of the sound quality. Generally speaking, the classical music that I've ripped from CDs sounds better than the stuff I bought from iTunes. I notice no difference, however, from my non-classical music, although perhaps there I simply havnt been paying as much attention.
On the other hand, one of the pieces of music that I feel is lacking something is my 1962 Karajan recording of Beethoven's 9th, which I ripped using Apple lossless. But there, perhaps what I'm missing--detailing and clarity--comes from the fact that it's ADD vice DDD?
1. Is the consensus among head-fiers that I absolutely should not buy music (or at least music I care about) from iTunes?
2. Can anyone point me to a recording of Beethoven's 9th that is regarded as high-quality in terms of sound (setting aside the quality of the perfomance), so that I can compare with my 1962 Karajan version (regarded as one of the best, performance wise)? This was recommended to me by one of the posts above. I figure that way I can figure out if my phones have an issue with the big symphonic sound or if it's the recording.
By the way, if any one wants to hear some stupendous music--and a great recording--try the Tokyo String Quartet's Late Beethoven String Quarters. The word is "sublime." And my humble 448s deliver the goods.
Absolutely, don't buy music from iTunes or anywhere else at 128kbps. The paltry bitrate is not sufficient for critical listening. Many people, myself included, buy music on cd and rip to flac or high-bitrate mp3.
LBJ x2. Even MP3s at 320kpbs don't cut it compared to Apple lossless or CD's in your drive once you get a great DAC, a great AMP, and great Phones. If you love the music, buy the CD and rip it lossless.
Unfortunately iTunes is a great librarian and incredibly useful for syncing with iPhones & iPods, but a HORRIBLE player on Mac thru audiophile equipment. It sounds grainy and dark compared to almost everything else available. The development of iTunes has (apparently) been centered on getting you to buy stuff at the iTunes store instead of audio quality. Check out Play or Audirvana (both free, Audirvana is my current fave). Basically, you can continue to use iTunes as your librarian, but you dragndrop what you want to hear into Play or Audirvana and you will find a world of details that iTunes does not deliver.
As far as DACs, as Mac folks, we do still have the option of using usb, optical, or firewire without buying a PCI card.