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Can you really hear the difference??

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hi All,

 

Here is an interesting thing I came across. I was trying to decide a new MP3 player as my old iPod(classic 5th generation) just died.

I consider sound quality is most important part of an mp3 player as I have a smartphone for everything else. After reading a lot of reviews i had almost decided on the Cowon S9 when a curious thought struck me.

 

I am a normal music listener (I used the stock apple earbud for 2 yrs before switching to Bose IEMs which according to reviews is no better.) Havent really ever listened to the really high quality stuff though I want to start now. I dont plan to use a pre-amp or use the equalizer funtionality. Only part I will use is the volume control.

 

Though I am switching to a better IEM (still undecided which one though, my budget is upto $150), i was wondering whether it would really make a difference which player i choose.

 

Any Thoughts???

post #2 of 12

Music players make a fairly big difference, but for me its mostly just a difference when a particular player's sound signature and specification works really badly with a particular kind of earphone. For instance, a Head Direct RE0 on an old iPhone 3G sounds much worse than on a Walkman S-Series player, namely because the iPhone 3G has weak output with bass roll-off, and an RE0 is a high impedance earphone with bass roll-off. The Walkman is a warm source, which would work well with colder earphones - but not well with anything already a bit too warm, like a Radius DDM. The problems exacerbate each other.

 

If you can find a good source - ie: one that is flat across frequency response and which has a strong amp - then it will generally pair well with most earphones. The money you spend won't be a giant leap like the change you might get spending the money on better earphones, but if you start from a good solid base you should be cool. Just make sure you choose your pairing carefully.


Edited by a_recording - 9/9/10 at 1:33am
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

What do you suggest as some good pairings with a total budget of upto USD$400?

 

Only requirements are that the player should be 8gb+ and the IEM should be durable(no flimsy cords, as I am a pretty careless user).

post #4 of 12

Put it this way. No matter what phones you use, changing their tips will make more difference than changing the source, except some sources that hiss badly.

post #5 of 12

I find players make a fairly big difference. It is not about the absolute sound quality, which is not superinteresting, since I usually listen on the go, with background noise in public tranoportation or on bike etc.

But it is about sound signature; f.i. a few years ago I had an Iriver 799. Nice player, nice sound quality when listening quietly but for me unusuable on the go. Why? The player was so dynamic that, listening at a resonable volume with some backgroundnoise, all I could hear were the drums. Kranking up the volume restored the balnce, but then the sound was too loud for my taste. After that I had a Ipod mini 2G; horrible sound signature, not enough bass and midbass power at all giving an unpleasantly sharp sound.

My preference are the Sony players; a little bit soft perhaps, but giving a perfect sound in the listening conditions I use it in. 

 

post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dura View Post

I find players make a fairly big difference. It is not about the absolute sound quality, which is not superinteresting, since I usually listen on the go, with background noise in public tranoportation or on bike etc.

But it is about sound signature; f.i. a few years ago I had an Iriver 799. Nice player, nice sound quality when listening quietly but for me unusuable on the go. Why? The player was so dynamic that, listening at a resonable volume with some backgroundnoise, all I could hear were the drums. Kranking up the volume restored the balnce, but then the sound was too loud for my taste. After that I had a Ipod mini 2G; horrible sound signature, not enough bass and midbass power at all giving an unpleasantly sharp sound.

My preference are the Sony players; a little bit soft perhaps, but giving a perfect sound in the listening conditions I use it in. 

 

 

Whats the difference between "sound quality" and "sound signature"??

 

post #7 of 12

Sound quality has the definition you would think. Sound signature is the type of sound different products have. AKG tend to have a sound signature that emphasises the midrange and detail, Grado emphasises dynamica nd attack and can be too bright for some, the Denons I have heard have a big bass sound.

post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 

Coming back to my original question if I am not planning to use an amp or the equalizer functionality what would be a good pairing in a US $400 budget.

 

Players choices:

Ipod series, Zune Series or something from Cowon.

 

and what IEM?

post #9 of 12

I would say with regards to the different players, look at functionality, design and price, as the file type bit rate and the headphone/IEM that you end up using will have a far bigger difference than anything else.

post #10 of 12

I'd say that: headphones > dac > amp > bitrate (Provided that you are at AAC 256Kbs at least)

post #11 of 12

IEM= In-ear-monitors

post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prog Rock Man View Post

I would say with regards to the different players, look at functionality, design and price, as the file type bit rate and the headphone/IEM that you end up using will have a far bigger difference than anything else.


True.  While the players do have different sound signatures, they are more or less the same at this price range (small differences).  Theres only so much you can do in a dac in a player of this price range and size.  Focus on the headphones, and make sure your files are as high rez as you can get them.  Thats whats most important here.  Later you can get a better player or home source, until then, just pick the one you like really.  And remember, your not an audiophile unless you blow your budget by 700% and eat ramen noodles for the next six months... just saying. 

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